Category Archives: Mortgages

Finding the Perfect New Home in Minnesota

Are you ready to move to Minnesota? While it might not be the place some LGBTQ people want to call home, for others, this northern state is the ideal destination. If you love the cold, you’ll find Minnesota has it in spades! But there’s more to this gorgeous state than that. There are many welcoming places for those who identify as part of the LGBTQ community, and there are many gay and lesbian real estate professionals here just waiting to help you find a new home. If you’re thinking about heading to Minnesota, here are some of the most welcoming cities.

Minneapolis

Finding the Perfect New Home in MinnesotaLet’s start with Minneapolis, one of the most well-known cities in the state. It’s also considered the most welcoming city for those looking for a great LGBTQ neighborhood to settle in. Many of those look to live in either the downtown or the uptown area. Unfortunately, housing can get expensive there. Fortunately, Nokomis, Hiawatha, and Linden Hills are all very affordable, quiet, and safe neighborhoods. If you decide to make your new home in Minneapolis, don’t miss out on the annual Midwest Pride Week festival or performances by the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus!

St. Paul

The capital of the state, St. Paul may not be quite as large as Minneapolis, but it’s still quite welcoming. In fact, some say that its downtown area is actually a better place to live than the downtown district in Minneapolis. The city does host Twin Cities Pride and has a number of different LGBTQ support groups and organizations. Those who think about moving to St. Paul might want to check out Como or St. Anthony Park, two very diverse and quiet neighborhoods.

Rochester

Rochester is definitely not as well-known as either St. Paul or Minneapolis, but it should be among the LGBTQ population. It’s a very welcoming city that also has a lower-than-average unemployment rate. The city and the Gay Lesbian Services of Southeast Minnesota, which is headquartered here, host Rochester Pridefest every year. That’s an event you don’t want to miss.

Pine City

Want to live in a small town? You should start your search in Pine City. This small town is just as welcoming as Minnesota’s larger metro areas. You’ll find everything here, including East Central Minnesota Pride, an outstanding annual event. There are also a number of LGBTQ organizations and businesses in this quiet little town.

These are just a few of the places in Minnesota you might find fit your tastes. Don’t discount this state just because of its weather!

What LGBT Life is Like in Indianapolis

Thinking about moving to Indiana?  If so, Indianapolis may be on your list of potential destinations.  There are a number of gay and lesbian real estate agents in the city, and they can tell you all about the capital of the state.  It’s the second largest city in the Midwest, for example, so you know you won’t be alone in the LGBT community.  The city’s residents are about as diverse as their economy, which includes major corporations in areas such as transportation, business, education, health, government, leisure, and manufacturing.  Of course, the city is also known as the home of the Indianapolis 500, the world’s largest single-day sporting event.

LGBT Rights

Indianapolis Has a Lot of LGBT Resources for Those Thinking of Moving to This Part of The CountryIndianapolis is one of the areas in Indiana that offers more protection for its LGBT citizens.  Marion County, which the city is a part of, does have its own laws prohibiting discrimination in employment on the basis of both orientation and gender identity.  Government employment at the state level is protected statewide thanks to a 2005 gubernatorial order.

Unfortunately, Indiana Senate Bill 101 went into effect in March of 2015.  This law allows businesses to use as a legal defense that their right to practice their religion is substantially burdened by serving LGBT customers.  The mayor of Indianapolis has come out against the bill, stating that he wants everyone who lives in the city to feel welcome no matter what their orientation or gender identity is.

Domestic Partnerships

Prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage, Indianapolis was one of the few cities in the state to offer domestic partnerships for anyone who lived in the city.  The registry was established at the beginning of 2013.

Gay Neighborhoods

There are a couple of gayborhoods in Indianapolis.  The downtown area is full of LGBT-owned businesses, plus a number of gays and lesbians live in the downtown condos, apartments, and homes.  It’s considered a fairly artsy area, too.  You’ll find historic homes here as well as an area that, even with its high traffic, is also very safe.

