The Supreme Court’s Gay Marriage Decision Is a Housing Game Changer

The U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision on Friday not only opens the doors to legal same-sex marriage throughout the 50 states—it will also help increase homeownership among LGBT couples.

People celebrate outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC on June 26, 2015 after its historic decision on gay marriage. The US Supreme Court ruled Friday that gay marriage is a nationwide right, a landmark decision in one of the most keenly awaited announcements in decades and sparking scenes of jubilation. The nation's highest court, in a narrow 5-4 decision, said the US Constitution requires all states to carry out and recognize marriage between people of the same sex. AFP PHOTO/ MLADEN ANTONOV        (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

People celebrate outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC on June 26, 2015 after its historic decision on gay marriage. The US Supreme Court ruled Friday that gay marriage is a nationwide right, a landmark decision in one of the most keenly awaited announcements in decades and sparking scenes of jubilation. The nation’s highest court, in a narrow 5-4 decision, said the US Constitution requires all states to carry out and recognize marriage between people of the same sex. AFP PHOTO/ MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

“As with other momentous social landmarks, this progress will trigger key milestones along the path to homeownership,” Sherry Chris, CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, said in a statement. She noted that the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community is “a powerful market segment that represents an estimated buying power of $840 billion.”

That’s a lot of buying power, and legal marriage will only make it stronger. With home prices rising and mortgage requirements increasingly stringent, two incomes are pretty much required to afford a home in much of the country, and marriage helps convince lenders of a couple’s mortgage-worthiness.

“There is no more awkwardness—no more ‘joint tenants’ or however gay people have had to take titles in order to own,” said Summer Greene, general manager of Better Homes and Gardens Florida 1st in Fort Lauderdale, FL. “That means less paperwork, and now it’s therefore easier to qualify. Before you’d have people committed for 20 years and would have to have two different applications for mortgages, et cetera.”

Calling the decision “the new Civil Rights Act,” Greene said, “There is no more cherry-picking which state you can live in because it is fair and nondiscriminating. Life is simpler.”

According to a recent survey by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate and the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals, 81% of its nearly 1,800 LGBT respondents felt that “a ruling for marriage equality will make them feel more financially protected and confident.”

That lack of confidence may help explain why LGBT homeownership rates lag those of America overall. According to the survey, 54% of LGBT respondents owned homes, compared with the national homeownership rate of 63.8% (which is itself at thelowest point since 1993).

LGBTs who rent—particularly millennials—have their own concerns, however.

“For a generation that many have deemed ‘Generation Rent,’” the survey said, “an overwhelming 82% of LGBT millennials surveyed are concerned about rising rents, and 59% say they plan to have children in the future, both of which are potential motivators for purchasing a home.”

Legal marriage does not, of course, guarantee freedom from housing discrimination, which a whopping 73% of the survey’s respondents said was a strong concern, whether they wanted to buy or rent.

For home sellers, the decision opens up the market to a wider array of potential buyers. What will they be looking for? According to the survey, outdoor living space and an open-concept living area “reign supreme.”

Posted by Realtor.com Team

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