My Partner and I Are Making an Offer On a Home, What Does All That Lingo Mean?

When purchasing a home, you will hear many different terms. When you make an offer, you will do so on what is usually a standard form that is called a purchase offer agreement. That is the document that outlines factors including the price you are willing to pay and any contingencies that you would like met. This document will not become a legal contract until you, your partner and the sellers sign it. Following are some other definitions for lingo you may encounter when preparing your offer.

download (1)Appraisal: The determination of what a home’s value is based on its condition, prices of similar homes in the neighborhood, and other factors that are assessed by a qualified professional appraiser.

Closing: This is a meeting of the parties involved to finalize the sale of the real estate. At the closing, the buyer will sign mortgage documents and pay the closing costs involved in the transaction. Note that in some states, a closing is not considered complete until the deed is recorded at the local county registry of deeds office.

Contingency: A condition that is outlined in the purchase contract and that must be met prior to closing on the home. For example, appraisals, inspections and certain repairs that must be made.

Earnest, or Good Faith, Money: The deposit that you make when you submit an offer on a home. The amount varies, but $500 or 5 percent of the value of the property is generally considered acceptable. This deposit is intended to show the sellers that you are serious about purchasing the property.

Fee Simple: Represents that you will own the property and that you may do whatever you like with it.

Mortgage: A debt that you will incur to the lender who provides funds for the purchase of the home. You will be required to give the lender a lien against the property until the funds, plus interest, are repaid.

Real Estate: Includes land and improvements, such as the home and outbuildings, that are permanently attached to it.

Realtor: A broker or associate that is a member of a local real estate board.

Title: The deed that shows legal ownership of a piece of real estate.

Title Insurance Policy: This type of policy ensures that there are no liens or other problems with the property in question.

Another term that you may see is Time is of the Essence. This means that the contract contains deadlines that must be met and that failure to meet those deadlines within the time set out will result in a breach of the contract.

If you are considering making an offer on a home, you should hire an LGBT real estate agent to assist you. He or she can explain any terms that you do not understand and help you throughout the purchase process. In addition, he or she will understand your needs and protect your interests. The best way to find a professional real estate agent who is reputable is to conduct a search on

6 Tips for Buying in a Fast Paced Market

When a real estate market is fast paced, homes sell quickly and buyers must make swift decisions to avoid losing a home that they have their heart set on purchasing. Following are 6 tips for buying in a fast paced market.

download1. Know exactly what you are looking for before you start your search so that you will know you found it as soon as you see it. Sit down and make a list of must-haves, then be prepared to overlook less important aspects of a home if it fits your overall requirements of a home that you would love to own.

2. Take a look at your finances and figure out what you can afford, then approach a lender and obtain pre-approval. In a fast paced market, it is imperative that you have your finances in order. A pre-approval letter will let the seller know that you are financially stable and increases the chances of your offer being accepted.

Note that pre-approval is not a guarantee that you will get a loan. It is a letter from a lender that its preliminary qualification determination indicates that you may be eligible for a mortgage of a particular amount.

3. Hire an LGBT real estate agent. They are generally the first to know about new homes that are placed on the market and may know of new listings that fit your needs before they are made public. An agent can point those homes out to you and help you avoid bidding to late and losing the home. In addition, a real estate agent who knows his market will be in a position to help you make quick, informed decisions. For more information on hiring an agent, see our article Top 6 Questions Every Gay Home Buyer Should Ask Their Realtor.

4. Be flexible! If you only allot two days a week or weekends for house hunting, you may lose out on your perfect home.  Be ready to go to showings on short notice from your agent. In a fast paced market, your flexibility can make the difference between being successful in purchasing your dream home or losing it to another buyer.

5. Do not get stuck on the little things. If the home has the must-haves that you decided on, is in good structural shape and is in a neighborhood that you would like to live in, make your bid. Updating the home to suit your tastes can come later.

6. In a fast paced market, if the home is reasonably priced and is what you are looking for, you should not offer a low bid. It would be smarter to offer the asking price rather than be outbid and lose the home. Your real estate agent can help you decide on a competitive offer that is not overpriced, and submit your purchase offer to the seller.

