Monthly Archives: January 2014

Tips On Buying Time Shares in LGBT-Friendly Resort Towns

Buying a timeshare in a gay hot spot is a sensible economical solution for LGBT snowbirds that want to go somewhere warm for the winter.  There are many wonderful time shares in the United States that are located in gay and lesbian friendly resort communities such as Sedona, Long Beach, West Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, South Beach, Province Town – just to name a few!

coaastal maineFirst off it is a good idea to travel to the vacation resort and check it out before you. You should never buy a timeshare based on a graphic illustration in a brochure or magazine.  The good news is that many vacation resorts offer free or inexpensive overnight stays so you can check the place out.  Most time-share resorts will ask that you attend a sales presentation but you do not have to if you can assure them that you are a serious buyer.  Keep in mind that when it comes to knowing the most possible about a property, sitting in on a sales presentation can be a good thing because you will be offered a great deal of information.

When buying a timeshare keep in mind that one day you might want to sell it. Try to buy in a high demand area that is a LGBT vacation hotspot like the coast of California or Florida.  It is also a good idea to buy a timeshare with slots available in Prime Season.

Timeshares are also notorious for having hidden inflationary fees. Be sure to get real guidance and advice before you buy and be sure that you can afford the maintenance fee.  It is very common for maintenance fees to be increased as much as 4% every year so try to buy one that has a reasonable cap.

The more affordable timeshares might be the ones that are bought from a reseller. A brand new timeshare that is bought from a retailer might be fifty to ninety percent more expensive than the time share that has been on the market more than once.  The Internet, newspapers and travel magazines are good sources of information about where to find timeshares for sale in the United States.

If you do buy from a retailer try to buy from a large and reputable company that is known to be LGBT friendly. Check out the reputation of the owner and be sure to get testimonials about the place from people who live there while you are on your investigative trip to the place.

Another reason that you want to try and buy from a bigger company is because it will be easier to trade or exchange your timeshare if you have more options to choose from.  A sign that you are buying from a great timeshare company is if it provides owners with a color-coded catalogue of timeshares that need to be traded every season.

Make sure you are buying from a licensed LGBT-friendly real estate broker who can hold your funds in escrow until the sale closes and that if you are buying a deeded (fixed week) property that you also obtain Title Insurance.  As you would with any kind of real estate transaction make sure that your understanding of the way the timeshare works is the same as the sellers and the both of you agree on all of the terms and conditions of the timeshare contract.

Replacing Windows Adds Curb Appeal And Value

One the most effective and expedient ways to give a home-for-sale an instant face-lift is to replace the windows. Brand new windows sparkle and give your home a more polished look. They help make a property look contemporary, clean and less lived in, thus making it easier for a buyer to imagine a life in the space. If the home has distressed or unpainted sills, missing pane frames or absent screens then it can really look shoddy from both the inside and outside. This can result in refusals for buyers to meet your asking price. Curb appeal is about making a first impression and the condition of your windows have a lot to do with that split decision that many potential buyers make when contemplating whether or not they will contact a real-estate agent about your home.

Interior-ShuttersReplacing the windows on your home is not just about adding visual beauty. People are eager to buy a home that is energy efficient. A home that is retrofitted with new windows can save the owner twenty percent per year in energy costs. This is because heat and air-conditioned air is not lost through physical cracks and uncoated glass.

The most energy efficient windows are coated with a protective layer of Mylar that helps reflect the heat of the sun back outside. The Mylar coating is available in thicknesses of 1 to 10 with the 10 level of coating having the ability to reflect light back outside. These coatings for windows can also help prevent ultra-violet rays from the sun from fading wood floors and fabrics and furniture.

If you can afford it, it is a good idea to ask the windows replacement company to outfit the home with window frames with a solid wooden core. Although much more expensive than vinyl frames, they do not shrink and swell in tandem with temperature extremes. Wooden core window frames last that longest and save the homeowner the most money in energy costs.

Buyers with children or pets are more likely to choose a home with newer windows, as they tend to pose less of a safety risk due to falls, broken casements or broken or non-existent screens. Homes with new windows are also more secure with modern locking mechanism; this is important if you live in an area where home invasions and burglaries are a risk.

Window replacement does not have to compromise the look of an older home. Nowadays you can get windows that have the contemporary features but still have the octagonal, triangular, gothic, arched and other shapes that are associated with Victorian, Edwardian and Art Deco architectural styles.

The cost of replacing your windows is going to depend on many factors including the age and style of your home, whether or not the windowsills need replacing or painting and what kind of window coatings might be required to help control temperature inside and help protect your belongings from damaging light rays.

If you deal with a quality installer of replacement windows you will be able to get a quote from a customer service representative who visits your home and then advises you about the most suitable fit for your home’s style and needs also about the cost of installation.

