Tag Archives: gay home buyers

My Partner and I Are Making an Offer On a Home, What Does All That Lingo Mean?

When purchasing a home, you will hear many different terms. When you make an offer, you will do so on what is usually a standard form that is called a purchase offer agreement. That is the document that outlines factors including the price you are willing to pay and any contingencies that you would like met. This document will not become a legal contract until you, your partner and the sellers sign it. Following are some other definitions for lingo you may encounter when preparing your offer.

download (1)Appraisal: The determination of what a home’s value is based on its condition, prices of similar homes in the neighborhood, and other factors that are assessed by a qualified professional appraiser.

Closing: This is a meeting of the parties involved to finalize the sale of the real estate. At the closing, the buyer will sign mortgage documents and pay the closing costs involved in the transaction. Note that in some states, a closing is not considered complete until the deed is recorded at the local county registry of deeds office.

Contingency: A condition that is outlined in the purchase contract and that must be met prior to closing on the home. For example, appraisals, inspections and certain repairs that must be made.

Earnest, or Good Faith, Money: The deposit that you make when you submit an offer on a home. The amount varies, but $500 or 5 percent of the value of the property is generally considered acceptable. This deposit is intended to show the sellers that you are serious about purchasing the property.

Fee Simple: Represents that you will own the property and that you may do whatever you like with it.

Mortgage: A debt that you will incur to the lender who provides funds for the purchase of the home. You will be required to give the lender a lien against the property until the funds, plus interest, are repaid.

Real Estate: Includes land and improvements, such as the home and outbuildings, that are permanently attached to it.

Realtor: A broker or associate that is a member of a local real estate board.

Title: The deed that shows legal ownership of a piece of real estate.

Title Insurance Policy: This type of policy ensures that there are no liens or other problems with the property in question.

Another term that you may see is Time is of the Essence. This means that the contract contains deadlines that must be met and that failure to meet those deadlines within the time set out will result in a breach of the contract.

If you are considering making an offer on a home, you should hire an LGBT real estate agent to assist you. He or she can explain any terms that you do not understand and help you throughout the purchase process. In addition, he or she will understand your needs and protect your interests. The best way to find a professional real estate agent who is reputable is to conduct a search on GayRealEstate.com.

What Should My Partner and I Consider Including in a Purchase Offer

Purchase offers are generally completed using a standardized purchase agreement form that sets out the details of your offer. That document is not legally binding on either you or the seller of the property until it has been signed by both parties the buyers and sellers. When completing a purchase agreement form, you should consider the following issues.

CoupleContingencies

Some of the contingencies that you may want to consider include:

1.   Will you need to sell your current home, if you have one, before completing the purchase of the new home?

2. Do you need to secure the financing before you purchase?

3. Do you want the purchase to be contingent on inspections? For example, depending on whether the house does not pass the general home inspection.

What is Included?

For example, the home and land, of course, but what about furnishings. Do you want the appliances or any of the furniture, window coverings, lawn mower, or other personal property to be included in the purchase. All of those items should be listed in the purchase offer to avoid misunderstandings.

Who Pays for What?

You should include what costs that you would prefer the seller pay and what costs you will pay in the agreement. For example, title or title insurance, surveys that may be required by your lender or as a result of boundary line disputes, home and special inspections such as environmental or pests that may be required by the municipality or the state, repairs in the event problems are found through the inspections, loan closing costs, and who will pay the real estate agent commission. Your real estate agent will make you aware of any other costs that should be addressed in the purchase offer.

Information you Should Obtain

You should find out whether there are any restrictions on what the property can be used for, and whether there are any boundary line or other disputes. Depending on the state that the property is located in, the seller may be required to complete a disclosure form that lets you know if there are any defects or legal problems with the property that you should be aware of. For example, foundation problems, roof leaks, structural damage and whether any remodeling or major structural work was completed according to municipal code standards. The federal government requires sellers disclose whether there is lead based paint in the home if it was built prior to 1978.

Because a purchase offer becomes a legally binding contract once all parties have signed, it is important that you include your preferences before submitting it to the seller. Once you have submitted the offer, the seller has the option of accepting it as is, making a counter offer, or rejecting the offer altogether. If it is accepted, you can then move forward with the requirements noted in the contract, such as obtaining financing and having any inspections completed. If any of the contingencies fail that were noted in the offer, you have the option of going forward with the purchase of the home or voiding the contract.

