Opinion: Homebuying habits of the LGBTQ+ community are changing
You’ve probably heard of Greenwich Village in New York City or The Castro in San Francisco at some point. These two are the most prominent LGBTQ+ communities across the country. There are many other places that appeal to the LGBTQ+ community, such as Boystown in Chicago, West Hollywood, and Montrose in Houston.
These urban nests have been home for the LGBTQ+ community since before the movement began, but times are changing. The desire to spread our wings is increasing exponentially as the LGBTQ+ population increases.
Because we are more comfortable living our authentic selves, our numbers are growing. This is not an accident. It’s a fact that society must understand and embrace our community. This will benefit both society and the economy. It is clear that the real estate industry will reap the benefits.
According to HRC, the LGBTQ+ population now accounts for 8% of the U.S. total population. More people mean more desire and longering to be part of the American Dream. The top two priorities are long-term financial stability and home ownership.
However, owning a property in a city setting can still prove prohibitively expensive. This is why the LGBTQ+ community is increasingly looking at suburban living. Although I wouldn’t describe it as a “Great Migration”, we are seeing the community move geographical boundaries to suburbs in most major metropolitan areas.
Asbury Park, New Jersey’s shore, is a great example. It is well-known because of Bruce Springsteen. Its recent redevelopment was led by the same LGBTQ+ community who has always been a presence there.
Kathy Kelly, a city historian, stated that Asbury Park was in trouble and that LGBTQ+ people went there because “Nobody was paying any attention.” Gay people would choose to go where they wouldn’t be beat up. So you could go to Asbury Park if nobody else was going to Asbury Park. You would go to Asbury Park if you were closeted, or you might be out to your family, but you were still closeted to the rest of the world.
It is now thriving. Its beautification was largely the responsibility of our community. It has a downtown but it is a beach town, not an urban setting. It has been open to LGBTQ+ people, providing a safe haven with support and love from residents and peers that allows them to be their true selves.
This brings us to the almost unbelievable findings of AARP, which shed light on the phenomenon of “leaving home”. Its Home and Communities Preferences Survey revealed that 28% of LGBTQ+ adults prefer to reside in a small, suburban town with a walkable community. Only 18% prefer to live in urban areas, compared to 28% of LGBTQ+ adults. This is according to a report by the Movement Advancement Project in 2019, which showed that as much as 20% of the LGBTQ+ community lives outside of urban areas.
LGBTQ+ people want the “white-picket fence” life as much as heterosexuals do.
But wait! There’s more! According to the AARP report, the LGBTQ+ community is ready for change. It was found that 43% of LGBTQ+ adults are more likely to move to another community in the future than 28% of non-LGBTQ+ adult.
There are still many challenges for LGBTQ+ persons. The first is discrimination and fear of it. We may not need to be as vigilant if LGBTQ+ people are surrounded with like-minded, welcoming people outside of urban centers. This is the Gallup 71% who support same-sex marital.
AARP reports that leaving the nest can lead to loneliness and isolation. Moving is difficult for anyone. It is more difficult for LGBTQ+ people because we have to leave an existing support group and amenities that cater specifically to us.
It’s no surprise that the AARP report identified three main areas that LGBTQ+ adults are looking for in a community: social participation, affordable housing, environment & equity. LGBTQ+ people desire easy access to shops and restaurants, as well as a wide range of cultural activities.
We are also looking for affordable housing options that are close to key services. We value a community that treats everyone well, regardless of race, gender, age or sexual orientation.
With this information, and realizing that your potential clients and sphere of influence will likely include more LGBTQ+ representation, I encourage you to consider whether you are ready for this shift as a real-estate professional.
Many of you who are reading this are not ready. This is highlighted in the second annual report of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance. You may recall that 20.7% felt real estate agents were the main culprits for housing discrimination. Although there is some discrimination in our industry that is blatant, it is mostly caused by unconscious biases or preconceived notions.
Here is where we come in.
The Alliance is committed working with our industry to educate, promote and effect change. The Alliance’s desire for greater LGBTQ+ homeownership rates than its current, low 49.8%, won’t be realized if real estate professionals aren’t welcomed. This is why we created the Alliance Certified Ally Course. I encourage you to sign-up for the first session in 2023 on March 9.
We want to continue sharing important information. You’ve probably learned a lot and hopefully gained some insight by reading this article. You now have a better understanding of what it might be like for LGBTQ+ people to “leave their nest.” We all want what others have. You can also see the types communities we are interested in.
As members of the LGBTQ+ community leave their safe havens, they will need to be guided home by caring, educated and welcoming real estate professionals.
Ryan Weyandt, the CEO of LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance, is Ryan Weyandt.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of RealTrends’ editorial department and its owners.To contact the author of this story:Ryan Weyandt at firstname.lastname@example.org
To reach Tracey Velt, the editor for this story, email email@example.com