Why You Should Buy a Home in a Gay Neighborhood

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Asking prices on homes are rising as much as two-thirds as fast in gay-friendly urban neighborhoods as in U.S. cities as a whole, property-listing site Trulia.com ( TRLA) says.

"There's a long history of gay people being a big part of gentrifying urban neighborhoods," Trulia Chief Economist Jed Kolko says.

Trulia recently analyzed asking prices per square foot of homes listed on its site in America's 100 largest metro areas and in just big-city neighborhoods with larger-than-average gay populations.

The site found that median prices per square foot rose 10.5% over the past year in metro areas as a whole -- but 13.8% in urban areas popular with male couples and 16.5% in neighborhoods with big lesbian populations.

Kolko, who's gay himself, theorizes further that because just 10% of gay-male households and 24% of lesbian couples have children (vs. a 41% rate for U.S. couples as a whole), many can choose small homes in pricey neighborhoods.

"Same-sex couples can spend their housing dollars on more-expensive neighborhoods rather than on more square footage," Kolko says.

Still, the economist cautions that homebuyers shouldn't assume moving to a gay-friendly neighborhood ensures they'll enjoy above-average price gains.

"Who your neighbors are is no guarantee of what's going to happen to your home's value," Kolko says. "You can certainly find examples of same-sex neighborhoods with smaller price increases than predominantly heterosexual ones."

That said, the expert does recommend that landlords and home sellers know whether an area has an above-average gay population so they can market properties effectively.

"If you're looking for a renter or a buyer, understanding the neighborhood that you're in will help with your strategy," Kolko says.

Here's a look at the methodology behind Trulia's study:
  • The site measured annual home-price appreciation by looking at median asking prices per square foot for all non-foreclosed houses and condos listed for sale on Trulia.com in the March 1-May 31 periods of this and last year.
  • Trulia estimated price gains for U.S. cities as a whole by looking at asking prices for all listings in the nation's 100 largest metro areas.
  • The study defined gay-friendly urban neighborhoods as ZIP codes in the 100 largest metropolitan areas where at least 1% of households identified themselves in the 2010 U.S. Census as consisting of either gay or lesbian same-sex couples. That's some three times the rate for America as a whole, where gay and lesbian same-sex couples each account for about 0.3% of the total.
  • Trulia used same-sex-couple figures as a proxy for gay population because the 2010 Census didn't specifically ask people about sexual orientation. Neighborhoods the study defined as having abover-average gay populations ranged from Boston's Jamaica Plain area in the East to San Francisco's Castro District in the West.

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