Note that your offer is not legally binding until the seller accepts and signs the document. The seller has the option of making a counteroffer to you if he or she does not agree to your offered terms. Contracts must include what is called “a meeting of the minds” in order to be binding. This means that, in relation to real estate, there must be an offer of either services or money and an acceptance of that offer in return for the real estate at issue. If the seller accepts your offer or you accept the counteroffer and both you and the seller sign the contract, it becomes legally binding.

Most contracts include language that dictates what happens if one of the parties default on the agreement. For example, if financing is a contingency of the contract and you find that you cannot obtain financing, you may lose any earnest money that you put down on the property once the agreement was accepted by the seller. If the seller defaults by deciding not to sell to you, you can sue him or her in a court of law for breach of contract.

In a fast paced market, everything happens quickly. We hope the 6 tips for buying in a fast paced market outlined above help you achieve your goal to purchase your dream home.

Buy a Home Now or Rent First?

The American dream has always involved home ownership. For many individuals, renting is never an option, but it’s important to remember that each has its uses.

You Should Strongly Consider Buying

Take a moment and consider the following idea: You could be buying a home when prices and interest rates are at their lowest in history.  A real estate boom could be just around the corner and you could be poised to take full advantage of a wonderful financial opportunity.

First time homeowners should be rejoicing at today’s real estate market.  They don’t have a home to sell, so they’re not losing money listing a home in a competitive, down market.  They’re ready to take advantage of a mortgage with an incredible interest rate, and should they decide to not move for 5 to 10 years, possibly ride an upturn in a market that’s poised to bounce back very soon.

There are also other wonderful tax benefits to home ownership.  You can write off any taxes paid on your primary home and a vacation home, thereby lowering your taxable income and resulting amount due come tax time.  You’ll also enjoy the peace of mind of having four walls to call your own, rather than sharing one or two with an obnoxious neighbor.

When Renting is a Great Choice

Renting has unfortunately garnered a bad reputation in years past, but lately these beliefs are beginning to change.  There are many circumstances where renting is financially smarter than buying.  If you’re one of the lucky few to have made the decision to rent in the past 3-5 years, you avoided an unforeseen depreciation in the market.

Are you on a temporary relocation to a new area? Renting may also be a perfect choice for anyone who doesn’t know how long they’ll be in a particular market.  At the end of your lease, you’ll be given the option to renew or you can simply move on to another gorgeous home.  Many enjoy renting for this purpose alone; the thrill of moving into a new home every few years often outweighs any opportunity for equity gain.

In a down market, renting definitely has its perks.  Today’s real estate market is more volatile than in years past, and many homeowners are making a temporary decision to lease until the market makes a turn into the green.

In Conclusion

If you’re looking to buy or rent a home, consider contacting one of our real estate agents at to discuss the pros and cons of home ownership in today’s real estate market.  We’ll coach you on what makes financial sense to your family in the long run and always be here to guide in you in the future when you’re ready for your next move.

Author Jeff Hammerberg is the Founding CEO of ~ Free Instant Access to the Nation’s Top Gay, Lesbian & Gay Friendly Realtors, offering Free Buyers Assistance, and a Free Competitive Market Analysis to home sellers.

Tips for First Time Buyers: Choosing A Realtor Before Finding a Home

Purchasing a first home is a wise financial investment and can provide priceless personal and emotional rewards as well. Home ownership offers an unprecedented sense of security, accomplishment, success, and perhaps most importantly, personal freedom.

But before you begin to look at homes, it is a good idea to first shop around for a real estate professional who is compatible with your needs and understands your buying goals. Most novice buyers do it the other way around: they see a house they like, call the phone number on the yard sign, and immediately enter into a professional relationship entrusting the most important financial decision of a lifetime to any agent who happens to pick up the phone.

But nearly every first-time buyer admits to understanding little or nothing about the real estate business as they enter the real estate arena. As newcomers, they are suddenly confronted with complicated choices that carry powerful legal and financial consequences. They often encounter sellers who have the upper hand thanks to prior experience in the real estate market. And the potential for “silent homophobia” in the real estate industry can present an invisible obstacle for GLBT buyers, and is a legitimate and potentially frustrating concern. On top of all that, add the prospect of moving to a new location and the fact that in all real estate transactions “time is of the essence”, and you have a guaranteed recipe for overwhelming stress. And we all know that we make our worst decisions when we’re too stressed.