Another LGBT community is Whitaker Valley Estates.  This is a newer area that was built around 2008.  It wasn’t planned as a gay community at all, but some of the first people to move into Whitaker Valley Estates were LGBT couples.  They spread the word about the area, and soon it was a full gay ghetto.  Those looking for new homes with all of the amenities will love this part of Indianapolis, but it’s not as cheap as some other parts of the city.

Now that Gay Marriage is Legal, What Does it Mean for the Mortgage Market?

On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its ruling on the case of Obergefell v. Hodges.  This ruling gave gays and lesbians the right to marry in all states and struck down all current gay marriage bans.  While we may not realize exactly how this ruling affected the country for a few years, experts are already anticipating changes in a number of industries.  Those in the real estate industry have a few predictions for how same-sex marriage will affect the mortgage market.

CoupleMore Same-Sex Couples will be House Hunting

Gay and lesbian real estate agents have been helping LGBT couples find and purchase their dream homes for years.  Now that same-sex marriage is legal, many expect the number of gay and lesbian couples searching for a home to increase.  Newlyweds may want to jettison everything from their single lives, including their individual homes, now that they can legally create a life together.  This means that more houses are going to sell, and the number of mortgages is going to increase.

More Couples May Qualify for Mortgages

Some experts are going back and forth on this, but overall, most agree that married same-sex couples are likely to have a better chance at qualifying for a mortgage, which means lenders will be making more mortgages.  This is because when married couples apply for a mortgage, they’re considered as one unit.  The low income or bad credit of one can be counterbalanced by the higher income or better credit of the other.  When two people apply for a mortgage jointly as individuals, this isn’t always the case.  Of course, bad credit can still hurt a married couple, but it’s not necessarily going to deny them the mortgage.

More Refinancing

The mortgage market can also expect to see a surge in refinancing soon.  There are a couple of reasons that many predict this will happen.  First, now that they’re married, many couples will want to jointly own their property and share the responsibility.  This means putting both spouses on the mortgage, and that requires refinancing.  Second, as mentioned above, as a married couple, they may have a chance of getting better mortgage terms than they would have or did have when applying jointly as individuals.  Savvy newlyweds may be able to take advantage of lower interest rates and other savings by refinancing their home.  What better way to start their married life together than by lowering their house payment?

5 Best LGBT States to Find Jobs

The best thing you can do before moving to a different state is to get to know the job market. After all, it’d be silly to move somewhere and get a shiny new mortgage without having a way to pay for it! Luckily there are many places for the LGBT community to settle down with a promising job and to fit right in with the community!

California and Washington

Some States Have More LGBT Friendly Jobs Than OthersCalifornia and Washington are both tied for the number 5 spot. In 2014, their job markets both saw a 2.2% increase which (while good) is pretty modest compared to some of the other cities. However, the thing that distinguishes them is their social attitudes. They both are extremely liberal and very welcoming of LGBT folk.  They both have had gay marriage, gay adoption, gender reassignment, and hate crime laws for some time now. If you’re looking to build a life for yourself, you absolutely cannot go wrong in either of these states.

The thing that distinguishes them from the others is the housing prices. Washington is moderate with an average of $268,400. But California is guaranteed to put a dent in the average person’s wallet. California’s average price is a whopping $439,500.

Delaware

Delaware is number 3 with a job growth of 2.5% in 2014. It’s progressive, and all of the major LGBT rights such as marriage, gender reassignment, and adoption are all legal. There’s also a meticulously crafted system of hate-crime laws that protect LGBT people. It’s not quite as progressive as California or Washington, but it’s not bad by any means. Delaware housing prices are quite affordable. They average $203,500

Colorado

Colorado’s employment market growth in 2014 was 2.7%, which is very good. Colorado is also quite liberal, meaning that adoption, marriage and gender reassignment are legal. Colorado also has laws banning the use of conversion therapy on minors, which is a VERY good thing. The housing prices are moderate, as they average around $265,000.

