Buying in the Gayborhood? There are Financial Benefits of Home Ownership.

For most people, buying a home is a very important and momentous decision in life. Often, when people think about purchasing a home, the things that excite them most are intangible things – things like having a place of their very own to make memories and share life’s moments, big and small, getting to know new friends and neighbors, and enjoying all that the community has to offer. And without question – these are the things that truly make a house a home.

There are also other definite advantages to home ownership, as well, however – important financial advantages that some people are unaware of, or may overlook. At GayRealEstate.com, we have been fortunate to be an integral part of the home buying process in communities across the country for over 25 years, as we work to connect LGBTQ home buyers with gay realtors who can provide them with the representation they need in the search for their next home.

Here are only a few financial benefits of which you should be aware when you make the decision to purchase a home:

  • Home Ownership Allows you to Build Valuable Equity: Equity is the amount of value that you have in a particular asset. In the case of home ownership, as you make your mortgage payments each month, you build equity in your home. As a result, every month, when you make your payment, you own a little bit more of your home. Each month, you are increasing your security for the future, which is always a financially savvy choice.
  • Home Ownership Grows Wealth Over Time: Unlike some property purchases which depreciate in value with time and use, home values often (although not always) increase in value over time. As a result, not only are you building up equity as time goes by – you are also often increasing your chances to sell your home for a profit, in the event you make a move. Eventually, you may be able to use that profit in any number of financially beneficial ways.
  • Home Ownership Allows You to Plan for Costs: Unless you choose to refinance and change the terms of your mortgage, you know the fixed base cost of paying for your home each month, now, and into the future. Rent, by contrast, is not fixed, and can fluctuate greatly over time. As a result, it can often be harder to make firm and predictable financial plans for your future when you rent your home. Beyond simply knowing the fixed payment you will be making each month, when you own your own home, you also have control over other factors that may provide you with long-term financial benefit as well. For example, you may decide to install energy-efficient appliances, or solar heating, or a programmable thermostat – choices that are likely to save money in the long run. As a homeowner, it is your prerogative to make those choices – as a renter, your landlord typically makes them for you. Being a homeowner gives you the freedom to make both short and long-term decisions with your specific financial goals and plans in mind.
  • Home Ownership Provides Valuable Tax Benefits: Another financial advantage of home ownership is that it provides a number of tax benefits. One of the most notable is a deduction for the portion of your mortgage spent on interest and property taxes. This deduction is helpful, particularly in the first years of home ownership when the majority of each mortgage payment is often going largely toward interest instead of principal. Other tax advantages of home ownership include writing off any mortgage points on your loan during the first year of ownership, as well as eventually being able to tap into a home equity line of credit after you have built up enough equity in the home, and which is also tax deductible in certain circumstances.

Clearly, making the decision to purchase a home has a number of benefits, financial and otherwise. Finally, as Oprah Winfrey has said “I will forever believe that buying a home is a great investment. Why? Because you can’t live in a stock certificate. You can’t live in a mutual fund.”

At GayRealEstate.com, we would love to be a part of helping you with this major life decision. Whether you are looking to buy your first home, purchase a larger home for your growing family, downsize for retirement, or purchase the vacation home of your dreams – whatever your needs, at GayRealEstate.com you can connect free with an LGBTQ real estate agent that will work as your advocate, negotiating on your behalf.

Choose the perfect agent on-line at www.GayRealEstate.com and start a conversation, or call us Toll Free 888-420-MOVE (6683).

Winter in Real Estate: Tips for those who feel the chill.

Seasoned (pun intended) real estate professionals understand that the winter months can be difficult to negotiate (no pun intended) for those in the business of buying, selling, and building homes. The weather in most of the USA is inhospitable, and can put many projects and plans on hold, until the springtime market kicks in and buyers again resume their house-hunting activities. But those who plan for the winter slowdown actually view the cyclical time-out as an opportunity, and sometimes even look forward to it after a hectic year.

