Monthly Archives: May 2014

My Partner And I Are Splitting Up…Can I Buy Him/Her Out Of The Home We Own Together?

You may buy your partner out of the home that you own together if he or she agrees to sell it to you. A problem arises when you both want the home or your partner does not want to sell his or her interest to you and you do not have a written agreement setting out how this situation will be dealt with.

Gay Separation and Real EstateYour options are to work out an agreement with your partner or follow your state’s legal procedures and ask the court to order the home sold. An agreement is generally cheaper because you avoid the costs associated with selling a home on the open market. If you cannot come to an agreement, you may want to consider hiring a mediation service. A mediator is trained to resolve disputes and will develop a solution that takes into consideration both of your thoughts and feelings.

If you cannot come to an agreement and need to resort to the legal system, you must file what is known as a ‘partition’. The home will be ordered sold and the net proceeds split both of you. Net proceeds are the funds available after paying the mortgage, any liens and the cost of the sale. Before forcing the sale, the judge has the option of permitting one of the co-owners to purchase the other’s interest in the home at fair market value.

Fair market value is found by comparing the amount that other similar homes are selling for in the local market and the age, location and condition of the home. The result should be in the range of what a buyer would be willing to pay to the seller for the home in its current condition. A real estate appraiser that is familiar with your local market should be hired to find the fair market value of your home.

According to Nolo Law for All, most states presume that the individual’s interest in the home is 50 percent each if both names are on the deed. A dispute may arise if one party feels that he or she is entitled to a larger share of the home due to contributions of either significant extra money or labor. If this conflict arises, you can try to reach a fair settlement agreement. One method is to total the amount of down payment, mortgage payments, improvements and labor each has contributed and then compare the figures to come up with the percentage each owns in the home. If you cannot agree on a percentage, you may want to hire a mediator to help you resolve the issue.

Transferring ownership of a home involves deeds, taxes, filing fees and other costs that must be taken into consideration. It would be wise to consult a real estate broker or an attorney to find out what your state’s requirements are and to assist you with the transfer or sale of the home.

Posted on May 31, 2014 in Gay and Lesbian, Home Sales, Selling

Dear Gay Realtor – Can my same sex Veteran husband and I obtain a VA loan together?

Whether you can obtain a VA loan with your same sex Veteran husband depends on a number of factors. The Veteran’s Administration, VA, issued Circular 26-13-18 in September 2013 in response to the President of the United State’s directive that the Executive Branch stop enforcement of the statutory language in Title 38, U.S. Code, defining spouse as someone of the opposite sex. The VA stated in that circular that it would determine whether same sex married couples qualify for a loan on a case-by-case basis.

RE101The VA sent another circular to its participating lenders that provided guidance on this issue. It stated that its loan procedures might depend on location since not all states recognize same sex marriages. Federal statutes governing veteran’s benefits dictate that a valid marriage depends on the law in the state where the parties resided when they married or where they resided when a right to benefits accrued.

According to Lambda Legal, a nonprofit legal organization who advocates for LGBT civil rights, if the state that you live in does not recognize same sex marriage and you continue to live in a non-recognition state, your marriage will probably be ruled as invalid for the purposes of VA benefits. The Department of Veteran’s Affairs in affiliation with the Department of Justice is expected to address the limitations on marriage recognition in the future.

In its guidance circular, the VA stated that where same sex couples do not quality for a loan, applying for a joint loan might be the remedy. Joint loans are made to a veteran and another non-veteran person that is not his or her spouse. In those cases, the VA will only guaranty approximately 40 percent of the loan amount. The affect this will have on a loan depends on the lenders guidelines.

If you have questions about applying for a loan, the VA suggested that borrowers contact them or a qualifying lender. If you are denied benefits, you should contact an attorney who is knowledgeable about VA benefits and same sex couples.

