LGBT Discrimination in Real Estate and What to do about it

The federal Fair Housing Act does not protect against sexual orientation and sexual identity discrimination, prospective home buyers may be treated differently by finance companies, real estate agents, insurance companies and others. Some states and local governments and agencies do have laws that protect against discrimination based on same sexual orientation and sexual identity.

CoupleThe four Fair Housing Centers in Michigan collaborated to conduct an investigation in 2007 to find out if same sex couples were discriminated against. They found that one in four same sex couples experienced discrimination at some point during the purchasing process. While Michigan does not have laws that prohibit such discrimination, other studies have shown that same sex couples are discriminated against even in areas that do have protections in place.

Home Buying Discrimination Examples

LGBT couples have been discriminated against during the bidding process and by inflated purchase prices. Others have been told that the home is no longer available, even though it was still listed for sale.

Real estate agents have steered same sex couples away from homes that heterosexual couples were encouraged to buy. Same sex couples were encouraged to buy only in known LGBT neighborhoods.

Same sex couples have been turned down by finance companies, even though they met the financial qualifications.

Insurance agencies have refused to put both partners’ names on homeowner’s insurance policies. Some insurance companies have refused to pay claims or have cancelled policies on the basis that the owners were unrelated, even though both names were on the policy.

What You Can Do

If you feel that you have been discriminated against, you should gather all of the documentation, including applications, letters and voice messages, related to the attempted transaction. You should then contact your local and state housing authority to file a complaint. There are generally limitations on the amount of time that you have to file a complaint, generally between six months and a year. If the home you would like to purchase is through the federal Housing and Urban Development, HUD, or Future Homes of America, FHA, you should contact HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.

The best way to protect against discrimination is to know your rights. You should take the time to find out the federal, state and your local housing laws and policies. Contact a local LGBT real estate attorney. He or she can advise you of the laws that affect you and can help you fight the discrimination or win your claim against an insurance company.

If you are planning to purchase a home, you should contact a reputable LGBT real estate agent at GayRealEstate.com. He or she will know the laws affecting the LGBT community and can protect your interests throughout the home buying process.

Top 6 Renting Tips for LGBT Couples

When relationships get serious, couples generally want to live together. Many couples choose to rent a home together as they begin their life together. Following are the top six renting tips for LGBT couples.

Image 1. Know your rights before renting. In many states, it is not illegal for landlords to refuse to rent to unmarried couples or because of religious beliefs. You should find out if your state has laws that prohibit discrimination based on marital status, sexual orientation or sexual identity. This will help you avoid losing an apartment or home that you think is perfect for the two of you.

2. Enter into a legally binding cohabitation agreement with your partner. The agreement should include who will pay the rent and the security deposit or how much each will pay, how bills will be split and what happens if you decide to dissolve your relationship. This will help avoid major disputes in the future.

3. Make a list of all of the assets that you each bring with you including bedroom sets, televisions and other items of value. Although this may not seem important, after a few years of calling everything “ours”, there could be a dispute over who owns what if your relationship dissolves. When new items are purchased for your home, the partner who bought the item should write his name on the receipt and file it away so that there is no future dispute over who purchased the asset.

4. Lease the rental property in both of your names. If your name is not on the lease, you will have no right to stay if your partner asks you to leave. Even if he or she has to go through legal channels, as the tenant on the lease, your partner will have a legal right to evict you.

5. Financial experts including Citigroup Inc. generally advise that couples keep their finances separate until they are sure the relationship will last. You may want to continue to keep your individual checking accounts and pay your credit cards, car payments and other debts individually. While keeping your normal finances separate, you should consider opening a joint checking account. Each of you could then put your share of the rent and household expenses into the account to be paid out each month as appropriate.

Moving in together is a big step in a relationship. Making use of the some or all of the above top 6 renting tips for LGBT couples will help avoid minor and major disputes during the course of your relationship.

Top 6 Questions Every Gay Home Buyer Should Ask Their Realtor

Finding and purchasing a home is a major decision that a good realtor can help facilitate. But, how do you know if you are hiring the right realtor for you? Below are the top 5 questions every gay home buyer should ask their realtor.

