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Research Publication

Fannie Mae Now Collects First-of-Its-Kind LGBT Data Through National Housing Survey

June 20, 2024
LGBT Consumers Would Like to Become Homeowners, But Many Are Concerned about Qualifying for a Mortgage
Yiwen (Xavier) Kuai
Yiwen (Xavier) Kuai

Research Economist

Mark Palim
Mark Palim

Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist

With the introduction of sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) identifiers in the National Housing Survey® (NHS), Fannie Mae can now survey consumers who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) regarding their attitudes, intentions, and financial circumstances that pertain to housing and mortgage markets. In this first report, we analyzed data collected in 2023.

To align as closely as possible to existing industry data collection practices, including the Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey, and to provide academia and other housing economists with uniform and readily cross-referenceable data sets, the ESR Group decided to limit its sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) identifiers to NHS respondents who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT).

Key findings include:

  • 8.6% of respondents identified as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) — similar to the Census Bureau's Household Pulse Survey (HPS).
  • Compared to the non-LGBT population, the LGBT population skewed relatively younger and more economically disadvantaged.
  • Homeownership aspirations are high among LGBT consumers, with 83% saying they "would like to buy at some point" or "continue to own." This share is comparable to non-LGBT consumers. LGBT consumers also believe there are more obstacles to owning a home than their non-LGBT peers.

Beginning in Q3 2022, Fannie Mae began collecting self-reported sexual orientation data of survey participants in its National Housing Survey® (NHS). The NHS is the only large, national, monthly survey of consumers focused primarily on housing-related topics. The survey moved online in 2023 using the AmeriSpeak® panel from the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago. With NORC, we followed consumer research best practices by adding gender identity, and we modeled our SOGI questions after the Census Bureau's HPS.1 We analyzed data collected in 2023 for this report. With these SOGI identifiers, Fannie Mae will continue to leverage insights from the NHS to identify and better understand the challenges and opportunities facing the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) community,2 as well as to monitor trends, so that we can better serve and inform housing stakeholders. We hope these insights help address a well-known industry knowledge gap about the LGBTQ+ community's relationship with the U.S. housing market.

How did we identify Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) respondents in our survey?

We followed the classification for identifying LGBT and non-LGBT populations used in Census Bureau's analysis.3 We utilized information from three SOGI questions in our survey regarding gender identity, sex assigned at birth, and sexual orientation. We were able to identify a subset of population from the broader Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ+) community through the NHS. Unlike LGBT, we don’t explicitly ask about Queer identification.

We identified a respondent as LGBT if the respondent: 1) reported a sex at birth that did not align with their current gender identity or currently identifies as transgender; 2) reported a sexual orientation of gay or lesbian; or 3) reported a sexual orientation of bisexual. Non-LGBT respondents reported a sex assigned at birth that aligned with their current gender identity and selected “straight” on the sexual orientation question. Our weighted sample only included adults ages 18 and older.


LGBT Consumers Tend to be Younger and More Economically Disadvantaged

In our sample, 8.6% (±0.5%) of the respondents identified as LGBT and 88.7% (±0.5%) as non-LGBT. Our estimates were similar to those reported in the HPS, in which 8.5% (±0.1%) of the population identified as LGBT and 84.8% (±0.1%) identified as non-LGBT.4 Additionally, in our sample, nearly half (46%) of LGBT consumers identified as people of color, compared to 41% of non-LGBT consumers identifying as people of color. LGBT consumers also tended to be a lot younger and more likely to identify as "single/not married" compared to non-LGBT consumers. These key demographic differences are likely to influence labor, financial, and housing outcomes, and may explain some of the differences we observed in the NHS among the non-LGBT population. As we grow our data set, controlling for these demographic differences will likely be relevant in future analyses.

Share of Respondents

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Our survey data reveals that LGBT consumers were more likely to be unemployed or employed part-time than non-LGBT consumers in 2023. LGBT respondents were also more concerned about job loss compared to non-LGBT respondents. This conforms with previous literature that LGBTQ+ individuals may face more challenges in the labor market.5 About half of LGBT consumers reported that they earned less than $50,000 in total family income, while only 34% of non-LGBT consumers fell into this category in our sample.6 Even within the same age group, LGBT individuals earned significantly less than non-LGBT individuals. Forty-five percent of LGBT respondents, aged 35-44, earned less than 80% of the area median income compared to only 29% among non-LGBT respondents, although the income gap decreased as age increased.

