Combining Households? Here’s What You Need to Know.

Perhaps you’ve discovered this article because you find yourself in a relationship that makes you very, very happy – happy to the point that you’re considering moving in with the man or woman of your dreams. If so, congratulations! Love is wonderful, and there’s truly nothing in the world quite like it.

Maybe you’re young, and unencumbered, and falling in love for the first time. On the other side of the coin, perhaps you’re 30, 40, or 50.  Perhaps each of you already have homes full of furniture, full-time jobs with retirement accounts, pets, and well-established daily routines. If all of this sounds familiar to you, you may be asking yourself – how do we go about combining our lives, and everything they entail? That question is certainly a reasonable one, and at GayRealEstate.com, it’s one that we’ve heard often.

While love is certainly wonderful, the truth is that like anything in life, it’s not without its own particular kinds of stress. Despite how much you may love someone and want to be with them, there are still plenty of logistical matters to think through. This can be true if you live in the same city, and it is certainly true if you’re in a long-distance relationship that will require one or the other of you to relocate across the country.

The good news, however, is that no matter how far apart you may live, or how complicated your life may be, it doesn’t mean this transition can’t ultimately become the start of a wonderful new chapter in your life. When you think it through carefully, and take the necessary steps to combine your households after thoroughly planning ahead, it can be a very positive and life-changing experience for both of you.

What sorts of things should you consider, as you think about combining households? At GayRealEstate.com, we have been fortunate enough to help many couples, just like you, transition from two households to one.  Here are a few helpful tips that we’ve learned along the way:

  • Living Arrangements: Perhaps first and foremost when merging your households and your lives is deciding which house you will actually live in. If both of you own a home, your first step should be to discuss which of the two homes is the more ideal spot for you to reside as a couple. For some, this may be dependent upon a job – perhaps one partner is able to work from home, while the other has to be on-location for his or her job. In other cases, it might be dependent upon family circumstances – does one partner have young children who are happy in school and used to a daily routine? In other cases, perhaps it’s more about location – where do you, as a couple see yourselves living? Where, ideally, would you like to be? You may also take a look at the markets in your different communities – is one market better for selling right now than another? All of these factors are important, and can be helpful to consider as you decide whether to sell or rent out one or both of your homes, or buy a new one entirely.
  • Envision Your Space: It’s likely that if each of you have lived on your own for some time, you’ve likely accumulated a good deal of furniture and other household belongings. As you prepare to combine your households, it only makes sense for each of you to consider paring down some of your own belongings so that together, you can combine the things that you truly love into one happy home. For example, when you’re living together, chances are that you won’t need two toasters, two coffee makers, or two master bedroom sets. Think carefully about which items have personal meaning and value and keep those, but be willing to discard or donate some of the rest. Work together to make the space you share peaceful, happy, and personal to you both.
  • Planning for Pets: Do you, or your partner have a pet (or several pets) that you love? If so, you may be worried that your pet might not like your partner’s pet – that they might literally fight like cats and dogs. While this is an understandable concern, the good news is that gradually, most pets do adjust. It is best to be patient, to not try to force the pets to spend too much time in close quarters at first, and to reward them for instances where you do see them behaving well and getting along together. Eventually, your pets will likely adjust, and you can all have a happy home together.
  • Thinking Through Your Financial Future: As you initially begin testing the waters of living together and all that it entails, it is generally wise to keep the majority of your finances, retirement accounts, and investments separate. As your relationship deepens, or if and after you marry, you can decide how much you want to comingle your finances.  For some couples, particularly those who come together after both are financially established, some make the choice to keep the finances they accumulated prior to moving in together in separate accounts, but to combine their incomes to contribute toward their home and lifestyle moving forward. In truth, each couple, and each set of circumstances is different, and an arrangement that might be perfect for one couple may not work out well for another. Often, as you try to determine what is best for you as a couple, it may be wise to meet with a financial advisor who help you understand your options and decide on what’s best.