Many of us take time out each April or May for a deep cleaning and reorganization of our living space. Similarly, the months of December, January, and February provide a scheduled chance to catch up on errands and strategies related to real estate – and to get a jump on the next year’s market – whether you are buying or selling.

Here are tips on how to make the most of a cooled-off real estate season:

For Sellers

If you are selling, take advantage of the wintertime – especially during the holidays and the post-holiday doldrums – to prepare your house for showcasing it to potential buyers.

  • Clean out the clutter and make your house look more spacious. By simply emptying closets and clearing out furniture – leaving only the minimal essentials to provide a sense of warmth and style – you can boost the perceived value of your property immensely.
  • Freshen up the interior. When it is freezing cold outside you can’t paint the exterior but you can stay indoors and put a new coat of paint on any rooms that need it. Fix the dripping faucets and squeaky doors; refinish the floors, and do other indoor home improvement projects. Most contractors have less business in the wintertime, so it is a good time to hire them. By the time spring rolls around, they won’t even be answering the phone because they will be “off the hook” busy with outdoor construction projects.
  • Get your paperwork in order. Make a file that includes your annual utility bill history, copies of warranties on appliances, and MLS data on your home. Put these things together in an attractive folder and your Realtor can share it with potential buyers. If you need a survey, get it done.
  • Take time to relax. Selling a home in a buyer’s market is sometimes a stressful experience. Instead of worrying that there are no “lookers” during winter, take time for yourself and catch up on reading, yoga classes, or spending time with friends and family. You’ll be rejuvenated and ready to hit the ground running when the ice thaws.

For Buyers

During the wintertime, most property languishes on the market and motivated sellers are more inclined to offer discounts. They are paying stiff heating bills, taxes, and maintenance fees, but may not have many offers for purchase. If you are seriously shopping for property, make offers in the winter and you may have a new home in time for spring planting of flower beds and window boxes.

  • If you have not done so, meet with lenders and get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage. When you approach sellers with financial backing in hand, they will be more inclined to accept your offers.
  • Get your finances in order. This is a good time to deal with any budgetary issues that are affecting your down payment. If you haven’t decided on what type of loan is best for you, winter is a great time to sit down and do the homework needed to make your important decisions.
  • Compare and contrast. Have your Realtor provide you with market data so that you can compare prices, options, and locations. You may want to build a new home, or perhaps rehab an existing one. Research helps make this kind of decision easier and wiser, so use the winter to examine your alternatives.
  • Shop ‘til you drop during the holidays, but not at the mall – get out and look at houses with your Realtor.

Interest rates remain super attractive. The best plan is to use the winter months to do whatever is necessary to tip the market in your own favor, by planning ahead. Then, no matter what 2020 presents, you’ll be in the best possible position to take advantage of it. To find a qualified real estate agent, visit www.GayRealEstate.com. The company offers a depth of experience in buying homes throughout the entire USA, and specializes in serving the GLBT community.

The LGBTQ Community and Fear of Housing Discrimination

LGBTQ people face discrimination in a number of ways every day, including in the housing industry. Those who are looking to purchase a home may be very reluctant due to stories they’ve heard about real estate agents, sellers, and lenders discriminating again st them. Studies done by Freddie Mac show that almost half (46%) of the 85,000 LGBTQ renters they surveyed are concerned that they will be discriminated against in their hunt for a house. The same study showed that 13% of those who did buy a house feel like they faced discrimination in some form.

Fear as a Barrier to Homeownership

The LGBTQ Community and Fear of Housing DiscriminationThe impact of this fear of discrimination is easy to see. Nationwide, 65% of people own their own home. However, in the LGBTQ community, this rate is only 49%. The fear of being discriminated against, even in areas that are quite liberal, leads to LGBTQ individuals and couples to abandon their dreams of owning a home before they even start.

