Category Archives: Home Values

Gentrification and the LGBTQ Community

If you’ve looked at homes in a gay neighborhood or have lived in one before, you’ve likely heard the term “gentrification.” This term is used when a poor neighborhood is improved and maintained to the point that those who once could afford to live there are no longer able to. Gentrification is often connected to the LGBTQ community due to its history in areas such as the Castro and Boystown. Once, these were the only neighborhoods where LGBTQ people felt safe. Today, however, many find that they simply can’t afford to live in these historically gay areas.

The LGBTQ Community After WWII

Gentrification of GayborhoodsThe history of gentrification begins after World War II. Those who had fought in the war were quickly and efficiently kicked out of the military if the let it be known that they were gay. Others found themselves the victims of hate crimes and were forced to leave the neighborhoods they were living in. With often little money and nowhere else to go, they settled in poor, often run down parts of the city.

Over time, these brave LGBTQ individuals and families began changing the communities they were forced to live in. They repaired the homes, improved the landscaping, and in general made the neighborhoods nicer than they were before. Developers saw these up-and-coming neighborhoods and began building new apartment complexes and housing developments in them. The result is that after a few decades, suddenly these “gay ghettos” were affluent neighborhoods with rising property values.

The Benefits of Gentrification

On one hand, the LGBTQ community is able to take advantage of the benefits of gentrification. Many of these homeowners are able to sell their houses for much more than they paid for them. Many even make a profit after subtracting out the cost of maintenance. The neighborhoods such as Harlem, East Village, and West Village were once mostly LGBTQ communities, but today that’s no longer true because many of the gay or lesbian homeowners sold their properties for a nice sum. Those who continue to live in these areas now enjoy safe neighborhoods that are the envy of many.

The Downsides

Of course, there are some downsides to gentrification. Young LGBTQ couples and individuals may find it impossible to move into the gayborhood of their choice. Those who continue to live in a gentrified gay district are likely to find their property taxes have greatly increased. Their overall cost of living may have increased, too. Some may even find themselves forced to sell their beloved home because they can no longer afford it.

Whether you love it or hate it, gentrification is something that many LGBTQ people have to face at some point. Fortunately, there are great gay and lesbian real estate professionals here to help you buy a home in the gay neighborhood of your choice or sell a property you already own.

The History of the Gay Village

If you’re a member of the LGBTQ community, you may feel more comfortable living around other individuals, couples, and families who are also a part of the community. This often means moving into an area that has become known as a gay village, gayborhood, or gay ghetto. While you’re working with a gay or lesbian real estate professional to find your perfect home in one of these neighborhoods, you may find it odd that so many LGBTQ people decided to live together. Where did these gay neighborhoods come from?

The Gay Village Started in Germany

The History of the Gay VillageThe first neighborhood to be recognized as a gay village was in Berlin. The neighborhood of Schoneberg became popular with LGBTQ homeowners during the 1920s, several decades before the idea of the gay village even existed. Most LGBTQ people gathered in bars rather than certain neighborhoods.

In the U.S., the gay village didn’t become a recognized concept until the late 1960s and 70s. Thanks to the Stonewall Rebellion in 1965, the LGBTQ community became more recognized, leading to the appearance of more gay neighborhoods across the country. The shift from bar to community was a major transition for the LGBTQ community and helped to show that its members were just like anyone else—neighbors, co-workers, and families.

What Makes a Gay Village?

What exactly is a gay village, though? Is it simply a neighborhood where a certain percentage of homeowners or renters identify as LGBTQ? For some, that is enough of a definition. Most neighborhoods do have more identifying characteristics, though. Originally, gay ghettos were run-down areas that were fairly cheap. These parts of town were considered areas where “disreputable” people lived. Many LGBTQ people were forced to move to these areas due to threats of violence and intolerance in the more affluent parts of town.

Because many of these LGBTQ homeowners took care of their homes, many gay villages went through gentrification. Today, these older historic homes are often worth a lot of money. In Chelsea, New York, for example, home prices have dramatically increased since the area became a gay neighborhood in the 1990s. The same is true with areas such as Andersonville, Chicago; South End, Boston; and West Hollywood.