If you, or the special person you love find yourself considering selling an existing home and relocating, at GayRealEstate.com, we’re here to help. If you’re both considering selling and buying a new home together, we’re here to help with that too. With our helpful free relocation kit, free seller’s market analysis and buyer’s representation, and access to a network of talented and experienced gay, lesbian, and gay-friendly real estate agents across the country, we’re here to make your buying, selling, and relocating experience the best it can be. Wherever you ultimately decide to begin this chapter, we can point you toward an agent who will be able to help. Congratulations on the love you’ve found, and the life you’re working to build together. We would be honored to help. Call us today 1-888-420-MOVE (6683).

4 Mistakes Same Sex First Time Home Buyers Make

Owning your first home together is an exciting dream that can come true with a minimum of stress if you prepare before you begin your search. Many people, including same sex couples, make the mistake of jumping right into the search for their perfect home and then end up stressed out and exasperated with the unknown. Following are the top five mistakes first time same sex home buyers make.

1.         Not Getting Pre-approval from a Mortgage Company

Getting pre-approved for a mortgage is not a requirement for writing an offer on a home, but it can put you in a better position for having your offer accepted over a bidder who does not have preapproval. In addition, since you will know how much the mortgage company is willing to lend you for the purchase of a home, you will not waste your time, or the professional you’ll be working with by making offers on homes that you cannot afford.

2.         Not Fully Understanding and Budgeting For the True Cost of Homeownership

A general rule of thumb is to budget one-third of your income to housing costs. While many assume that budgeting for a monthly mortgage payment is enough, that is not the case. Other costs that must be factored in include property taxes, homeowners insurance, utilities and property maintenance (mowing, painting, trimming, repairs and replacements). While maintenance is difficult to estimate, you should commit to saving a small amount of money each month that is dedicated to unexpected purchases. For example, your furnace or hot water heater breaks down and you need to have it repaired or replaced. While you could call the landlord if you were renting and problems arose, you will be required to correct any problems with your new home on your own.

3.         Not Understanding Fluctuating Real Estate Markets

Real Estate, even today, has made more millionaires than any other investment – but we must always understand that real estate fluctuates up and down depending on the state of the general economy. Be very careful if you’re purchasing a home today expecting to stay and year or two and sell for a profit! The real estate crash of 2008 left many individuals that were “playing the market” in bankruptcy… this isn’t Monopoly.

4.         Not Hiring The Right Real Estate Professional

While some people are savvy enough to stumble through the purchase of a home themselves, most are not. There are many aspects to purchasing a home including offers and negotiations, inspections, appraisals, multiple deadlines, closings, etc. that are best left to the professionals. A third party professional negotiating on your behalf could potentially save you thousands of dollars. A Top LGBTQ real estate agent can assist you with every step in purchasing your new home. You can also search for real estate professionals through online services such as GayRealEstate.com, a company serving the LGBTQ community for over 25 years. Hiring a real estate agent based upon a 5 minute visit at an Open House is not that way to find an agent that will stand in full support of you – it’s important to know the person representing your best interests in what may be the largest purchase of your life, also stands in full support of the person you are and the life you live!

Purchasing a home is a major event in your lives. If you take steps to prepare, you will endure less stress and will have more time to enjoy the search to find your dream home.

GayRealEstate.com connects buyers and sellers with trustworthy gay, lesbian and gay-friendly real estate agents to remove potential discrimination from all real estate transactions. The GayRealEstate.com team maintains personal connections with reliable agents to ensure their clients are treated equitably and with respect. All agents are interviewed and investigated extensively and many have retained partnerships with GayRealEstate.com for decades. With more than 25 years of experience, GayRealEstate.com focuses on establishing reliable real estate connections with professionals who understand the unique needs and desires of the LGBTQ community.

For more information, visit: www.gayrealestate.com

CEO’s Vision Leads GayRealEstate.com

GayRealEstate.com has been around for over 25 years! We wanted to share a little bit with you about how the company was started – from the CEO himself, Jeff Hammerberg. We did a quick interview with him so you can get to know him and see how his personal experience leads the vision of our company!

Founding CEO of GayRealEstate.com
Jeff Hammerberg, Founding CEO of GayRealEstate.com

What do you love about your job?

