World News: 10:00 GMT Wednesday 12th June 2019. [Better.com via Businesswire via SPi World News]
On the four-year anniversary of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) being overturned, the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, and in celebration of Pride Month, digital mortgage lender Better.com is proud to support same-sex couples across the country, reporting a 10x increase in lending to LGBTQ married couples, totaling more than $35M in home loans.
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The news follows a study whose findings are startling: LGBTQ couples were 73 percent more likely to be denied a mortgage than heterosexual couples with the same financial worthiness. Additionally, on average, these couples paid .5 percent more in interest and fees, which collectively adds up to as much as $86 million a year, nationally. The research, published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found no evidence that same-sex couples had a higher default risk.
Marriage Equality Fueling LGBTQ Home Buying
It has been more than four years since the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality, paving the way for more and more LGBTQ married couples to buy homes. In a recent report from the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP), 49% of surveyed members reported more LGBTQ couples buying homes since the June 2015 decision. However, LGBTQ homeownership remains 16% below the national average according to a report by NAGLREP, published in partnership with Freddie Mac.
"The study findings -- which revealed that 73 percent of LGBTQ borrowers were more likely to be denied a mortgage -- are a stark reminder that significant changes are necessary in mortgage lending for same sex couples. We are pleased that technology has enabled digital mortgage lenders like Better.com to innovate the underwriting process for same-sex couples by focusing solely on one’s credit worthniess and financial situation. We hope as technology continues to advance, equal access to mortgages will follow suit," said Jeff Berger, REALTOR® and Founder NAGLREP.
“At Better, we strive to make home ownership accessible to not only LGBTQ people, but to all communities and every American,” said Vishal Garg, Founder and CEO of Better.com. “We are fiercely committed to advocating for our borrowers, as well as leading inclusion and diversity within the industry.”
Geographic Distribution of Mortgages for LGBTQ Married Couples
46% of the mortgages Better made to LGBTQ married couples went to borrowers in Red and Swing states, with Florida leading the way (12.36% of borrowers), followed by Texas (11.24%). These statistics date back to Better.com’s founding in 2016. Since inception, Better.com has increased its funded loan volume by 3x. Over the same time period, LGBTQ mortgages have grown 10x, suggesting that same sex couples are participating at a higher rate that their hetero counterparts.
Research also found the the LGBTQ population’s combined disposable personal income was an estimated $917 billion. Additionally, same-sex couples have a higher rate of employment than married opposite-sex couples and a higher median income than all opposite-sex couples.
"We've dealt with varying degrees of rejection or discrimination on our path to finding love and creating a life together and for the majority of our lives, the future for LGBTQ couples felt uncertain. There was always a hesitation before disclosing the name or gender of our significant other, especially when applying for a home loan. We're sincerely grateful to the team at Better.com who welcomed and helped us take the next step, with a truly honest and upfront approach to home financing. This August, after 8+ years together, we will take the next step in our journey as we become Mr. and Mr. in a backyard wedding and celebration in the place we call home.” - Brennan Johnson, 29 and Trevor McIntosh, 33, Denver, CO.
“Owning a home is the cornerstone of the American Dream and every community deserves an equal shot at making this dream a reality. While we still have a long way to go, it’s rewarding to know advances in technology are helping remove some of the existing barriers,” added Garg.
Better.com Pledges Formal Support for the Senate to Pass the Equality Act, a Step Toward LGBTQ Housing Protections
In light of the study findings, the current state of affairs, and Better.com’s internal audit of its LGBTQ borrowers, Better.com CEO and founder Vishal Garg pledged formal support for the Equality Act, an amendment to Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed discrimination on the basis race, color, religion, sex or national origin in employment, public accommodations and education, federal funding, credit, the jury system and housing. The Fair Housing Act, passed into law in 1968 and now a bedrock of the real estate industry, makes it illegal to discriminate based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status or national origin in the renting or selling of housing and related services. Crucially, it does not specifically mention sexual orientation or gender identity as protected categories
“Today, Better.com pledges full and formal support for the Equality Act because the current status quo is unjust,” said Garg. “Every human being - regardless of race, creed, sexual orientation or socioeconomic standing - deserves a fair shot at the American dream of owning a home. To know that even in 2019, there is a marginalized community without formal protected laws is unconscionable. The entire reason Better.com was created was to prevent this kind of discrimination in housing through technology. We stand behind all communities and support them as they pursue homeownership.”
Backed by Ally, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, American Express Ventures, Kleiner Perkins, Pine Brook and Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP), Better.com is one of the fastest growing home finance disruptors in America, leveraging technology to make homeownership more transparent, affordable and accessible. Unlike traditional lenders, Better.com operates on a commission-free business model that enables its customers to save an average of $3500 per loan. Better.com not only closes loans 50% quicker than the industry average1 (21 days vs. industry average of 42 days), its proprietary technology also allows its non-commissioned loan officers to outpace the industry by 1347%, originating 55 loans per month vs. the industry standard2 of 3.8 loans per month. Since inception in 2016, Better.com has funded more than $3.3B in loans. The company was recognized as one of Forbes FinTech 50 2018, and one of Crain’s Best Places to Work in New York City. For more information, follow @betterdotcom
1 Ellie Mae Origination Insight Report - March 2019
2 MBA Economic and Mortgage Finance Outlook Prepared for Midwinter Conference - March 2019
Business Wire: 10:00 GMT Wednesday 12th June 2019
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