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.


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.

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.

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.

How Gay Couples Can Buy a House Without a Breakup

Purchasing a home is an exciting but stressful life event and emotions can get out of hand. For example, disputes can arise if you prefer the cute little house on Leaf Street but your partner prefers the condo located closer to town, or the home one partner prefers costs more than the other partner is comfortable spending. downloadFollowing are some tips on how gay couples can buy a house without a breakup.

1. First and most importantly, sit down and talk! Discuss the top priorities of the type of home that you would like to purchase and come to an agreement on something that would work for both of you. For example, is a garage mandatory, how many rooms and baths would you like, and is a small lot or several acres preferred? Although your preferences may change once you begin looking at different homes, you will have an idea of the type of home that you would suit each of your preferences.

2. While you are discussing suitable homes, you should discuss how you want to own the home so that there are no misunderstandings down the road. For example, joint tenancy with right of survivorship, tenants in common or tenancy by the entirety. The ownership options vary depending on the state that you live in. States that allow ownership by tenancy by the entirety make it available to married couples only. For more information on forms of ownership, see our article Exploring Forms of Home Co-ownership for LGBT Unmarried Couples.

3. Put it in writing! Prepare an agreement that outlines all of the issues that you have agreed upon. You can add to the agreement as issues come up and you make additional decisions about buying a home together. Generally, the agreement is to resolve any potential disputes and is not a legal document. An agreement is only legally binding when it constitutes a legal agreement that a court of law will enforce. Those types of agreements must contain an offer and an acceptance where one party is agreeing to provide money, goods or perform services in return for something of value such as other goods, services or money.

4. Hire a real estate agent who specializes in working with LGBT clients. He will discuss the steps involved in purchasing a home and answer any questions that you may have. Having an agent that you trust will help relieve a lot of the stress involved in purchasing a home. For more information, see our article Top 10 Reasons to Hire a Gay Realtor for your Home Purchase.

Buying a home should be a fun adventure; relax and enjoy your search. We hope these tips on how gay couples can buy a house without a breakup will help you find and purchase your new home with a minimum of stress.

Gay Real Estate’s Highest and Lowest Priced Homes in the Nation’s Top 10 Markets

Houses are becoming more expensive not to mention the ever rising mortgage rates. However, the prices do vary according to where the home is located and the buyer’s house choice according to Gay Real Estate Experts.

Buying a home is always a wise investment, but be aware of the factors that make homes affordable or expensive those include; location, location, location.

Influence of Location on House Price

You can visit lendingtree.com to carry out an analysis on the average single-family home price as a factor of the average earning in some of the top 10 biggest metropolitan zones in the US.

After the analysis of the Top 10 metropolitan areas in the US shows the most expensive areas to buya home, to where it’s cheapest.
1. Los Angeles (Most expensive among the ten largest metro areas)
2. New York
3. Boston
4. Washington, DC
5. Miami
6. Philadelphia
7. Chicago
8. Dallas
9. Houston
10. Atlanta (Cheapest housing among the ten largest metro areas)

From the list above you can tell why it is crucial to consider the home prices and your total income. Washington, DC best illustrates it ~ average home prices in the nation’s capital are way higher than the ones in Miami, Philadelphia and Chicago. But since the average wages are relatively higher in Washington, people can afford to pay more for their home.

What Other Factors Influence Affordability

Apart from the location being a factor in terms of house affordability, there are other variables from family to family such as the stability of income, total household income, existing financial responsibilities and long-term career prospects.

The point to digest here is that, whenever you are buying a new home, you should look at it beyond mortgage rates and prices. The bigger picture will help you in estimating affordability in a potential relocation, and help you find a house that blends perfectly with your career and budget.

Author Jeff Hammerberg is a gay realtor and Founding CEO of GayRealEstate.com ~ Offering Free Instant Access to the Nation’s Top Gay, Lesbian and Gay Friendly Realtors Coast to Coast. Free Buyers Representation ~ Free Relocation Kit to any City, USA ~ Free Sellers Market Analysis for home sellers.


How DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) Affects Same-Sex Mortgage Tax Deduction

At first the extent of discrimination is subtle when it comes to real estate laws with same sex couples, not realizing the ramifications financially until they have actually bought a house together and it is time to file income tax.  It is then that they realize that that the federal definition of marriage deprives them of the right to claim their mortgage tax deduction jointly.  In short, this is like being penalized financially for not being heterosexual, especially if one partner passes away and the other is left holding the bag for paying all of the taxes.

Gay MarriageThe federal definition of marriage is known as DOMA, which stands for the Defense of Marriage Act. The Supreme Court may strike down this law, which has been challenged as unconstitutional, because it strictly defines marriage as being a union between a man and a woman and does not recognize the legal union of gay/lesbian couples.

Quite simply marriage is a legal status that provides both spouses various reciprocal protections, rights and obligations. LGBT marriage operates in the same way as heterosexual marriage in a handful of states. However they still do not have the same rights at the federal level that heterosexuals do and this has resulted in misery and even loss of property for some bereaved gay and lesbian partners who cannot afford to pay post-humus taxes.

There are states that allow same sex couples to be married but they have to file their federal income taxes separately because the Defense of Marriage Act prevents gay or lesbian marriages from being recognized by the Federal Government. This means that when the taxes are filed, only one partner can claim the tax deduction or the mortgage even though there is, in reality, two people contributing to the overall cost of the mortgage.

The entire challenge to DOMA in the first place is based on the case of an 83 year old New York woman who was forced to pay $363,000.00 in real estate taxes after her same sex partner died because the government refused to recognize that she was married.  These same taxes would not have applied if she had been married to a man.

The upshot is that married gays and lesbians have the same status as unmarried people ~ Two unmarried people who share a joint mortgage can split the mortgage in two and both partners can then claim the deduction. However keep in mind that the amount to be claimed must be higher than the standard deduction in order to be worth it. The clear advantage to filing as a married couple is that the joint contribution to the mortgage raises the deduction a lot higher. If a gay couple is not allowed to file jointly then that can be considered to be discrimination as the straight couple who lives just next door is allowed to file jointly and reap the financial rewards.

So at this point in time it does not really matter if you move to a state that allows gay marriage or not.  As long as DOMA is not overturned and same sex marriages are not recognized this discrimination against same-sex couples that own joint real-estate will continue to exist.

Author Jeff Hammerberg is the Founding CEO of GayRealEstate.com Free Instant Access to the Nation’s Top Gay, Lesbian and Gay Friendly Realtors Coast to Coast. FREE Buyers Representation ~ Free Relocation Kit to any City, USA ~ Free Sellers Market Analysis for home sellers.