Buying power of gays fuels real estate boom
Gay buying power has led to the creation of a substantial niche real estate market, which has helped turn Puna into something of a boom town.
Witeck-Combs Communications and Packaged Facts, a division of MarketResearch.com, projected the total buying power of the U.S. gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender adult population at $660 billion in 2007. That number, which represents a 19 percent increase over 2006, has surpassed the buying power of the Asian and Native American communities and is on par with the African-American and Hispanic markets, the survey said.
"In today's competitive marketplace, it is no longer prudent for a leading corporation to ignore the buying power of the gay market," said Wesley Combs, president of Witeck-Combs "Marketers that do risk leaving market share on the table for others to capture."
According to the survey, 16 to 20 million adults in the U.S. population identify themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
While no direct studies have been conducted on the gay real estate market, the National Realtors Association has estimated that roughly 2 percent of the real estate market is comprised of gay buyers.
"It's definitely a niche market, but one that is beginning to get some attention," said NAR spokesman Walter Molony.
Justin Nelson, co-founder and president of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, is partnering with Realogy Corp., the franchisor of ERA, Century 21, Coldwell Banker, and Sotheby's, to create a GLBT real estate certification, Nelson said.
"The GLBT community often feels more comfortable conducting real estate transactions with those who understand the subtle nuances and differences of this market," Nelson said.
The program will be introduced via the 2007 GLBT Chamber of Commerce Business and Leadership Conference, which will be held May 31 to June 2 in Miami, Fla., he said.
The increase in gay buying power has created new investment opportunities, especially in real estate, for the gay market, said Nelson.
Regions like Puna that appeal to the GLBT community have been spotlighted in advertising that targets GLBT buyers. NGLCC also has crafted a real estate section for its Web site, www.nglcc.org, that caters to the growing demand for property in the GLBT community, he said.
As buying power in the GLBT market increases, it's only natural to see an outgrowth in businesses that target this community, he said.
"In our partnership with American business leaders, we have seen firsthand the significant contributions that the GLBT community make to our economy," Nelson said. "Buying power is a valuable metric to signify the combined contributions that we make in the work force, in the marketplace, and as investors. It's a measure that few can ignore."
Nelson cited Rehoeagh Beach, Dela., a rural beach community like Puna, as an example of the sort of gentrification the GLBT community can bring about, he said.
"The gay community moved in and created a vacation sanctuary for gays and lesbians and began renovating and increasing property values. It's now once again a vibrant little community by the sea and we've seen an influx of the mainstream population as a result of what the gay community has done."