For some, the fear isn’t even about the home buying process. They aren’t afraid of being discriminated against by real estate experts, lenders, or even sellers. However, they are concerned about their neighbors. Some 40% were afraid of how their neighborhoods would treat them if they started a family. This is one reason why looking for homes in the gay district is helpful—in most cases, you don’t have to worry about your neighbors, at least as far as accepting your relationship or decision to start a family goes.

Do You Have Anything to Truly Worry About?

Yes, sadly, discrimination against the LGBTQ community still happens. While it’s not always obvious in the real estate industry, it is present. Fortunately, it’s not always prevalent, especially in certain areas of the country. Plus, if you choose to work with a gay or lesbian real estate agent, you can at least know you’re working with someone who will not discriminate against you. They will be able to help you through the process of buying a home while also alleviating any worry that you may have about your agent.

U Street, a Home to the LGBTQ Community in DC

Situated in the Northwestern part of Washington, D.C. is an area known as the U Street Corridor. It’s sometimes referred to as Cardozo or as the Cardozo/Shaw district, too. This area is a residential and commercial neighborhood that is made up of nine blocks of U Street, starting at NW 9th and ending at NW 18th street. It’s bordered on the north by Florida Avenue NW and by S Street NW on the south. The area has gone through a number of major changes over the years, but today it’s considered an ethnically diverse neighborhood that’s home to a thriving LGBTQ community.

U Street’s Beginning

U Street, a Home to the LGBTQ Community in DCThe neighborhood was originally developed in the 1860s. Many of the homes were done in the Victorian style, and most are not considered historic. These row houses were built quickly to house a growing population after the U.S. Civil War. During that time, the government was growing fairly quickly, and many more people were needed in the D.C. area than ever before.

During the 1900s, the area became the center of Washington’s African American community. In fact, until Harlem overtook it in the 1920s, U Street was the largest such community in the country. Many businesses, theaters, churches, gyms, and other organizations thrived in the neighborhood. Up until the 1960s, U Street had the nickname of Black Broadway thanks to the large number of performances held here. Some of the most famous performers include Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, and Louis Armstrong.

The Decline and Restoration of the Neighborhood

Following Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s, assassination in 1968, the area began to decline. Riots broke out at U Street and 14th Street. The violence resulted in many businesses and residents moving out of the neighborhood, and by the mid-70s, drugs were a major issue on U Street.

When the Reeves Center was built in 1986, it began a domino effect that started revitalizing the district. New bus and metro stops were added, a number of grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development came through, and other new construction brought people back to U Street. Redevelopment continued into the 2000s and early 2010s, gentrifying much of U Street.

Today, the diverse area is home to many LGBTQ individuals and families. Many businesses have returned, and the arts community is once against thriving here. For those who are looking for a home that welcomes everyone, U Street is a great opportunity. Housing costs have gone up due to the gentrification of the neighborhood, but a good gay or lesbian agent will help you find a home you love that’s within your budget.

The LGBTQ Neighborhoods of Atlanta

Are you thinking about moving to Atlanta or making a move from one part of the city to another? Georgia can be a great state to live in, and its capital is an amazing city. It actually has four recognized LGBTQ areas, too, so there’s a gay village for everyone! If you’re talking with a gay or lesbian real estate agent about finding a new home in Atlanta, here are the neighborhoods you might want to check out.

Ansley Park

The LGBTQ Neighborhoods of AtlantaAnsley Park is located east of the Midtown area. It was one of the first suburb areas designed for people who owned cars, so the roads here are actually more winding than the older parts of Atlanta, which are laid out on a grid system for streetcars. Many of the homes here were built in the 1930s and are listed as historic properties. This area is one of the more affluent parts of Atlanta, so home prices do tend to be higher.

East Atlanta Village

The East Atlanta Village gayborhood is known for its street art. You’ll find many artists and artistic people living here, and there are a number of popular festivals and other events held in the neighborhood. It’s a more laid-back LGBTQ district that is perfect for those who want a little peace and quiet.

