How House Shopping for LGBTQ Couples Has Changed

Posted on May 13, 2019 in Buying a Home

As little as 20 years ago, if you were an LGBTQ couple, house shopping was much more stressful than it is today. You may have felt like you couldn’t act like a couple in front of your real estate agent. You may have hesitated about co-signing on the mortgage due to fears of lender discrimination. You might have even wondered if the seller would turn down your offer if they knew it was coming from a same-sex couple. Fortunately, the world has changed, and house shopping no longer carries with it as many fears or concerns.

Marriage Equality Has Helped

How House Shopping for LGBTQ Couples Has ChangedThanks to the Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality and the growing acceptance of LGBTQ people in the U.S., many no longer have to feel like they have to hide their relationship when looking at homes. In fact, there is a growing number of gay and lesbian real estate agents across the country who are proudly open about their sexual orientation and are ready to help LGBTQ homebuyers find their dream property. You no longer have to pretend to simply be friends or roommates looking to buy a house together.

You can also be much more open about wanting to look at homes in gay neighborhoods. However, more and more LGBTQ individuals and couples are looking to buy outside of these areas. Today’s LGBTQ no longer feel like they must be constrained to specific neighborhoods, especially in more liberal cities. This has actually led to some gay neighborhoods to start becoming less LGBTQ-focused.

More LGBTQ Couples Are Having Families

Whether by adoption, surrogacy, or sperm donation, more LGBTQ couples are making the decision to start a family than ever before. This means many of these couples are no longer looking for homes that fit their current needs. Instead, they’re looking for homes they can raise a family in, which means they need more space. Their home-buying needs are closer now to opposite-sex couples who plan to have children in the future.

If you’re ready to make the jump into homeownership, you don’t have to feel constrained in any way. While discrimination does still exist, it’s not as prevalent as it once was. This is especially true if you’re working with a gay or lesbian agent.

Living in Fire Island

Posted on April 24, 2019 in Buying a Home

There are a number of islands located off the coast of New York that serve as home to New York City and its famous communities. While the city sits on Long Island, the largest island, there are a few others that also have thriving communities. One such island is Fire Island, home to many LGBTQ residents. Fire Island only has around 300 permanent residents, but during the summer, thousands of gay and lesbian tourists flock to the location.

Towns on Fire Island

Living in Fire IslandFire Island is almost 31 miles long, which means it’s big enough to be home to a number of communities. The island features three main towns: Babylon, Brookhaven, and Islip. It also has several smaller villages and hamlets. Because it’s a tourist destination, you’ll find a number of rental properties, hotels, and bed and breakfasts on Fire Island.

The LGBTQ Community on Fire Island

Fire Island has been inhabited since 1795, but the LGBTQ community didn’t move into the area until the 1930s. In 1938, a hurricane hit the island, destroying much of what was built. Many people decided to move inland and sold their property, but the area of Duffy’s Hotel was still mostly intact. This small village became the center of the LGBTQ community, which began to grow and thrive on Fire Island. It wasn’t long after this that many LGBTQ people, especially gay men, started visiting Fire Island in the summer.

The biggest event on Fire Island is the large Fourth of July celebration. It has become tradition for drag queens to take the ferry to The Pines from Cherry Grove. This event is a recreation of the trip Terry Warren, a drag queen, took in 1976. A restaurant in The Pines refused him entry. When he told the story to friends he knew in Cherry Grove, they all decided to dress in drag and take the ferry to “invade” The Pines on July 4. Today, the parade from the ferry ends at the Cherry Grove Hotel and is attended by thousands of people.

Living on Fire Island

If you’re thinking about asking a gay or lesbian real estate agent to find you a home on Fire Island, there are a few things to consider. First, do you want to live in a small, quiet area, or do you want access to larger restaurants and shops? The small villages are very quiet, and tourists normally don’t spend a lot of time there. Cherry Grove, Ocean Beach, and the other larger towns do offer more amenities, but they’re also often crowded in the warmer months. It all depends on what you’re looking for.

