Uncharted Waters – Selling a Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In our country, and across the world, we find ourselves in an uncertain, and unprecedented time. In one way or another, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all of our lives. It has changed our schedules, our routines, and our social interactions – and even more significantly, it may have impacted our job, our loved ones, or our health. Without question, these are concerns that demand our immediate attention – and to address them we must work together and rely upon one another – even if from a distance.

Beyond the day-to-day effects of the virus that many immediately consider, however, COVID-19 has also affected many other aspects of our lives in ways that no one could have anticipated. The real estate market is no exception. Buyers, sellers, agents, brokers – all find themselves in uncharted waters. At GayRealEstate.com, we’re working hard every day along with our excellent network of agents across the country to help find those answers for valued buyers and sellers like you.

As a seller, you may understandably feel overwhelmed and uncertain as to how – or whether – you should proceed with the sale of your home in this time of social distancing. Certainly, despite the current state of affairs, some feel that they have no choice but to sell their home – for any number of reasons. These reasons may be personal, financial, or job-related, but even in these uncertain times, there will be sellers – and buyers – on the market.

If you have decided to put your home on the market, here are a few things to consider:

  • Finding the right agent: If you’re determined to sell, in the current environment it will be more important than ever to find an agent who knows the community in which you’re selling very well. There will be few – if any – open houses during this time where potential buyers might notice your home and happen to stop by. There will also be far fewer opportunities for in-person showings, at least in the traditional sense.

An agent who knows the community and who has a strong network might already have some potential buyers in mind for your home – someone who, like you, might need to move for any number of personal reasons despite the current situation. Even if not, an agent who is well connected and familiar with the community might know other agents who have potential buyers.

Fortunately, at GayRealEstate.com, this is exactly our specialty – helping members of the LGBTQ community find the perfect agent for their buying and selling needs in communities across the country. We would love to help you find someone who can make the selling process easier and less overwhelming for you in this uncertain time.

  • Utilizing technology: Despite all of the extremely unfortunate consequences of COVID-19, one silver lining is that we have amazing technology available today that allows many of us to stay connected, even when we’re apart. Real estate is no exception to this rule. Already, even in the short time since the virus turned life upside down, agents have made effective strides toward making virtual showings of homes available in more detail than ever before. Potential buyers can view pictures, descriptions, and a video tour of a property in which they have interest – all from the comfort of their own home. If interested in a more in-depth tour, the agent can provide a personal tour for the buyer in which the agent alone goes to the home and provides the buyer with a personal video tour, answering questions and providing details along the way. Some brokers and agents are even allowing for remote online closings with electronic signatures – although this will of course differ depending upon technological capability and the rules in specific communities.
  • The market in your area: It is certainly well worth your time to speak to an agent who knows your community well about the market you your particular area. Although the entire country has been affected by the virus, different markets have been impacted more significantly than others. If your home is in an area where the market is particularly slow right now, consider taking this opportunity, if you are able, to wait to sell your home until the market bounces back. Use the time instead to declutter and reorganize, or to take on home improvement projects that will ultimately increase the value of your home so that when you are ready to sell, you will be in a great position to do so.

In these challenging and uncertain times, we all find ourselves in unexpected situations that we could never have anticipated. It can be difficult to know how to move forward, but one thing is certain. The best way to move forward is together. At GayRealEstate.com, we’re here for you. Please let us know how we can help.

How Much Does It Cost to Sell My Home?

Selling a home is a big decision, and it’s one to which most people give a great deal of thought. After all, for many of us, our home is one of our most valuable assets. We want to think carefully and thoroughly about all aspects of the sale – not only about our list price, or the anticipated time it might take to sell the home, but also about the costs that might be associated with selling.

At GayRealEstate.com, we understand the importance of providing accurate information to help both buyers and sellers as they attempt to navigate the home buying and selling process. Some costs you might anticipate when selling your home include:

  • Repair Fees: As you prepare to sell your home, you will likely take a close look at what wonderful, appealing, and unique features your home has – features that you will want to highlight to potential buyers. On the other side of the coin, you might note things about your home that could use some improvement, or upgrading. Making the effort to invest some time and a reasonable amount of money in making those upgrades and repairs will enhance your home’s appeal, and likely increase its value as well. In addition, if a potential buyer’s home inspector identifies problems with the home (a damaged roof, or a crack in the foundation, for example), you may be asked to fix those issues in order to move forward with the agreed upon sale. Obviously, depending on the upgrades and repairs you decide upon, costs will vary, but it is always important to keep these things in mind as you budget for selling your home.
  • Home Staging: Some sellers make the choice to stage their homes, in order to assist potential buyers in envisioning what the home might look like after they move in. This can be particularly helpful in vacant homes, as stagers can use furniture to help buyers envision the possibilities that various rooms in the home might offer. Staging may not be a particularly significant expense when compared with others, but it is still one that is worth considering.
  • Mortgage Payoff: For those who still have outstanding mortgages on their homes, the proceeds of the home sale will be used to pay off the remainder of the mortgage. If the payoff amount of the mortgage is less than what you actually owe, you will need to consider that as one of your selling costs as well.
  • Real Estate Commission Fee: Of course, when selling a home, the real estate commission is usually the biggest fee that a seller will pay.  How much that commission is will of course vary by agent and circumstance. As a general baseline however, the standard real estate commission is typically somewhere between 6 and 7% of the ultimate sale price. While that is a general number, in reality, real estate commissions are almost always negotiable. 

One circumstance in which this might be the case is if you use the agent that will be listing your home for sale, to repurchase your replacement property. When you repurchase a property, your agent will be paid a commission from the home seller of the home you are buying, therefore they likely can save you money on the sale of your home.

  • Closing Costs and Additional Fees: Typically, when a home is sold, closing costs are the responsibility of the buyer – although in some cases, particularly if it is a buyer’s market, you may be asked to pay the closing fees as part of the offer on your home. For this reason, it is wise to plan ahead for this potential cost, as well as other costs like property taxes, attorney fees, transfer taxes, title insurance, and other costs associated with the sale of a home about which a knowledgeable and experienced agent should be able to advise you.

If you are considering selling your home, rest assured that at GayRealEstate.com, we understand that it is a very significant and important decision, and it is not one that you make lightly. It’s one for which you need the assistance of a qualified and experienced real estate agent – one who understands and appreciates your goals with respect to the sale of your home, and will work diligently toward representing your best interests. At GayRealEsate.com, our mission and our passion is to match LGBTQ buyers and sellers with agents who know the communities well, are expert negotiators, will price your home correctly, and who also understand the unique desires and needs of our community. We would consider it a privilege to have the opportunity to help you find an agent to help you with the sale of one of your most precious and valuable assets.  Connect with an agent today on-line at www.GayRealEstate.com or call us Toll Free at 1-888-420-MOVE (6683)

How to Choose an LGBTQ-Friendly Community You’ll Love When Considering a Relocation

Maybe you’ve received an offer for your dream job – but it requires you to move halfway across the country. Or, perhaps you’ve worked hard all your life, and now you’re ready to retire – and a house by the water on a beautiful stretch of beach is calling your name. Maybe you’ve fallen in love and you don’t want your long-distance relationship to be so long-distance any more. Or possibly, you just want a change of scenery and a fresh start. Whatever your reasons – and there could be many – relocation is often an option that many people find themselves considering.

Often, as people contemplate relocating, they consider a number of factors – things like job opportunities, cost of living, and housing prices to name only a few of many. While thinking through these sorts of considerations and contemplating a relocation thoroughly is important for everyone, here are some things particularly worth considering if you’re attempting to relocate to an LGBTQ-friendly community that you’ll love:

