ECONOMIC IMPACT OF TURNING TIDE AGAINST LGBT COMMUNITY
The National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) is preparing for its second annual LGBT Housing Policy Summit in April. And if you needed a reminder as to its importance, we have to look no further than the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
While there was obviously great fanfare and attention paid to President Trump’s appearance, there was other news that came out of the four-day event including a sobering report by GLAAD.
• Only 49% of the 2,100 adults surveyed identified themselves as LGBT “allies,” down from 53% in 2016.
• 55% of LGBTs who participated in the survey said they experienced discrimination last year compared to 44% in 2016.
• A Harris Poll commissioned for the report found that 31% were very or somewhat uncomfortable seeing a same-sex couple hold hands, up from 29% the previous year.
Williams Institute Focused on Texas
The cultural and political winds towards the LGBT community have obviously shifted and these findings should be a cause of concern to business leaders.
All of us in real estate and the business community should pay close attention to a series of academic papers issued last year by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, including one that recently focused on the economic impact of Texas’ largely anti-LGBT stance.
Despite there being more than 930,000 LGBT adults/youth in Texas, “statewide laws in Texas offer no protections from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in areas such as employment, housing, and public accommodations.” The Institute found that the culture of statewide discrimination had a profound economic impact because of higher rates of LGBTs mental health issues along with concerns for workplace recruitment, retention and productivity.
Impact on Real Estate Sales
The real estate industry also needs to be aware that the changing tides of acceptance could have a negative impact on our business.
The National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP), which has nearly 2,000 members, found in the 2017 LGBT Real Estate Report that nearly 50% of surveyed members reported that of their LGBT clients will be move-up buyers over downsizers by an almost three-to-one margin in the near future.
And, don’t forget, the LGBT community has almost $1 trillion in annual buying power, which is more than the Asian-American population, according to Witeck Communications.
Tim Garvey, a self-described entrepreneur and Broker Associate with Century 21 Commonwealth, has had a front row seat to the emergence of the LGBT community in the real estate industry.
“The confidence we were gaining has had significant impact on the real estate market,” he told me. “Traditionally, LGBTs are known for gentrification efforts – identifying and moving into urban neighborhoods that ‘had potential’ followed by considerable spending of time, money and energy upgrading homes, apartments and lofts. Soon restaurants, shopping and other amenities emerge and these areas then begin to thrive. Boston’s South End is an example and there are many others around the country. Lately, since Marriage Equality, it is becoming more commonplace for same-sex couples, many with children, to meld into the suburbs thus increasing the buyer pool.
“Census data shows that LGBT household income is slightly higher ($115,000 household income) so this sector of the population should be marketed to by real estate firms. Traditionally LGBT couples have not had children, so their disposable income is higher. Therefore we tend to spend in our neighborhoods on restaurants and entertainment and higher-end homes and second homes are within reach. But without continued acceptance, LGBTs might become more conservative in their housing decisions and choose to remain in existing supportive communities and not consider emerging opportunities.”
Acceptance is Focus
I think Tim would agree that the key word he used was “acceptance.” And full acceptance cannot happen until the Federal Government fully eradicates discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in employment, federal funding, education, credit, jury service and housing.
NAGLREP will return to Washington D.C. on April 17-18 for the second annual LGBT Housing Policy Summit at the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Equality Center and continue to work towards a fully inclusive society. We will be joined by leaders from the National Association of Realtors®, MoveOn.org, HRC, SAGE, Freddie Mac and the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, along with many others, to lead thought-provoking sessions on a variety of LGBT housing issues along with a visit to Capitol Hill to meet with elected officials.
The sobering findings from GLADD and the Williams Institute will be top of mind as we work to showcase the economic benefits of fully embracing the LGBT community.