Should You Change Real Estate Agents?

Being a member of the LGBTQ community may make you hesitant about simply hiring any real estate agent. You want to make certain the person you’re working with is going to be able to help you find the home that fits all of your needs, while also respecting who you are. In some cases, you may find that the agent you’ve hired doesn’t seem to be on the right track. Should you look for someone new? Here are a few times when you certainly should change real estate agents.

You Feel Discriminated Against

Should You Change Real Estate AgentsAs a member of the LGBTQ community, you may have witnessed or even been the target of discrimination at some point in your life. You do not have to accept it or continue to subject yourself to any type of discrimination. If you believe your real estate agent has an issue with your orientation or gender, even if it seems more like a subconscious discrimination rather than intentional, it’s time to seek out someone else. You’ll find many gay or lesbian real estate agents across the country who will be happy to help you find a home.

They Don’t Understand Your Needs

If your agent isn’t a member of the LGBTQ community, they may not really understand your needs. They may assume that you’re looking for something in your home that fits the stereotypical image of a gay or lesbian couple. You may not be interested in this at all. These agents may not even think that you have any interest in having children or living in a particular school zone. If your agent doesn’t understand your needs because they can’t look past your orientation, don’t hesitate to find another agent.

You Make Them Uncomfortable

As surprising as it is in today’s day and age, it’s still possible to meet people who have never dealt with anyone in the LGBTQ community before. In cases like this, your agent may not be discriminating against you in any way, but they may be very uncertain in how to approach you. This nervousness may truly come from a place of ignorance—they simply don’t know how to act or are afraid of saying the wrong thing.

The best thing to do in such a situation is to actively bring it up. Talk to them about why they’re nervous. You may find that doing so actually gives you the chance to teach them about the LGBTQ community. You may make a new ally out of them. In other cases, though, they may admit that they simply don’t know if they’re the right agent for you. In that case, they may suggest you work with someone else before you bring it up.

No matter why you decide to change real estate agents, remember that it’s your right to. If you don’t believe your agent is able to help you find your next home, look for one who can, such as one of the amazing agents that are part of the network.

Phoenix – A LGBTQ Haven in the Southwest

The southwest is known for its dry heat, native American influences, and deserts. It’s not exactly known for being an LGBTQ destination or a place to live, but Phoenix, Arizona, has a thriving gay and lesbian community. This metro area is gorgeous all year long, so if you love bright, sunny days, it may be the perfect place to call home. There’s a lot to do in both the LGBTQ community and in Phoenix as a whole.

Phoenix is home to dozens of luxury resorts, so there are many tourists here throughout the year. Many of these tourists and residents alike love taking hot air balloon rides or riding horseback through the unique landscape. Golf is another popular hobby in Phoenix, and the city has an astonishing 200+ golf courses. With shopping, art exhibits, and sporting events, there’s a ton to do in the city.

Phoenix’s LGBTQ District

Phoenix – A LGBTQ Haven in the SouthwestUnlike some cities, Phoenix doesn’t really have a major LGBTQ neighborhood. The city is very spread out, and the LGBTQ community is, too. Even though there’s not really a gay ghetto here, there are a number of LGBTQ-owned businesses in the Melrose District. You’ll also find the Central Phoenix LGBT Community Center there along with some great clubs and bars. The Phoenix Pride festival is held every year at Steele Indian School Park and brings in thousands of LGBTQ individuals and allies from Phoenix and the surrounding areas.

One of the more unique things about the Phoenix LGBTQ community is that it spreads out beyond Phoenix. Many of the suburbs and nearby cities that have grown into Phoenix have large gay and lesbian populations. Scottsdale, for example, has a thriving LGBTQ community thanks to the large arts movement there.

Chandler, Mesa, Tempe, Gilbert, and Apache Junction, collectively called the East Valley cities, also have a good number of LGBTQ communities. Arizona State University brings many younger LGBTQ individuals to Tempe, while Mesa is one of the fastest growing cities in Arizona. Many have moved there in response to the commercial boom the city is experiencing.

