Wonder why it’s so expensive to buy a house in WeHo? Well, one factor might be that it’s so gay.
That’s a possibility posited by a recent study conducted by Trulia, the real estate website for home buyers and real estate agents, and OkCupid, the dating website. The study ranked West Hollywood as the “gayest” city in the country, with 47.5% of its households occupied by single people looking for same-sex partners and 27.6% by same-sex couples. With 75% of its households occupied by LGBT people, WeHo easily tops the Castro district in San Francisco (66%), Dallas’s gay Uptown neighborhood (59%) and even Palm Springs (55%) and San Diego’s Hillcrest (55%). Based on that Trulia awarded WeHo a “Neighborhood Pride Score” of .75, its highest.
So what’s the connection between sexual orientation and the square foot price of a house? The study admits that that’s unclear. While there isn’t scientific proof that the homosexuality of a city is a factor in housing prices, there are some interesting correlations. According to the study:
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.
However, demand to live in some communities with higher Neighborhood Pride scores has fallen. The biggest declines are Miami (where the gay population has largely fled to Fort Lauderdale), Buffalo (who wants to live where it’s always cold and gray?), and San Francisco (where the tech nerds have pushed up housing costs, sending the gays running to Oakland). In those cities, the Neighorhood Pride scores dropped by 13.4 percentage points, 9.5 percentage points and 5.7 percentage points, respectively.
While West Hollywood may be the nation’s (and perhaps the world’s) gayest city, the demand among gay people to live in gay neighborhoods in Greater Los Angeles as a whole hasn’t increased as much as it has in other major metropolitan areas. The study doesn’t break out that data for West Hollywood. But in its review of major metro areas, Los Angeles, whose gayborhoods also include Silver Lake, Downtown Los Angeles and Long Beach, isn’t in the top ten.
The study calculates demand according to the increase in price per square foot from 2012 to 2017. New York is at the top of the list, with a price per square foot of $659, up 56 percentage points. Next is New Orleans ($290, 52 points), Boston ($557 (27 points), Louisville ($121, 18 points) and Charlotte ($145, 15 points). The list of ten cities bottoms with Grand Rapids ($103, 9 points). For insight into the value of a gay neighborhood, consider that today a New York City residential property costs on average $567 per square foot. But in a gay neighborhood in the city, it is $659 a square foot.
Trulia worked with OkCupid on the study so that it could get data on the number of single LGBT people in a city. The U.S. Census Bureau provides data on same-sex couples, a practice the Trump administration is considering stopping, but not on single LGBT people. OKCupid was able to provide estimates of the number of LGBT singles from its own research.