Grant Park

Grant park is for those who love nature and the outdoors. This area has a huge number of recreational spaces, parks, and other undeveloped areas. The neighborhood, like Ansley Park, is made up of mostly historic homes, and they do tend to be a little more expensive than some newer builds.

Kirkwood

Kirkwood is also an historic neighborhood. It’s located on the east side of the city and is a streetcar suburb, so unlike Ansley Park, its streets are laid out in a grid pattern. The business part of Kirkwood has recently gone through a period of gentrification, catching it up to the more residential part of the neighborhood. Kirkwood is something of a small town in and of itself, and it has its own police and fire stations, library, and post office. You can do everything you need to do in the neighborhood without going into any other part of Atlanta, so it’s perfect for LGBTQ individuals or couples who want that small-town feel, but also want to have everything a large metro area has to offer right at their fingertips.

Ybor City – Tampa’s Gay Ghetto

Tampa, Florida, may not be home to Disney World, but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the state’s busiest tourist areas. The Tampa Bay Area is home to over 4 million people, while the city proper has a population of over 400,000. With such a large city, it’s no surprise that it has a gayborhood. While Tampa is certainly very LGBTQ-friendly, the neighborhood of Ybor City tends to be the most welcoming and diverse.

The History of Ybor City

Ybor City – Tampa’s Gay GhettoYbor City is named after its founder, Vicente Martinez-Ybor. Originally, the area was home to dozens of cigar factories and populated mostly by immigrants from Cuba, Italy, and Spain. It was actually fairly unique because of this—few other cities in the South were home to an all-immigrant population. This had an impact on the food, the style of homes, and much more, creating a very unique neighborhood.

As Ybor City grew over the years, its population changed. During the Great Depression, cigars were a luxury few people could afford, leading to many factories closing. The neighborhood continued to decline during World War II, and by the 1970s, much of it was abandoned. Finally, in the 1980s, a number of artists took advantage of the low housing costs of the area, and gentrification began. By the 2000s, Ybor City had become known for its nightlife, and many of the old cigar factories had been renovated and transformed into bars, offices, and even apartment complexes.

The Gayborhood

A number of the artists who worked to renovate the area were part of the LGBTQ community. Their influence led to a number of different gay bars, restaurants, boutiques, shops, and other organizations opening up in Ybor City, many of which were situated between 8th Avenue and 15th Street. Today, this area is home to the GaYBOR Coalition, a nonprofit group made up of various LGBTQ-owned businesses in Ybor City. The group hosts the annual GaYBOR Days event around the Fourth of July and helps promote the LGBTQ community through Tampa and the entire state. The GaYBOR coalition is noted for including a number of businesses owned by straight allies.

Moving to Ybor City

Thinking about moving to the Ybor City neighborhood? Homes here can range from around $150,000 to $300,000 or more. It all depends on the size and the exact location in the neighborhood. A gay or lesbian real estate expert can help you find the home that’s perfect for your needs.

Should I Retire to an LGBTQ Neighborhood?

If you’re getting close to retirement age, you’ve probably already started thinking about where you want to spend your golden years. While some people plan on staying right where they are, others want to embark on a new adventure now that they’re retired and free to do what they please with their lives. Determining where you want to live is a key component to your retirement plans. If you’re a part of the LGBTQ community, you may be thinking about retiring to a gay neighborhood. Should you?

Look at Your Finances

Should I Retire to a LGBTQ NeighborhoodThe first thing to do is to take a good, hard look at your finances. Many traditional gay neighborhoods are also quite expensive. Boystown, the Castro District, and most of the neighborhoods in New York City are very costly, and you may simply not be able to afford to live there. Some up-and-coming communities that are filled with LGBTQ residents may be more affordable, but they often don’t have the character that some of the older neighborhoods have. Some are also new construction in downtown areas, which can be costly as well.

Are You Active in the LGBTQ Community?

