Category Archives: Homeowner

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.

Cities You May Not Realize are LGBTQ Friendly

Everyone knows that New York, San Francisco, and Chicago are very LGBTQ-friendly and have well-known gay neighborhoods. But there are a number of other cities out there that you might not know are very friendly to the LGBTQ community. These smaller cities don’t make huge headlines for having gay neighborhoods, but they do. If you speak to a gay or lesbian real estate expert in one of these cities, they would tell you that their LGBTQ community is thriving. Here are a few of these cities.

Missoula

Cities You May Not Realize are LGBTQ FriendlyYou’ve probably never heard of this little city in Montana, which isn’t surprising at all. It’s the home of the University of Montana, a liberal arts university that brings in a good number of young people to the city. Missoula also features the Western Montana LGBT Community Center and a number of gay bars and other businesses. If you love the outdoors, you’ll enjoy the national parks that surround the area.

Anchorage

One of the bigger cities in Alaska, Anchorage is home to a thriving LGBTQ community. The city also ranked highly on the HRC Municipal Equality Index with an 85 out of a possible 100. That shows that the city itself has a number of inclusive policies and is LGBTQ-friendly. Anchorage hosts Alaska’s Pride every year and is home to several LGBTQ support groups. If you love the colder temperatures and don’t mind the ice and snow, Anchorage may be the winter wonderland you’ve always wanted.

Bloomington

While Chicago may be the midland LGBTQ paradise, it may not be for everyone. If Chicago is too large for you, you might take a look at Bloomington, Indiana. This smaller city scored a perfect 100 on the HRC index. Like Missoula, Bloomington is a college town, so you can expect its average age to skew younger than many other cities. The city is home to a great number of LGBTQ-owned businesses, restaurants, and bars. Bloomington also hosts the Pride Film Festival, an event that has run for more than a dozen years.

These three cities are just a few of the most unexpected LGBTQ friendly cities in the country. They’re great examples of places where the LGBTQ community not only exists, but also thrives even though they’re not that well-known. If you’d like to know more about what it’s like to live in Bloomington, Missoula, or Anchorage, contact a gay or lesbian real estate professional in that city.

Great Places in West Virginia for LGBTQ Families

Are you considering a move to West Virginia? If you’re looking to relocate to a city where LGBTQ families are not just accepted, but welcomed, there are a few different places to consider. West Virginia overall is known as a friendly, accepting state, so you don’t necessarily have to avoid any certain places. However, it’s always great to live in a city that values all of its residents equally. Here are some places where you’ll find that.

Athens

Great Places in West Virginia for LGBTQ FamiliesAthens is a small college town where many people’s lives revolve around Concord University and the events on campus. Even though it’s small, it’s considered a gorgeous hidden paradise. Bush Creek Falls provides an amazing outdoor experience, and there are plenty of places to hike and picnic. The university puts on a number of different events throughout the year, and the town is home to a functional drive-in movie theater. Local ordinances protect people from discrimination based on orientation.

Morgantown

Is Athens a bit too small for you? Morgantown is a nice mid-sized city with around 30,000 full-time residents plus another 25,000 students. It’s another college town, so you have that welcoming atmosphere that often accompanies these areas where the demographic skews younger. With an average home price around $150,000 it’s also quite affordable. Morgantown’s located in a central area that makes it quick and easy to get to a number of large metro areas.

Charleston

Charleston is the capital of West Virginia, and it’s one of the most liberal cities in the state. LGBTQ individuals are protected from discrimination in a number of areas thanks to city ordinances. You’ll also find that the housing market here has revitalized itself. Today, everything from trendy downtown lofts to traditional homes with classical layouts are available at reasonable prices. In fact, the median price for houses is even less than Morgantown, so you’ll find some great deals here. As the capital, you can also expect to find many cultural activities in Charleston, and there’s always something to do.

Huntington

Another city of around 50,000 is Huntington. Like the other cities on this list, it also has a number of anti-discrimination ordinances that offer protection to its citizens. The city’s homes are even more reasonable than Charleston’s, and many people will pay less than $100,000 for a nice single-family home. If you’re looking for a city that’s affordable yet very welcoming, talk to a gay or lesbian real estate agent about homes in Huntington.

