DURHAM – Homeowners who identify as LGBTQ + face many challenges when it comes to home ownership, although a new survey found that on average they are younger and live in urban environments.
“This seems to be more of an age thing – more young people identify as LGBTQ + – than anything else,” said Dr. Kate Bruce, a Triangle home owner who recently bought a house in Durham with her wife. “It glosses over the many structural inequalities that LGBTQ + people face.”
LGBTQ + owners are more likely to live in smaller houses with fewer bedrooms than cis owners, a current one analysis carried out by the Zillo Group.
Zillow analysts found that many people who identify as LGBTQ + face disproportionate challenges at an earlier time when compared to their cisgender, heterosexual peers – especially those on low incomes or people of color analysis of the data from the Zillo Group’s 2020 and 2019 consumer housing trends reports.
The latest analysis finds that the results “help shed light on some of the potential causes of inequality between the LGBTQ + community and others and how the LGBTQ + community overcomes barriers to home ownership”.
For example, Zillow analysts found that the average age of homeowners who identify as LGBTQ + is 44, younger than the average age of cisgender, straight homeowners, which was 59. In addition, 28% of LGBTQ + homeowners say they live in an urban area, while 1 in 5 cisgender, heterosexual homeowners report the same.
Legal protection is missing
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) people are not specifically listed as protected classes under the FHA or the North Carolina State Fair Housing Act. Federal Fair Housing Act protects seven classes, but gender identity is not one of them.
In addition, in North Carolina, a same-sex couple cannot currently obtain full ownership of real estate as tenants, which Ward and Smith, PA, in a. describe blog entry as a hybrid of common law and law.
Total rent is the preferred form of community ownership for married couples because of four main advantages of this ownership structure.
- First, the total rent enables the property to be held by the couple as a family unit.
- Second, the property of neither spouse can be transferred or encumbered without the consent and amalgamation of the other, or in other words, in order to sell, mortgage, or otherwise encumber the property, both spouses must agree and have a valid legal contract.
- Third, the creditors of only one spouse cannot reach the property, and
- Fourth, survivor rights are automatically incorporated, which means that after the spouse’s death, a surviving spouse is guaranteed ownership of the property without going through the deceased spouse’s estate and becoming liable for the estate’s debts.
In North Carolina, however, tenancy can only be between husband and wife.
“Two people who are not husband and wife cannot jointly own real estate as a tenant”, blog entry Conditions. And even if there is legal protection, Zillow noted that potential homeowners who identify as LGBTQ + may priced out of the real estate market as data suggests a price premium.
According to the North Carolina Real Estate Commission, there are five jurisdictions in the state that are certified by the HUD as “substantially equivalent” to the federal FHA: the city of Durham; the city of Greensboro; the city of Winston-Salem; Orange County; and the city of Charlotte-Mecklenburg.
“These jurisdictions receive federal funding under the Fair Housing Assistance Program to investigate complaints in their area and try to find a solution,” a Training file reads on fair living published by the commission.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has regulations to ensure that “its core programs are open to all eligible individuals and families regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status,” the brochure reads, which means that individuals who identify as Identifying LGBT people and believing they have experienced housing discrimination may be able to make a claim based on any or all of the following: the Fair Housing Act; Same access rule of the HUD; or state and local anti-discrimination laws.
“Due to the expansion of the HUD fair housing policy for all eligible persons and families regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status, realtors should recognize that discrimination in housing based on LGBT considerations can violate FHA,” the publication said.
Security, proximity, finance are all important considerations
Bruce bought a house with her wife in 2016. “We benefited from a generous family gift that enabled us to purchase it at the time,” said Bruce. “Many LGBT people don’t get this support, both because of structural inequalities – race, class – and family rejection when they get out.”
The key factor in your search: security. Proximity to their workplaces was also important, but safety came first.
The Zillow analysis also found that homeowners who identify as LGBTQ + were about three times more likely to report that they currently rent part of their home, finding 15% of LGBTQ + homeowners compared to 4% of cisgender, heterosexual owners.
The house that Bruce and her wife bought was a 3 bedroom single family home and after the purchase became a landing pad for a friend who needed a temporary home, Bruce said. “It turns out we had the space to offer our friend,” said Bruce. “After he moved out, we decided to give AirBnB a try to make some extra money.”
Overall, Bruce said it was a good experience, although some guests were surprised that their hosts were a married couple and not roommates. “Our most memorable one was the woman who asked what our room was and she didn’t seem to understand when we said we were sharing the master bedroom,” said Bruce.
There are underlying issues that the Zillo study may not fully capture in the analysis, added Bruce. A key factor for many individuals and couples who identify as LGBTQ + when choosing accommodation is safety. “Of course, LGBT people are still not protected from discrimination in the workplace, which is particularly hard on trans people,” said Bruce. “As two women, we do not have access to male privileges in terms of employment and salaries, so our household income is likely to be less than if either of us were male.”
Since mortgage lenders often view household income as a key factor in assessing and approving a mortgage, it is possible that this structural problem is also helping to limit housing options for those who identify as LBGTQ +.
“Most LGBTQ + buyers then have to secure a mortgage, which is another challenge,” says Zillow analysis read. “A third (33%) of LGBTQ + buyers who take out a mortgage are turned down at least once before ultimately approving it, compared to 19% of heterosexual cis-gender buyers on a mortgage.”
Zillow found that 42% of people of color who identify as LGBTQ + and want to buy a home said they had been turned down at least once before approval.
“Zillow’s findings are probably more about age and finances than LGBT identity,” said Bruce.
Zillow notes that the third-party companies who conducted the surveys on which their analysis is based used age, education, gender, region, race / ethnicity, and marital status quotas to limit an over-sample of a particular demographic.
“In addition to the quotas, ZG Population Science and YouGov used survey weighting to compare the characteristics of the sample to the samples of homeowners from the US Census Bureau American Community Survey 2017-2019,” Zillow said.