I have the amazing opportunity to align fellow members of the LGBTQ community with a top gay / gay friendly realtor in any city in the United States or Canada. Many of these agents I’ve known and have worked with for over 25 years! It’s very gratifying for me to know that a client’s best interests will be fully and legally represented by a full-time professional realtor that stands in full support of our LGBTQ community.

 

What led you to start this company?

In the early 1990’s, I witnessed an instance of “quiet homophobia” while working at a Re/Max office. A gay male couple stepped into the ReMax Professionals office in Littleton, CO interested in buying a home and were assisted by the floor agent. A floor agent is an “on-duty” agent that handles all of the incoming calls and walk-in traffic – an opportunity to pick up new clients.

On this particular day, the floor agent was a straight friend of mine; honest, nice and kind, but someone who had probably never met an openly gay person. After he consulted with the couple, and they left, the agent took a lot of ribbing in the back room from fellow agents that had witnessed the interaction. It was shocking what I witnessed.

While the agent went on to sell these guys a home, I questioned how well they were represented. Were these clients’ best interests being represented? Was there a better way to ensure members of the LGBTQ community could be assured of fair, equal and honest representation by someone that understood the unique needs and desires of our community?

I realized in that moment, that by creating a database of gay, lesbian, and gay-friendly realtors, I could help other LGBTQ individuals and couples avoid discomfort, uncertainty, unenthusiastic representation or even hostility.

Individuals could be assured of a comfortable, smooth buying or selling experience while being fully represented.

So I created what today is known as GayRealEstate.com

 

Why is what this company does so important?

Listen, this is potentially the largest investment you’ll make in your lifetime. It’s not only important to know exactly where your realtor stands in reference to their acceptance and support of the LGBTQ community – it’s equally important to know the very large commission they will earn is not partially going to support a church, or political candidate or party that is not standing in full support of our LGBTQ community. Where we spend our dollars is of huge importance, especially in this day and age.

 

What sets Gay Real Estate (GRE) apart?

We’ve been representing members of our LGBTQ community for over 25 years!

In that time we’ve not only continued to build our business and systems and processes, to ensure they are cutting edge and seamless for our potential clients, we’ve given back to our community! We annually support dozens and dozens of organizations and individuals that continue to fight for our freedom and rights. We recognize this is as important a commitment today as it was back in the early 90’s when we first started.

 

What life experience has most influenced your career?

I was brought up in a “born again” family in Northern Minnesota – I dated women into my late 20’s and came to terms with my sexuality at age 30. My mother’s first comment when I came out to her was “you’re going to hell, you know that, don’t you?”

I guess I spent a great deal of my life exceeding at everything I did, and often that was to “make up for being gay”… that’s a tough way to spend half your life, but I know it’s not unique to me, and I also know it’s been part of my perfect path.

I learned early on in the US Navy that life would give back to me, what I gave to it. I’ve learned that each day if I take even the tiniest step in the direction of the life I’d like to have – it unfolds perfectly! I’m always taking action, and I’ve always been willing to work harder than anyone else would expect of me.

 

If you weren’t running this (and other) companies – what would you be doing?

It’s a good question. I have this HUGE entrepreneurial spirit – I’ve always got my hands in something! What business idea do you have? Lol! At a younger age I thought about motivation speaking – I’ve been a junkie of motivation since my childhood, where my dad had me listening to Earl Nightingale, Robert Schuller and others. I like coaching (I’m a Certified Professional Coach, CPC ®), mentoring and brainstorming.

The most gratifying for me, and I believe the biggest contribution I can make to society, is volunteering. I currently volunteer through SAGE, visiting elderly members of our LGBTQ community that leave their homes, transitioning into senior living facilities, retirement homes and assisted living. A large majority of them go back into the closet, a potentially very difficult, confusing and depressing readjustment in life.

 

What is a fun fact about you?

After 27 years in Denver, CO my husband and I are moving full-time to Palm Springs, CA. We’ve been visiting Palm Springs for a number of years, spending a couple of months during the Colorado winters. We’ve finally decided to make it full time.