The Modern Gay Village

Fortunately for the LGBTQ community, there’s no longer as much antagonism as there once was. Today, while there is still some persecution towards LGBTQ individuals and families, it’s not as wide-spread, and fewer people are finding themselves run out of a neighborhood because of who they’re in love with. Because of this, there aren’t many new gay neighborhoods appearing. The gay village isn’t likely to vanish overnight, but there is, thankfully, less of a need for them.

Gayborhood Prices Are Increasing

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that housing costs in many gay villages are higher than average. Gay and lesbian real estate experts in San Francisco, New York, and Chicago can all tell you that the popular gayborhoods in these three cities are expensive. But just how expensive are they, and how have the prices changed? A survey done by real estate website Trulia and dating site OKCupid reveals that home value premiums jumped in just five years (between 2012 and 2017).

New York Prices Increased the most

Gayborhood Prices Are IncreasingThe survey looked at the average home value per square foot in the gayborhood and in the zip code overall in order to determine what percentage the value increase. For example, in New York in 2012, the gay neighborhood’s home value was, on average, 106% of the entire zip code’s average home value. By 2017, however, the gayborhood’s average home value was 162% of the home value in the rest of that area. That’s a fairly substantial increase in just five years.

In terms of cost per square foot, that means home values in the New York gay neighborhoods increased from $436/square foot in 2012 to $659/square foot in 2017. For those who purchased real estate in the area, the investment paid off. For those who are looking to move into New York’s gay neighborhoods, though, it’s going to be costlier.

Which Other Cities Saw Increases?

Only one other city’s gay neighborhoods increased by more than 50%. While most people would expect to see San Francisco or LA here, neither of those cities made the top ten. Instead, the city in the number two spot is New Orleans. The Louisiana city known for Mardi Gras saw gay neighborhood housing prices jump from $193/square foot to $290/square foot, an average increase of almost $100. Boston come in third with an overall jump from $361/square foot to $557/square foot, moving from 79% of the average zip code cost to 105%.

Some Gayborhood Home Values Declined

Some gayborhood home prices actually dropped, becoming closer to the average home cost in the zip code. In Miami, Florida, gay neighborhood values went from 73% of the zip code premium to 60%, though value per square foot still increased from $188 to $296 due to overall market increases. In San Francisco, the home value premium dropped from 17% more than the average to only 12% above average, bringing homes in the Castro district more in line with what you’d pay anywhere else in the city.

Life in Boystown

If you’re looking for a gay neighborhood in Chicago, most LGBTQ real estate professionals would point you to Boystown. It’s the most famous gayborhood in the city, and it has a long history of acceptance. Boystown is a part of the larger neighborhood of Lakeview East. It runs from Belmont to Addison and from Halsted to Broadway. But why is Boystown so popular?

The Beginning of Boystown

Life in BoystownChicago has always been a haven for LGBTQ people, even back in the 40s and 50s. During these times, many people in the community lived in Tower Town or River North. However, they were slowly pushed out of these neighborhoods as rent went up. Eventually, many of them moved towards Boystown, especially during the 1960s.

Illinois actually repealed its sodomy law in 1961, allowing gay men to have more freedom in coming out of the closet. By 1970, there were enough LGBTQ people living in the area to organize the very first pride parade. It wasn’t long after that event that the area became unofficially called Boys Town. Later, the name became the more official Boystown.

That first pride event had less than 200 people participate in it. Today, the pride parade draws in over one million attendees, making it one of the largest pride festivals not only in the U.S. but in the world.

Boystown Today

Over the years, Boystown continued to grow and gain more prominence. As one of the first, if not the first, gay neighborhood, it has always been a popular home for members of the LGBTQ community. While real estate prices have gone up, they are still more reasonable than some popular gay and lesbian neighborhoods, including those in San Francisco.

In 1997, Chicago devoted $3.2 million dollars to Boystown to improve the area. This facelift not only made the area more colorful and visually appealing, it also helped to improve the safety of some streets. One of the biggest additions was the 23-foot-high pillars. Eleven of these pillars were added in 1998 and are painted in the colors of the rainbow.

Is Boystown Right for You?

History and importance to the LGBTQ community aside, is Boystown the right place for you? Home prices may not be near what they are in California or New York, but they’re still fairly high for the area. However, the greater Lakeview East neighborhood has a lot to offer. Many new businesses have moved into the area in the past few decades. Even if you don’t live in Boystown proper, there are a number of great (and more affordable) homes in the vicinity.

Are there LGBTQ Friendly Towns in Kansas?

Kansas isn’t known for being at the forefront of the battle for LGBTQ rights. Because of this, some people wonder if moving to the state is a good idea. If you reach out to a gay or lesbian real estate agent, though, you might be surprised at the number of places they will tell you are very welcoming and diverse. Kansas does have a lot to offer the LGBTQ community. If you’re uncertain where to make your new home, here are a few cities where you can start your search.

Kansas City

Are there LGBTQ Friendly Towns in KansasYou might start your search for a great LGBTQ community in Kansas City, the largest city in the state. It’s very diverse and welcoming. This large city has everything you’d expect from a major metro area, including a thriving downtown area, an arts district, and more. The city has been called one of the most underrated LGBTQ-friendly destinations in the U.S. In addition to a number of gay bars in the city, you’ll also find the LIKEME Lighthouse, a LGBTQ community center.

Topeka

The capital of the state, Topeka also features a few gay bars. In fact, these bars bring in people from all around the area. The Kansas Equality Wedding Expo was held here in 2015 and brought together many wedding vendors who support the LGBTQ community. Topeka Pride, held every year, is a week of fun events and activities.

Wichita

Wichita is another underrated city that is quite welcoming to LGBTQ individuals and families. The city is home to The Center, a LGBTQ community center and safe space for those in need. It’s found in the downtown district and is located next to Equality Kansas, a group that works for LGBTQ equality throughout the state. Wichita is a great city for those who want to live somewhere with many amenities and comforts yet still want to feel like they’re in a small community. Living in the suburbs gives you both.

Lawrence

The University of Kansas is located in Lawrence, making it something of a college town. This university is known for having the largest LGBTQ student population in the state, and that’s reflected in how welcoming the city is. The university has built a LGBTQ resource center that anyone in the community can make use of. Many of the local bars transform into gay bars on Wednesday, too.

Ready to move to Kansas? These are just a few of the welcoming places to live in the state.

California Panel Addresses State’s Youth Homelessness

One of the issues that California faces is that many young people, especially young LGBT people, face homelessness. According to information presented before a panel hosted by the chairs of the California Senate Human Services Committee and the Assembly Human Services Committee, about a third of all homeless young people in the country are in California. Conservative estimates put that number at 12,000 or more, and around 40 percent of these homeless youth identify as part of the LGBT community.

California Panel Addresses State’s Youth HomelessnessAs many gay and lesbian real estate agents can tell you, housing prices in parts of California are incredibly high. Many neighborhoods in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego have housing prices that are much higher than the national average.

Of course, housing costs are only one thing that makes it difficult for those between 16 and 24 find and retain housing. Many young LGBT individuals are made homeless because they’re kicked out of their homes after coming out. Some of these people actually end up coming to California after losing their place to live in other states. Those who are moving from areas in the south or the Midwest, where the cost of living is much lower are often surprised at what it costs to rent even a very small apartment. They end up on the streets, unable to find work or a place to live.

The panel invited many of these young people and others who were once homeless to discuss the issues the state faces. Many believe that the state hasn’t dedicated sufficient resources to helping these individuals. With so many homeless people in the state, many see it as an issue that needs to be made more of a priority than it currently is.

The panel was held at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, a place where many homeless people come every day for help. The center offers assistance in finding low-income housing, jobs, and other resources. The center often works with local real estate agents and others in the housing market to find homes for those in need.

Many nonprofits have worked with real estate owners and agents in California to create low-income housing to assist LGBT seniors with finding affordable living. This has resulted in many seniors being able to live in a comfortable setting. One solution to the housing crisis many young people are facing may be something similar.

Do Gayborhoods Have a Future?

Gay neighborhoods have grown in popularity over the years.  Originally something of a ghetto where gays and lesbians were almost forced to live due to prejudice, today’s gayborhoods are well-to-do areas with higher than average property values.  People flock to them because they want to live there, not because other neighborhoods aren’t welcoming.  But with the gay marriage question now settled and more and more people supporting LGBT rights, do these gay neighborhoods have a future?  Will most fade away as the LGBT population becomes dispersed across cities?