Posted on May 29, 2014 in Buying a Home

Realtors Need to Be Culturally Competent

It’s certainly possible for a straight realtor to sell a home to an LGBT individual or couple, but the case can be made that they won’t fully understand their clients or their clients’ needs.  Knowing real estate is one thing, but it’s not the same as knowing a client.  That’s why many LGBT people turn to gay and lesbian realtors when they set out to buy a home or sell theirs.

Get to Know Each OtherOne reason why non-LGBT realtors may have a hard time working with gay and lesbian clients is because they don’t keep up with how the housing laws and guidelines related to LGBT homeowners are changing.  With gay marriage (or at least civil unions) being recognized in more and more states, the way LGBT members purchase a home is changing.  Realtors who aren’t a part of this community or who don’t take the time to follow the changes may not be able to fully help their clients buy a house.

This can be especially difficult for a realtor who has recently moved.  The laws surrounding the LGBT community change from state to state, especially between those where gay marriage is legal and those where it isn’t.  While a LGBT couple may sign off on a mortgage as spouses in one state simply can’t be done in another.  Understanding how the process works may not be completely on the realtor (the lenders and title companies have to keep up, too), it is the realtor’s job to understand their client and guide them through the home buying and/or selling process.

Being culturally competent starts before the clients even walk into the realtor’s office.  Any real estate firm that wants to make a good first impression will be aware that LGBT clients may come in.  It shouldn’t be a shock for anyone in the office when two men or two women want to buy a home together.  LGBT clients need to be put at ease.  Everyone in the office, including the realtors, should know how to address the couple.  Simply using the term “husband” or “wife” can go a long way towards putting LGBT clients at ease.  Of course, it shouldn’t stop there.  Realtors also need to know how to address transgender clients.

Overcoming stereotypes and their own personal feelings on LGBT rights can be difficult for some realtors.  Others simply don’t want to take on LGBT clients.  The end result is that more and more LGBT homebuyers are turning to gay and lesbian realtors.  There are fewer cultural stumbling blocks, and often the realtors form a bond with their clients quickly, allowing them to more easily find the perfect home.

Posted on May 28, 2014 in Buying a Home, Gay Realtors, Realtors

Dear Gay Realtor, If My Partner Dies, Can His Family Kick Me Out Of His House?

If no legal precautions were taken before his/her death to secure your right to live in the house then his family may have the authority to kick you out. It will depend on issues including who will be inheriting the property through intestate laws or a will. Family members who have no right to the home cannot kick you out. According to Lawyers.com, if you and your partner were married and live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriages, you may have other legal options available to avoid being kicked out of your partner’s home.

Dear Gay RealtorInheritance laws vary by state and include many conditions. Generally, in the absence of minor children, most state’s intestate laws dictate that the legal spouse, or in some states the registered domestic partner, inherits everything or a portion of the estate. In that case, you may have a legal right to go to court and retain some or all rights to the home.

Partners who are not included in a will, did not take legal precautions and were not married or registered partners inherit nothing. In that case, eviction laws come into play. According to Findlaw, most states have laws that give a person the legal right to live in a home when he or she has been cohabitating with the deceased person for a certain period of time, generally months. In that case, the individual(s) who inherit the property are required to go through an eviction process in a court of law. It generally takes a minimum of 30 days to evict someone.

Legal Precautions You and Your Partner Can Take to Protect Each Other:

Drafting a simple will allows partners to dictate what happens to their estate upon their death. A partner may leave everything he or she owns to the partner, including a home deeded in his or her name, or only a portion of the estate assets. If you and your partner are married but live in a state that does not recognize same sex marriages or are not married in any state, the surviving partner may have to pay hefty estate taxes.

Add your partners name to the deed. There are several choices in this category. Tenancy in common is shared ownership of the property. You may still be required to move out after your partner dies unless you can pay the value of the partner’s share to the person who inherits. Joint tenancy creates a right or survivorship. When one of the partners dies, the surviving partner gets sole ownership of the home.