Home Tasks to Do This Fall

Taking care of your home can be a full time task, especially if you do things the wrong time of year. There are actually better times of year to maintain your home when it comes to specific tasks. Do you know when you should buy new appliances, and when you should wait if it isn’t an urgent fix? Most homeowners do not. Here are a few tips on how to keep your home maintained, along with why this time of year is the best.

Buying Appliances is Great for This Time of Year

Home Tasks to Do This FallRight around the end of the year, but before the holiday rush, is when you should seek out new appliances for your home. The stores want to move the models that will be replaced with new versions in the next month or two, and they are more willing to negotiate on prices. So, if you need a new range, fridge, dishwasher, washer, dryer, or other major appliance, now is the time to go buy it.

Make Sure to Clean All Your Windows

The end of the year is an important time to clean your windows. It may not seem like it is that important, but it can actually help you avoid things like seasonal depression. This time of year, we have fewer hours of sun. This means that we need as much natural light as possible. By cleaning the windows, we let more light in and we get the advantage of each minute of natural sunlight possible.

Have Someone Check Your Chimney

It is really important that you have someone come out and check your chimney before the weather hits where you would need to use it. If you have a build up inside your chimney, and it is not inspected and cleaned before you light a fire, it could start your entire chimney on fire. Plus, it could also trap carbon monoxide in your home, which could hurt you or your family. Make sure to have a professional come in to help check your chimney before the cold weather hits. It leaves you and your family in a safer, cozier place.

For more tips on how to maintain your home this fall, contact us here at GayRealEstate.com. We can help you with anything from buying or selling a home, to helping you maintain the home you have for years to come.

Posted on October 18, 2017 in Home Ownership, Homeowner, Homeowners

The Most Important Considerations Before Buying a Home

Have you decided that you are ready to begin the process of buying a home? If so, it is important that you know what you are getting into. You need to have the right resources at your disposal, and know who to turn to. Buying a home is not a simple process, but it also does not have to be a complicated one. Knowing these considerations first, makes it a bit easier.

1 – Consider Your Life Today, and What Life Will Be Like Tomorrow

The Most Important Considerations Before Buying a HomeOne of the bigger mistakes people make is buying a home that is perfect for them right this moment, without thinking about the future. When buying a home, you want a home that is ideal for right now, plus will still work for the expected changes in your future life. Just because you do not have kids now, for example, does not mean you should avoid buying a home with extra bedrooms if you plan on having them. Think about what tomorrow will bring, and make sure your home works for that life, too.

2 – Don’t Forget to Negotiate

Each stage of buying a home involves some type of contract. You will likely feel like you are signing your life away at certain points. However, contracts are not all written in stone. If you do not like something in a contract, find out what options you have to make it something you do like. Talk about current contract wording, and figure out how to make it more pleasing when it does not meet your needs. You do not need to buy a home that works for anyone else. It has to work for you.

3 – Note the Neighborhood

While many areas of the country are LGBT friendly, not all specific neighborhoods are. On the contrary, some of the more conservative areas of the country are also far more welcoming than you may expect to members of the LGBT community. Make sure you look around the neighborhood before you sign on the dotted line. The last thing you want is to ignore a home that would be ideal simply based on the neighborhood.

4 – Always Use a Realtor You Trust

One of the most important parts of buying a home is making sure you use a Realtor during the process. There are a lot of great realtors out there, no matter what part of the country you live in. If you want the help of an LGBT friendly realtor, you can find one here on this site. Just make sure you find someone you like working with, and you trust their word. It makes the entire process a lot easier!

Before buying a home, make sure you know what you want out of it and what the buying process encompasses. Hopefully these tips help make it easier for you to get the home of your dreams!

Should My LGBT Family Fear Homeowner’s Associations?

If you move into certain neighborhoods, apartment complexes, or condos, you may find that you have to abide by a number of rules and regulations set down by the neighborhood homeowners association.  In many cases, these are fairly simple—keep your yard in good condition, don’t put up an ugly metal carport, and don’t leave piles of garbage on the porch.