Dear Gay Realtor1. Ask if the realtor knows what the current state laws are that relate to gay’s purchasing homes. If the realtor is not up-to-date on current statutes, it could result in him or her giving you the wrong advice for your situation and end up costing you money. He or she should have knowledge of any special requirements that you need to be aware of when purchasing your new home.

2. Ask for references from other LGBT clients that the realtor has assisted in buying a home. Call at least three of those references and ask them about their experience with the realtor. For example, were they kept informed? Was the realtor hard to get in touch with? Would they recommend him or her to others? Their answers should help you determine if you are compatible with the realtor. For example, would you be comfortable if your realtor was hard to get in touch with when you had a question. If the realtor refuses to give references or if his references were not happy with him, you should look for another realtor.

3. Ask about gay friendly neighborhoods. One part of a realtors job is to know the local market. He/she should be able to advise you of market conditions and give you community information on the neighborhoods that you are interested in, while staying within the guidelines of the law. He should also be able to tell you about gay organizations and businesses that are in those areas or that support those communities.

4. Can you recommend gay / gay friendly service providers who can help me obtain a mortgage, make home repairs, and help with other things I need done? A realtor should generally recommend more than one provider and let you know if they have any special relationship with or receive compensation from any of the providers.

5. Will you represent me exclusively, or will you represent both the buyer and the seller in the transaction? While it’s usually legal to represent both parties in a transaction, it’s important to understand where your realtors obligations lie.

6. Finally, ask if there is anything that you haven’t asked that you need to know. Pay attention to the answer. It should make you feel comfortable with his knowledge and experience in assisting LGBT home buyers.

Purchasing your home will be less stressful if you hire a realtor that you believe will look out for your best interests. You should be comfortable relying on his advice and get along with him well enough to have fun searching for your new home.

If you’d like to hire a gay realtor, you may visit the largest free directory of gay, lesbian and gay friendly realtors in the nation at www.GayRealEstate.com.

Gay Real Estate Experts on Why Buying a Home in 2013 is of Great Advantage

If you have always wanted to buy your dream house, then the last quarter of 2013 is the best time to do it, and you can’t afford to miss it.

Buying a Home in 2013 is of Great AdvantageAccording to gay real estate experts, buying a house is way cheaper than renting. Also financial institutions are about to be forced into tighter lending requirements in 2014.

Below are 7 reasons to consider buying a home before 2013 ends.

 

 

 

  1. Mortgage costs will be relatively lower. You’ve heard it time and time again ~ rates are low, and won’t be sticking around forever.
  2. Houses are cheap. Depending on the location, house costs do vary, but it’s cost effective when you look at it in terms of the average housing price across the country. This year looks promising, and prices are rising in every market, so you better not miss out.
  3. Chances of getting a mortgage are high. Bankers and creditors have more flexibility and less government regulation on home buyers and have simplified the process of qualifying for a mortgage ~ new rules and regulations roll out in 2014.
  4. Investors won’t be challenging. Investors who buy and flip homes will be dormant unlike the recent years. This is due to the rising costs of housing, making house flipping unattractive. Since there are more houses that will be available, you can take time finding your dream house since competition will be less.
  5. Buying is cheaper than renting. For those who reside in metropolitan areas, it would be wise to consider buying a home instead of renting. If you are in a location where rents keep rising, then it’s about time you consider the advantages of buying a home as compared to renting it.
  6. Think of the next 5 to 10 years to come. If you’re staying put at least 5 years, it’s time to invest in your future!

Author Jeff Hammerberg is the Founding CEO of GayRealEstate.com ~ Providing 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.

Gay Real Estate Agents – Top 5 Mistakes First-Time Home Buyers Make

Though the real estate industry is changing every day, mistakes made by first time homebuyers seem not to change that much according to a survey of our gay real estate agents.