No matter what brings you to the Phoenix area, it’s certainly a great place for LGBTQ individuals and families. Home prices in the area are reasonable, especially if you compare them to other large metros such as New York, LA, or Chicago. You’ll find many gay and lesbian real estate agents who can help you find the perfect home in Phoenix.

Should You Come Out to Your Real Estate Agent?

When buying a house as a member of the LGBTQ community, do you have to come out to your real estate agent? Should it matter what your orientation is or if your agent knows? It shouldn’t matter, although it does leave you open to discrimination, especially if you’re not working with a gay or lesbian agent. However, whether or not you do come out is up to you.

If You’re Married, It’s Important

Should You Come Out to Your Real Estate AgentIf you’re married, you’ll have to disclose that information when you’re applying for a mortgage. You’ll also want to have both of your names on the deed to the property. This means that your agent will need to know about your relationship. You’ll also have to come out to your lender and to the title company. The easy part about this is that you’ll “come out” in your paperwork. You don’t need to have any kind of conversation with anyone—they will see that you’re married on the loan information.

It’s Helpful in Some Situations

It can be helpful for your real estate agent to know that you’re looking for homes in the gay district or that are near LGBTQ businesses. Knowing that you’re a part of the community also means that your agent will know to show you homes in more accepting neighborhoods rather than those that tend to lean more conservative. Every piece of information you can give your agent will help them narrow the search and find homes that are absolutely perfect for you and your family.

It Depends on the Area

Of course, some cities and states are more conservative and less welcoming than others. If you’re looking for a home in one of these areas, you may not want to immediately come out to your agent. Even if you’re looking at homes with your partner, your agent may not immediately assume that you’re together. Some agents simply won’t care either way, and even those who aren’t supportive of the LGBTQ community will often be professionals. That’s not to say discrimination doesn’t exist—it does—but don’t assume that you will automatically be discriminated against.

If you’re single, there’s really no reason to say anything to your agent unless you want to. The same goes if you’re in a relationship, although your behavior towards your partner may give it away. If you’re at all concerned about being the victim of discrimination, find a gay or lesbian real estate agent. They’re more common than you might think.

Things Straight Real Estate Agents Might Not Understand

There are many great real estate professionals out there, and chances are any of them will be able to help you find the perfect home. However, there are some things that gay or lesbian real estate professionals will understand right away while straight agents may not. Here are a few things these real estate experts might not grasp right away and why going with an LGBTQ agent might be a better option for you.

They May Not Realize You’re a Couple

Things Straight Real Estate Agents Might Not UnderstandSome straight real estate agents might assume you’ve brought a friend, or worse, your brother/sister, to look at the property with you. They won’t realize you’re looking for a home for the two of you. Correcting them can be a little stressful since you never know how they will react. An LGBTQ agent may ask if you’re together rather than assume you are.

They May Not Look for Family Homes

Another thing a straight real estate agent may do, often unconsciously, is assume that you won’t be starting a family. They may look for smaller homes for the two of you that simply won’t work for children. If you’re planning on starting a family either through adoption or surrogacy, it’s important to let them know upfront that you need a home that will support this. Some may assume that since the two of you can’t biologically have a child together, you’re not planning on a family.

They Sometimes Fall into Stereotypes

While even LGBTQ real estate professionals can do this, it’s more common for straight agents to stereotype gay and lesbian couples. They may assume that lesbian couples want a large shop for their home improvement projects or that gay men want very fashionable houses with a lot of color and extravagant décor. They might show you homes that play into these stereotypes at first, which can be frustrating.

They May Assume You Want to Live in the Gay District

If the city you’re moving to has a gay district, a straight real estate agent might assume that’s where you want to live. You might not have any interest in that area. A good agent, no matter what their orientation, should ask you upfront what part of the city you’re interested in or if there are any particular areas you need to be close to.

Overall, a straight real estate professional may simply make some assumptions. Often, they aren’t actively discriminating against you or purposely doing hurtful things. If you want to avoid any misunderstandings, though, working with a gay or lesbian agent will help you get your housing search off on the right foot.