You Have Rights and Responsibilities Under a Homeowner's Association, Same As A Non-LGBT Family WouldBut some LGBT residents have had issues with homeowners associations.  The most recent incident has occurred in Australia, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen in the U.S. or anywhere around the world where homeowners associations exist.  The two elderly men were told that they had to remove their rainbow flag from the terrace of their apartment by the association because it violated the homeowners association regulations.  It was, they were told, in violation of the rules that say that the external appearance of all units in the complex must be uniform in nature—curtains, blinds, and all window fixtures need to appear very similar, and the rainbow flag stood out.  They also said that the rainbow flag was a type of advertising material that broke the rules.

This is just one example of LGBT people and homeowners associations butting heads.  Others have been told to remove the rainbow flags from their homes, although that is becoming more and more rare.  Others have found that they were discriminated against when they tried to run for the homeowners board of directors.

In some instances, you really need to read the homeowners association rules before moving into a neighborhood.  For example, a homeowners association can legally ban homeowners from flying flags, but it has to be a uniform ban—they can’t deny rainbow flags specifically, but they can ban all flags that are not protected by federal law (such as the U.S. flag).  They can also put restrictions on when flags are flown and even ban any flag that is so large it blocks other people’s views or is a danger to others.

Despite all of this, homeowners associations can also work for LGBT residents.  Many go out of their way to help protect LGBT homeowners rights and access to housing, while others work to keep hate speech and vandalism out of the neighborhood.  LGBT residents also face much less resistance to running for the association board of directors and are often very active in the community.  While some do see homeowners association rules as being restrictive, many are there to keep the neighborhood looking good, which of course will raise property values and, if you ever sell your home, can lead to higher selling prices.

6 Tips for Handling Undisclosed House Defects

If you purchased your perfect home with your partner and found out it had major flaws once you moved in, your recourse will depend on a variety of factors. Most states have laws that prohibit sellers from hiding major defects from buyers. Generally, major defects include plumbing and sewage, water leakage, termites, roofing, heating and air conditioning systems, property drainage, foundation, title problems and lead paint. Following are 6 tips for handling undisclosed house defects.

RE1011. The first step is to review the seller’s disclosure form and read your home inspection report if you have one. There have been instances where the buyer missed the disclosure in the excitement of the purchase. If you find that the problem was in fact disclosed, it will be up to you to pay for the repairs.

2. If the defect was not disclosed, document the problem, take pictures, and obtain estimates of the repair costs.

3. If you had a home inspection completed before purchasing the home, you should contact the inspector. If he or she missed problems that should have been found by an expert, he or she may be liable for the repairs.

4. Contact the real estate agent that assisted you with the purchase. He or she can review your evidence and let you know about some of the options that you may have. For example, he or she may be able to resolve the issue the seller, or refer you to an experienced LGBT attorney if needed.

5. Contact the seller and/or his agent and request that the defects be repaired at his or her expense. You may want to hire an attorney to send the seller a letter outlining the defects and the remedies that are being sought by you, the buyer. If the seller declares that he was not aware of the defects and refuses to pay for the repair, your only recourse is to file a lawsuit against him. In order to succeed, you will need to prove that the owner knew or should have known about the defect. For example, the seller patched over the problem or neighbors informed you of the difficulty that the seller had in dealing with the issue while he or she lived there.

6. Contact a real estate attorney for advice and assistance in filing a lawsuit in a court of law. If the court finds in your favor, you could recover the cost of repairing the defect and any other damages resulting from the defect, attorney fees and costs of filing the suit, and punitive damages if the court finds that the failure to disclose was fraudulent. The court may also rescind or invalidate the sale and return the property to the seller.

In order to avoid purchasing a home with undisclosed defects, it would be wise to hire a reputable LGBT real estate agent to assist you. He or she is a professional and is trained to spot any inconsistencies in the documentation and to let you know your options. Many times, issues with a home can be worked out prior to the sale to the satisfaction of both the seller and the buyer. A professional, trustworthy LGBT real estate agent located in your area can be found by conducting a search on GayRealEstate.com.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Different Forms of Same Sex Joint Home Ownership

When you purchase a home with your LGBT partner, you will need to designate how you would like to hold ownership. Unfortunately, many partners do not understand the ramifications of home ownership until it is too late to do anything about it. Depending on the state that you live in, following are the advantages and disadvantages of different forms of same sex home ownership.

