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Why Homeownership Rates Lag in LGBT Communities

Despite a strong interest in owning their own home, members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community fall behind the general population in terms of actual homeownership rates, according to a research published by Freddie Mac [1] on Monday.

For the study [2], Freddie Mac conducted a survey among 2,313 LGBT community members in the age group of 22 to 72 years, living in the United States. Through this survey, the study revealed that 49 percent of LGBT households were likely to own a home. This is considerably lower than the current national homeownership rate of 64.3 percent, Freddie Mac said in the research.

"We fielded this survey to get a better understanding of the current challenges facing the LGBT community, as well as their current housing choices, preferences, experiences, and aspirations," said Danny Gardner, SVP of affordable lending and access to credit at Freddie Mac.

It also found that gay men and lesbians were most likely to own a home with 52 percent of respondents in this segment replying yes to owning a home, while LGBT African-Americans (30 percent) and LGBT millennials (23 percent) were the least likely to be homeowners.

Despite these odds, the survey indicated that the overall LGBT community had positive attitudes about homeownership, with three-quarters of LGBT renters agreeing that owning a home was a good financial investment and 72 percent of renters wanting to own a home in the future.

According to Freddie Mac, one of the reasons for the lower homeownership rates in the LGBT community can be put down to their tendency to relocate more frequently, with 67 percent of the respondents saying that they did not live in the same area in which they grew up.

"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 rates," Glover said.

The survey also found that more people in the LGBT community seek LGBT-friendly neighborhoods and apart from that, they cited price and safety as the most important factors when deciding where to live.

Some of the other factors that were affecting homeownership rates for this community are similar to those being faced by the general population too. The survey revealed that like the general population, over half of the LGBT renters said that they either didn't know how much was needed for a down payment on a home or thought it was more than 20 percent.

“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.”