Nevada

Nevada wins the top spot for job growth with a giant 3.6% increase in 2014. Public opinion polls as well as legislation in Nevada also indicate that the social climate is very tolerant. Straight couples and LGBT couples are treated the same. Opinion polls taken in Nevada show that over 75% of Nevada citizens agree that same-sex couples should be legally recognized; 39% of people believe that same-sex marriage should be legal, and another 38% believe that it should be civil unions. The average housing price is tied with Colorado for $265,000.

Gay Real Estate and the 15 Year Mortgage

Although 30-year fixed rate mortgages were the standard choice in the past, today lenders offer loans of varying lengths. Fixed rate mortgages are home loans where the interest rate remains the same throughout the life of the loan. Following are some advantages and disadvantages related to gay real estate and the 15 year fixed rate mortgage.

Benefits

images1. You will save money by paying less interest over the life of the loan. For example, a $100,000 loan at 8 percent interest for 30 years with a monthly payment of $734 adds up to $264,240, while a 15 year loan on those same terms results in a monthly payment of $956 and adds up to $172,080. The 15 year loan results in a savings of $92,160.

2. You may save money in interest. Many lenders charge lower interest rates on a 15 year loan than for longer term loans. For example, on the 30 year loan referenced above.

3. Your equity in the home builds up much faster than with a longer term loan. Equity is the difference between your home’s value and the amount that is owed on the mortgage. For example, if your home is valued at $150,000 and you owe $100,000 on your mortgage, your equity is $50,000.

4. You will own your home free and clear in a much shorter time. This may be very beneficial if you plan to retire in 15 or 20 years and do not want to worry about making a mortgage payment.

Disadvantages

1. Your monthly payment will be higher than for a longer term loan.

2. Since the amount of interest you pay over the life of a 15 year loan will more than likely be less than it would be for a longer term loan, you will have less of a mortgage interest tax deduction every year.

3. The higher monthly payments could be a disadvantage if one of you suffers a loss of income or unexpected expenses.

There are other aspects to obtaining mortgage loans that could save you money including mortgage discount points. These points can be purchased and paid for at closing. In return, you will pay a lower interest rate on your mortgage. The amount varies depending on the lender.

If you are considering a 15 year mortgage, you should consult with your lender to find out your options. The Federal government and each state have enacted laws that apply to mortgage loans. It would be wise to consult with a local LGBT friendly realtor or attorney to review your mortgage loan agreement before signing on the dotted line. Any of the gay realtors at GayRealEstate.com can assist you in referring you to lenders who are gay/gay friendly, and may give you the best options. We hope that this article has helped you understand a little about the 15 year mortgage.

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.

Buying a Home When One Partner Has Bad Credit

Because both of your credit scores will be used by the lender when you apply for a mortgage together, one partner with bad credit could result in denial of your loan application or an offer to lend with a higher interest rate. Following are some tips for dealing with bad credit when buying a home with your partner.

download1. Under the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act, FCRA, nationwide credit reporting agencies must provide individuals with a free copy of their credit report once every 12 months. Those agencies include Equifax, Experian and Transunion. Both of you should obtain copies of your reports and review them to ensure that they are complete, accurate and up to date before you apply for a mortgage.

According to the FCRA, both the agencies and the entity providing the information are    responsible for correcting incomplete and inaccurate information on your report. If you find inaccurate or missing information, you should let the reporting agency know what information is inaccurate. The agency will then conduct an investigation by notifying the information provider that will, in turn, complete an investigation and report back to the reporting agency. You will receive a written copy of the results of the investigation and, if it results in changes to your credit report, a free copy of your credit report. That report does not count against your once every 12 months free report.

2. If your partner’s credit report is accurate and complete, you should explain the reason for the bad report to your potential lender. For example, reduced income as a result of unemployment, illness or other unexpected events that occurred. This may make them more willing to work with you.

