According to the second-annual report published by the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance, discrimination in the real estate industry remains prevalent—despite its extension of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) implementations and marketing towards the LGBTQ+ community.
The Alliance, one of the nation’s leading LGBTQ+ trade organizations, aims to reexamine the conversation surrounding unconscious bias and discrimination in real estate, and serve as a much-needed voice and valued resource for working real estate professionals.
The report titled, “Discrimination And Its Impact On LGBTQ+ Community: Real Estate
Professionals And Consumers,” includes data reflecting that, “20.7% of surveyed Alliance members identify real estate agents as the leading culprit in how housing discrimination occurs against the LGBTQ+ real estate home buyer.”
Surveyed Alliance members were asked to weigh in on anti-discriminatory policy as it relates to their community versus company culture—with nearly 20% of respondents sharing that they experience high levels of unconscious bias within their local real estate market, almost double the 11% who report this about their own company.
17% of respondents noted an incident of discrimination by industry professionals, while 6% cited discrimatory behavior among their colleagues.
Alliance CEO, Ryan Weyandt, who has been at the forefront of the non-profit’s overall mission to educate and empower LGBTQ+ real estate professionals and its clientele since 2020, spoke with RISMedia on why the disparity between company and industry-level discrimination paints a bigger picture of how DEI efforts shape change.
“Most instances of discrimination are based on pre-conceived notions , being uncomfortable or having a general fear of others,” he says. “It makes sense that LGBTQ+ people are more welcomed at the company level because their colleagues get to know them. At the larger industry level, where interaction may not be as consistent, it takes longer for the educational and get-to-know-you process to occur. Now that DEI is becoming part of company and industry culture, we are looking forward to the next steps.”
The Alliance, already motivated by change, hopes to take immediate action against these concerning stats and improve on its systems to better protect its constituents.
“This is not a tomorrow project. It’s a now project,” Weyandt asserts. “The diverse sectors are already here and they are coming in greater home buying numbers than ever before. The real estate industry should put anti-discrimination efforts at the top of the list of priorities. Our nation is changing. We are more diverse every day. We have more homebuyers and sellers from minority groups and obviously more LGBTQ+ consumers. Our younger generations are the most accepting in history. They will not tolerate discriminatory behavior. If REALTORS®, lenders, title professionals and ancillary service providers do not welcome these new consumers, are prejudicial and/or discriminatory, the industry will suffer and individual professionals will suffer in their businesses.”
Pathway to homeownership
On March 28, 2022, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the controversial “Parental Rights in Education Bill,” which will take effect on July 1st. Florida’s H.B. 1557, which critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, will ban teacher or third party discussions of sexual orientation and gender-related issues in kindergarten through third-grade classrooms or in a manner deemed, “not age or developmentally appropriate.” Several other states are exploring similar types of legislation.
Weyandt says the facially neutral law and its vagueness of standards reflects some of the inconsistencies and loopholes that affect buyers and sellers—many fearing that this political framing and the erasure of community-related speech and legal safeguards impacts real estate professionals’ ability to conduct business without bias. He’s concerned about how these policies may impact the community’s journey to homeownership.
“These horrific bills attacking our community are a form of housing discrimination,” he says. “Not in the immediate moment of an elementary schooler, but the lingering impact that mushrooms through our lives. Our inaugural LGBTQ+ Real Estate Report last year went in-depth into how on-going discrimination dating back to our childhoods impacts an LGBTQ+ person’s pathway to homeownership. Those bullied or discriminated against in those early years may not do well in school which impacts if and where they go to college. The same applies to college and if we are fully welcomed into the workplace. Too many LGBTQ+ people are not afforded the same opportunities in their career, are not promoted and therefore struggle to make more money and save for a down payment.”
Though the Biden administration has pushed for housing discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity to be amended into the Fair Housing Act, LGBTQ+ people are still not protected under federal law. In 27 states, there are no explicit statewide laws at all protecting people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment or housing and public accommodations. Various forms of disrimination that can result in these unprotected states include: an agent refusing to show a listing to a LGBTQ+ couple in a predominantly heterosexual neighborhood, a landlord or maintenance worker not tending to repairs because he disagrees with a tenants “lifestyle,” an underwriter tossing out two-women’s loan application even though their duel income meets the necessary requirements because he perceives the applicants as same-sex partners.