Up and Coming Gay Neighborhoods

Despite some reports, the death of the gay neighborhood is far from true. These areas may not be as prevalent today since more and more people are welcoming LGBTQ individuals and families into their neighborhoods, but they still exist. In fact, there are a number of new “gay ghettos” that have burst onto the scene, giving people options other than New York City, San Francisco, or Boystown in Chicago. Here are a few of these up and coming gay neighborhoods you could as your gay or lesbian real estate agent about.

New Orleans – the Bywater District

Up and Coming Gay NeighborhoodsNew Orleans has always been a very welcoming place for LGBTQ people, though it hasn’t achieved the fame some other cities have. It’s home to the oldest continuously open gay bar in the country, and many people come to celebrate Mardi Gras every year. While the French Quarter has served as something of a gay neighborhood over the years, the Bywater District has become more and more popular lately. This area contains many unique boutiques, artist stands, and more.

Denver – River North

Denver, Colorado, is another city with a long LGBTQ history. The city held one of the first pride events in the country and is home to organizations such as the Colorado Gay Rodeo Association. In 1990, the city even passed laws banning discrimination based on orientation, something few other cities were doing at the time. Today, River North is one of the up and coming gay neighborhoods. It’s an art district, which shouldn’t be a surprise—many LGBTQ people express themselves through art.

New condos have recently gone up in the area, but there are still a number of older homes here that are quite affordable. You’ll find new art galleries and boutiques next to older factories and historic areas, creating an interesting mix of old and new.

Salt Lake City – The Marmalade

Salt Lake City is often a surprise to LGBTQ people. They think of the city as home to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a religion that hasn’t exactly been welcoming to LGBTQ individuals. But Salt Lake City is actually fairly liberal and welcoming. The city has actually had an openly gay mayor and hosts a major pride celebration every year. The Marmalade district is the city’s biggest gay neighborhood, although it is a fairly new part of the city. Despite that, it’s growing quickly and has become home to many young professionals who have moved to Salt Lake City.

These are just three of the newest gay neighborhoods. If you’re looking at moving to a different area, do a little research—chances are, there’s a gay district there!

Where Do LGBTQ Homebuyers Stand in 2018?

LGBTQ rights have come a long way in the past ten years. While the fight for equality isn’t over, things have gotten better in some areas. Thanks to Obergefell v. Hodges, same-sex marriage is now the law of the land. Being able to marry your partner provides you with many more legal protections and options.

This is especially true when it comes to buying a home. Some couples aren’t aware of these changes or where exactly same-sex couples stand when they’re buying a home. Things are different now, and you need to know about these differences before you begin your home search.

Marriage Makes It Easier

Where Do LGBTQ Homebuyers Stand in 2018If you’re married to your partner, buying a house is an easier process. You don’t have to worry about setting up joint tenancy documents or whether it’s better to be tenants in common. Unless you file as married filing separately, you also don’t have to decide if one person should claim the entire mortgage tax deduction or if it needs to be split. There’s no question that the two of you own the property as a married couple with all the rights and privileges that brings.

You’re also protected from discrimination from lenders. In September of 2016, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which is a federal agency, determined that the Equal Credit Opportunity Act’s protections on sex discrimination extended to orientation and gender identity. Banks, mortgage companies, and other lenders cannot deny your application just because you’re in a same-sex relationship or marriage.

More Protections Exist

Many states and cities have passed ordinances or other legal protections that prevent discrimination based on orientation or gender identity. According to Trulia, 55.2% of housing options (homes, apartments, etc.) are protected by laws. Twenty-two states and Washington, D.C. have passed protections that cover housing, employment, and public accommodations. Unfortunately, if you plan on buying in an area that doesn’t have these protections, you may find yourself facing discrimination.

Discrimination Is Still Lurking

LGBTQ discrimination is still widespread in some areas. Even if the seller isn’t upfront about it, if they want to deny your bid based on the fact that you’re a same-sex couple, they will find some way of doing so. Some real estate agents will also discriminate, showing you only a few houses or obviously not dedicating much time to your needs. That’s why many look for a gay or lesbian real estate agent. In addition to being a better fit for your needs, they also understand the legalities around housing discrimination.