The laws surrounding estate planning and intestate distribution are complicated. If you are in a partnership, it would be wise to consult with a lawyer who specializes in same sex estate planning.

Make sure your legal rights are understood and protected ~ entrust the services of a top gay realtor at www.GayRealEstate.com.

Posted on May 27, 2014 in Gay Realtor News

Should you Fire your Realtor?

You’ve been trying to sell your home for months, or maybe you’ve been trying to buy one, but just haven’t found the right house.  Sometimes, the issue is that there are too many houses on the market or that the market is down and no one is buying.  Sometimes there are too few houses for sale and you can’t find the perfect one.  But sometimes you just need a different realtor.  Finding a realtor you really connect with can actually be one of the determining factors in how long it takes to find the house of your dreams or sell your current home.  But deciding when to change realtors isn’t always easy, especially if you’ve been working with someone for several months.

Do You Have the Right Realtor?You and your realtor should communicate regularly.  Ideally, you’ll touch base about once a week.  If you haven’t heard from your realtor in several weeks, it may be a sign that you should change.  This is especially true if your realtor hasn’t been emailing you new listings or showing potential buyers your property.  Sometimes, realtors do take on too many clients.  If he or she doesn’t have time for you, it’s time for a new realtor.  Some realtors may stop communicating with you simply because they haven’t found any listings they think you’ll like or they have no one looking for homes in your area.  They should, however, at least let you know that this is the case and, ideally, check in regularly just to let you know they’re still working for you.

Sometimes, the problem is that you just don’t click or that your realtor doesn’t quite understand what you’re looking for.  Sometimes, you can talk this out, but other times, the only solution is to find someone else.  For example, if you’re looking for a home in an LGBT community, a realtor who isn’t familiar with that area or culture simply won’t be able to help you as much as a LGBT realtor would.  Ideally, you’ll find a realtor who specializes in the area or type of home you’re looking for right off the bat, but sometimes, that just doesn’t happen.

Finally, you should actually like your realtor.  While this is a professional relationship and liking each other isn’t a requirement, it does help.  If you don’t trust your realtor to sell your home for the best price possible or to find you the best deal on a house, you may end up disappointed.  Find a realtor you get along with is more important than many people think.

Posted on May 21, 2014 in Buying a Home, Home Buyers, Home Sales, Housing, Realtors

Gay Relationships and “Common-Law” Marriage

You may be married to your gay partner and not even know it!

As of May 2014, if you live in Rhode Island or the District of Columbia you are eligible to establish same-sex common law marriages. The basic legal requirements include that the parties must be of legal age, must be mentally capable of entering into a contract and must not already be married to another person.

Gay MarriageRhode Island revised its marriage statutes in 2013 to make them gender-neutral. If a same-sex couple intends to be married, holds themselves out as married to the public and if they live together, their common-law marriage is valid. There is no time limit. Whether the requirements are met in a period of one month or two years, couples can be considered legally married.

The District of Columbia revised its marriage laws in 2009 to make them gender-neutral. This resulted in same-sex couples becoming eligible to establish common-law marriages if they meet the legal criteria including the intent to be married, holding themselves out to the public as being married and they are living together. The District of Columbia does not include a time limit that couples must live together before meeting the criteria for common law marriage.

Iowa recognizes common law and it legalized same-sex marriages in 2009. Because that state did not change the statutes to gender-neutral wording, same-gender couples ineligible for common law marriage even if they otherwise meet the legal requirements. Common law marriages in Iowa are legal only between a man and a woman.

If you enter into a common-law marriage in a state that allows it, your marriage will be valid in any other state that recognizes same-sex marriages. Those states currently include: California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington. Same-sex marriages will be legal in Illinois effective June 1, 2014.

Common law marriages are as valid as licensed marriages and are subject to the same obligations and benefits including inheritance, insurance and social security survivor benefits. These types of marriages can only be dissolved through death of one of the parties or through a legal divorce.

