During the last five years, the premium to live in neighborhoods with the largest gay populations has grown substantially. At the housing market bottom in 2012, homebuyers would have needed to pay, on average, a 28.9% premium to live in communities populated with a higher share of gay, lesbian and bisexual residents. This home-buying season, homebuyers will need to pay 36.8% premium to live in these same neighborhoods. Clearly, America’s gay neighborhoods have recovered at a faster rate than non-gay neighborhoods.

In honor of Pride Month, we wanted to find out how, and where, demand for living in neighborhoods has changed since the trough of the housing market in 2012. In doing so, we partnered with online dating portal OkCupid to more accurately measure Pride neighborhoods. Traditionally, researchers have had to use U.S. Census data on the share of same-sex couples in order to determine where gay populations concentrate. The downside, however, is that not all gay individuals are in relationships, and as such, researchers may be inaccurately measuring where gay populations live. To avoid such mismeasurement, we developed the Neighborhood Pride Score using OkCupid data on the location of gay singles (which OkCupid defines as gay, lesbian and bisexual) combined with U.S. Census data on the location of gay couples. Using this new measure, we then examined how home values have changed in gay neighborhoods since housing market bottom.

We found that:

  • The premium to live in a neighborhood with a high Neighborhood Pride Score has increased from an average per square foot cost of $209 in 2012 – a 28.9% premium – to an average per square foot cost of $320 – a 36.8% premium – in 2017.
  • Across metros, demand to live in communities with higher Neighborhood Pride scores has increased most in New York, New Orleans, and Boston, where the premium to live in gay neighborhoods has increased by 56 percentage points, 52 percentage points, and 26 percentage points respectively.
  • Across metros, demand to live in communities with higher Neighborhood Pride scores has fallen most in Miami, Buffalo, and San Francisco, dropping by 13.4 percentage points, 9.5 percentage points, and 5.7 percentage points, respectively.

The Trulia-OkCupid Neighborhood Pride Score

To calculate the Neighborhood Pride Score, we added the percent of OkCupid’s users in each ZIP code that are searching for same sex partners (gay singles) to the percent of households that are same-sex couples using 2015 5-year American Community Survey (ACS). For example, if a ZIP code had 30% of its OkCupid users searching for same-sex partners and 15% of its ACS households are same-sex couples, we assigned that ZIP code a Neighborhood Price Score of 0.45. We then calculated the median value per square foot of homes for sale in each ZIP code as of April 1, 2017 and compared it to April 1, 2012 to find out how prices have changed over time and relative to their metropolitan area.

U.S. Zip Codes with the Highest Neighborhood Pride Score
U.S. Zip Code Neighborhood Pride Score Share of Singles Looking for Same-Sex Partners Share of Households with Same-Sex Couples
90069: West Hollywood, CA 0.75 47.5% 27.6%
94114: Castro, San Francisco, CA 0.66 41.1% 25.0%
75219: Uptown, Dallas, TX 0.59 37.8% 20.7%
92262: Palm Springs, CA 0.55 34.6% 20.5%
92103: Hillcrest, San Diego, CA 0.55 34.9% 20.0%
60660: Edgewater, Chicago, IL 0.53 34.0% 18.6%
60640: Andersonville, Chicago, IL 0.50 32.5% 17.8%
02130: Jamaica Plain, Boston, MA 0.49 31.6% 17.2%
98122: Capitol Hill/Madison Park/Montlake, Seattle, WA 0.49 31.3% 17.2%
70116: Treme/French Quarter, New Orleans, LA 0.47 30.1% 16.6%
NOTE: Only ZIP codes with at least 1,000 OkCupid active users and 1,000 households per the American Community Survey are included in the analysis.
National Home Value Comparison in Pride Neighborhoods, 2012 – 2017
Year Average Home Value Per Square Foot Dollar Value Premium, $ Per Square Foot Dollar Value Premium, % Per Square Foot
2012 $209 $47 28.9%
2017 $320 $86 36.8%
Change, 2012 – 2017 +$111 +$39 +7.9% pts.
NOTE: Only ZIP codes with at least 1,000 OkCupid active users and 1,000 households per the American Community Survey are included in the analysis. All statistics in this table are averages weighted by our Neighborhood Pride Score.

In 2012, the average home value per square foot for homes in gay neighborhoods was $209 per square foot, which was $47 – or 29.9% – more expensive than their respective median metropolitan home values. Since then, home values in gay neighborhoods have gone on a tear, with the average home value per square foot increasing by $86 – or 36.8% – more expensive than their respective median metropolitan home value. This suggests that the expense to live in communities with higher Neighborhood Pride Scores has risen more strongly than in communities with lower Neighborhood Pride Scores.

Where Demand to Live in Gay Neighborhoods is Changing Most

Though the national numbers show interesting trends, they mask substantial variation within metropolitan areas. In fact, when looking at individual metros, we find interesting trends in where gay neighborhoods are becoming more and less valuable relative to the median metropolitan home value over time (on a square-foot basis).