  • Spend some time in the community: One of the best ways to truly learn about a place is to experience it for yourself.  Consider taking an extended vacation, if possible, to the community to which you’re considering relocating. Visit the neighborhoods and amenities that interest you. Spend some time talking to those who live in the community and in the particular neighborhoods that interest you. Ask about the things they love – and the things they may not enjoy so much. Reading about an area online can provide valuable information, certainly – but it is no substitute for experiencing a place yourself.
  • Consider your social options: Some of us are more social than others. Some of us want to fill our days with activities and social outings and time with others who share our interests, while others of us are happier spending quiet evenings at home. If you are a person who enjoys social activities, it is a smart decision to look into how socially active the area you’re considering might be. Are there many LGBTQ-friendly restaurants, businesses, and social groups? Are there opportunities to become involved in things that interest you with others who share those interests? Spend some time looking into the social aspects of the community. You’ll be glad you did.
  • Consider the anti-discrimination laws in the area that you’re considering: In many cases, if the area to which you’re considering moving already has a large, socially active, and thriving LGBTQ community, the chances are probably good that the community has strong anti-discrimination laws and policies in place, and that it is a community which is accepting and friendly to LGBTQ individuals. Nevertheless, it can’t hurt to do a bit of research on the laws in the community that you’re considering. While all states now allow same-sex marriage, some have stronger anti-harassment and discrimination laws than others. Likewise, different states have different laws when it comes to things like employment, adoption, housing, and any number of other matters that might affect your quality of life generally. Taking the time to research will be well worth it in the long run.
  • If you’re job-hunting, consider the number of LGBTQ-friendly companies in the community: If you aren’t relocating for your job, and are instead hoping to find a job in the community of your choice, it is always smart to research whether there are LGBTQ-friendly businesses in the area. This might include asking those who live in the community, researching potential employers online, and reviewing the annual list of Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality published each year by the Human Rights Campaign[1]. For many of us, our jobs consume a large part of our time, and it is important to spend that time in a place where we feel truly and accepted and valued for who we are.
  • Choose a real estate agent who knows the community well: The importance of taking this step cannot be overstated. Finding an agent who you enjoy working with and who knows the community well will be a tremendous help as you explore the various neighborhoods and housing options in the community that you might be interested in. Additionally, you can request a free relocation kit for a city you may be considering. If you’re searching for an agent who will be an excellent fit for your needs, at GayRealEstate.com, we’re here to help.

At GayRealEstate.com, matching clients across the country with LGBTQ-friendly realtors who know their communities well and provide only the highest-quality professional representation for all buying and selling needs is our passion and our promise. We can’t wait to help you find the agent who will help you to find the home of your dreams in a community you’ll love. Contact us soon to let us know how we can help you too – we would be honored to have the opportunity to do so! Online or toll free 1-888-420-MOVE (6683).

[1] https://www.hrc.org/resources/best-places-to-work-2019

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!

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.

Where Have All the Gay Neighborhoods Gone?

According to recent research led by Amin Ghaziani, a sociologist at the University of British Columbia, and released in his new book There Goes the Gayborhood, gay men living in historically gay neighborhoods have declined by eight percent in the last ten years. downloadGhiziani’s research noted that gayborhoods including the Castro district in San Francisco, Chelsea in New York and Boystown in Chicago are changing due to the number of heterosexual households moving into those areas and the number of gay men moving to heterosexual neighborhoods.

Mainstream American’s have come a long way towards understanding and accepting that gays are just like them with the exception of their sexual preferences. A study conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2013 found that 60 percent of the American public think gays should be accepted into society and that younger groups were more accepting than those 50 or older.

Greater awareness of gays, according to the American Psychological Association, began during World War II when formerly isolated gay men and women met worldwide as soldiers and volunteers. That fact, coupled with Senator Joseph McCarthy’s investigation into homosexuals holding government jobs in the 1950s, led to political demands for fair treatment of homosexuals in public policy, employment and mental health.

In recent years, the gay movement has accomplished some major victories. In 2013 alone, the following strides were made:

1. The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act, DOMA, Section 3, was unconstitutional. That ruling required the federal government to recognize legal same sex marriages.

2. The Supreme Court of the United States dismissed an appeal in Hollingsworth v. Perry with the result of restoring same sex marriage in California.

3. Delaware, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Minnesota made same sex marriage legal.

Because of the above and other strides made in the fight for fair treatment, gays are increasingly gaining rights that were formerly reserved for heterosexual married couples. Gays can now be legally married in 19 states, and those states as well as the federal government must grant them the same rights as other married couples. Same sex married couples may purchase and own homes as a unit, rather than as individuals, have inheritance rights and may take advantage of state and federal benefits.

Traditionally, gay neighborhoods were created when gays set up their own communities because they preferred living in a place where they would be accepted and for safety reasons. With the increasing rights, acceptance and integration of the LGBT and heterosexual communities, gay neighborhoods are fading away.

It still makes sense to ensure the neighborhood you’re considering is “gay friendly” and to do that you can connect with a top gay realtor at www.GayRealEstate.com.