3. Lenders may feel more comfortable giving you a mortgage loan if you pay a larger amount of money for your down payment, generally more than 20 percent. This may make the lender more comfortable about getting the house back if there is a need to foreclose.

4. Consider delaying the purchase of a home until the partner with bad credit has improved his credit. According to the New York Times, correcting any credit report errors, paying all bills on time for at least a year and paying down credit card balances is a good way to raise your credit score.

Mortgage lenders look at your credit report, your income, your debt to income ratio as well as the condition of the home and its current market value when making a decision to approve your loan. It is possible that, once all factors are considered, the lender would be willing to finance your home for you.

The first step in purchasing a new home is to speak with a local LGBT real estate agent at www.GayRealEstate.com. He/she will have the knowledge to assist you through the process, including referring you to the appropriate lenders.

Gay Real Estate’s Top 10 Tips for Merging LGBT Finances When Buying a Home

Buying a home with your partner is an exciting event. Before combining finances and purchasing your home together, there are some things that you should talk about and consider. Following are the top 10 tips for merging LGBT finances when buying a home.

images1. Have a discussion about your income, debts, spending habits and your credit history.  This conversation will let you both know where you both stand financially and help you decide how much home you can afford.

2. Create a budget that includes the anticipated mortgage payment, utilities, taxes and other related household expenses. This will show you the approximate minimum amount that must be contributed to the household each month.

3. Set up a joint checking account. The account should be used for paying your down payment on the new home and for bills related to living expenses. For example, mortgage, utility and home maintenance payments and household expenses.

4. Set up a joint savings account that can be used for emergency home repairs and for reaching your future goals. For example, maybe you both dream of taking a vacation to Australia, or your objective is to invest in a vacation home. A savings account will help you reach those goals.

5. Decide how much each of you will contribute to the bank accounts each month. Some couples may contribute 50 percent each while others contribute based on their income. For example, if one partner makes more money than the other, the contribution may be 60 percent for one partner and 40 percent for the other.

6. Draft a will naming your partner as the beneficiary of your interest in your new home. You may also consider making him a beneficiary on your retirement and investment accounts and your insurance policies. This may be important in helping your partner afford to keep the home if you die.

7. Consider drafting a durable power of attorney for financial decisions. That document will allow your partner to make financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated due to accident or illness.

8. Obtain a joint credit card for purchasing home furnishings and other items that will be joint property. Decide if all purchases or just purchases over a certain amount must be discussed beforehand. The bill should be paid from the joint checking account. Be sure to adjust your monthly contributions to your joint checking account to cover the credit card payments.

9. Keep separate checking accounts to pay for existing expenses, including car payments and student loans. This will allow each partner to pay their own debts off and maintain some control over their finances.

10. Put it all in writing. Draft a domestic partnership agreement that outlines each partner’s responsibilities in the relationship and what will happen to the home and other assets if the relationship is dissolved.

It is essential that you are both honest about your financial situation before merging your LGBT finances when buying a home. If, for example, you have a judgment against you, that creditor could place a lien against your new home. Lack of honesty could end up destroying your relationship with each other.

Top 5 Home Mortgage Considerations, with or without Your LGBT Partner.

There are advantages and disadvantages to financing a mortgage with your partner. Careful consideration should be given to issues that could affect you before making a final decision.

imagesTop 5 Reasons to Put Mortgage in Both Names

1. If you both have good credit, obtaining a mortgage in both of your names may help you obtain a low interest rate.

2. Using both of your incomes to obtain a mortgage may increase your chances of getting approved for a higher priced home than you could afford alone.

3. When you mortgage a home together, both names will automatically be recorded on the deed to the real estate. This means that both of you will equally own the home.

4. If one of you dies and legal steps have been taken, such as taking the deed as joint tenancy with right of survivorship, the surviving partner will become the sole owner of the property.

5. If the relationship does not last, both partners will still be liable for the mortgage payment until the house is refinanced, paid off or sold.