Top 5 Mistakes First-Time Home Buyers MakeThe mistakes range from mismanaging their financial picture, to finding the perfect home before being qualified, to choosing the wrong lender. Below are the top five mistakes first time buyers make:

1. Wrong moves in terms of credit management: This is confusing for many and it can be tricky especially in preparation to buy a home. Don’t open new credit accounts, or run out a buy a new car before closing! Your debt ratios are looked at very closely, and will be verified again prior to closing.

2. Trying to pre-approve oneself: Pre-qualification is an important factor when finding the perfect home to buy, don’t try to pre-qualify yourself the very first thing you should always do is to meet with a reputable lender (preferably one that is recommended by your realtor).

3. Choosing a loan officer by lowest rate: Teaser rates are a fact of life, and you can’t believe everything you read. Not all lenders are equal; ensure you work with one that is qualified, since they are responsible for your joy or headaches in the future.

4. Choosing your realtor from an open house: Yes, most realtors at open houses will treat you and or, you and your partner very nice after all, they may possibly earn a multi-thousand dollar paycheck from you (and then give a portion of it to an organization fighting against everything we’re fighting for). Choose a competent, professional, full-time gay, lesbian or gay friendly realtor from sites like GayRealEstate.com, and ensure your best interests, and your financial spending is supporting our community.

5. Waiting for the perfect property: As you wait for the perfect property, in many parts of the country prices are raising at 10% per year, this means your purchasing power is dropping at almost 1% per month! Make a list of desires and must haves, and be flexible in your search for the perfect home. Secure your investment and make it your own a another move will most like be in your future.

Author and Gay Real Estate Agent 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.

Choosing The Right Gay Realtor To Sell Your Home

The chances of selling your home are only as good as your listing agent. This can be a tricky business because sometimes the agent that you get along with the best or like the best personally is actually not the best person for the job. You only have a short window of opportunity to get your property sold, so do your best to choose someone efficient, experienced, with a track record of successes and who can handle the ups and downs of what can sometimes be quite a rocky business.

CoupleSometimes the best agent does not have it all when it comes to personality but this doesn’t matter. You want someone who has marketing and organizational skills, a methodical process starting with a very organized, through listing presentation including a detailed marketing plan with dates and deadlines for specific tasks (place the sign, staging professional walkthrough, professional photographs, brochures, place the property on the mls, etc., etc.). It’s always great to find a listing agent that is hungry, ambitious and that has the most materialistic bent possible.

Check the listing agent’s history of selling. Does she or he have a great track record when it comes to selling properties? Does it take them forever to sell or do they have a reputation for finding buyers quickly? What percentage of their listings sell, and at what percentage of the listing price?

If you are trying to accomplish a short sale then it is a good idea to find an agent experienced in this. Some agents have a line-up and do not get your listing up until it is your turn. A listing agent that specializes in pre-foreclosure or short sales gets that listing up within a day or the same day and keeps in mind that your financial survival is at stake. They do not take your cry for help lightly. They express a desire to help you avoid foreclosure.

You should also use a listing agent that is honest with you about the market. There are many agents out there that know how to use charm to get your business – they know how to tell you what you want to hear. They price your home too high and it stays on the MLS for weeks, even months. Choose an agent that is not afraid to discuss the worst-case scenario with you. The best agent will also have strategies for dealing with homes that are not get calls. The longer your home is on the market, the less desirable it becomes (market age), so price your home as close to market value as possible, to maximize your net.

When interviewing realtors from GayRealEstateAgents.com, we recommend asking as many questions as possible and also speaking to the agents past clients  do your homework, and you’ll enjoy a real estate transaction to remember.

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.

GayRealEstate.com Announces the Acquisition of GayRealEstateAgents.com

GayRealEstate.com parent company Hammerberg & Associates, Inc. announced today the acquisition of long time San Diego, CA based competitor GayRealEstateAgents.com for an undisclosed price.

The acquisition of GayRealEstateAgents.com adds to the expansive portfolio of gay real estate/gay real estate agent domains owned and operated by Hammerberg & Associates, Inc. a Colorado based brokerage serving clients across the United States, Canada and Mexico.

www.GayRealEstateAgents.com is newly re-developed by the group, offering members of the LGBT community instant free access to the largest database of gay, lesbian and gay friendly realtors in the United States. Additionally, mortgage pre-qualification is available through PreQualPlus.com by DISCOVER® home loans.