If you haven’t been, I’d recommend a visit! Palm Springs has a wonderful pace of life. Amazing theatre, amazing restaurants, amazing hiking, amazing pool parties, and just 1.5 hrs. to Los Angeles. The Palm Springs community is 40% LGBTQ, and the ENTIRE city council and mayor are LGBTQ, it’s just comfortable… and where else could you live, where Leonardo DiCaprio, Barry Manilow and Suzanne Summers are your neighbors!

How Legal Gay Marriage Will Effect Getting VA Loans

When the Supreme Court handed down their landmark decision on June 26, 2015, that reversed the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in Obergefell v. Hodges and effectively made same-sex marriage legal in all states, it affected more than just LGBT couples. It also affected the mortgage market in a number of ways.

images (1)The first is that now same-sex couples can legally marry in any state, and those marriages are recognized throughout the U.S. This means that they now have all of the same rights as opposite-sex couples, including the right to hold property together. It’s now much easier for same-sex couples to apply for mortgages and get financing because lenders have always favored married couples over two single people applying for a mortgage jointly. Many experts expect to see more LGBT couples make the move from renters to homeowners in the very near future. Those who did purchase a home as two single individuals and are now married may also look to refinance their mortgages.

Couples who are married also have a tendency to feel more secure and stable. The results from a number of surveys show that single people, even those in a long-term relationship, feel like purchasing a home is something that’s done only after marriage. The fact that more same-sex couples can now legally married is expected to result in a number of new homeowners.

Another advantage that comes with the Supreme Court decision is the fact that same-sex married couples will be able to make use of the mortgage program offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Prior to this, the VA only provided benefits to same-sex couples who lived in states where those marriages were legal. Now veterans across the country will be able to add their spouses to their mortgages no matter what state they live in.

There will also no longer be any question about inheritance or title issues. Prior to this decision, the many different laws across the country regarding same-sex couples and their right to marry created a patchwork of different rules and regulations regarding property ownership and inheritance. Those issues are now gone, and same-sex couples can be treated exactly the same as opposite-sex couples. Spouses no longer have to create extra paperwork or go out of their way to make certain the title to their property is worded in such a way that there can be no challenge to who inherits the property if one of them dies.

 

What Documents do Unmarried Same Sex Couples need when Purchasing a Home Together

Unmarried same sex couples who are considering purchasing a home together should take precautions to protect themselves and their investment before buying. There are a couple of options available that would be of benefit in avoiding future problems if the relationship does not work out or one of you dies.

Domestic Partnership Agreement

images (1)Domestic partnership agreements can provide emotional and financial security if you are unmarried, either because you live in a state that does not recognize same sex marriage or you simply prefer not to marry. A domestic partnership agreement is a document that outlines the legal and financial responsibilities of your relationship. It should contain information such as how you will own property and share bank accounts, income and assets. Some states afford couples in these types of legal relationships the same rights and responsibilities as married couples. Note that domestic partnership agreements are not recognized in all states.

If domestic partnership agreements are not available in your state, you can create a similar contract that will be legally binding under contract law in courts. The cohabitation agreement must be in writing and should outline the same information as a domestic partnership agreement. You should check with your local attorney for information on that process in your state.

Title Your New Home

The best way to avoid probate and your partner potentially losing your share of the home to your heirs, if he or she does not have a will, is to title the home as Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship. Make sure that the right of survivorship language is included so that it does not end up being owned as joint tenancy only to avoid complications. The different ways that you can title your home depend on the state where the property is located. You should check the laws in that state to ensure that you choose the best form of ownership available for your particular situation.

Create a Will  

If you or your partner dies and you do not have a will or have not made other legal protections, you could lose his portion of the home to his or her heirs at law. Generally, state intestate laws dictate that a spouse is first in line, children are second and parents third to inherit. Whoever inherits could force you to move and sell the home if you cannot afford to buy their portion of the home from them.

Buying Your New Home

If you are considering purchasing a home, your local LGBT real estate agent at GayRealEstate.com can assist you with the process and protect your interests. He or she will have contacts that are LGBT friendly and can assist you in choosing an appropriate attorney, if needed, to assist you with contracts and wills.