Before making an offer on a home, it would be in your best interest to hire a professional LGBT real estate agent. He or she will know what should be included in the purchase offer and will be in a position to give you and your partner advice. You can find an agent by conducting a search in your location at GayRealEstate.com. It is important that you find a reputable agent that you are comfortable working with. Those listed on GayRealEstate.com are professionals in good standing in their areas of expertise.

Posted on February 2, 2015 in Buying a Home, Home Buyers, Home Buying

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

5 Ways for Same Sex Couples to Prepare to Own Their First Home

Many same sex couples make the mistake of not preparing before purchasing their first home. The result is unexpected delays and disappointments. Following are five ways for same sex couples to prepare to own their first home.

images1. Calculate the Cost of Owning a Home

The first step is to determine how much home you can afford. You can do this by applying for preapproval from a mortgage lender. Before applying, it would be wise to obtain a copy of your credit report from one of the major reporting agencies and checking to be sure that is no inaccurate information included. If there are inaccuracies, contact the reporting agency to have it corrected before applying for preapproval. Note that the major credit reporting agencies are required under the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act to provide individuals a free copy of their report once per year.

2. Open a Savings Account

While you are searching for your home, it would be wise to save, or add to your savings, the money needed for your down payment and for necessities that you will need once you move in. Necessities may include a lawn mower, new furniture or other items that you would like to personalize the home. You will also want to save some funds to pay for emergency repairs that may occur once you move in. For example, the furnace may go out or your roof may start leaking. It is important to have the funds on hand for those types of repairs should they arise.

3. Organize Your Financial Information

Before applying for preapproval for a home mortgage, you should make sure that you have all of the documents at hand that may be needed. Generally, lenders require your previous year tax returns, statements from your savings and other accounts, and your latest pay stubs. Organize those documents and take them, and any other documents the lender you choose might require, with you when you go to apply.

4. Understand Mortgage Loans

There are a number of options available to low and moderate income buyers to obtain a mortgage, including conventional, Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Veterans Administration (VA).

Conventional mortgages are those that are not guaranteed by a government agency. These types of loans generally require more money down and somewhat strict credit requirements.

FHA guarantees loans from qualified lenders resulting in more flexible lending practices and lower interest rates.

VA loans are guaranteed by the Veterans Administration and obtained through qualified lenders. These loans do not require a down payment, but do require a funding fee of approximately one to three percent of the loan amount. VA loans are available to service members and veterans, spouses and other eligible beneficiaries.

Note that the above is a sampling and are not the only mortgage options available.

5. Develop a Perfect Home List

Make a list of the type of home that you would like to purchase and what it should include. For example, would you prefer a ranch, Cape Cod or an old farmhouse? Would you prefer that it has a garage, a small lot or acreage or a specific type of location? Once you have made your list, you should prioritize it. List the things that you must have at the top of the list. It is unlikely that you will find a home that has everything on your list so you should be prepared to be flexible. If you find the perfect home but it does not have some aspect that you wish, perhaps it is something that you can add once you move in or you may determine that it is not that important considering the other benefits of the home.

Once you are prepared, it would be wise to seek the assistance of an LGBT real estate agent at GayRealEstate.com. He or she will have the expertise to guide you through the home buying process and answer any questions that you may have.

Posted on November 13, 2014 in Uncategorized

4 Reasons for Same Sex Partners to Own Their Own Home

Owning your own home allows you to experience the pride of home ownership. For many same sex couples, the security of owning their own home is an accomplishment that they look forward to once they have established a secure relationship. There are many benefits to owning a home compared to renting.

download1. Freedom

When you own your own home, you have the freedom to decorate and make landscape changes, make noise, have pets and allow anyone you would like for a long visit without getting anyone’s permission. Any improvements that you make to the home will increase its market value.

The exception to this benefit is when you purchase a home in an area that has a home owners association or other organization that makes rules to maintain the value of the homes in the area. Those organizations generally have rules in place related to the type of modifications you can make to the home, noise limits and other restrictions. Before purchasing a home governed by such an organization, you should review their rules to ensure that they do not infringe on anything that you want the freedom to do in or with your new home.

2. Tax Breaks

The United States tax code allows home owners to deduct some of the costs involved in purchasing your home on your first tax return after your purchase. The code also allows you to deduct the amount that you pay in mortgage interest and property taxes every year.

3. Stability

The stability of owning a home allows you to make lasting friends and participate in community activities. If you have children, owning a home allows continuity of their education by not being required to move to different schools when you change rental units.