With a housing market pricing people out of cities and into suburbs and rural areas, LGBTQ+ homeowners risk being under-represented and under-protected as a result, Weyandt says. Which is why he and over 2,000 members of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance continue to lobby for permanent legislation to protect an already marginalized group of homebuyers.
“The Alliance and our partners are working hard to constantly remind the real estate community that LGBTQ+ people ARE people,” Weyandt says. “You already know and love us. Look at the stats. With just about 1-in-10 Americans identifying as part of the community—and every household has 3.5 people—if you look to your neighbors on your right or left, the law of averages would show that someone in one of those three households is part of the LGBTQ+ community. That doesn’t even consider your family, circle of friends, etc.”
Building better allies
Though Weyandt understands this is not an overnight fix, the Alliance is still doing everything at its disposal to correct biased behavior within its own sphere of influence.
“Seemingly every day we are sent another example of a REALTOR® or real estate professional, usually on social media, openly discriminating against the LGBTQ+ community,” Weyandt shares. “We are working with NAR on how it wants to address these issues as they obviously violate the NAR Code of Ethics along with new anti-discrimination edicts. We also report these to local and state associations along with the offender’s brokerage and brand. In almost all instances the response is swift. Depending on the instance, we have seen brokerages disassociate themselves from the agent and REALTOR® associations take disciplinary action. We also offer to meet with the offender to help them learn and get more comfortable with the LGBTQ+ community.”
In order to lead by example and be a better ally to the LGBTQ+ community, the Alliance provides the following constructive ways to bring more acceptance, awareness and accountability into your agent practice.
Be informed. For any first-time buyer, the ins-and-outs of buying a home can be overwhelming. From understanding how to secure a downpayment, potential barriers to homeownership and finding the right neighborhood, the Alliance takes some of the guesswork out of your homeowner potential. The Alliance assists in helping LGBTQ+ buyers find an agent or home-related professional that is LGBTQ+-friendly and/or certified to help take some of the stress out of an otherwise exciting chapter. In collaboration with Freddie Mac and The Williams Institute, the Alliance also publishes an annual report detailing hard analysis and statistics on current market data in regards to LGBTQ+ homeownership. This not only aids buyers, but equips real estate professionals with the knowledge, resources and insight they need to excel and educate their community clients.
Know your coverage. Every homeowner needs to protect their home, their possessions and their loved ones. Agents should be aware and share insurance policies that are inclusive and LGBTQ+ friendly. Hippo Insurance hosts a blog that educates and empowers LGBTQ+ leads on all they need to know before buying. An expert team calculates a buyer’s premium to suggest the best type of insurance for them—and goes the extra mile with its benefits program. From home-care services and maintenance, to complimentary smart-home devices, Hippo takes care of its customers and helps streamline an otherwise taxing process, the company reports. Hippo also provides a comprehensive guide for transgender buyers looking to purchase a home. From an overview of what it costs to buy in the most trans-friendly cities, to how to safeguard yourself against being deadnamed or outed, Hippo can help your clients strategize the most out of the homeowning experience, and save some essential dollars in the process, the company states.
“At Hippo, we believe in bringing empowerment and confidence throughout homebuying and homeownership,” says Courtney Klosterman, home insights expert at Hippo. “Securing a home insurance quote should be easy, accessible, proactive and built with the customer in mind.”
Get Alliance certified. The LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance is committed to training its industry professionals on how to be better allies. Its Alliance-certified Ally Certification Course offers virtual classes to help allies develop a better understanding of the LGBTQ+ community and provide them with knowledge on how to work with potential home buyers and sellers who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. Those who complete the course will be presented with a certification of completion and a badge to be displayed on their website profile. This course is an opportunity for brokerages to get their entire team involved in the conversation surrounding LGBTQ+ discrimination and how to respectfully conduct business with the community at large.
“Very simply, none of us can improve ourselves without wanting to learn,” Weyandt shares. “Allies are incredibly important to the LGBTQ+ community. Supporting a loved one, colleague or friend, treating someone as a person first outside of their sexual orientation and gender identity, and/or standing up to those who attack us, truly matters. There is also a business side to becoming an Ally. We are seeing LGBTQ+ people move to communities not traditionally known as, ‘LGBTQ+ friendly.’ This means brokerages and agents who don’t learn and become comfortable with our community will lose business. Remember, it takes more than hanging a rainbow flag during Pride month to gain the trust of the community.”
To view the Alliance’s second-annual report, click here.
Joey Macari is RISMedia’s associate editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.