LGBTQs purchase older, smaller and less expensive homes

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Gay male couple speaking with woman

The NAR has been studying the LGBTQ market since 2015 

A new report said that couples and singles in the LGBTQ community purchase older, smaller and less expensive homes than non-LGBTQ buyers. The National Association of Realtors 2021 Profile of LGBTQ Home Buyers and Sellers said that over the past five years, homes bought by LGBTQ buyers were 170 square feet smaller and 15 years older, typically, than those purchased by non-LGBTQ buyers. The study also showed the homes were usually purchased in more urban towns and city locations.

“Understanding how buyers navigate the housing market is essential to Realtors,” said Jessica Lautz, NAR’s vice president of demographics and behavioral insights. “This report details the impact of the housing affordability challenges on LGBTQ buyers, who typically had lower household incomes and were more likely to be purchasing more affordable homes.”

NAR first added a question about sexual orientation to its annual Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers study in 2015.

Characteristics of homes bought/sold

The report found that the median sale price for homes purchased by LGBTQ buyers was $245,000. That compares with $268,000 for non-LGBTQ buyers. LGBTQ buyers were much more likely to have purchased in urban areas and less likely to have bought in small towns or rural areas. All groups were equally likely to have purchased in a suburb or subdivision.

LGBTQ buyers expected to spend 10 years in their new home. That is five years fewer than non-LGBTQ buyers. This is significant as it may indicate more home sales during an LGBTQ persons lifetime. While there were no significant differences between the groups when it came to home types purchased, comparing LGBTQ home sellers to non-LGBTQ home sellers showed that LGBTQ sellers were less likely to sell a detached single-family home (69% vs. 81%). They are more likely to sell a townhouse/row house (11% vs 6%) or an apartment condo (8% vs 4%).

Characteristics of buyers and sellers

Since 2015, the percentage of LGBTQ home buyers and sellers has remained steady at 4%. In the study, 51% identify as male and 40% identify as female. Eight percent identified as non-binary, gender-nonconforming, or third gender. This home buyer percentage is a bit lower than other surveys of the LGBTQ community in general.

Married couples make up 39% of LGBTQ buyers and sellers. And 21% of transactions were completed by an unmarried couple, 22% by a single male, and 15% by a single female. The median age of LGBTQ buyers and sellers is 42. The annual income average of $93,200  is slightly lower than non-LGBTQ buyers and sellers (46 and $97,000, respectively).

Forty-two percent of LGBTQ buyers were first-time home buyers. That compares with just 32% for non-LGBTQ buyers. However, the two groups were about equally likely to be first-time home sellers (37% and 33%, respectively).

When further examining the demographics and buying habits within the LGBTQ community, other notable differences were seen. The typical bisexual home buyer and seller was 34 years old compared to 45 among buyers and sellers identifying as gay or lesbian. Sixty-three percent of bisexual buyers and sellers were female. They were more likely to report single-income households than other home buyers, even when controlling for age. Bisexual home buyers were also much more likely to be first-time home buyers (61%) or first-time home sellers (50%) than other groups.

Considerations in searching for a home

When considering locations for buying a home, the three most important qualities—quality of neighborhood, convenience to job and overall affordability—were the same for all groups. LGBTQ buyers were less concerned overall about convenience to friends and family compared to non-LGBTQ buyers. They also placed more importance on convenience to entertainment and leisure and proximity to a veterinarian. Additionally, LGBTQ buyers were less likely to value proximity to and quality of schools, convenience to health facilities and lot sizes than other mainstream Americans.

“All Realtors are obligated by NAR’s Code of Ethics to provide equal professional service without discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” said NAR President Charlie Oppler. He is a Realtor from Franklin Lakes, N.J., and the CEO of Prominent Properties Sotheby’s International Realty. “As we recognize Pride Month and Homeownership Month this June, it’s important to continue the pursuit of equal housing opportunities for everyone. Our communities are stronger when we are more inclusive.”

The survey methodology data used for the report is an aggregation of all of the responses from those who specified sexual orientation from the 2015 through 2020 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers survey, totaling 41,950 responses. Over four percent of all respondents in the survey—1,574 total individuals—identified as LGBTQ.

The full report is available on NAR’s 2021 Profile of LGBTQ Home Buyers and Sellers.