- Trulia combined U.S. Census data with OkCupid search results to create neighborhood Pride Scores, then examined home values between 2012 and 2017 in those neighborhoods.
- Although demand for housing in gay neighborhoods has gone up nationally, there are metro areas where home value has decreased.
In 2012, the premium to live in a neighborhood with a high “Pride Score” — a ZIP code in which a significant portion of the population comprises same-sex couples and single people searching for same-sex relationships on dating websites — was $209 per square foot, $47 higher than the respective metropolitan median value. But since then, that premium has jumped to $320 per square foot, $86 higher than the respective metropolitan median value, according to new research from Trulia.
This indicates that “America’s gay neighborhoods have recovered at a faster rate than non-gay neighborhoods,” according to Trulia’s chief economist, Ralph McLaughlin, who outlined the findings in a blog post.
McLaughlin added that it’s important not to imply causation when what we see is correlation — so although neighborhoods with high Pride Scores tend to also have higher home values, “the evidence isn’t conclusive” as to whether the presence of those LGBT households in the community is what’s driving the higher values.
“Since gay individuals and couples tend to have fewer children and higher incomes, they may seek to live in neighborhoods with more desirable amenities, or alternatively, their higher disposable incomes may attract such amenities after they move in,” he explained. “Essentially, this a tough chicken-or-egg problem. As a result, teasing out correlation from causation is a particularly difficult task, so we hesitate to make definitive conclusions from these data.”
Where values are rising (and falling) in gay neighborhoods nationwide
Naturally, some metro areas had higher Pride Scores than others. Trulia calculated the Pride Score by combining the share of households with same-sex couples (a metric tracked by the U.S. Census Bureau) with the share of singles in a particular ZIP code who are seeking a same-sex relationship on OkCupid, a popular online dating portal. (The Census doesn’t track the number of LGBT individuals who are not in a same-sex-couple household, which is why Trulia included the OkCupid data — Census data only include coupled-up LGBT citizens.)
These were the ZIP codes with the highest Pride Scores in the country:
- 90069 — West Hollywood, California — 0.75 Pride Score
- 94114 — Castro, San Francisco, California — 0.66 Pride Score
- 75219 — Uptown, Dallas, Texas — 0.59 Pride Score
- 92262 — Palm Springs, California — 0.55 Pride Sore
- 92103 — Hillcrest, San Diego, California — 0.55 Pride Score
- 60660 — Edgewater, Chicago, Illinois — 0.53 Pride Score
- 60640 — Andersonville, Chicago, Illinois — 0.50 Pride Score
- 02130 — Jamaica Plain, Boston, Massachusetts — 0.49 Pride Score
- 98122 — Capitol Hill/Madison Park/Montlake, Seattle, Washington — 0.49 Pride Score
- 70116 — Treme/French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana — 0.47 Pride Score
“Though the national numbers show interesting trends, they mask substantial variation across metropolitan areas,” wrote McLaughlin. Although neighborhoods with high Pride Scores are, generally speaking, becoming more desirable, there are also metro areas where neighborhoods with high Pride Scores show declines in value — gay neighborhood home values fell in 34 out of the 100 largest metros that Trulia studied.
Those metros included:
- Miami — a 13-percentage-point decline in home value premium
- Buffalo — a 10-percentage-point decline in home value premium
- San Francisco — a 6-percentage-point decline in home value premium
- San Diego — a 5-percentage-point decline in home value premium
- Salt Lake City — a 5-percentage-point decline in home value premium
Of course, with a national 6.9-percentage-point increase in home value premiums in gay neighborhoods, the flip side of the coin is that in some major metro areas, demand is through the roof.
Those metros include:
- New York — a 56-percentage-point increase in home value premium
- New Orleans — a 52-percentage-point increase in home value premium
- Boston — a 27-percentage-point increase in home value premium
- Louisville, Kentucky — an 18-percentage-point increase in home value premium
- Charlotte, North Carolina — a 15-percentage-point increase in home value premium
In New York, homes in gay neighborhoods went from $436 per square foot in value in 2012 to $659 per square foot in 2017.
How the numbers were crunched
As noted, there are no government-collected metrics about the number of LGBT citizens in the U.S. — the Census Bureau only tracks same-sex households, and people who are not in same-sex households are not asked about their sexual orientation.
Trulia used data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 5-year community survey, then added the share of same-sex households included in that survey to the share of people seeking a same-sex relationship in that ZIP code on OkCupid. It only measured ZIP codes with at least 1,000 households (per the American Community Survey) and with at least 1,000 active OkCupid users in its analysis.
“Since ZIP codes don’t line up perfectly with neighborhoods, we did our best to use the closest neighborhood names that correspond to the ZIP codes in our analysis,” wrote McLaughlin.
Trulia estimated home values in gay neighborhoods at the local and national level by taking the average price per square foot and price per square foot premium across all ZIP codes, then weighted those results at the ZIP-code level with the Pride Score.