Although many people stay in the same rental unit for many years, most people move every few years for reasons including increases in rent or incompatibility with neighbors or the landlord. If you choose a fixed rate home mortgage, the payment amount cannot be increased during the life of the contract. This option offers stability in knowing each month exactly how much your house payment will be each month.

4. Equity

Equity is the difference between the amount owed on your home and its fair market value. Making regular mortgage payments helps you build equity in the home, unlike rental payments that you never get back.

Owning a home can be compared to a savings account. When you sell the home, you will be paid the funds left after payment of prorated items such as property taxes, real estate agent fees and the balance of your mortgage. The money that you will receive is called capital gains. The federal government allows an exemption, as of 2014, of $250,000 for a single person and $500,000 for a married couple. If your capital gain falls below that amount, you will not be required to pay federal taxes on the money that you realize from the sale of your home. There are requirements that must be met in order qualify for the exclusion, including that you must have lived in the home for at least two years out of the previous five years.

If you are ready to purchase your own home, it would be in your best interest to hire an LGBT real estate agent at GayRealEstate.com to assist you with the process… it’s free. He or she will be up to date on the real estate laws that affect same sex couples and will protect your interests throughout the process.

Posted on November 10, 2014 in Uncategorized

Home Buying Tips for Same Sex Couples

When same sex couples purchase a home, there are some legal protections that can be put into place to protect their children in the event one or both of them die. The protections that would be best for you will depend on your particular situation. Following are some of the options that are available, depending on the state that you live in.

Types of Ownership

When you purchase a home, you can choose how you want to take ownership. Following are some of the choices that are available.

imagesJoint tenancy with right of survivorship means that you will both own and use the home equally. When one of you dies, your partner will automatically own the home. This may be an option if you are both parenting the children and the surviving partner is a legal guardian and will continue to care for them after the death of the partner.

Tenancy in common allows each of you to will your share of the home to anyone you choose, including your children. In order to protect your children with this option, you can create a will making them the beneficiary upon your death.

Sole ownership where the home is owned by one of you rather than both is an option. The legal guardian of the children could purchase the home in his or her name and will the home to the children. The problem with this option is that the partner whose name is not on the home will not legally own any interest and will have no rights should you breakup or die unless you have created a will that includes them.

Wills

Creating a will allows you to distribute your assets to anyone that you choose. To protect your partner and your children, you can include them as the beneficiary of your home and any other assets that you choose.

If you die without a will, your estate will be distributed according to the laws in the state that you live in. Most states dictate that the estate is distributed between the spouse and the children, or to the children if there is no spouse. In the case of same sex couples who are not married or in a legal relationship, the home would be distributed to the children only if they are their natural children or are adopted. This means that if the children are the natural issue of one of the partners in a same sex relationship and the other partner dies, his estate would not go to the surviving partner or his or her children.

Estate Planning

Most people choose to create a will as well as selecting the home ownership option that works best with their particular situation. There are also other estate planning options available that can be used to protect both your partner and your children in the event of your death including revocable living trusts.

Real estate and estate planning laws vary by state. It would be wise to consult with a real estate attorney who is familiar with LGBT issues when considering the options available to you and your same sex partner.

If you are in the market to purchase a home, you should hire an LGBT real estate agent at GayRealEstate.com to assist you. He or she will help you find the right home and protect your interests throughout the home buying process.

Posted on October 22, 2014 in Uncategorized

Home Buying Tips for Same Sex Couples

When you find the perfect home that you and your partner would like to purchase, you will begin the process by making a purchase offer. The offer generally includes how much you are offering to pay for the home, contingencies to the purchase such as inspections or financing, and any conveyances you would like included such as furnishings or other assets. It may also include a good faith deposit, generally $500 or 5 percent of the home’s value, to show that you are serious about purchasing the home.

Sold-signBefore making your offer, there are some things that you should consider.

1. Find out why they are selling. If they are selling because they have to make a move for a job change or some other reason that makes them motivated to sell the home quickly they may be willing to negotiate on the asking price.

2. Do not make an offer that is a lot lower than the asking price if it is a fairly priced. This could insult the seller and make him or her unwilling to negotiate any further with you. If the home is fairly priced, you may consider offering a slightly lower amount if you are not buying in a fast paced market where you stand to lose out on the home altogether.