Posted on January 26, 2014 in Home Remodelling, Home Values, Real Estate, Renovation, Selling

Emerging Real Estate Trends in Top LGBT Cities in 2014

The Urban Land Institute and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) recently co-published the 35th annual edition of Emerging Trends in Real Estate. This publication provides an outlook on annual market trends that is widely read by real estate professionals. The analysis for 2014 includes information about the top markets in the United States thus provoking the question, “Of these top markets, which ones are LGBT-friendly?” The answer, not that surprising, is that all of the top markets (especially with revitalized downtowns) were also very LGBT-friendly including two of the most gay-friendly metropolises in the world – San Francisco and New York.

Alamo_Square_with_Painted_Ladies,_SF,_CA,_jjron_26.03.2012The number one top market on this publication’s list is San Francisco, which is top ranked for a second year in a row. San Francisco earned this position because it is rich with potential for home building, an easy place to make money selling and buying real estate. It id also a city that is open to new development. San Francisco is a city where there is a lot of capital available for new projects and there is little “financial prejudice” against gays. In 2014, this number one LGBT-friendly place in America is predicted to thrive as well as it did in 2013, partially because the economy is supposed to experience an increased employment rat of 2% this year and an increase of individual personal income of 5.5%. This helps residents offset the high cost of living downtown. San Francisco is also unusual because it does not have a burnt-out city core.

Thanks partly to a caring and wealthy LGBT influence, the downtown areas of San Francisco or revitalized to the extent that 36% of new residents to the city are moving into the metro downtown. Emerging Real Estate Trends recommends San Francisco as being the number one “solid buy” for investors in the United States with great neighborhoods, beautiful hotels and gorgeous parks.

The second top market on the list is Houston. Houston has a huge arts community that is very friendly to LGBT individuals and also young people. Houston is particular suited for investment in new buildings. It is also described as a city with long-term above average economic growth with expansion predicted in the health, energy and distribution industries.

San Jose, California was third on the list with a profile for growth very similar to its neighboring big city of San Francisco. Jobs in the area of technology are likely to expand in this well-known center for technical innovation.

New York was fourth on the list and rates high when it comes to business and professional employment growth surpassing many other large metro areas in terms of having a highly productive, well-paid and also well-educated workforce. Of course, New York is well known for being an LGBT friendly haven. Emerging Real Estate Trends predicts that in 2014 that the apartment and hotel markets will be very hot in The Big Apple.

Dallas/Fort Worth, Seattle, Austin, Miami and Boston were next on the list in Emerging Real Estate’s ranked order of top markets in the United States and it is also interesting to note that all of these cities, but especially Seattle, Austin and Miami also rank as excellent places for gays and lesbians to settle down in as well.

Should You Hire An Expert to Stage Your Home for Sale?

If you want your home to sell for more than is expected then it is crucial that you have two professionals in place: a real estate agent who can tell you what your home is worth and a home staging professional who can help you present your home to the buying pubic in the most favorable possible light.

Family room in a home staged for sale.

Family room in a home staged for sale.

The real estate agent can help you decide on the asking price of your home by advising you about how much your property is likely to sell for based on the market value of similar properties in neighborhood. This is one aspect of pricing a home for sale that you don’t have much control over. One aspect that you do have control over during the selling process is the home staging. According to most real estate professionals, home staging is worth it if you want to see a maximum return on your investment. Doing the staging yourself might cost only about $100 to $200 but the actual return on that money might also only increase your asking price by $1500 to $2000.  However, homes that are staged for two thousand to ten thousand dollar fees tend to sell for tens of thousands of more than unstaged homes.

Staging is also essenial if you are trying to sell a home in a down market. The key to staging a home well is to depersonalize it. The space must look crisp, new and like nobody lives in it. It must be decluttered and

emptied of personal effects so that buyers can imagine it as a blank canvas upon which they can paint the possibilities of what it would be like to live there.  Psychologically, the disappearance of your personal touches to a space allows the buyer to better envision himself living there.

The reason it is good to get a professional to help you with staging is because it can actually be quite difficult to stage a room so that it is so neutral that it appeals to a large number of different buyers.  It means choosing a neutral color palette that consists of no more than three colors and allowing only an occasional pop of color as the accessories. Home staging professionals are expert at presenting your home in a way that will appeal to the most people possible.

It is also important that the home smells clean and that is absolutely sanitary. Bad smells will definitely turn of buyers. If you do not want to spend money on staging it is might be a good idea to pay professionals to deep clean the space and repaint it.

If you hire a professional stager do not be surprised if he or she removes most or all of your furniture and replaces it with smaller, contemporary versions. This helps your property-for-sale to look less cluttered, simple and more spacious.

The bottom line is that homes that do sell for the most money are those that are staged. They also don’t linger on the market like an unstaged home.  According to statistics provided by www.stagedhomes.com, 95% of homes that are staged sell, on average in eleven days or less and sell for 17% more.