LGBT Consumers Report a Higher Incidence of Obstacles for Owning a Home

We found the LGBT homeownership rate to be 46%, which is much lower than the overall U.S. homeownership rate of 65%.7 Our estimate is comparable with other surveys.8 However, age and marital status are likely contributing to this difference, as these factors have been found to be the primary demographic determinants of homeownership in prior literature.9 Among those who identified as gay or lesbian, the homeownership rate was 53%; however, for those who identified as bisexual, the homeownership rate was only 32%. Our results also found that many LGBT homeowners were first-time homebuyers (58%) and have had shorter homeownership tenures compared to non-LGBT homeowners. In comparison, only 46% non-LGBT homeowners are first-time homebuyers. Regarding housing type, LGBT respondents were more likely to live in apartments and condos compared to non-LGBT respondents (32% vs. 20%).

Additionally, LGBT consumers reported a strong desire to own a home, with 83% saying they "would like to buy at some point" or "continue to own." These results are consistent with the 85% of non-LGBT consumers who aspire to own a home. Most LGBT renters also had high aspirations of owning a home, with 77% indicating that they "would buy a property at some point," compared to 71% of non-LGBT renters.

Most homebuyers, particularly first-time buyers, finance their home purchases with mortgage credit. In our sample, 70% of LGBT homeowners had an outstanding mortgage, compared to 61% of non-LGBT homeowners. However, over 70% of LGBT respondents said it was difficult to get a home mortgage today, compared to only 55% of non-LGBT respondents. LGBT consumers were more concerned about closing costs, credit score or history, current debt, and insufficient income for monthly payments. Prior research has shown that state and federal recognitions of same-sex marriage increased the demand for mortgage credit from same-sex borrowers and reduced mortgage price disparity between heterosexual and same-sex co-borrowers.10

Biggest Obstacle to Getting a Mortgage

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Tracking LGBT Consumers Attitudes for Additional Analysis

By leveraging our new NHS data, we can now provide a descriptive view of LGBT consumers and their housing circumstances in 2023. As we consider future surveys, we look forward to better tracking trends in the LGBT community, as well, including their expectations for mortgage rates and home prices, expected home purchase timing, and their financial and economic outlooks more generally.

Furthermore, as our data set grows, we will be even better equipped to monitor longer-term trends, perform analyses controlling for demographic and economic factors, and dig into differences that we identify across the entirety of the LGBT population and its underexamined subgroups. This will allow us, and the many housing stakeholders we serve, to better understand how LGBT attitudes and housing needs compare to other, more readily examined consumer segments. We expect our updated National Housing Survey will help fill in many of the gaps in the existing academic literature and enable Fannie Mae and the larger industry to better understand and address the needs, opportunities, and obstacles of LGBT consumers as they navigate the housing landscape.

Marital Status

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Age Distributions

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Income Distributions

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The authors thank Kevin Tillmann, Steve Deggendorf, Matthew Classick, Laurel Davis, Katrina Jones and Jaclene Begley for valuable contributions in the creation of this commentary and the design of the research. All errors and omissions remain the responsibility of the authors.

Opinions, analyses, estimates, forecasts, beliefs, and other views of Fannie Mae's Economic & Strategic Research (ESR) Group or survey respondents included in these materials should not be construed as indicating Fannie Mae's business prospects or expected results, are based on a number of assumptions, and are subject to change without notice. How this information affects Fannie Mae will depend on many factors. Although the ESR Group bases its opinions, analyses, estimates, forecasts, beliefs, and other views on information it considers reliable, it does not guarantee that the information provided in these materials is accurate, current, or suitable for any particular purpose. Changes in the assumptions or the information underlying these views could produce materially different results. The analyses, opinions, estimates, forecasts, beliefs, and other views published by the ESR Group represent the views of that group or survey respondents as of the date indicated and do not necessarily represent the views of Fannie Mae or its management.


