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LGBTQ Realtor association outlines advocacy agenda for 2020

by Timothy Inklebarger

LGBTQ Realtor association outlines advocacy agenda for 2020

It’s been a big decade for the folks at the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP), and the work is far from done when it comes to creating greater equity for LGBTQ homebuyers and real estate professionals. Founded in 2007, the organization has grown to 2,600 members and 37 local chapters across the country, according to the association.

It may seem like a great deal of progress has been made toward gender equality in recent years, but NAGLREP founder Jeff Berger pointed to an Iowa State University study released in April in a recent interview as evidence of the contrary. The study showed bias against same-sex couples attempting to get a mortgage loan with 73 percent of such couples being more likely to be denied.

Same-sex couples also pay up to 0.2 percent more in terms of interest and fees, the study noted. “There was a discrimination fee built into these mortgages, as if they were riskier,” Berger said.

Berger said NAGLREP is not suggesting that there is “rampant discrimination” against LGBTQ folks in the real estate industry, but it does occur. “There are state laws that prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” he said. While the Illinois Human Rights Act, which has been law since 2006, prohibits discrimination against people based on “actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or gender-related identity,” Berger noted that about half the country has no such protections in place.

One way to begin to break down such barriers is The Equality Act, which would make it illegal to discriminate against those in the LGBTQ community. It was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives in May but has not been brought up for a vote in the Senate.

“We’ve been raising awareness for the Equality Act for about a year now,” Berger said. “It would be a huge win for the LGBT community – the entire industry would have to revamp its compliance.”

To help advance these efforts, NAGLREP established the LGBT Mortgage Advisory Group in late 2019. The group is co-chaired by two heavyweights at the National Association of Mortgage Brokers: Kimber White, the group’s president-elect, and Valerie Saunders, its executive director. Berger noted that White will be the mortgage broker association’s first openly gay president in its 46-year history.

The group holds its next meeting at the spring LGBT Housing Policy Summit, April 28 and 29.

“With the right education and raising awareness to concerns, we can all do better,” Berger said.

With a firm focus on what’s ahead, NAGLREP recently took a moment to celebrate its past victories, releasing a timeline of its top accomplishments over the last decade, including:

  • 2011-2013: Amending the National Association of Realtors’ Code of Ethics to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • 2014: Holding its first national conference and welcoming founding partners Coldwell Banker, Bank of America, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, Better Homes & Gardens Real Estate, Century 21, First American Title, Union Bank, PrimeLending and McCalla Raymer.
  • 2015: Inviting Jim Obergefell, lead plaintiff of the U.S. Supreme Court case legalizing same-sex marriage, to deliver the keynote address at its annual conference.
  • 2017: Holding its first LGBT Housing Policy Summit in Washington, D.C.
  • 2018: Playing a key role in encouraging the National Association of Realtors to pull campaign funds from U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) for opposing fair-housing rights for those in the LGBT community.

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