3. Do not show the seller that you are enthusiastic about buying the home. Doing so could    make the sellers think that you want it bad enough to pay a higher price than what you are offering. While this may open negotiations, the seller may be less inclined to lower the price or offer additional perks, such as paying closing costs or making a repair that you would like.

4. Be sure to include logical time frames for obtaining financing, inspections and other           contingencies that you can logically meet. For example, while you may believe that you can obtain financing within two weeks, there is no guarantee that it will happen. You may end up applying at a different mortgage company and miss the deadline. In that case, the agreement can be voided for noncompliance and the seller is free to sell the home to someone else.

The seller has the option of accepting your offer, making a counter offer with or without changes, or rejecting your offer altogether. Keep in mind that just because your offer may be the first, the highest or the best offer the seller has received, he or she has no obligation to accept it. In a few states, the seller is required to accept an offer or take it off the market if the offer is for full price with no contingencies. Generally, sellers have the authority to accept the offer that they prefer.

If the seller rejects your offer altogether, you have the option of submitting another offer. In that case, it would be wise to have your real estate agent, if you have one, find out why the offer was rejected in the first place. That knowledge will give you a base for making a better offer that may be accepted.

If the seller accepts your offer and all parties sign, a ‘meeting of the minds’ takes place and the contract becomes legally binding. This is why it is important to include any contingencies and conveyances that you would like included. Unless the seller is willing to negotiate and modify the purchase agreement, you will be legally liable to follow through on the purchase on the terms submitted in the offer.

If you are considering selling your home, you should consult with an LGBT real estate agent at GayRealEstate.com. He or she is in the best position to know and discuss the local market with you and guide you through the process of buying a home. In addition, an LGBT real estate agent has the knowledge to guide you through the process of making a purchase offer.

LGBT Community Integrating Into the Suburbs

In our previous articles, we noted that LGBT individuals and couples had spread throughout cities including Minneapolis, Chicago and Phoenix rather than staying in designated LGBT neighborhoods. Since those articles were published, Amin Ghaziani released a book “There Goes the Gayborhood” that includes his research into LGBT demographics. Ghaziani is a respected sociologist at the University of British Columbia.

downloadGhaziani found that, like all neighborhoods, gayborhoods change. LGBT households are moving out and straight’s are moving in. He noted that “…LGBT people, in greater numbers than ever before, are living their lives outside the boundaries of just one neighborhood in the city.” Ghaziani found that same sex households were found in 93 percent of all of the counties in the United States. One of the main reasons, according to Ghaziani, is that “…many LGBT people feel culturally similar to their straight neighbors” and straight people are more tolerant than in the past. He notes that “[t]he rapid rate at which sexual minorities are blending into American society represents the most impressive civil rights triumph of our generation.”

Activists and LGBT organizations can be credited with the integration of the LGBT community into straight communities and vice versa. Because of their influence, Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was ruled unconstitutional in United States v. Windsor, opening the door for the federal government to recognize same sex marriages and allow those couples to receive the same federal benefits as opposite sex married couples.

Currently 19 states recognize same sex marriages: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, new Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington and the District of Columbia. Court cases are pending in a number of other states seeking to legalize same sex marriages. As same sex marriage laws are enacted and lawsuits are fought in courtrooms, the American public has been made more aware of LGBT issues and have become much more tolerant. They are seeing those in the LGBT communities as real people, not just a label for people that do not fit into their straight lifestyle.

Gayrealestate.com feels that the bottom line is that LGBT people want the same benefits in a community as their straight neighbors: safety, good schools for their children and friendly neighbors. Acceptance of the LGBT community has taken major strides in recent years and promises to continue to do so in the future.

5 Home Buying Pitfalls for Same Sex Unmarried Couples.

Same sex unmarried couples face a different set of legal issues than married couples. Failing to plan for the future is the number one mistake that partners make. Some of the home buying pitfalls for same sex unmarried couples are outlined below.

images (1)1. Consider putting both of your names on the deed. While it may be tempting to purchase a home with only one of your names on the deed, the partner’s name that is left off will a legal right to the home. This is true even if that partner contributes to the household and helps pay the mortgage. Note that there are other estate planning methods that can be used to protect a partner’s interest if his name is not on the deed. For more information, see our article Gay Couples, Estate Issues and Real Estate.

2. Failing to agree on what percentage each partner will own in the home. Unless you agree on this issue beforehand and either hold title by tenancy in common, where each partner can own the same or a different percentage of the real estate, or create a legal partnership agreement, you will both own the home equally in almost all states according to Nolo Law for All. This pitfall may become an issue if one of you pays a larger percentage towards the purchase or the expenses involved in owning the home. For more information, see our article Top 5 Ways to Protect Yourself When Purchasing a Home With Your Partner.