The careful selection of an agent who understands your needs and represents them in a professional manner can provide a reassuring level of comfort and confidence, as they work to create smooth sailing and fair dealings throughout the entire home-buying process.

Unfortunately, most first-time buyers skip this preliminary step, even though choosing a real estate professional is not at all difficult. Even if you know nothing about how the real estate game is played, you will be able to locate, interview, and select an agent who is a good match for you. The hours you invest in this quest for a professional will save you time, trouble, and money in the long run, and will actually speed up the overall home-buying process.

Here are some tips to help you make an informed choice:

1)      Determine the legal roles and responsibilities of brokers in your particular area. 

Depending upon where you live, the real estate laws will dictate the responsibilities and roles of real estate agents and brokers. Some states allow real estate professionals to serve clients in a dual capacity, and these “dual agents” will represent both the buyer and the seller at the same time, during the same transaction. They negotiate and mediate on behalf of both parties. In other jurisdictions, agents represent either buyers or sellers, but not both. Check with the local Realtor’s Association to find out what rules apply in your area, before you begin interviewing brokers.

2)      Use a specialist.

If you are relocating through your employer, you may want to work with a broker who specializes in relocation work, because they will have the experience required to help you locate the right property, at the right price, within your window of opportunity and according to the parameters outlined by your company’s relocation program. Similarly, if you are looking for rural property or farmland, there are brokers who specialize in that area of the market, as opposed to others who are expert at finding you a city dwelling close to the nightlife. And if it is investment property you want, you may decide to choose an investment property specialist. Once you have found someone who specializes in the kind of property you’re looking for, you can narrow down your search by selecting a broker within that niche of the industry.

3)      Check their credentials, and also see if you feel comfortable working with them.

As with any professional you hire, you will want to look for experience, a proven track record, a stellar reputation for customer satisfaction, and the ability to communicate with you and answer all of your questions in a way that inspires your confidence and trust.

Once you have a qualified and trustworthy real estate professional on your team to help you find a house, negotiate on your behalf, and inform and guide you each step of the way, you can relax and enjoy the adventure of shopping for your new home.

Author: Jeff Hammerberg is the Founding CEO of ~ Instant Free Access to the Nation’s Top Gay, Lesbian and Gay Friendly Realtors.

Now is the Perfect Time to Buy a Home

If you are thinking about buying a home, but you’re still a bit hesitant, then here is some great information that may help you decide to do it now. True, the economy appears to still be on the downside and we are seeing a lot of unemployment, but did you know that if you are stable enough financially, then now might be the right time to invest in a home. Hopefully the information presented here will open your eyes and understanding about the current status of the real estate industry.

Over the past 20 years, we have seen a boom in the real estate market. A lot of homes were built, and sellers were able to cash in on that increasing trend at the time. However, with the recent recession that hit our country, we are seeing a lot of unsold property in the market. The reason behind this is because it’s become increasingly difficult to get a loan and a lot of people are afraid to invest now because of the instability of the economy.

You see, the law of supply and demand is currently at play. On one side, there’s a huge supply of homes available. On the other hand, there aren’t a lot of buyers. This forces the sellers to drastically lower their prices, and even offer more incentives to buyers, such as paying all your closing costs, etc. There’s a chance right now, to get more value for the money you are willing to invest.

Another reason why you should consider buying a home right now is that you have the chance to accumulate almost instant home equity. Paying a monthly mortgage can build towards a home that you can call your own someday. Your growing equity can become your personal savings account, which you can eventually use to buy a better home in the future, or use a part of your retirement strategy.

Another big factor to consider is that interest rates are currently at historic low levels, and they won’t stay here forever. There are also very Low Money Down Programs that can be availed, as low as 3% granting that you have good credit standing. It’s very easy to get the best deals on home loans with most financial institutions. Although, they are a bit stricter now and choosy on who would be eligible for a home loan. But if you are on the stable side of the economy, with a good credit standing to boot, then there are no reason why a bank would not want to loan you the money with the most competitive interest rates available.