Top 5 Reasons Not to Put Mortgage in Both Names

1. Both of your credit scores will be used by the lender when you apply for a mortgage together. If your partner has bad credit due to late payments, defaults on loans or other serious credit problems, you could be denied a loan or offered a loan at a higher interest rate because of the perceived risk of default.

2. It will force you to buy only what you can afford. If your relationship falls apart within six months, you should be in a position to afford the mortgage payments and maintain the home.

3. Unless you take measures to protect your interest in the home, you will have no legal interest in the home should you split up or your partner die.

4. If your partner cannot pay his portion of the mortgage, it could cause you to get behind in payments and result in negative reports on your credit report and foreclosure.

5. Your partner has no income or less income than you. This fact will automatically put you on unequal footing when it comes to paying the mortgage, property taxes and other expenses involved in home ownership. More couples split up over money issues than for any other reason.

There are other advantages and disadvantages when you finance a mortgage using both partners income and credit scores. It would be wise to consult with an LGBT friendly real estate agent at GayRealEstate.com, or LGBT friendly attorney in your state if you have additional questions.

Top 3 Ways for Same Sex Couples to finance a Home Purchase

There are several ways that same sex couples can finance a home purchase including traditional mortgage lenders and possible other options. Following are the top 3 ways for same sex couples to finance a home.

images1. The U.S. Finance and Administration, FHA, is a division of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD. Because discrimination based on marital status is prohibited, it makes no difference if you are married or not when applying for a loan. Federal law also prohibits FHA from considering sexual orientation or gender identity of loan applicants.

FHA insures loans so that qualified lenders can offer you easy qualifying and low closing costs on your new home. FHA requires a down payment of 3.5 percent of the purchase price, well below the percentage that must be paid with most traditional mortgages.

FHA does not actually make loans; it is an insurance fund that guarantees loans so lenders can offer good terms to home buyers. Since each FHA approved lender sets its own interest rates and costs, it would be wise to check with several lenders to find the best rates possible.

For more information on FHA loans, you should contact your gay realtor for a referral to a gay friendly FHA qualifying lender.

2. The Veteran’s Administration, VA, offers guaranteed loans to veterans. The VA does not make loans. Like the FHA, the VA insures loans made by approved lenders. If you or your partner is a veteran, you could qualify for a lower interest rate loan.

Unmarried same sex partners may apply for a joint loan, but the VA will only guarantee approximately 40 percent of the total loan if only one of you is a veteran. If you are married, it is likely that you will quality for a VA loan unless you live in a state that does not recognize same sex marriages. The Veteran’s Administration is evaluating those applications on a case-by-case basis.

Generally, obtaining a VA loan allows lenders to mortgage your new home with no down payment and negotiable interest rates. Closing costs are comparable or lower than traditional mortgages and you may be able to finance VA’s funding fee in the mortgage.

For more information on VA loans, you should contact your gay realtor for a referral to a VA qualifying lender.

3. Seller financing is available on some homes. When a seller finances the home, there is no need to apply for a mortgage from a traditional or other type lender. You will sign a promissory note and make your payments, including interest, directly to the seller. If you live in a state, such as California, that has enacted anti-discrimination laws because of sexual orientation or sexual identity, the seller would be forced to sell to you if you meet his qualifications including down payment and credit worthiness.

The benefits of seller financing include no lender origination or other fees and there is no need to worry about strict mortgage lender requirements. Since the terms are negotiated between you and the seller, you may end up with a lower down payment and interest rate than you would with a traditional mortgage.

If you are interested in purchasing a seller financed home, you should check the laws in your state to ensure that you cannot be discriminated against.

In addition to the above, many states offer mortgage assistance programs. For example, MaineHousing’s First Home Program offers low fixed rate mortgages. You should check with your state government to find out what options are available in your area.

A great way to get started is to contact a top gay realtor at GayRealEstate.com. The Nation’s Oldest and Largest Gay Realtor Directory. No Cost or Obligation to find the Perfect Agent.