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.

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.

Protecting Your Interests with the Remodel Contractor

Hiring a reputable contractor and that you are comfortable working with him is one of the most important aspects of your remodel project. Following are some tips on protecting your interests with the remodel contractor.

images1. Ask your friends or your local gay real estate agent to recommend some contractors that they have had a good experience with on their remodel project. Their suggestions can help steer you to some reliable remodel contractors who do quality work.

2. Obtain an estimate from each contractor. Make sure you understand what the covers and that it contains a complete listing of all of the work that you would like completed on your project.

3. Check to make sure that the contractor is licensed. State licensing laws vary, but many states offer dispute resolution services and may have state funds available to help settle disputes and compensate the homeowner. In addition, licensing is a good indication that the contractor is qualified to do the job.

4. Do not sign the estimate unless it clearly states that it does not constitute a contractual agreement to complete the work. Instead, once you have chosen a contractor, draft a contractor agreement. The contract should cover work to be completed, cost, approximate timelines to complete the job and any other aspects of the remodel that you and the contractor are agreeing to. This will help ensure that there are no misunderstandings during the course of the work.

5. Include a payment plan in the contractor agreement. For example, 10 or 15 percent to begin the project and then payments at each phase as it is completed. Be sure to inspect the work to make sure it has been completed to your satisfaction before making a payment.

6. Payments to the contractor should be made by check. This method will ensure that you have proof of payment in the event that there is a dispute.

7. After the work begins, make sure that you monitor its progress. A good way to do that is to visit the site at the end of each workday. Check to see that progress is being made and that items that have been delivered for installation are the quality of material and the color that you wanted.

8. Subcontractors and material suppliers can put a mechanics lien on your home if they are not paid. Make sure they have all been paid before you release the final payment to the contractor. You can do this by requesting proof from the contractor, or releases from the subcontractors and material suppliers. The releases should list how much is owed and contain a statement that the lien will be released once the listed amount is paid. If the amounts have not been paid once the project is complete, pay them out of the final payment and remit the remainder to the contractor.

9. Do not make a final payment to the contractor until any final inspections required by state laws or county ordinances have been completed satisfactorily.

10. Make sure that you obtain all the paperwork, including warranty cards, from the contractor for the appliances and equipment that have been installed.

Protecting your interest with the remodel contractor will help ensure that the job goes according to plan and that it is completed in a timely manner. It will also make the remodel process less stressful so that you can enjoy watching your project come together.

Top 5 Most Affordable LGBT Beach Communities

Following are Gayrealestate.com’s picks for the top 5 most affordable LGBT beach communities in 2014.

imagesLong Neck, Delaware ~ Long Neck is located along the Atlantic Ocean within easy driving distance of Rohoboth, a popular LGBT vacation destination during the summer months. Long Neck features miles of coastline with sandy beaches. According to City-Data, the cost of living in Long Neck is lower than the national average with a rating 80.0. the United States average is 100.

Same sex marriage became legal in Delaware on July 1, 2013. Title 13, c 1 §§ 101-129 of the Delaware Code. The state also has a law that goes into effect November 1, 2014 prohibiting employer discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Title 19, c. 7 §§ 710-719A of the Delaware Code.

downloadWestport, Washington ~ Westport Washington features 18 miles of ocean beaches. It is located by Port Chehalis peninsula on the Pacific Ocean. According to City-Data, the cost of living was lower than the national average with a rating of 88.4. Westport is one of the most affordable beach towns in the state of Washington.

Same sex marriage became legal on December 6, 2012. RCW § 26.04.010.

download (1)Bolivar Peninsula, Texas ~ Bolivar Peninsula lies along the Gulf of Mexico. The city is actually a barrier island rather than a peninsula. It is accessed by crossing a bridge from the mainland. According to City-Data, the cost of living was lower than the national average with a rating of 83.9.