Breaking real estate, mortgage & relocation news is constantly updated at the site blog; www.GayRealEstateAgents.com/blog.

Realtors serving customers through GayRealEstateAgents.com and the group of Gay Real Estate companies are pre-screened, verified and pre-qualified through a rigorous application process to ensure the finest agents are available to serve the LGBT community home buying, selling and relocation needs.

There is no fee for a qualified real estate agent to join, and never a cost to the client to review and choose an expert gay, lesbian or gay friendly realtor from some of the nation’s top companies including; Keller Williams, Coldwell Banker, Prudential, Sotheby’s, Century 21, ReMax and dozens of others.

With the country split almost evenly with those for and against full equality for gay and lesbian individuals, when it comes to buying or selling a home, possibly an individual’s largest financial investment, it’s a wise choice for members of the LGBT community to ensure they are being represented by an individual that stands on the side of full support for our community. Said Jeff Hammerberg, Founding/CEO

Websites like GayRealEstateAgents.com continue to provide an easy avenue for the LGBT community to search for gay, lesbian and gay friendly realtors  communicate with them, and choose the perfect agent.

GayRealEstateAgents.com realtors offer free buyers representation, a free relocation kit to any city in the United States, and a free competitive market analysis (CMA) to home sellers.

Interview Questions to ask a Real Estate Agent before Buying a Home

Real estate agents are varied and have multiple levels of experience and motive. Finding a good real estate agent before you purchase a home is worth shopping for.

It will take time to find a home that you like, and you should be as determined to find a great real estate agent that you like and trust to keep your best interests at heart. A professional real estate agent or REALTOR® should not have a problem answering some of the following questions, and it will give you peace of mind. Communication and understanding should be a strong foundation of your relationship with your agent.

  • Is your real estate agent new, experienced in the field, full time or just part time?
  • Have they provided you a list of references with contact information?

Asking for references of past clients helps to get a good understanding of personal reviews, take the time to actually speak to some of them.

Contact people who have been home buyers working with this Realtor or company. Even if the references did not purchase a home, they will have very useful information about their experience with the Realtor.

If it is just a part time position for the Realtor, you may find it difficult to schedule meetings or viewings at times which are convenient to you. If they have a team, or assistants involved, get a list of anyone that you would likely be in contact with.

Determine the mode and frequency of contact whether via e-mail or phone. If you lack communication, you may miss important home viewing opportunities.

  • Does the agent have an informational and easy to access website for communication and reference?

It can save valuable time reviewing properties before you actually go to the location.

  • Does the Realtor represent you, or the seller?

This makes a huge difference when it comes to making a decision on the price. If they have a personal connection with the seller, they may not have your best interests in mind. Ask for a list of fees in writing, so that there are no surprises in the total cost.

When buying demand to work with a buyer’s agent (buyer broker), no exceptions!

  • Will the agent show all available properties from other companies’ listings, or just their own?

Buying opportunities could be missed, and it would be costly to have more than one Realtor.

These are just basic guidelines, but if you are not afraid to ask, it will make a much less stressful buying experience. Well constructed research builds the strong foundation of a future home.

Author Jeff Hammerberg is the Founding CEO of www.GayRealEstate.com ~ Free Instant Access to the Nation’s Top Gay, Lesbian and Gay Friendly Realtors Coast-to-coast.

Featured Gay Realtor: Michael Carnahan, Red Rock Realty ~ Colorado Springs, CO

Buying a home is one of the most significant decisions in a person’s life. Therefore, it is essential that you are both confident and comfortable with the individual representing you. Michael stands out in his field with his personable style. Buyers and Sellers equally appreciate his creative eye as well as his meticulous business approach. His formula for success is simple; He discovers your primary goal, and makes it his own.

