The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community overwhelmingly views homeownership as a strong investment, although worries of housing discrimination persist, according to a new study.
The first-of-its-kind study by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate and the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals found that nearly 90% of LGBT homeowners and 75% of LGBT non-homeowners see homeownership as a good investment. Furthermore, the study found that this perception proved true across all age groups, including millennials.
The LGBT community represents an estimated $840 billion in buying power, according to NAGLREP. Additionally, 54% of respondents owned some form of real estate. These factors help to make the LGBT community a vital portion of the housing market.
"The LGBT community is a key part of the nation's landscape and a powerful market segment that is increasingly achieving social milestones that are historical triggers to home purchases, such as partnerships, marriage and having children," said Jeff Berger, founder of NAGLREP.
As for concerns related to homeownership, nearly three-quarters of respondents feared some sort of housing discrimination when buying or renting, from sources ranging from real estate agents and mortgage lenders to landlords and neighbors. Berger called this statistic "alarming," suggesting that it showed the need for NAGLREP's legislative and advocacy work on behalf of LGBT consumers.
While 86% of LGBT individuals surveyed said they wanted a real estate professional that was LGBT friendly, just 13% felt it was important that the agent is LGBT themselves.
Though not extensive, credit unions have a history of reaching out to the LGBT community. The former DART FCU—now a part of Dallas-Fort Worth-based City CU—included the gay and lesbian community in its field of membership prior to its merger. Elsewhere, credit unions have participated in gay pride festivals, Bethpage FCU in 2012 unveiled an affinity card for its LGBT members, and a recent study showed that financial institutions could boost their bottom lines by offering wedding-related products to same-sex couples—particularly in states where same-sex marriage has become legal. (Many credit unions interviewed about that, however, said they felt no need to specify that products were targeted at LGBT members out of a belief that those members are no different than the rest of the CU’s membership).
A group in Washington state known as Equality Washington is also working to establish the first credit union chartered strictly for LGBTQ members. It launched a crowdfunding campaign late last year, with aims to open its doors sometime in 2015.
According to the study, other concerns when buying a home included safety (88%), living in a better neighborhood (76%) and having a bigger residence (57%). Additionally, marriage was on the mind of many respondents. More than 80% of respondents felt a Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality would make them feel more financially protected.
The survey was conducted online in April by Community Marketing & Insights.
—Aaron Passman contributed to this report.