Yes we’ve seen a decline in the prices on real estate these past few years, but as of today in many markets, prices are on the upswing. So, instead of guessing where the bottom may be – take advantage of the many positive factors in today’s market. Waiting it out, you may find yourself out of luck in the near future when you finally decide on buying a home.

The time to decide on buying a home is now while the economy is still conducive for buyers. Now more than ever, you have the best opportunity to invest in a home with the lowest prices and interest rates. Home ownership and its long term benefits are enough to encourage even the most hesitant of buyers. 

Jeff Hammerberg is the Founding CEO of the Nation’s Largest Free Database of Gay, Lesbian and Gay Friendly Realtors serving the LGBT Community.

Spring buying boosts home prices in US cities

Spring buying pushed home prices up for a third straight month in most major U.S. cities in June. But the housing market remains shaky, and further price declines are expected this year.

The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home-price index showed Tuesday that prices increased in June from May in 19 of the 20 cities tracked. Prices rose 3.6 percent in the April-June quarter from the previous quarter. Neither of those numbers is adjusted for seasonal factors.

Over the past 12 months, home prices have declined in all 20 cities.

Chicago, Minneapolis, Washington and Boston posted the biggest monthly increases. Metro areas hit hardest by the housing crisis, including Las Vegas and Phoenix, reported small seasonal increases.

Housing has been a drag on the economy and is a key reason it has struggled to recover two years after the recession officially ended. Home sales are on pace this year to be the worst in 14 years.

High unemployment, larger down payment requirements and tighter credit are preventing many buyers from entering the market. Many who can afford to buy are waiting because they are worried prices have yet to hit bottom.

And growing fears that the U.S. economy is close to another recession “are likely to leave a mark” on both home prices and sales over the next few months, said Stan Humphries, chief economist at the real estate website

“Monthly home value appreciation in June may mark the last hurrah before beginning to weaken in the back half of this year,” Humphries said.

Analysts say home prices have stabilized in coastal cities over the past six months. Seasonally adjusted prices have fallen a modest 1 percent over the past six months, according to the index. That’s less than a third of the decline from the previous six months.

But this year, home prices in many cities have reached their lowest points since the housing market went bust more than four years ago. Prices in Cleveland, Detroit, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tampa are at 2000 levels.

“These shifts suggest that we are back to regional housing markets, rather than a national housing market where everything rose and fell together,” said David M. Blitzer, chairman of the S&P’s index committee.

The index measures prices compared with those in January 2000 and creates a three-month moving average. The June data is the latest available.

Home prices are certain to fall further once banks resume millions of foreclosures, which have been delayed because of a government investigation into mortgage lending practices. If the U.S. economy slips back into another recession, prices could drop even further.

“There’s no theoretical floor for prices. If the economy worsens, housing will get into a vicious cycle of falling prices and foreclosures,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “When prices fall, confidence wanes.”

Last year, a homebuyer tax credit helped boost prices temporarily. But prices began to fall shortly after the tax credit expired. They tumbled in big metro areas in March to their lowest level since 2002.

As prices have declined, so too have sales.

The pace of sales for previously occupied homes is trailing last year’s 4.91 million sold, the fewest since 1997. In a healthy economy, people buy roughly 6 million homes each year.

Sales of new homes dropped in July for third straight month. This year is shaping up to be the worst for sales of new homes on records dating back to 1963.

Foreclosures and short sales — when a lender agrees to sell for less than what is owed on a mortgage — made up about 30 percent of all home sales last month, up from about 10 percent in past years. About 1.7 million potential foreclosures are being held up, according to real estate firm CoreLogic, either by backlogged courts or lenders awaiting state and federal probes into troubled foreclosure practices.

The aurthor of this article is Derek Kravitz, AP Real Estate Writer

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Market turmoil has homebuyers on edge

Real estate agents and brokers say turmoil in financial markets is planting doubts in the minds of some would-be homebuyers even as it signals opportunity for others.

Plunging stock prices initially sparked by Friday’s downgrade of the U.S.’s long-term debt rating and reinforced by lingering fears of a European debt crisis don’t necessarily signal that the U.S. is headed into a “double dip” recession.

So far, investor flight to the relative safety of bonds and mortgage-backed securities that fund most home loans has pushed the cost of borrowing down — a boon for both homebuyers and homeowners looking to refinance.