U.S. Metros Where Gay Neighborhoods Home Values are Climbing
U.S. Metro Gay Neighborhood Average Home Value per Square Foot, 2012 Gay Neighborhood Average Home Value per Square Foot, 2017 Gay Neighborhood Home Value Premium, 2012 Gay Neighborhood Home Value Premium, 2017 % Point Difference, 2012 – 2017
New York, NY $436 $659 106% 162% +56 pts.
New Orleans, LA $193 $290 99% 151% +52 pts.
Boston, MA $361 $557 79% 105% +27 pts.
Louisville, KY $90 $121 -2% 16% +18 pts.
Charlotte, NC $102 $145 26% 41% +15 pts.
Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, MA $250 $368 24% 38% +14 pts.
Philadelphia, PA $138 $173 45% 58% +14 pts.
Nashville, TN $105 $166 20% 33% +13 pts.
Pittsburgh, PA $82 $115 1% 13% +13 pts.
Grand Rapids, MI $62 $103 -18% -9% +9 pts.
NOTE: Our estimates of gay neighborhood homes values are calculated by taking the average price per square foot and price per square foot premium across all of a metro’s ZIP codes, weighted at the ZIP-code level by our Neighborhood Pride Score.

The New York metropolitan area tops the list of where neighborhoods with a high Neighborhood Pride Score are becoming more valuable. Here, home values in gay neighborhoods have climbed from more than 106% more expensive (over double) than the metro median home to 162% – an increase of 56 percentage points. Following suit are gay neighborhoods in New Orleans and Boston, which have seen their premium rise by 52 and 27 percentage points, respectively. What’s more, in the top 10 metros where Pride neighborhoods have increased most in value, there’s only one – Grand Rapids, Mich., – where living in such neighborhoods comes with a discount.

U.S. Metros Where Pride Neighborhood Home Values are Falling
U.S. Metro Gay Neighborhood Average Home Value per Square Foot, 2012 Gay Neighborhood Average Home Value per Square Foot, 2017 Gay Neighborhood Home Value Premium, 2012 Gay Neighborhood Home Value Premium, 2017 % Point Difference, 2012 – 2017
Miami, FL $188 $296 73% 60% -13 pts.
Buffalo, NY $77 $90 -7% -17% -10 pts.
San Francisco, CA $537 $925 17% 12% -6 pts.
San Diego, CA $253 $387 22% 17% -5 pts.
Salt Lake City, UT $149 $210 4% -1% -5 pts.
Oklahoma City, OK $80 $93 6% 2% -4 pts.
Sacramento, CA $144 $247 18% 14% -4 pts.
Dayton, OH $70 $77 0% -4% -4 pts.
Charleston, SC $86 $109 -14% -18% -4 pts.
Fresno, CA $95 $149 10% 7% -3 pts.
NOTE: Our estimates of gay neighborhood homes values are calculated by taking the average price per square foot and price per square foot premium across all of a metro’s ZIP codes, weighted at the ZIP-code level by our Neighborhood Pride Score.

However, not all Pride neighborhoods in our metros have gained value over the past five years. In fact, gay neighborhood home values in 34 of the largest 100 metros have actually declined relative to their metro median. Topping the list is Miami, where the Pride neighborhood home value premium has declined by 13 percentage points over the past 5 years, falling from a premium of 73% to 60%. Buffalo and San Francisco have seen the second and third most declines, where premiums rise have fallen by 10 and 6 percentage points, respectively. Unlike the metros with the largest increase in gay neighborhood premiums, several among the bottom 10 metros are still selling at a discount. Those looking to buy homes in gay neighborhoods in Buffalo, Salt Lake City, Dayton, Ohio, and Charleston, S.C., can find discounts of 17%, 1%, 4%, and 18%, respectively.

The Takeaway

Do these results suggest that the presence of gay households in a neighborhood cause home values to increase? Maybe, but the evidence isn’t conclusive. Since gay individuals and couples tend to have fewer children and higher incomes, they may seek to live in neighborhoods with more desirable amenities (which might help such neighborhoods appreciate at higher rates), or alternatively, their higher disposable incomes may attract such amenities after they move in. From an analytical standpoint, this is 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. That said, we can be certain that homeowners in many gay neighborhoods have much to celebrate this June, including the growing equity they’re gaining in their homes.

Methodology

The Census doesn’t ask sexual orientation, so the traditional way to measure Pride neighborhoods is based on where couples live. However, not all gay individuals are in relationships, so using gay couples as a proxy for where all gay individuals live may be mis-measuring where gay populations actually concentrate. To improve on this, we combined data from the 2015 5-Year American Community Survey at the ZIP code level with OkCupid user data on where their users are searching for same-sex partners. More specifically, these OkCupid user data are the share of users searching for a same-sex partner between 2012 – 2016 at the ZIP code level across the largest 100 metros. 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. Our estimates of gay neighborhood homes values at the national and metro level are calculated by taking the average price per square foot and price per square foot premium across all ZIP codes, weighted at the ZIP-code level by our Neighborhood Pride Score. Only ZIP codes with at least 1,000 OkCupid active users and 1,000 households per the American Community Survey are included in the analysis.

Diversity and inclusion are critical components of our core values at Trulia. We value our employees’ unique perspectives, experiences and skills, and, in partnership with our employees, we strive to maintain a culture that is both open and inclusive.

Check out our most recent “Meet the Trulian” Q&A with Chris Mielke on why he’s proud to be out at Trulia. He’s the president of the Zillow Group (Trulia’s parent company) Pride Network, an affinity network for LGBTQ+ employees and allies.