The USA’s National Association of Realtors – that’s what we would call estate agents here in the UK – recently released its first-ever “Profile of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Buyers and Sellers” which caught my eye with a quirky bi statistic or three. So here they are!
We bi folk are, it seems, the youngest – and poorest – house buyers in the market, with notably different patterns of house purchase from gay and straight buyers.
Bisexual home buyers were the most likely to indicate they were first-time buyers (58%), followed by lesbians and gay men (36%) and heterosexuals (32%). Bisexuals were also the youngest buyers, a median age of 36 years old, and had the lowest median income of US$62,400. In comparison, lesbian and gay buyers were by a smidge the oldest buyers at 45 years old. Heterosexual buyers reported a median age of 44 and a median income of $91,200, similar to $92,900 for lesbian and gay buyers.
In addition to being the most likely to identify as first-time home buyers, bisexual sellers were the most likely to identify as first-time home sellers at 50%. Lesbian/gay and heterosexual first-time sellers each registered at 36%.
What does it all mean? The numbers in the sample are big enough to have some kind of statistical importance, surely.
If we are buying smaller homes, younger, and moving around more, does that reflect that bis are less likely to settle down with a partner? Or that you’re more likely to identify as bi if you are unattached and so under less label pressure, and the age thing about the growing proportion of younger people owning bi+ labels which we see coming up in other surveys more and more?
And as ever with these things there’s a chicken and an egg problem. Could something about being bi make us more footloose and fancy free, with a wider scope for delights in life that sees us moving from this place to that and just picking a house big enough for our immediate needs rather than setting down roots?
Or does a life where the dice happen to roll that you have not a lifelong marriage but several long-term relationships or periods of being less attached in turn lend itself to feeling more able to be out as bisexual to yourself, your friends and that stranger from the estate agency with a clipboard and demographics questions?
Either way it’s a fascinating counterpoint to the past research that says bi people make less than gay or straight people do – maybe we are expert at squirrelling it away to cover a mortgage deposit.
Further research, as they always say, required.
The report, based on four years of data from NAR’s Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, analyses the differences between LGB and other buyers and sellers. Not very surprisingly the report found that all groups — those identifying lesbian and gay, those identifying as bi, and those identifying as heterosexual — were most likely to purchase real estate because of a desire to own their own home. Few of us pop out for a loaf and accidentally come back with a mid-terrace with loads of room for improvement, and it’s the same in the States.
“The American Dream of homeownership traverses across the spectrum of our society — including sexual orientation,” said NAR President John Smaby, from Edina, Minnesota. He added that “Realtors have always embraced the significance of the protections secured by the Fair Housing Act, and have encouraged efforts to extend them by amending our Code of Ethics in 2009 to prohibit discriminations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
“The number of home buyers and sellers who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual has remained steady at 4% since we first included the question in our HBS survey in 2015,” said Dr. Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Given that Millennials now make up 37% of home buyers and attitudes regarding sexual orientation continue to shift even among Generation Z, we expect to see this percentage increase in future surveys as younger generations are more likely to self-identify as LGB.”
Since 2015 isn’t that long a time. Maybe over time we will see change?
Bisexual home buyers were less likely to identify as white/Caucasian than lesbian/gay or heterosexual buyers (77%, compared to 88% and 85%, respectively), and were nearly twice as likely to identify as Hispanic than both groups (13% compared to 7%). Fourteen percent of bisexual buyers were born outside of the U.S., versus 7% of lesbian and gay buyers. Eight percent of bisexual buyers reported speaking a primary household language other than English, more than lesbian and gay buyers (4%) and heterosexual buyers (2%).
More than one-third of bisexual buyers identified as single females (38%), while a quarter of lesbian and gay buyers identified as single men (25%). Lesbian and gay buyers were also the group most likely to identify as an unmarried couple at 22%, compared to 15% of bisexual buyers and 7% of heterosexual buyers. Heterosexual buyers were the most likely to identify as a married couple (66%), followed by lesbian and gay buyers (38%) and bisexual buyers (34%). I’m left wondering if our relationships are getting labelled by our non-bi partners?
While heterosexual buyers were the most likely to have children in their households (38%), bisexual buyers were nearly three times as likely to have children in their households compared to lesbian and gay buyers (29% to 11%).
Bisexual buyers purchased the smallest and oldest homes, with a median square footage of 1,840 square feet and median year built of 1966. Lesbian and gay buyers followed with a median square footage of 1,900 and a median year built of 1974, while heterosexual buyers purchased the largest and newest homes (2,060 median square feet, 1985 median year).
Bisexual buyers were the most likely to purchase a detached single-family home (86%), while lesbian and gay buyers were the least likely (79%). Heterosexual buyers were the most likely to purchase a multi-generational home at 13%, compared to 10% of LGB buyers.
Lesbian and gay buyers were most likely to purchase in an urban area or a city center (28%), while bisexual buyers were most likely to buy a home in a small town (22%). All sexual orientations were equally likely to purchase in a resort or recreation area, 2%.
Bisexual buyers were most likely to have made at least one compromise in their home purchase, most likely on the price (28%), style of home (23%) or distance from their jobs (23%).
The data used for the report is an aggregation of data from responses from the 2015 through 2018 NAR Profile of Home Buyer and Sellers, totalling 22,521 responses. Of these lesbian/gay or bisexual make up 3% and 1%, respectively – meaning a sample size of 918 LGB buyers and sellers.
This originally appeared in
Bi Community News issue 155
Published July/August 2019.