April 12, 2019 at 11:36 am EDT | by James Wellemeyer
New study finds LGBT people less likely to be homeowners
lgbt home ownership, gay news, Washington Blade
Washington is a tough market for any homebuyers. A new study finds being LGBT often confounds the buying process.

A Freddie Mac study release in October 2018 found that homeownership rates among LGBT people trail behind those of the U.S. population at large. 

Whereas 64.3 percent of American households own a home, only 49 percent of LGBT households in the U.S. own their own home. These numbers drop for young LGBT people and black LGBT people. Thirty percent of LGBT African-Americans own a home and 23 percent of LGBT Millennials are homeowners. 

Danny Gardner, senior vice president of affordable lending and access to credit at Freddie Mac, told the Blade he and his team “suspected” results like these. 

One reason for the lower homeownership rates among LGBT people may be the fact that LGBT people are more likely to leave their hometowns for another city. Sixty-seven percent of those who participated in the study said they did not live in the area where they grew up. Alternatively, only 46 percent of the general U.S. population lives in a different region than their hometown according to a 2015 Heartland Monitor Poll.

Another cause for the lower ownership rates may be the fear of discrimination. Nearly half of LGBT renters fear discrimination in the home buying process and 15 percent more are unsure whether or not they should worry about prejudice.

On a local level, homeownership is becoming an issue for some LGBT people in Washington.

Scott Gilbert, a gay man who lived in D.C. for more than a decade, moved to Silver Spring, Md., two years ago. 

He purchased two condos in D.C. before making the move to Maryland. He decided he “wasn’t necessarily happy with a condo situation anymore” but still wanted his own place. 

“I had the sense of wanting to own something, and owning is a better deal in the long run on taxes,” he says.

Gilbert’s desire to own a home is mirrored in the LGBT community at large. 

In the Freddie Mac study, approximately three-quarters of LGBT people surveyed saw a home as a good financial investment and 72 percent said they want to own a home in the future.

When Gilbert couldn’t find any affordable options in D.C. that weren’t condos, he began to look outside the District. He eventually settled on a place in Silver Spring. 

But leaving D.C. wasn’t easy for Gilbert, a former city government employee. 

“I struggled a lot. I felt very loyal to D.C. and still do,” he says. 

He would like to move back to D.C. but knows he “won’t be able to own an actual home” in the District. He doesn’t believe being gay has affected his ability to buy a home in D.C., but he thinks being single has played a large role.

“If you’re single and especially if you’re older, it’s harder because you’re only dealing with one income.”

LGBT people are twice as likely to age alone, according to SAGE. This factor may play into the lower homeownership rates among LGBT people that Freddie Mac found.

Despite the lower rates, the LGBT population did reflect the general population in some capacities. 

Like the general population, LGBT people are struggling to save enough money for a down payment, Freddie Mac found. Seven in 10 LGBT renters who would like to own a home told the pollsters affording the price of the down payment is one of their primary challenges. This trend mirrors what researchers have observed among the general population. 

More than half of LGBT Americans are also unsure how much money is needed for a down payment. The U.S. population at large exhibits a similar lack of knowledge on the subject.

“Unfortunately, the rising cost of renting and buying combined with misunderstandings about down payments are slowing homeownership rates among the LGBT community even further,” Gardner wrote in the study. “That is why as an industry — lenders, appraisers, agents, homebuilders and Freddie Mac must understand LGBT housing needs, recognize their challenges and educate them on the buying process.”

Freddie Mac commissioned the study to assess “current challenges facing the LGBT community, as well as their current housing choices, preferences, experiences and aspirations,” Gardner wrote.

Conducted by Community Marketing and Insights, the study occurred in April 2018 with an online survey of 2,313 LGBT people between the ages of 22-72. These individuals responded anonymously and were randomly selected from a group of about 85,000.

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