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A Guide to Navigating Homeownership for LGBTQIA+ Folks

By Staff
  | Jun 06, 2024

pride flag hanging outside a home

June is LGBTQIA+ Pride Month and Homeownership Month. What better way to honor both of these month-long celebrations than by talking about homeownership for LGBTQIA+ folks.

At Self-Help, when we say ownership and economic opportunity for all, we mean ALL, which is why we put together this guide to support a more accessible homeownership journey for LGBTQIA+ couples, families, and individuals. LGBTQIA+ people face unique challenges when it comes to housing, and education is key!  

In this article, we discuss barriers to homeownership, advice on how to financially prepare, and tips for ensuring a safe and productive homebuying experience. 


The Barriers to Queer Homeownership  

While the U.S. has come a long way when it comes to accepting and protecting LGBTQIA+ folks, it is pretty clear that discrimination against queer people is still a huge problem. (At the time this post is being written, there are 515 anti-LGBTQIA+ bills across the U.S. that the ACLU is currently tracking.) As a result of these biases, there are specific concerns that come into play with homeownership, and it is important to identify those barriers to learn how we can challenge them.  

In 2021, only 44% of LGBTQIA+ adults were homeowners compared to 68% of non-LGBTQIA+ adults.1 Let’s talk about a few reasons why that may be:

  • The Gay Pay Gap: Studies show that LGBTQIA+ people make less than non-LGBTQIA+ people, with one study showing that heterosexual men make 46% more than gay men and 83% more than lesbian women.2 This discrepancy in income can make it harder to save for a downpayment or any other homeownership costs.

  • Higher Cost of Living: LGBTQIA+ homeowners are more likely to have a higher monthly mortgage payment.3 This is likely because many LGBTQIA+-friendly cities and neighborhoods come with higher price tags. 

a hand on a person's pregnant stomach

  • Higher Family & Medical Costs: For LGBTQIA+ couples who want kids, the available options all require significant financial investments – a typical adoption costs $25-60k,4 IVF costs an average of $40-60k to reach a live birth,5 and surrogacy can range from $100-225k.6 Other medical costs include those for transgender and nonbinary folks who may opt for gender-affirming options like hormones and surgeries. Often, fertility options and gender affirming healthcare aren’t covered by insurance, which means LGBTQIA+ people may be forced to choose between becoming parents, having their gender affirmed, and owning a home. 

  • Lower Approval Rates: When analyzing national mortgage data, same-sex couples had 3-8% lower mortgage loan approval rates than heterosexual couples, and those who were approved paid more in interest and fees.7 Sometimes, these higher rates can be justified with increased risk, but there is no evidence that same-sex couples had a higher default rate.7 Instead, it is likely that the disparity is due to discriminatory attitudes. 

It is worth mentioning that asexual/aromantic people who don’t have partners may also have to bear the burden of additional costs (and biases) alone. 

While many of our systems and attitudes need to change to make homeownership more achievable for LGBTQIA+ people, we know that kind of change is often slow. In the meantime, there are options and resources available to get queer folks started on their homeownership journeys now.  


smiling woman in a living room

Your Guide to Homeownership 

While LGBTQIA+ people may be burdened with lower incomes and higher costs, that doesn’t mean that homeownership is out of reach! If owning a home is a dream of yours, let’s explore some tips and advice to help you on your way to achieving your goals. 


Let’s talk credit & DTIs 

Having a credit score of 700 or higher is important when it comes to getting approved for a conventional loan and getting the best interest rates. If your credit is currently low, consider a credit builder loan to help get it to where it needs to be (and the best part is that you earn dividends on the money while you pay it off). 

It is also important to maintain a debt-to-income ratio (DTI) below 43% (below 36% is even better). DTI is calculated by looking at all your monthly debt payments (rent, student loans, auto loans, etc.) and dividing that by your gross monthly income to give you a percentage. It gives the loan officers an idea of how manageable your current debt is for you. If your current DTI is higher than suggested, consider paying off some of your debt before starting the loan approval process. 


What kind of financial assistance is available? 