Property Values

The Future of the Gayborhood Is Somewhat Unknown, But the Culture That Thrives Within Them is Here to StayOne reason some gay and lesbian realtors don’t expect gayborhoods to simply vanish overnight is that they tend to have higher than average property values when compared to the rest of the city in which they are located.  This means those who own homes in these areas may not want to sell.  It may also be difficult for others to move into a gayborhood if they aren’t prepared to deal with the higher property values.  Of course, this could work against the neighborhood, too.  Without affordable properties, it’s possible younger gay and lesbian couples won’t move to the area, leading to its diversification.  However, time has shown that this isn’t the case.

The Makeup of the Neighborhood

A joint study done by researchers from both the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Pennsylvania on gay neighborhoods showed an interesting result: gay men tend to live in close proximity to each other, while lesbians do not tend to cluster quite as substantially.  This can be seen in cities such as Seattle and San Francisco.  Data from 2000 and from 2010 show that lesbians were much more likely to be dispersed across a city than gay men were.  If this trend holds, then we may see the decline of lesbian neighborhoods, but not of gay male neighborhoods.

Location

Some people believe that all gay neighborhoods have some things in common, but that hasn’t proven to be true.  While a survey does seem to show that gay men tend to move to neighborhoods that feature more historic, older homes, this isn’t always the case.  There isn’t much to connect the various gayborhoods across the U.S. other than the fact that many LGBT people live there.  This makes it hard to tell if or when we’ll see new gay neighborhoods form.

The Future

So is there a future for gayborhoods?  At the end of the day, experts can’t really say one way or another.  They point to the fact that many ethnic groups tend to cluster together despite the lack of reasons for this as a sign that LGBT people may always tend to gravitate towards each other.

Gayborhoods and Increasing Property Values

Ever since a study done in 2001 on areas with high concentrations of LGBT homeowners and property values, gay and lesbian realtors have continued to notice that gayborhoods often have more expensive real estate.  This phenomenon continues today.  While it’s not always true, studies have shown that neighborhoods where a large number of LGBT people live tend to have overall above-average property values.

Property Values in So-Called Gayborhoods Are Higher than Comparable Suburbs, Is This a Coincidence?Of course, this won’t always happen—a home won’t automatically increase in value just because a gay or lesbian couple moves in, nor is it always true for every LGBT-heavy housing area.  However, this trend does appear to be a legitimate statistic, not merely an urban legend.  When people say that when gays move in, your property values increase and you get a new Whole Foods, it may not actually be a joke.

While the original study done in 2001 may be outdated, a recent analysis done by Trulia economist Ralph McLaughlin shows that its conclusions continue to be valid.  He looked at housing data and population statistics from 2012 to 2015.  Overall, he discovered that the average cost of a home in an area with a higher concentration of same-sex couples (both married and those who considered themselves married) was, on average, higher than comparable neighborhoods with a higher concentration of opposite-sex couples.  For areas with more male couples, home prices were about 23 percent higher overall, while areas with more female couples saw an increase of about 18 percent.

In addition to having higher home values when compared to similar neighborhoods, McLaughlin’s analysis showed that gayborhoods tend to have higher home prices on average when compared to the rest of the city.  He points to areas like the Castro district of San Francisco, the West Hollywood part of LA, and the Provincetown part of Cap Code, Massachusetts, as examples.  Housing in West Hollywood, for example, is 123 percent of the average LA cost.  In fact, out of all of the LGBT districts he studied, only one was actually cheaper: Guerneville, a part of northern San Francisco.

Is there a reason for this?  Some people assume LGBT people simply keep their homes in better shape or make more improvements than straight couples, but that seems unlikely.  Instead, McLaughlin suggests that most LGBT neighborhoods were already fairly expensive when compared to the rest of the city they are located in.  The housing crash may not have hit them as hard as other areas.  Same-sex female couples are also more likely to have children, which means that they tend to move to better areas with good schools.

Get the Most House for your Money in these 4 Markets

Buying your first home is a large undertaking that taxes you physically, emotionally, and (most of all) financially. It can be scary at first, but you can leave the experience with a fabulous piece of property that’s easily able to be resold if you choose. All you need is to conduct your research properly; pick the right location; and have a good realtor on your side.