Posted on January 18, 2014 in Home Prices, Real Estate, Realtors, Renovation, Selling

Top Cities With Great LGBT Peer Support

Some cities are definitely more LGBT-friendly than others in the United States and then there are those few cities that actually excel when it comes to offering their LGBT residents real support in the form of community groups, friendly laws and a low incidence of hate crimes.

The Rainbow Flag flying over the Castro Neighborhood in San Francisco

The Rainbow Flag in Harvey Milk Square flying over the Castro Neighborhood in San Francisco.

One of the friendliest of these cities is Palm Springs, CA that is not only known as a real party spot for gays but also as a LGBT haven for artists and married gay couples. In fact, 8.6% of households in this progressive city consist of same-sex partners.  Every year the city holds the massive Palm Springs Gay Pride Festival that is sponsored by many big corporations as well as Pride Nation, Hunters Nightclubs, Streetbar, The Gay Desert Guide, Bongo Johnny’s Patio Bar and Grill.  This is one of the few cities in the United States where a couple does not have to be self-conscious at all about over displays of affection in public.

An obvious LGBT-friendly city that is known for its activism, delivery and thriving gay scene is San Francisco, CA.  LGBT ground zero is the historic Castro District that maintains several important historical landmarks including Harvey Milk Square, The Stonewall Inn (that was the scene of many riots between police and the gay community in 1969) and the Castro Theater.

San Francisco is home to many gay celebrities and the mayor is well-known gay rights activist Gavin Newson.  The City Hall is lit up at night in iconic Rainbow colors and the in 1983 the LGBT community bought the former Food and Maritime Trades High School and turned it into The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center that includes counseling for bereavement, addiction and speeches by LGBT celebrities and lifestyle gurus.

Seattle has an extremely LGBT-friendly café society in the neighborhood known as Capitol Hill. The city has a large number of LGBT families and it is home to Families Like Ours, which is an organization that helps Washington couples adopt children.  Families Like Ours has also set up programs that allow gay couples to foster LGBTQ youth, many of whom have been rejected by their family.

If it is to live in a place without banking or business discrimination that you really need then consider moving to Long Beach, California. This progressive, culturally sophisticated city boasts the very productive and effective Long Beach Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce that offers many funding opportunities, networking events and resources for members of the LGBTQ community.

If you have not felt safe on the streets then consider relocating to Cambridge, MA where there is a zero tolerance of sexual orientation-related crime. This was the first state to legalize gay marriage and it is also the home of gay rights activist Senator Elizabeth Warren

Of course, all of these cities are in states that are in agreement with the overturning of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and have churches and ministers in their cities that perform gay marriage.

 

 

The Commuter Versus The Downtown Lifestyle – Which is Best For You?

It’s possible to find the ideal home at the ideal price but quite often it ends up being far out in the suburbs and away from the downtown core where the center of the LGBT community happens to congregate and celebrate life in general.  If you want to be “where the action is” then you might want consider living downtown, but the problem is that in many U.S. housing markets homes in the downtown core can be two to five times more expensive than those at the fringe of the city.  It is for this very reason that many gay individuals are opting to live in the peaceful, crime-free suburbs, nearer to a healthy natural setting rather than in a gritty downtown area where a condo the size of closet is more expensive than a four bedroom two-story suburban home.

Commuters on the subway in NYC

Commuters on the subway in NYC

However, as appealing as it is to live just outside the city and commute downtown to work or play it is important to consider whether or not traveling twice a day really suits you and whether or not you have alternatives when it comes to traveling back and forth.  The best “bedroom communities” (as commuter communities are often called) are those that are connected to the city through buses, trains or light rail so that you are not always dependent on traveling in a car through heavy traffic.  Many cities also now have bike trails that lead cyclists in and out of the city. In short, the more options you have to travel, the happier you will be as a commuter.

Yet another thing to consider is whether or not the community you are planning to move to has any kind of cultural factor or walkability to it.  Some suburban areas are quite cold and lost in strip malls and cloverleaf exchanges while others are more like charming small towns in themselves complete with main streets, cafes and community centers. To alleviate the boredom factor that is sometimes associated with suburban living it is a good idea to try and find a suburban community that is a bit developed and that is neighborly when it comes to LGBTQ individuals and couples. Consulting with a gay realtor who knows the city you are buying a home in well is highly recommended as attitudes towards gay neighbors can drastically vary from neighborhood to neighborhood.

If you are single, have a naturally vibrant lifestyle or are an activist it might be beneficial to you to live downtown. The extra cost may also be worth it to you in the long run as the value of property escalates in the inner city.  The money you save on gas and other commuting costs could be justified as the expense you put into investing in property downtown.  On the other hand if you are athletic, love nature or are part of a couple or a gay couple with a child you might want to move to the suburbs where the big parks, hiking trails and great school programs happen to be located.

Your best policy is to be as honest as possible with yourself when choosing where to live in a large city.  Sometimes the idea that you must isolate yourself from a downtown support system is not worth it in the long run if you crave the bright lights of the city and plenty of LGBTQ company.

Posted on January 10, 2014 in Uncategorized