Freddie Mac survey finds low homeownership rate, discrimination fears in LGBT community

Members of the LGBT community have a lower homeownership share than the national rate, likely because of a greater tendency to relocate, according to a recent survey by Freddie Mac. The research also found that nearly half of the respondents said they fear some type of discrimination in the home buying process.

The survey collected responses from respondents in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. A total of 2,313 responses were included.

Researchers determined that the LGBT homeownership rate among people ages 22 to 72 was 49 percent. This was considerably lower than the national rate of 64.3 percent.

Respondents in the baby boomer generation were most likely to have purchased a home, with 73 percent saying they were homeowners. Fifty-eight percent of white respondents were homeowners, as were 52 percent of lesbian women and gay men. The lowest homeownership rate among LGBT respondents was among millennials (23 percent), black respondents (30 percent), and those identifying as gender expansive (33 percent).

"We fielded this survey to get a better understanding of the current challenges facing the LGBT community, as well as their current housing choices, experiences, and aspirations," said Danny Gardner, senior vice president of affordable lending and access to credit at Freddie Mac. "What we found was that several factors—including increased mobility, lower marriage and a tendency to live in high-cost urban areas, and fears of discrimination—may be contributing to these lower homeownership costs."

Although just 58 percent said homeownership felt right for their current life goals and 43 percent said homeownership was common among their friends, most LGBT renters had a positive outlook on owning a home. Seventy-nine percent agreed that homeownership was a good financial investment, while 65 percent agreed that it was part of their personal goals. Seventy-two percent agreed that they want to own a home in the future, while just 11 percent said they don't want to own a home.

Freddie Mac said the increased tendency for mobility likely affected respondents' ability or willingness to purchase a home. Sixty-seven percent said they no longer live in the same general location where they went to high school. Renters were also more likely to live in large cities, with 44 percent saying they lived in an urban area.

Seven out of 10 LGBT renters said they did not have enough money for a down payment. However, a considerable share of respondents was unaware that it was possible to make a down payment of less than 20 percent. Twenty-nine percent said they did not know what was required for a down payment, while one in four thought it was necessary to have 20 percent or more of the sale price.

Half of all LGBT renters said the high cost of living in their neighborhood contributed to their inability or reluctance to buy a home. Forty-four percent said they could not afford the monthly payments on a mortgage, 40 percent cited credit issues, and 30 percent cited a job change or job instability.

"Unfortunately, the rising cost of renting and buying combined with misunderstandings about down payments are slowing homeownership rates among the LGBT community even further," said Gardner. "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."

LGBT homeowners were also asked if they had experienced any discrimination or prejudice in their effort to buy a home. The survey said a respondent could answer affirmatively if they experienced this discrimination during any part of the home buying process, including prejudice from lenders, real estate agents, or sellers.

Thirteen percent said they had experienced discrimination in their home search. The share was higher among black respondents (23 percent), lesbian women (19 percent), Latino respondents (15 percent), and gender-expansive respondents (14 percent).

Among renters, 46 percent said they feared that they would face some type of discrimination if they tried to buy a home. Thirty-nine percent said they did not think they would face discrimination, while 15 percent said they weren't sure.

Gender-expansive respondents were most likely to fear that they would be discriminated against, with 69 percent giving this response. Fifty-eight percent of LGBT parents, 55 percent of millennials, and 54 percent of lesbian women felt the same.

Baby boomers were least likely to have this worry, with only 29 percent of these renters saying they feared they would face some discrimination. Other groups less likely to expect discrimination in the home buying process were gay men (34 percent), Generation Xers (39 percent), and white respondents (40 percent).

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