FHA and VA loans are government-backed mortgage programs that are great options for people with lower credit scores (580 or higher) who would like to get into homes faster. They also only require 3.5% down (or even as low as 0% down for veterans who meet service criteria). 

Working with a community development financial institution (CDFI) can also be a great option! CDFIs like Self-Help often offer competitive loan programs that specifically focus on underserved communities. At Self-Help, we have the Equity Boost program for first-generation homebuyers and for homebuyers with modest incomes, which requires 0% down and a credit score of only 580. When you’re an Equity Boost borrower, you also benefit from low closing costs and $2,000 toward your emergency savings. 

In addition to looking into these various types of loans, you should also make sure to look up LGBTQIA+-specific housing programs in your area. There may be local programs that offer financial education and assistance. 


How do I know if I’m being discriminated against? 

LGBTQIA+ people are protected under the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has maintained that “sex” also means gender identity and sexual orientation (though some groups are pushing for an updated proposal called the Fair and Equal Housing Act, which would include this additional wording explicitly). 

While there are protections in place, one of the big problems with many forms of discrimination is that they are not always easily identifiable. Discriminatory practices have been part of our systems for so long that it is hard to capture all the ways they manifest. To help you understand how and when discrimination may happen, let’s take note of some common signs: 

  • A real estate agent refusing to represent or show properties to you 

  • A seller or agent suddenly saying a home is off the market or not considering your offer 

  • A lender who isn’t upfront about mortgage rates 

  • Higher than expected mortgage rates that don’t align with the rates cisgender heterosexual couples around you are getting 

  • Being asked to sign legal forms that don’t adequately represent your relationship or identity 

  • Being discouraged by housing professionals at any point in the process – e.g. being discouraged from looking in a certain neighborhood or when trying to secure financing 

If you believe you are experiencing housing discrimination, report it to HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity:  


How can I find LGBTQIA+-friendly professionals to work with? 

Buying a house is stressful, and many LGBTQIA+ people have their own complicated relationships with housing in regard to personal safety and belonging. Having someone who you know is in your corner can help relieve some fears around discrimination and make the process more comfortable. 

There are many directories and resources that you can use to find LGBTQIA+-friendly housing professionals. A few options include: 

If there aren’t many options listed in your area, you can also: 

  • Ask for referrals from the LGBTQIA+ community: Queer friends, family community centers, support groups, local social media groups, etc., can all be great resources for finding professionals who have been vetted by LGBTQIA+ homebuyers. 

  • Interview potential real estate agents or lenders: Remember, you decide who you work with, which means you can ask all the questions you need to feel comfortable. You can ask about their experience serving the LGBTQIA+ community, training they’ve completed, policies they have in place, or anything else you’d like to know. A housing professional who is a true ally won't mind the questions and will respond with a clear understanding of the needs of LGBTQIA+ people. 


The homebuying process is stressful, and the LGBTQIA+ community faces specific challenges that can make that process even harder. However, financial planning and preparedness in addition to understanding the signs of discrimination and knowing how to find housing professionals who will support you are key to achieving (equitable) homeownership.  


You might be closer to homeownership than you think. If you’re interested in purchasing a home or refinancing, head to or call 800-476-7428 to learn more about our low to no down payment requirements and our flexible underwriting.  







1 Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, "New Analysis Finds LGBTQ+ Households Trail in Income and Wealth," Dec. 1, 2022,
2 The Prudential Insurance Company of America, "LGBT Financial Experience 2016-2017 Research Study,"
3 LGBT Economics, "The Economic Well-Being of LGBT Adults in 2019," 2021,
4 NerdWallet, "How Much Does Adoption Cost? Adoption Costs Explained," updated Apr. 20, 2023,
5 FertilityIQ, "How Much Does IVF Cost? Breaking Down IVF Treatment Costs," accessed May 29, 2024,
6 Jessica Dickler, "How Much Surrogacy Costs and How to Pay for It," U.S. News & World Report, May 30, 2023,
7 Iowa State University, "Same-sex couples pay more for mortgages, study finds," April 16, 2019,

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