2015 National LGBT Real Estate Conference a Success

On October 12th through the 14th, gay and lesbian real estate agents, lenders, appraisers, and many others who work in the industry headed to Fort Lauderdale for the 2015 National LGBT Real Estate Conference.  This annual gathering is organized by the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals and included a number of speakers from some of the top real estate agencies and other organizations in addition to breakout sessions, presentations, and more.  This was the second year for the conference, and more than 250 people attended.

Keynote Speakers

There Were Many Successful Parts to the 2015 National LGBT Real Estate ConferenceThe conference had lined up a number of outstanding keynote speakers for the event.  Sherry Chris, CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, and Thomas Roth, the President of Community Marketing and Insights, opened the first day of breakout sessions with a keynote address focused on the trends in the LGBT real estate market.  Later that day, Sea Becketti, the chief economist for Freddie Mac, talked about home sales and the economy.

The next day featured a keynote address by Budge Huskey, CEO of Coldwell Banker, on where the real estate market was headed.  He was followed by Jill Eber and Jill Hertzberg, the leading Coldwell Bankers real estate team, who candidly talked about building their business.

The conference came to an end with a frank talk by Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff in Obergefell v. Hodges.  The now-famous gay real estate agent spoke about the landmark Supreme Court case and why he continued to fight for the right to marry all the way to the top court in the country.

Many other top real estate agents, brokers, loan specialists, PR professionals, and others spoke in general sessions and breakout sessions.

Marriage Equality at the Conference

The founder of NAGLREP, Jeff Berger, later reported that he felt that the theme of equality, especially marriage equality, ran through the conference.  It was, of course, especially prevalent in Mr. Obergefell’s discussion, but it was discussed in a number of sessions.  Many experts talked about already seeing an increase in the number of LGBT people looking at buying a home now that they were married.

This discussion also brought up the other battles LGBT people still have to fight.  Berger said that housing discrimination was a major concern of many LGBT people, and those at the conference did discuss what could be done about this issue.  Panels discussed actual verses perceived discrimination and how both could be addressed.

All in all, Berger and many others who attended the conference felt that it was a great success, and plans for the third annual National LGBT Real Estate Conference are already in motion.

Top 10 Reasons to Hire a Gay Realtor for your Home Purchase

Purchasing a home is a huge investment of your time and money. It makes sense that you would want a professional who understands your needs to assist you in the process. Below are the top 10 reasons to hire a gay realtor for your home purchase.

Gay Realtors1. You can be yourself so that you can develop a trusting relationship with your realtor. He will listen to and understand your needs. If you do not trust your realtor and do not believe he or she is working on your behalf, the process can be stressful and you could be taken advantage of.

2. Your gay realtor will assist you through the process of finding and purchasing your new home. He will keep track of all the paperwork and ensure that deadlines are met including during negotiations on pricing, inspections, etc. up to closing.

3. Laws in each state continue to change often and can have a huge affect on your rights in relation to real estate issues. Your gay realtor will be on top of housing laws and guidelines that affect the way that gay couples can purchase a home.

4. He will protect your rights during the buying process so that you can avoid the typical pitfalls that can delay or end the transaction. For example, deadlines, title issues, insurance and promised repairs.

5.  Your gay realtor will have the inside track on homes that may be perfect for you but have not yet been listed on the market. This can give you an advantage by being first in line to bid on the home.

6. Your gay realtor will let you know if a home is over or under priced and will assist you in making a reasonable offer. He will also submit the offer and negotiate with the seller on your behalf.

7. As a part of the gay community, your gay realtor will be able to tell you about the area including gay friendly businesses, local organizations, safe parks and nightclubs.

8. Your gay realtor can introduce you to members of the local LGBT community that may give you additional insight on the neighborhood and surrounding area that you are interested in.

9. Your gay realtor will know the best lenders that will work fairly with you and your particular situation.

10. Your gay realtor will be a great resource after you close on your home.

Before you hire a gay realtor for your home purchase, contact a couple from and chat with them both to ensure you’ll get along with he/her and that you are comfortable relying on his/her advice. If you are not comfortable, you should continue your search until you find someone you trust. Building a relationship with your realtor will help take the stress out of purchasing a home and make the adventure enjoyable.

Realtors Need to Be Culturally Competent

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

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

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

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

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

Should you Fire your Realtor?

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

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

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

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