Choi, Jung Hyun, Alanna McCargo, Michael Neal, Laurie Goodman, and Caitlin Young. 2019. "Explaining the Black-White Homeownership Gap: A Closer Look at Disparities across Local Markets." Urban Institute (Oct. 10): 1 – 40.

Dey, Jaya, and Lariece M. Brown. 2022. "The Role of Credit Attributes in Explaining the Homeownership Gap Between Whites and Minorities Since the Financial Crisis, 2012 – 2018." Housing Policy Debate 32.2: 275 – 336.

Drew, Rachel Bogardus. "Effect of Changing Demographics on Young Adult Homeownership Rates." 2015. Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University W15-2: 1 – 34.

Drydakis, Nick, and Klaus F. Zimmermann. 2020. "Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Labour Market Outcomes: New Patterns and Insights." Global Labor Organization (GLO) Discussion Paper 627: 1 – 16.

Fric, Karel. 2017. "Access to the labour market for gays and lesbians: Research review." Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services 29.4: 319 – 361. doi: 10.1080/10538720.2017.1365671.

Liao, Scott, Lulin Song, and Haiwen Helen Zhang. 2023. "Federal Regulations on Fair Lending and Sexual Orientation Discrimination in the Mortgage Market." Available at SSRN:

Miller, Joshua J., and Kevin A. Park. 2018. "Same-Sex Marriage Laws and Demand for Mortgage Credit." Review of Economics of the Household 16.2: 229 – 254.

Romero, Adam P., Shoshana K. Goldberg, and Luis A. Vasquez. 2020. "LGBT People and Housing Affordability, Discrimination, and Homelessness." Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law (April): 1 – 40.

Visalli, Katie, Aniket Mehrotra, Matthew Pruitt, and Todd Hill. 2024. "Why Are There Gaps in LGBTQ+ Homeownership?" Urban Institute (Feb. 28): 1 – 34.

1 For designing SOGI questions, see Recommendations on the Best Practices for the Collection of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Data on Federal Statistical Surveys. Details about Fannie Mae's National Housing Survey® can be located here.

2 Our survey does not explicitly ask about Queer identification.

3 See Census Bureau's classification used in the analysis of HPS. Margin of errors are shown at the 90% confidence level.

4 We replicated the calculations using the most recent data from the HPS. HPS is experimental data produced by the U.S. Census Bureau. All estimates were calculated using pooled data from public microdata files between January 4, 2023 and October 30, 2023, excluding those respondents for whom sex at birth was imputed by the Census Bureau. Margin of errors are shown at the 90% confidence level. Tabulations are also available with the HPS (July 21, 2021 to September 13, 2021) through the Census Bureau.

5 See Drydakis and Zimmermann (2020) and Karel (2017).

6 Fannie Mae's NHS asked respondents to indicate their "total family income" for 2022. In comparison, the Census Bureau's HPS asked respondents for their "total household income before taxes" in 2022.

7 Fannie Mae Economic and Strategic Research group's computations from American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates Public Use Microdata Sample, 2022.

8 With the NHS sample, the homeownership rate was estimated to be 65% among all groups and 68% for non-LGBT respondents. See a summary of other estimates for LGBTQ+ homeownership rates in Table 1 in Visalli et al. (2023). Even considering differences in the classification of "LGBTQ+," LGBTQ+ homeownership rates generally have been found to be between 44% and 52% in previous surveys. Based on authors' calculation from pooled HPS data between January 4, 2023 and October 30, 2023, the homeownership rate for LGBT households is estimated to be 52%.

9 Fannie Mae's recent working paper and other literature have explored these issues and examined homeownership gaps by race and socioeconomic status. Other factors often discussed in the literature are wealth, credit access, and household compositions. For additional literature, see Choi et al. (2019), Drew (2015) and Brown and Dey (2019).

10 See Miller and Park (2018) and Liao, Song, and Zhang (2023). For a synthesis of research on LGBT people and housing challenges, see Romero et al. (2020).