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Homes in States With Highest Share of Same-Sex Couple Households Cost $116,000 More on Average

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June is LGBTQI+ Pride Month. To commemorate the occasion, LendingTree has analyzed U.S. Census Bureau 2020 American Community Survey data to compare home prices in the states where households occupied by same-sex couples make up the largest — and smallest — share of couple-occupied households.

While households occupied by same-sex couples make up a small portion of couple-occupied households in each state, median home values in the 10 states with the highest proportion of same-sex couple households are $116,730 more expensive, on average, than homes in the 10 with the smallest proportion.

Key findings

  • Vermont, Massachusetts and New Mexico have the largest share of households occupied by same-sex couples relative to couple-occupied households. Across these states, an average of 2.072% of couple-occupied households are occupied by same-sex couples.
  • South Dakota, North Dakota and Idaho have the smallest share of households occupied by same-sex couples relative to couple-occupied households. An average of 0.758% of households occupied by couples in these states are occupied by same-sex couples.
  • In the 10 states where households occupied by same-sex couples make up the largest share of couple-occupied households, median home values are an average of $116,730 more than in the 10 states where same-sex couple households are least common.
  • Though median home values tend to be higher in states with larger shares of same-sex couple households, there are exceptions. For example, the median home value in New Mexico — the state with the third-highest share of same-sex couple households — is $175,700. That’s nearly $60,000 less than the median home value of $235,600 in Idaho, which is tied for the second-smallest share of same-sex couple households.

States where same-sex couples occupy the largest share of couple-occupied households

No. 1: Vermont

  • Number of households occupied by couples: 147,093
  • Number of households occupied by opposite-sex couples: 144,031
  • Number of households occupied by same-sex couples: 3,062
  • Percentage of households occupied by same-sex couples: 2.082%
  • Median home value: $230,900

No. 2: Massachusetts

  • Number of households occupied by couples: 1,426,409
  • Number of households occupied by opposite-sex couples: 1,396,874
  • Number of households occupied by same-sex couples: 29,535
  • Percentage of households occupied by same-sex couples: 2.071%
  • Median home value: $398,800

No. 3: New Mexico

  • Number of households occupied by couples: 403,402
  • Number of households occupied by opposite-sex couples: 395,075
  • Number of households occupied by same-sex couples: 8,327
  • Percentage of households occupied by same-sex couples: 2.064%
  • Median home value: $175,700

 

States where same-sex couples occupy the smallest share of couple-occupied households

No. 1: South Dakota

  • Number of households occupied by couples: 194,668
  • Number of households occupied by opposite-sex couples: 193,254
  • Number of households occupied by same-sex couples: 1,414
  • Percentage of households occupied by same-sex couples: 0.726%
  • Median home value: $174,600

No. 2 (tie): North Dakota

  • Number of households occupied by couples: 175,474
  • Number of households occupied by opposite-sex couples: 174,115
  • Number of households occupied by same-sex couples: 1,359
  • Percentage of households occupied by same-sex couples: 0.774%
  • Median home value: $199,900

No. 2 (tie): Idaho

  • Number of households occupied by couples: 395,924
  • Number of households occupied by opposite-sex couples: 392,861
  • Number of households occupied by same-sex couples: 3,063
  • Percentage of households occupied by same-sex couples: 0.774%
  • Median home value: $235,600

 


Housing issues are complex for same-sex couples

Our study shows same-sex couples are more likely to live in states with higher home prices. Plus, there’s research that indicates same-sex couples are more likely to have their mortgage applications denied or receive higher interest rates than opposite-sex couples.

Not only may same-sex couples need to take out larger loans to afford homes in the states in which they’re most likely to live, but they may also need to shell out considerably more money in interest due to higher rates — that’s troubling.

On the surface, this data paints a somewhat bleak picture for same-sex couples looking to buy a home, but there may be ways to cope with this. For example, Census Bureau research indicates same-sex couples tend to earn as much as — if not more than — opposite-sex couples. This could mean same-sex couples might still be able to keep up with their payments, even if they receive higher-cost loans.

Of course, it’s difficult to say just how reliable this data is, given there’s relatively little research on the finances of same-sex couples. Further, it’s possible the data that exists could be skewed, as not everyone in same-sex relationships feels comfortable identifying themselves as such, and that same-sex couples who earn higher incomes may feel more secure self-identifying than couples who earn less.

Owing to both a lack of data and potential sampling biases, the overall financial state of same-sex couples appears complicated. At the moment, different data sources provide conflicting information that make it difficult to pin down how people in same-sex relationships might fare in the broader housing market. As a result, more research into this topic —  as well as more research into the overall finances of the broader LGBTQI+ community — is necessary before any concrete conclusions can be drawn.

Homebuying tips for same-sex couples

In the face of steep prices and rising rates, buying a house can be tricky in today’s market — even for couples with sizable incomes. With that in mind, here are three tips that can help couples, same-sex or otherwise, buy a house.

  • Shop around for a mortgage. Shopping around for a mortgage before buying a home can help borrowers find a better mortgage rate and, in turn, lower their monthly payments. Though many same-sex couples earn relatively high incomes, that doesn’t mean they can’t still benefit from a lower rate, especially in today’s hot housing market.
  • If you think you’re being discriminated against, speak up. According to a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) citation of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, it’s illegal for lenders to discriminate based on borrowers’ sexual orientation or gender identity. If you think you’ve been the victim of discrimination, you can submit a complaint with the CFPB or your local housing authority to figure out your options.
  • Figure out whether a joint mortgage application is your best move. For some couples, a joint mortgage can allow partners to combine incomes and potentially get approved for larger loan amounts or lower rates. With that said, a lender might be more likely to reject an application if one partner has bad credit or a lot of debt. Because of this, couples need to sit down and figure out if a joint mortgage is their best option before applying for a loan.

Methodology

LendingTree analyzed state-level data from the U.S. Census Bureau 2020 American Community Survey with experimental five-year estimates — the latest available at the time of writing.

To determine the share of households occupied by same-sex couples, we divided the number of households occupied by married and unmarried same-sex couples by the number of married and unmarried couple households.

 

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