Money is the biggest hurdle for many first time home buyers. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of five great places in the U.S. that are affordable for first-time homeowners. We have also taken employment rates into account so you can hit the ground running.

There Are Some Cities That Are Just Better When It Comes to Buying Your First HomeKansas City, MO

Kansas City, Missouri is an urban sprawl with a variety of entertainment and cultures. It also has an extremely diverse economy which makes finding employment a snap. The unemployment rate is 5.3%, which is about average today.

The best part is that the average listing price on Zillow is just barely above $101,000. This means that the monthly payment on the average Kansas City house with a 30-year mortgage would be under $500!

Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis has a highly educated work force that’s filled with people in their late twenties and early thirties. Combine this with the bustling downtown area and you have a great spot for a young bachelor or bachelorette who’s looking to strike out on their own.

The median home value in Minneapolis is just about $200,000 on Zillow. This isn’t prohibitively expensive, but it’s not cheap either. However, with its 3.4% unemployment rate, high gay population, and gorgeous neighborhoods, you may be willing to overlook it.

Omaha, Nebraska

Omaha, Nebraska is probably the best place to raise children on this list. It has a sizeable population of roughly 434,000. The state of Nebraska has an unemployment rate well below 3% which is absolutely amazing. The median housing on Zillow is cheap, coming in at $137,000. There’s also a big arts scene here as well.

Des Moines, Iowa

It doesn’t get much better than Des Moines when it comes to value. The average home price on Zillow in Des Moines is $110,000. If you break that down into mortgage payments, that’s under $550 monthly on a 30-year mortgage with average interest. With pricing so flexible, you could up your monthly payments and pay off your home in a fraction of the time!

The median pricing according to the census is only $118,200 which isn’t much higher than Zillow is reporting. The unemployment rate in Des Moines is only 3.2% as of this May and it has a decent population of about 207,000. There’s plenty to do, though not as much as some of the other cities listed here.

Where to Move When You’ve Got Money To Burn

There are pages and pages of articles devoted to finding affordable places to live. But there aren’t nearly as many resources for those of us with more cash than usual. Whether you’re an older couple that’s finally spending that retirement money, or a young person with a high power career and money to burn, these 3 places are sure to please.

If You Have Money to Spend As You Please, There Are Many Great Cities to Move to That Have Booming LGBT CommunitiesHawaii

Hawaii is highly regarded as one of the best tourist spots in the U.S. But for some reason, everyone is too intimidated to actually get up and move there.

If you’re into fresh seafood, deep sea diving, and gorgeous island wilderness, then moving here shouldn’t be a question. Hawaii life is often compared to being in paradise. This isn’t just an urban myth, however, everything is gorgeous and life moves very slowly there. Things that you could get in the blink of an eye in New York or California may take days in Hawaii. Because of this, you may want to reconsider moving here if you’re looking to advance into a high powered executive career.

Hawaii is very expensive, with the median home price being about $550,000. LGBT rights in Hawaii are also very good with legal same sex adoption and marriage.

Los Angeles California

If you’re into clear skies and fabulous beaches, then Los Angeles might be right up your alley. LA is sunny and warm for 9+ months out of the year and only dips into the low fifties in the coldest months. This city has some of the most diverse scenery and people in the entire U.S. as well, so there’s no shortage of multicultural venues.

California is also one of the leaders in LGBT legislation. The state supports gay adoption, weddings, domestic partnerships, and gender changes for trans-folk. What’s not to like?

If you’re considering moving to California, you should have no less than $500,000 as a baseline for a mortgage. The rates extend to the multi-million dollar range the closer you get to the touristy areas.

Stamford Connecticut

If you’ve got a family, then Stamford, Connecticut is a great place to raise your little ones. It’s in close proximity to some of the best schools in the country including UCONN and Yale and it’s got some of the best crime statistics in the country.

There are quite a few companies that are based in Stamford which makes job opportunities with high-power employers quite plentiful.

The average rate for a house is around $450,000. It’s quite high, but it doesn’t compete with places like New York or LA.

Connecticut’s LGBT legislation is progressive. Gay marriage and adoption have both been legal for years, and there is a fairly good amount of LGBT households in the state.