3. Assuming that each partner will pay half of the mortgage payment, insurance and taxes as well as the utilities and maintenance. If one partner makes substantially more than the other partner, it would fair to come to an agreement as to what percentage each partner will pay that both parties are comfortable with. Discussing this issue and coming to an agreement before purchasing your home can help avoid disputes down the road.

4. Failing to decide what will happen to the real estate should your relationship dissolve. If one of you moves out of the home, how will the real estate be dealt with? For example, will one partner have the right to buy the other partner out, will the home be sold to a third party, and, in that case, who will pay the bills until the home is sold? This issue should be discussed and your decision included in your partnership agreement.

5. Failing to create a will to protect your partner. Unless ownership of the home is held by joint tenancy with right of survivorship or a will is prepared that bequeaths the deceased partner’s ownership in the home to the surviving partner, the deceased partner’s portion will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy of the state of residence. Intestacy laws relate to who directly inherits from a deceased person and generally includes wife, children, parents and then siblings. Unmarried partners, even if they own a home together, cannot inherit according to the intestacy laws in all states.

Taking steps to avoid the home buying pitfalls for same sex unmarried couples will help protect both you and your partner in the event of death or dissolution of the relationship. The above information is not intended as legal advice. Same sex couples who intend to purchase a home together should consult an LGBT real estate agent from seasoned sites like GayRealEstate.com for expert help in the purchasing process.

6 Tips for Buying in a Fast Paced Market

When a real estate market is fast paced, homes sell quickly and buyers must make swift decisions to avoid losing a home that they have their heart set on purchasing. Following are 6 tips for buying in a fast paced market.

download1. Know exactly what you are looking for before you start your search so that you will know you found it as soon as you see it. Sit down and make a list of must-haves, then be prepared to overlook less important aspects of a home if it fits your overall requirements of a home that you would love to own.

2. Take a look at your finances and figure out what you can afford, then approach a lender and obtain pre-approval. In a fast paced market, it is imperative that you have your finances in order. A pre-approval letter will let the seller know that you are financially stable and increases the chances of your offer being accepted.

Note that pre-approval is not a guarantee that you will get a loan. It is a letter from a lender that its preliminary qualification determination indicates that you may be eligible for a mortgage of a particular amount.

3. Hire an LGBT real estate agent. They are generally the first to know about new homes that are placed on the market and may know of new listings that fit your needs before they are made public. An agent can point those homes out to you and help you avoid bidding to late and losing the home. In addition, a real estate agent who knows his market will be in a position to help you make quick, informed decisions. For more information on hiring an agent, see our article Top 6 Questions Every Gay Home Buyer Should Ask Their Realtor.

4. Be flexible! If you only allot two days a week or weekends for house hunting, you may lose out on your perfect home.  Be ready to go to showings on short notice from your agent. In a fast paced market, your flexibility can make the difference between being successful in purchasing your dream home or losing it to another buyer.

5. Do not get stuck on the little things. If the home has the must-haves that you decided on, is in good structural shape and is in a neighborhood that you would like to live in, make your bid. Updating the home to suit your tastes can come later.

6. In a fast paced market, if the home is reasonably priced and is what you are looking for, you should not offer a low bid. It would be smarter to offer the asking price rather than be outbid and lose the home. Your real estate agent can help you decide on a competitive offer that is not overpriced, and submit your purchase offer to the seller.

Note that your offer is not legally binding until the seller accepts and signs the document. The seller has the option of making a counteroffer to you if he or she does not agree to your offered terms. Contracts must include what is called “a meeting of the minds” in order to be binding. This means that, in relation to real estate, there must be an offer of either services or money and an acceptance of that offer in return for the real estate at issue. If the seller accepts your offer or you accept the counteroffer and both you and the seller sign the contract, it becomes legally binding.

Most contracts include language that dictates what happens if one of the parties default on the agreement. For example, if financing is a contingency of the contract and you find that you cannot obtain financing, you may lose any earnest money that you put down on the property once the agreement was accepted by the seller. If the seller defaults by deciding not to sell to you, you can sue him or her in a court of law for breach of contract.

In a fast paced market, everything happens quickly. We hope the 6 tips for buying in a fast paced market outlined above help you achieve your goal to purchase your dream home.