CoupleJoint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship
This designation means that when a partner dies, ownership of the home will transfer to the surviving partner as a matter of law. The advantage of this type of ownership is that there is no need to go through probate court to claim ownership of the home. You would simply take the death certificate to the register of deeds in the county where the property is located or file for a new deed in your name indicating that one of the owners is deceased. It should be noted that if there is a mortgage on the home, it will remain after the partner’s death unless he or she had some type of insurance that pays the mortgage in full upon death.

The disadvantage, in some cases, is that you both have equal control of the home during your lifetime. This means that you cannot get a loan against the home, sell it, give it away or will it to anyone else without your partner’s permission. Even if a partner bequeaths his interest in the home to another party in his will, it will have no effect and his interest will still revert to the surviving partner. If you decide you would like to sell the home and your partner will not agree, you could go to court and request a partition or a sale of the home. This generally becomes an issue when a relationship breaks up and one partner wants to keep the home.

Another disadvantage of this type of ownership is that either partner can break the designation. All that is needed is for one partner to go to the register of deeds and transfer his or her interest in the home to tenancy in common. That action automatically destroys the joint tenancy with right of survivorship designation.

Tenancy in Common
With this designation, both partner’s own a percentage of the home. The percentages do not have to be equal. For example, one partner could own 60 percent and the other 40 percent. The portion owned by each party is generally dictated by the amount that each partner contributed to the purchase of the home.

The disadvantage is that when one partner dies, ownership does not automatically transfer to the surviving partner. His or her half interest in the home will be distributed according to a will, if he had one, or according to the state’s intestacy laws where he resided. Intestate means to die without a will. Homes owned by tenancy in common do have to go through probate, even if the partner left a will designating the surviving partner as the beneficiary.

The exception to the above is when there are liens against the home, or the deceased’s estate does not have enough assets to pay off his or her final debts. In that case, creditors could file for a partition in a court of law to sell the home.

The legal ramifications of home ownership designations can be confusing. In order to protect your rights, you should speak with an LGBT real estate agent or attorney who is knowledgeable on the local state laws regarding real estate. If you and your partner are considering purchasing a home together, you should contact a reputable LGBT real estate agent by conducting a search on GayRealEstate.com. He or she will be aware of the local and state laws and ordinances that affect home ownership and will know a reputable attorney in the area that can advise you of your options related to home ownership.

Posted on December 20, 2014 in Buying a Home, Home Buyers, Home Ownership, Homeowner, Homeowners

LGBT Homeowners and Taxes

It might seem odd to be thinking about taxes in the fall, but for LGBT people who are considering buying a home, it’s important to understand how taxes affect you before April 15.  Fortunately, things have become more simplified since August of 2013 when the IRS ruled that all legally married same-sex couples would be put on equal footing with opposite-sex couples when it comes to federal taxes.  This ruling held for all married same-sex couples even if they currently lived in states that banned gay marriage.  However, because they’ve never filed joint taxes before, many same-sex couples don’t know exactly what this means for them.

Federal Tax Returns

Tax Benefits for LGBT CouplesLGBT couples can now file either a joint return or file as married filing separately.  This gives them access to a number of different tax benefits.  They can also now claim children as dependents, together on a joint return, and they may be eligible for certain child tax credits.  Another option is for one of the spouses to file as the head of household, which will most likely result in paying fewer taxes.  It may even be possible for both to file as married filing separately and, if the family has more than one child, each spouse claims at least one child as a dependent.  Both then may be eligible for head of household status.  Your LGBT real estate agent may be able to help you in this area or may know of a tax professional who can assist you.

State Tax Returns

In states that recognize marriages or have put domestic partnerships or civil unions on the same level as marriages, couples can file state taxes jointly.  Again, a tax professional can help you navigate through this unknown legal arena if you’re not familiar with how joint tax returns work.

If you live in a state where marriage is not recognized, you’ll have to file as married on your federal taxes and single on your state taxes.  There’s no other option at this time.

The Tax Benefits of Marriage

Couples who are legally married are exempt from many different federal taxes on the transfer of real estate between the couple, both while they’re living and after one of the spouses has died.  A person can give as much as $5 million in gifts to another without paying taxes on it.  There are some gifts that are exempt from this, though.  If a same-sex couple is recognized as being married, one spouse can inherit a large amount of property without paying taxes on it.  If they are not recognized as being married, though, one spouse may have to pay a large amount of taxes upon inheriting the property.