In 2015, the U.S. adult LGBTQ population had over $900 billion in combined buying power. Most financial experts believe that the figure is only increasing, making the LGBTQIA+ community an important aspect of the economy. The real estate industry should be paying attention.
Research shows same-sex couples face discrimination when getting a mortgage.
Although the LGBTQIA+ community has a huge impact on the economy, many still experience discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Movement Advancement Project reports that about 44% of the LGBT population lives in states that do not prohibit housing discrimination against the community.
Researchers from Iowa State University analyzed mortgage data to determine the impact of discrimination on the LGBT community. The study, published in “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,” found that LGBT mortgage applicants are 73% more likely to be denied than their heterosexual counterparts.
When same-sex couples are approved, the study found that their mortgage interest rates were a little higher, 0.02 to 0.2% higher. A small figure that can add thousands of dollars to the loan over its lifetime.
The study also found that same-sex borrowers are slightly less risky to lend to.
Mortgage applicants are not required to disclose sexual orientation. On the other hand, the Fair Housing and Equal Credit Opportunity does not specifically prohibit discrimination against sexual orientation and gender identity (although members of the National Association of Realtors are barred from doing so).
The ISU study researched mortgage data from 1990 to 2015, before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in every state. It’s possible that lenders’ attitudes and algorithms are changing. More research is needed to make sure that same-sex couples have access to credit based strictly on their financial status. Credit agencies may need to investigate their own practices and policies to ensure that they aren’t discriminating.
Texas is an example of one of 26 states that have no explicit prohibitions for discrimination in state law for sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s estimated that about 4.1% of the adult population in Texas are part of the LGBTQIA+ community. Some counties do have local ordinances prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation in private housing, Austin included.
At AG, we believe that housing is a fundamental human right. We must work for change within the real estate industry to give everyone access to fair rates in lending.