Michael has experience working in many diverse markets in Colorado. He has successfully facilitated many transactions in Colorado Springs and Denver, as well as the resort community of Breckenridge. He has also worked with clients in all price ranges, from entry level to luxury homes.

As a Colorado native, Michael has a unique understanding and appreciation not only of local real estate, but also of the geographical features that make this state so special. When not enthusiastically representing his clients, he can be found hiking the remote trails of Pike National Forest, or snowboarding the majestic slopes of Summit County.

While Michael has the experience to be a firm negotiator for you when contracting a home, he also prides himself on making the real estate transaction fun and enjoyable for his clients. Contact Michael today for a refreshing professional perspective.

Click here to search for a gay or lesbian real estate agent anywhere in the country.

Professional/Personal Distinctions:

National Association of Realtors Colorado Association of Realtors Many happy clients: Referrals make up 90% of Michael’s business.

Specialties:

Representing both buyers and sellers. Residential Sales: New Construction, Income Property, Vacant Land, Luxury Homes, Single Family, Townhomes, Condos and Lofts

Michael Carnahan is a Member of the National Association of Realtors®.

View Michael’s Complete Profile & Contact him Immediately by Clicking Here

Occasionally we’ll feature one of our top gay real estate professionals here to let our readers know about some of the great Gay Realtors, Lesbian Realtors, Gay Friendly Realtors, and other Real Estate Professionals at GayRealEstate.com

At Gay Real Estate, we keep you posted about all the residential real estate news, gay real estate news and Gay Realtor stories affecting the gay and lesbian home buying and selling community coast to coast, and in your neighborhood!

Click here for list of gay realtors, lesbian realtors and gay friendly realtors Nationwide.

If you have a real estate story that you’d like to share with us with the LGBT community, please contact us at:
manager@gayrealestate.com

Featured Gay Realtor: Ray Gernhart, ReMax Allegiance ~ Washington, D.C.

With Ray’s successful career of over twenty five years in real estate, he has personally experienced all the ups and downs of the market. Since 1985, he has coordinated thousands of new home sales as well as easing the transition for families as they move on to new horizons. Ray’s expertise lies in his complete understanding of all facets of real estate, from buying and selling, to an all-encompassing grasp of the individual financial aspects for each client.

Ray’s background and success has earned him top honors in every club available including Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, Re/Max Chairman’s Club, RE/MAX Hall of Fame and the $20 Million Plus Sales Producer since 1999 with the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors.

Ray’s promise he makes to every one of his clients is to provide quality service, as a full-time agent, to achieve the client’s goals.

Why choose Ray?

The service that Ray provides shines through so that your real estate experience, either buying or selling, is a seamless process. He employs a full-time assistant to oversee the closing process ensuring that all the details are handled. This type of coordination creates a situation that moves effortlessly through the buying and selling stages. Ray’s dedication to his clients is proven through the numer of referrals and resales he is proud to be part of. Ray is there for you; before, during AND after closing. Bottom line? Ray makes real estate fun. He enjoys his work and it comes through in the service he provides. Treat yourself to a deal with Ray.

Click here to search for a gay or lesbian real estate agent anywhere in the country.

Professional/Personal Distinctions:

Associate Broker, VA, DC & MD Lifetime Achievement Award Winner RE/MAX Hall of Fame Life Member Top Producers Club

Specialties:

Residential and commercial real estate to the LGBT community for over 25 years!

Ray Gernhart is a Member of the National Association of Realtors®.

Occasionally we’ll feature one of our top gay real estate professionals here to let our readers know about some of the great Gay Realtors, Lesbian Realtors, Gay Friendly Realtors, and other Real Estate Professionals at GayRealEstate.com

View Ray’s Complete Profile & Contact them Immediately by Clicking Here

At Gay Real Estate, we keep you posted about all the residential real estate news, gay real estate news and Gay Realtor stories affecting the gay and lesbian home buying and selling community coast to coast, and in your neighborhood!

Click here for list of gay realtors, lesbian realtors and gay friendly realtors Nationwide.

If you have a real estate story that you’d like to share with us with the LGBT community, please contact us at:
manager@gayrealestate.com