Research Report Why Are There Gaps in LGBTQ+ Homeownership?
Katie Visalli, Aniket Mehrotra, Matthew Pruitt, Todd Hill
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The homeownership rate among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) people is 20 percentage points lower than the rate for people who identify as straight and cisgender. Previous research on LGBTQ+ homeownership and wealth building in general has been sparse. Our analysis closes some of this knowledge gap by identifying demographic trends that contribute to differences in homeownership rates by both sexual orientation and gender identity. The gaps suggest significant implications for policymakers, including the need to incorporate sexual orientation and gender identity questions in national surveys to continue learning how to best support underresearched LGBTQ+ populations.

Our analysis reveals several trends that should inform policy and further research:

  • Age accounts for about half of the difference in homeownership rates by sexual orientation and gender identity. LGBTQ+ people are much younger than the rest of the population, which results in less time to have built wealth and strong credit scores.
  • Marriage has a less significant economic impact for LGBTQ+ people than it does for straight and cisgender couples. After accounting for age, income, and educational attainment, homeownership rates for straight married couples are generally 15.9 percentage points higher than they are for single households, though the marriage premium for lesbian, gay, or bisexual married couples is only 12.3 percentage points. We see a similar pattern by gender identity and in household income.
  • Gaps in income and homeownership rates are more pronounced by gender identity than sexual orientation. Sixty-one percent of unmarried transgender or nonbinary people earn less than $50,000 a year, whereas this share is 52 percent for lesbian, gay, bisexual, or queer people and 50 percent for straight and cisgender.
  • Costs of living for LGBTQ+ people are likely disproportionately high because LGBTQ+ people concentrate in states with social and policy protections, which tend to be more expensive. LGBTQ+ population shares are highest in states with protections for LGBTQ+ people and lowest in states with exclusionary policies. Strong social protections by state are correlated with higher costs of living.
  • Intersections of race and ethnicity and LGBTQ+ identity create a double disadvantage in access to homeownership for LGBTQ+ people of color. After controlling for age, income, educational attainment, parenthood, and marital status, people who are Black and cisgender are 16 percentage points less likely to own their home compared with white and cisgender people, and this gap increases to 22 percentage points for people who are Black and transgender or nonbinary.
Research Areas Sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression Housing finance
Tags LGBTQ+ equity Homeownership
Policy Centers Housing Finance Policy Center
Research Methods Quantitative data analysis
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