If you’re an active part of your LGBTQ community, moving into a gay neighborhood or even a retirement complex aimed at LGBTQ seniors can be a great way of continuing to play an active part in your new home. As you age, you may have to face the fact that your driving capabilities are no longer what they once were. By settling yourself in an LGBTQ community now, you can be sure you’re within walking distance of the local community center and other locations. Being able to walk to many locations can also help you maintain your health and watch your budget.

Are You Concerned About Hate Crimes?

Some seniors are worried that they will be unable to defend themselves should they be attacked or the victim of any sort of hate crime. Living in an LGBTQ neighborhood can help protect against this since you know your neighbors either identify as LGBTQ or are very supportive—otherwise, they likely wouldn’t live in the area. If you are concerned about safety, you’ll find that some gay neighborhoods are also gated communities, especially the newer areas conceived as housing developments. These locations can bolster your sense of security and may come with other amenities such as included yard maintenance.

No matter where you want to retire to, you may want to see if there’s a gay neighborhood in that area. Even if you aren’t looking to live specifically in a gay district, it can be a good place to start your house search.

San Francisco’s SoMa Neighborhood

Looking for a great place to live in San Francisco that is welcoming, but also more affordable than the Castro District? One area to consider is South of Market, better known as SoMa. The SoMa neighborhood is actually pretty large, so there are a good number of homes here. In fact, SoMa is so big it’s actually been divided further into smaller neighborhoods, including Rincon Hill, Yerba Buena, South Beach, South Park, and the Financial District South area.

Where Is SoMa?

San Franciscos SoMa NeighborhoodSoMa is, as the name suggested, located south of Market Street. San Francisco Bay sits to the northeast of the area, while the south is boarded by Division Street and US Route 101. The boundaries of SoMa aren’t exactly set, which does make it somewhat unclear where one neighborhood begins and another ends. Specifically, SoMa, the Mission District, and Mission Bay tend to overlap in areas. While the boundaries have changed, it doesn’t really matter too much if you live in one of the areas where it’s unclear what neighborhood you’re in.

The LGBTQ Community in SoMa

One of the most unique sub-neighborhoods in SoMa is the LGBTQ and Leather Cultural District. It’s fairly new—the area was officially created in 2018. It’s situated between Howard St, US 101, 7th Street, and I-80. The district was formed as a way of maintaining and sharing the history of the leather subculture that had been active in SoMa for almost 50 years. The area includes The Stud, the oldest gay bar in San Francisco.

Activities and Events

You don’t have to be a part of the leather subculture in order to enjoy everything SoMa has to offer, of course. There are many different arts and cultural events held in the area, plus many museums to visit. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is located in SoMa, as are the Old Mint, the Yerba Buena Gardens, the SOMArts cultural facility, and more.

SoMa is home to the Folsom Street Fair, a leather subculture fair held during Leather Pride Week. There are also a number of Filipino cultural events held throughout the year thanks to the large Filipino community that lives in the area.

Want to learn more about housing options in SoMa? Ask a local gay or lesbian real estate agent to show you properties in the area.

Hell’s Kitchen – Don’t Let this LGBTQ Neighborhood’s Name Fool You

Hell’s Kitchen is one of the more notorious-sounding neighborhoods in New York. Just based off the name, it certainly doesn’t sound like a place you’d want to move. While it’s true that the area did once have a poor reputation, in recent years it has undergone gentrification. While it was originally the home of many poor immigrants, today Hell’s Kitchen is populated by many actors and young professionals. It’s also one of New York’s primary LGBTQ communities.

How Hell’s Kitchen Got Its Name

Hell’s Kitchen Don’t Let this LGBTQ Neighborhood’s Name Fool YouThe neighborhood of Hell’s Kitchen is more officially known as Clinton, but few people call it that. It occupies the area between 34th and 59th and from Eighth Avenue to around 43rd Street. No one is actually certain how the neighborhood got its unique nickname. There are a few different stories. One claims that Davy Crockett coined the term while making horrible comments about the Irish immigrants in the area. Another says Hell’s Kitchen was originally used to describe a building on 54th Street but later expanded to the entire district.