Same-sex laws are continually changing. If you intend to move to another state, it is advisable to check that state’s statutes to find out if same-sex marriages are recognized.

Posted on May 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

Thinning Out Your Possessions When Moving

Packing is one of the largest parts of the moving process.  Many people use it as an excuse to thin out their possessions.  This can be a great time to clean out your closets and get rid of stuff that you don’t really use or need that much.  Why move items that you’re just going to stick back in a closet somewhere and never take out again?  Of course, you don’t want to go too overboard with your cleaning.  Sometimes, people end up throwing away a lot of stuff just because they don’t want to move it, but later on, they really wish they still had it.  If you’re moving and thinking about thinning out your possessions, here are some good tips.

Donation is a Great Option!Ask yourself when the last time you used an item or wore a particular piece of clothing was.  If it was more than a year ago and there’s really no sort of sentimental reason to keep it, don’t.

Donate gently used items instead of throwing them away.  Many shelters, clothing drives, and charities will gladly take working electronics, clothing that’s in good shape, and other items.  This way, you’re not only getting rid of things you don’t need, but you’re also helping others.

Do you have family who would want certain items?  Ask your grown children, cousins, other relatives, and your friends if anyone would want the items you’ve decided you no longer need.  Often, you’ll find someone who would love to have these items, especially if they belonged to your parents or other relatives who have passed.

If you would like to have a little extra money, hold a garage sale.  You can sell off some of the items you don’t need and help fund a bit of your move.

Do you have items you know you’d want later but simply don’t have space for?  Maybe you have to move in a hurry and don’t really have time to go through a lot of your stuff.  If that’s the case, you might think about renting a storage unit for a few months.  Once you’ve moved and have a little more time, you can start taking a box or two from the unit every day and going through them.  You may also be able to arrange your new house so that you have the space for some of the stuff you’ve stored.  Either way, make sure you don’t keep items in storage for more than a few months.  You don’t want to end up keeping that storage unit full of unsorted items for years!

Posted on May 14, 2014 in Buying a Home, Moving, Relocating, Relocation / Moving

Preparing to Move

You’ve found the house of your dreams and your offer was accepted!  You’ve also found the perfect buyer for your home, and everything is lined up for the sale!  But you’re not out of the woods yet.  Now you have to move, and that can be a headache of its own.  Here are some tips for making the move as easy as possible.

Moving to a New HomeRemember, the closing date of the sale is when the new owners take official possession of the property.  That means they may want to start moving in on that date, so it’s best if you’re ready to move out as close to the closing as possible.  You and the seller will decide on the official amount of time you have to move out.  You may be able to get the keys to your new house before the closing and start moving in if the seller is agreeable.

Using movers may add yet another cost to your move, but it can make everything much easier.  A reputable moving company will help box up items, move all of the furniture, and unload everything in your new home.  It might cost, but it can be well worth it.

Don’t wait until the last minute to start packing.  Even if you have a few weeks after the closing to move, you don’t want to leave anything to chance.  Pack up as much as you can before the closing.  This can include things like knick-knacks, out of season clothing, and other items you don’t use on a regular basis.  You’ll be glad you got a head start once the time of the actual move comes around.

Be prepared for bad weather.  If it looks like it might rain or snow on the days you’re planning on moving, be sure to have a few tarps handy.  You might also want to rent an enclosed moving truck, especially if you’ll be driving fairly far.

If you’re moving out of state and have a lot of stuff, think about shipping some of the lightweight items.  While it can be fairly expensive, it can also be a good way of moving large but lightweight things.  For example, you could ship decorative pillows or the pillows you use for guests since they don’t usually weigh that much.  DVDs and some clothing can also be shipped for very little.

Finally, make sure you label all of your boxes.  The last thing you want to do is get to your new home and realize you don’t know what’s in any of the boxes.