But recent revisions to previous Commerce Department reports on economic growth show the depth of the recession was worse than previously known, and that growth has been more anemic this year than previously reported.

If that trend worsens, and unemployment rises as the workforce grows faster than new jobs are created, that could undermine home prices in some markets, making it harder to get buyers off the fence.

Matt Carter, “Read Full Story”

At Gay Real Estate, we keep you posted about all the residential real estate news affecting the LGBT community coast to coast, and in your neighborhood.

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

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More home buyers are walking away from signed contracts

Realty brokers say a recent uptick in contract cancellations is surprising and worrisome. Financing issues are among the causes, and economic worries and low-ball appraisals are also busting up deals.

Are home buyers walking away in droves from the contracts they’ve signed? Or are they essentially fouling out of the game, unable to close deals because of financing and credit issues?

Whatever the answer, this much appears to be certain: Exceptionally large numbers of signed real estate contracts fell apart last month, failing to close escrow. According to the National Assn. of Realtors, 1 in 6 realty agents polled in June reported having signed contracts canceled before closing, up from just 1 in 25 the month before.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the realty association, says the sudden increase is surprising and worrisome, and there are no hard statistics available on the causes. The most likely suspects, Yun says, are low-ball appraisals and tough mortgage underwriting rules that knock buyers out of contracts through mortgage contingency clauses.

But a series of interviews with realty brokers around the country suggests that there may be other, subtler forces at work that are busting up real estate deals.

Buyer confidence about the direction of the national economy has been badly rattled in the last six to eight weeks by the gridlock in Congress over raising the national debt ceiling and cutting the deficit. That is making buyers less willing to take a risk on a major purchase, brokers say. It’s also making them pickier and more demanding when defects are found in home inspections and frequently is leading to contract cancellations for relatively minor reasons.

Jessika Mayer, manager of professional development at Coldwell Banker Plaza Real Estate in Wichita, Kan., says she is seeing more well-qualified buyers — who would have proceeded to closing in past months — suddenly “feeling very worried and uncertain because they don’t know” if the country is headed for an economic disaster that would make their new purchase difficult to sustain.

Chad Ochsner, broker-owner of Re/Max Alliance, a 20-office firm in Denver, says his agents are also “seeing buyers feeling remorse” and unusual trepidation because of national economic uncertainties. As a result, he says, “they’re terminating contracts that in the past would have gone to closing.”

Inspections almost always turn up problems of one type or another, Mayer says, “but lately buyers seem to be holding out for perfection.”

Maybe the inspection report estimates the remaining useful life of an air-conditioning system in a resale house to be two to three years. Or maybe a floor covering is worn and should eventually be replaced.

Whereas previously buyers who truly wanted a house might let those issues pass, now they want the contract price reduced in compensation or they want the repair or replacement made before closing. Some sellers are willing to negotiate, but others believe that the contract price on the house is as low as they can go. If the parties can’t bridge the gap, the deal disintegrates.

The surging numbers of pending short sales clogging local markets are another cause of contract cancellations, brokers say. Buyers negotiating with banks often wait months to get answers from the bank on their offer, triggering repeated time extensions on the contract terms. Eventually buyers lose patience, throw up their hands and say, “Forget it.”

Charlie Bengel Jr., chief executive of Re/Max Allegiance in Fairfax, Va., says that offices in Richmond, Va., and Annapolis, Md., report “a significant increase” in short-sale related cancellations, primarily because of buyer frustration with the “lengthy short-sale process” and “banks not approving short sales.”

Finally, appraisal problems in many parts of the country continue to bedevil real estate transactions, especially when inexperienced appraisers working for low fees overuse distressed property sales as comparables for non-distressed listings.

For example, Rod Smith, director of general brokerage at Coldwell Banker Chicora in Myrtle Beach, S.C., said a recent signed contract on a condominium fell apart when an appraiser valued the condo far below the agreed-upon sale price. That price, Smith says, was well in line with recent sales of similar units.

A subsequent review of the appraisal report turned up numerous errors, but the buyers pulled out of the contract anyway.

Kenneth R. Harney, “Read Full Story”

At Gay Real Estate, we keep you posted about all the residential real estate news affecting the LGBT 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: