Tag Archives: gay home buying

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.

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.

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.

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.

Gay Homebuyer? 5 Questions to Ask the Neighbors Before Buying a Home

Buying your dream home is a major step in life that you will presumable be living in for a long time. When you find the perfect home for you, it would be wise to take a walk around the neighborhood and talk to some of the neighbors. Failing to do this is one of the most common mistakes that buyers make. Neighbors can give you a lot of information about the house and about the neighborhood. Following are 5 questions to ask the neighbors before buying home.

Gay Home Buyer Questions1. Ask what they know about the history of the house. The neighbors may know things that the sellers forgot to mention. For example, the yard may flood every spring and the basement may leak. Those that live close by and are friendly with the seller may also offer additional details about the seller’s and why they are selling the home that could put you in a better bargaining position.

2. Ask if they like living in the neighborhood and how long they have lived there. People that really like where they live tend to stay. If most of the neighbors have not lived there very long, it may be a red flag that something is making the neighborhood undesirable. Generally, asking those questions will get your potential new neighbor talking about the good and the bad of living in the area and give you an idea of whether it is a place where you would like to live.

3. Ask about neighborhood activities. Do the neighbors have a good relationship with each other? Do they have neighborhood cookouts during the summer or have a favorite park that everyone gathers in for fun and exercise?  Discovering this information will give you a feel for the dynamics of the neighborhood and whether it is something you can tolerate.

4. Ask about crime in the area. Neighbors can tell you whether it is safe to walk the street at night, whether there have been burglaries and other crime related activity in the neighborhood.

5. If you have children, ask about the schools in the district. Parents who have children that go to the schools are in the best position to tell you about the quality of education that will be provided. You may also want to ask whether there are local babysitters available, summer camps and school clubs nearby. These questions will help you determine whether the neighborhood is child friendly and whether the area is a good place to raise children.

Talking to your potential new neighbors should be one of the things that you do before you make a final decision on purchasing a new home. Living in your dream home could turn into a nightmare if your new neighborhood is intolerable to you.

Posted on July 15, 2014 in Buying a Home, Gay Real Estate News, Home Buying

Dear Gay Realtor, Can I Add my Same Sex Partner to the Deed of my Home?

Adding your same sex partner’s name to the deed of your home is relatively simple. You would need to complete a quitclaim deed, have it notarized and file it with your county registry of deeds. Some states also require witnesses or your partner’s signature on the quitclaim deed before it can be filed. Although the process is simple, the consequences of adding your partner to your deed should be seriously considered before taking that step.

Gay Quit Claim DeedUnless you prepare a contract setting out your partner’s responsibilities in relation to making payments or other compensation for a share of the property, you are giving him or her a gift of a percentage of the equity in your home free of any legal obligations. Depending on the type of co-ownership that you choose when filing the quitclaim deed, your partner may have privileges including the right to obtain a security loan or to sell his or her share of the home.

The types of co-ownership that are available to same sex partners include joint tenancy, joint tenancy with right of survivorship and tenancy in common. Joint tenancy gives equal ownership to both parties. Joint tenancy with right of survivorship gives equal ownership and automatically passes ownership to the surviving partner when one of you dies. Tenancy in common allows unequal shares with no right of survivorship. For example, you can own 75 percent and your partner 25 percent of the home. When there is no right of survivorship, the deceased partners percentage of the home will pass to the person named in his or her will or according to the intestacy laws in the state of residency if your partner did not have a will.

Filing a quitclaim does not add your partner on your mortgage and he or she will have no legal obligation to make mortgage payments. If your home has a mortgage, you should check your deed of trust to ensure that adding your partner’s name will not trigger the mortgage holder to demand payment of the entire amount owed because of a due-on-sale or transfer provision. You can avoid this by asking the mortgage holder to give you written approval to add your partner. If they refuse, your options include paying the mortgage in full or refinancing in both of your names.

The information above includes some of the consequences of adding your same sex partner to the deed of your home. You should consult a real estate attorney who is experienced in LGBT law, or a gay realtor at GayRealEstate.com to find out more about the advantages and disadvantages for your particular situation.