Greenwich Village and the Gay Exodus

Greenwich Village was one of the first gay villages in New York City, but because of gentrification and other changes in the neighborhood, the cost of living has increased over the years. In the early 1990s, the neighborhood saw something of an exodus due to the expensive housing prices and other costs. Many gay and lesbian residents moved to nearby Chelsea. However, it didn’t take long for housing prices in this area to also skyrocket.

The gentrification in Chelsea led to a number of people moving to Hell’s Kitchen. The neighborhood is now considered by some to be the new gay center of Manhattan. However, while it’s still more affordable than Greenwich Village and Chelsea, it’s true that costs are increasing in Hell’s Kitchen.

Points of Interest

One of the central locations in the Hell’s Kitchen LGBTQ community is the Metropolitan Community Church of New York. This church is primarily focused on serving the LGBTQ community, though it does have members of all orientations and gender identities. The church was founded in Los Angeles, but it has moved several times until it found its current location in 1994.

The Actor’s Studio, an organization for actors, directors, and writers, is located in Hell’s Kitchen. A number of well-known actors have studied here under the direction of Lee Strasberg. The studio draws a number of aspiring actors to Hell’s Kitchen, many of whom live in the Manhattan Plaza.

The USS Intrepid is docked on the Hudson River Pier 86 on 46th Street. The aircraft carrier serves as the main part of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, which also includes a Lockheed A-12 plane, a submarine, and the Space Shuttle Enterprise.

Interested in moving to Hell’s Kitchen? The many restaurants, studios, and other locations make it a great place for aspiring actors, directors, and writers. A gay or lesbian real estate agent can help you find the perfect place in this unique LGBTQ neighborhood.

Which Large Metro Areas Are Home to the Most LGBTQ Residents?

Are you thinking of moving to a large metro area, but want to make certain you’re also near other LGBTQ individuals and couples? You’ll find an LGBTQ community in every metro, but some of these communities are larger than others. Here are the metro areas that have the largest percentage of LGBTQ residents.

The San Francisco Metro Area

Which Large Metro Areas Are Home to the Most LGBTQ ResidentsIt’s no surprise that the San Francisco area has the largest proportion of LGBTQ people in the U.S. According to surveys, some 6.2% identify as LGBTQ. Many people flock to San Francisco metro, which includes Oakland and Hayward, every year to visit, and many decide to stay.

The Portland Metro

The Portland metro area, which includes Vancouver and Hillsboro, has an LGBTQ population of 5.4%. Portland has become more and more popular with young people and with the LGBTQ community in recent years. Portland Pride has grown into a huge celebration of identity that brings in people from across the country.

The Austin/Round Rock Metro

Surprisingly, New York City doesn’t make the top three metro areas—in fact, it doesn’t even make the top ten! While Texas is a fairly conservative state, Austin is something of a haven for the LGBTQ community. Some 5.3% of its population identify as LGBTQ, and the city is home to the famous Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival. For those who want to live in Texas, the Austin metro is certainly an area to consider.

New Orleans/Metairie

The New Orleans metro area, which includes Metairie, is home to a large LGBTQ population. The many different festivals and events held in New Orleans, especially Mardi Gras, bring thousands of people into the city throughout the year. Home costs in New Orleans are fairly affordable, especially when compared to San Francisco, so you can find a great home here for a very reasonable price.

The Seattle Metro

Going back north, the Seattle Metro area (Seattle, Bellevue, and Tacoma) rounds out the top five cities with the largest LGBTQ population. Some 4.8% of the metro’s population identifies as part of the LGBTQ community, and they’re a very active group. The metro has two pride festivals and two LGBTQ choruses. The city’s hospitals have even been identified for always treating LGBTQ patients with dignity and respect.

If you’re looking to move to a large metro area that you know is accepting and friendly towards the LGBTQ community, these five are a good place to start the search. You’ll find many gay and lesbian real estate agents ready to help you make the move.