Gays have a positive impact on home values in liberal areas. But in conservative ones, same-sex couples drag down prices -- probably because people don't want to live near them.
Time to thank your neighbors for their nice flower boxes. A new study summarized by the Harvard Business Review confirms what's become conventional wisdom in many urban areas that gay couples have a positive impact on a community's home values. But there's a surprising twist:
The addition of one same-sex couple for every 1,000 households is associated with a 1% increase in home prices in U.S. neighborhoods that are socially liberal, but a 1% drop in neighborhoods that are extremely conservative, say David Christafore of Konkuk University in South Korea and Susane Leguizamon of Tulane University. Their study of more than 20,000 real estate transactions in Ohio in 2000 supports previous findings that migration of same-sex couples to an area increases home values, in part because these residents tend to develop or enhance cultural amenities. But the new research suggests that in socially conservative areas, housing prices reflect prejudice against gays.
The stereotypes about gays and gentrification and home improvement are so entrenched that it's easy to forget that one of the most characteristic events in contemporary gay life is that of needing to get the hell out of the town where they were raised. Gay people often have to move to get away from communities prejudiced against them if they want to live authentic lives or avoid frequent unpleasant social interactions. The data on home values provides a hint of what happens when they don't.