Same sex marriage is not legal in the state of Texas. That states same sex marriage ban was ruled unconstitutional by a federal district court in the case of DeLeon v. Perry. The Texas attorney general appealed that decision on July 29, 2014 to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and it is currently pending.

images (1)Cape Charles, Virginia ~ Cape Charles is located along the eastern shore of Virginia on Chesapeake Bay. It features a public beach on the bay. According to City-Data, the cost of living was lower than the national average with a rating of 89.1.

Same sex marriage is not legal in the state of Virginia. On July 28, 2014, a federal appeals court, the 4th Circuit, held in Bostic v. Schaefer, III, that Virginia’s same sex marriage ban was unconstitutional. The ruling will not take effect until August 18, 2014 to allow the state time to decide whether to appeal the decision.

images (2)St. Augustine, Florida ~ St. Augustine is located in Northeast Florida on the Atlantic Ocean. It features miles of coastline and numerous sandy beaches. According to City-Data, the cost of living was lower than the national average with a rating of 91.7.

Same sex marriage is not legal in the state of Florida. Several lawsuits are pending in courts challenging the same sex marriage ban. Two different Florida state courts ruled in July, 2014 that the ban was unconstitutional. Huntsman v. Heavilin and Pareto v. Ruvin. The state attorney general has appealed those rulings to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

All of the cities listed above are LGBT friendly. While not all them recognize same sex marriage or have other laws in place to protect those of the LGBT community, they are affordable beach communities to live in. Looking at the result of lawsuits in other jurisdictions, it seems to be only a matter of time before same sex marriage will become legal in states that do not currently recognize them.

Considering a beach home? The gay realtors at GayRealEstate.com understand the unique real estate needs of our community and will work with you side-by-side to find the perfect home, negotiate the best deal, and write a contract the represents your best interests. No cost or obligation ~ 100% confidential.

Gay Real Estate’s Top 10 Tips for Merging LGBT Finances When Buying a Home

Buying a home with your partner is an exciting event. Before combining finances and purchasing your home together, there are some things that you should talk about and consider. Following are the top 10 tips for merging LGBT finances when buying a home.

images1. Have a discussion about your income, debts, spending habits and your credit history.  This conversation will let you both know where you both stand financially and help you decide how much home you can afford.

2. Create a budget that includes the anticipated mortgage payment, utilities, taxes and other related household expenses. This will show you the approximate minimum amount that must be contributed to the household each month.

3. Set up a joint checking account. The account should be used for paying your down payment on the new home and for bills related to living expenses. For example, mortgage, utility and home maintenance payments and household expenses.

4. Set up a joint savings account that can be used for emergency home repairs and for reaching your future goals. For example, maybe you both dream of taking a vacation to Australia, or your objective is to invest in a vacation home. A savings account will help you reach those goals.

5. Decide how much each of you will contribute to the bank accounts each month. Some couples may contribute 50 percent each while others contribute based on their income. For example, if one partner makes more money than the other, the contribution may be 60 percent for one partner and 40 percent for the other.

6. Draft a will naming your partner as the beneficiary of your interest in your new home. You may also consider making him a beneficiary on your retirement and investment accounts and your insurance policies. This may be important in helping your partner afford to keep the home if you die.

7. Consider drafting a durable power of attorney for financial decisions. That document will allow your partner to make financial decisions on your behalf if you become incapacitated due to accident or illness.

8. Obtain a joint credit card for purchasing home furnishings and other items that will be joint property. Decide if all purchases or just purchases over a certain amount must be discussed beforehand. The bill should be paid from the joint checking account. Be sure to adjust your monthly contributions to your joint checking account to cover the credit card payments.

9. Keep separate checking accounts to pay for existing expenses, including car payments and student loans. This will allow each partner to pay their own debts off and maintain some control over their finances.

10. Put it all in writing. Draft a domestic partnership agreement that outlines each partner’s responsibilities in the relationship and what will happen to the home and other assets if the relationship is dissolved.

It is essential that you are both honest about your financial situation before merging your LGBT finances when buying a home. If, for example, you have a judgment against you, that creditor could place a lien against your new home. Lack of honesty could end up destroying your relationship with each other.