The Chicago LGBTQ Community of Edgewater

Posted on April 11, 2019 in Buying a Home

If you’re looking for an outstanding LGBTQ neighborhood in Chicago that offers amazing views, Edgewater may be the place for you. It’s not as well-known as Boystown, Chicago’s most famous gay district, but that may actually be what you want. Boystown is something of a tourist stop for LGBTQ visitors, and in some ways, it has become too focused on orientation and gender identity. Some people just want to live a quiet life that isn’t defined by being part of the LGBTQ community. For those people, Edgewater is an excellent choice.

The Beach in Chicago?

The Chicago LGBTQ Community of EdgewaterWhen people think of the Windy City, they don’t think of living on the beach. However, as the name suggests, Edgewater does sit on the edge of the water, specifically Lake Michigan, and has several beaches. These beaches may not see as many hours of warm sunshine as beaches in Florida or California do, but residents use them through most of the year.

History of the Neighborhood

Edgewater began in the 1880s as Lake View Township, an escape for some of Chicago’s elite. They wanted a place to get out of the center of the city and enjoy the summer. By the 1890s, the population had jumped from a mere 2,000 to a fairly large 45,000. In 1885, the northeastern part of Lake View Township was renamed Edgewater. A few years later, the City of Chicago began annexing Lake View Township and Edgewater in order to provide more public services to the growing neighborhoods.

Edgewater soon made a name for itself by becoming Chicago’s only electric lighted neighborhood in the early 1890s. This quickly led to Edgewater becoming one of the most prestigious areas in the city. Large homes were built on the lake, though even the houses built inland were fairly large and luxurious. While a number of these historic homes have been demolished over the years, the area known as the Bryn Mawr Historic District includes a number of more historic properties. Most homes in Edgewater today are more modern single-family houses or are apartments or condos.

The LGBTQ Revival

The neighborhood of Edgewater went through a revival starting in the 1980s, and about ten years later, it started to become a popular community for lesbian couples. One reason for the influx of LGBTQ and lesbians in particular was the Women and Children First bookstore, which moved from nearby Andersonville to Edgewater. Soon, a number of lesbian bars and other businesses opened in the area. The neighborhood even gained the nickname of Girlstown.

Today, while rising housing costs have led to some lesbian couples moving out of the area, Edgewater still has a good number of same-sex couples. You can find many homes for sale here, some more modern and some fairly historic. A gay or lesbian real estate agent can help you find the perfect home in Edgewater.

Stereotypes About LGBTQ Homeowners

Posted on April 2, 2019 in Buying a Home

Finding a property that has enough space for your hobbies or reflects your personality and interests is certainly going to be important in your house hunt. You’re unique, and you want a home that matches who you are. If you have a real estate agent who hasn’t helped many LGBTQ clients, they may also have certain preconceived notions about what you want in a home. While it’s possible a few of these stereotypes are true about you, it’s just as likely none of them reflect your interests or who you are.

Lesbians Need a Garage or Workshop

Everyone knows lesbians are good with power tools and love to build things, right? That’s definitely not the case, but an agent who doesn’t know any better may start showing you houses with two- or three-car garages or large workshops. While these spaces may be great even for those who don’t build things (extra storage is always nice), it may not be a priority. The best thing to do in this case is to make it into a joke: “Oh, yes, my single hammer and two screwdrivers will look great in this 500 square foot workshop.”

Another related stereotype you may find from agents is that you’re looking for projects. They may be under the assumption that you’ll want to remodel whatever home you buy when you’re actually looking for something that’s move-in ready and requires no work at all.

Gay Men Entertain

Some agents may assume that same-sex male couples love to entertain. They will show you homes with large open floor plans, big kitchens, and amazing outdoor spaces. You may love all of that, but you may also be the type who doesn’t really do big gatherings. Maybe you only ever have a few friends over at a time and never host family events. That’s perfectly fine, and you can certainly let your agent know that you don’t host large viewing parts of RuPaul’s Drag Race every week.

Along those same lines, you may mention that you don’t need a giant closet for your huge wardrobe of designer clothes or space for dozens of pairs of shoes. Your preferred outfit may be a pair of jeans and a t-shirt.

Working with a Gay or Lesbian Real Estate Agent

If you want to avoid these stereotypes completely and work with someone who is more likely to understand your needs, you may want to work with a gay or lesbian real estate agent. These agents are more prevalent than you might think, even in more conservative areas. They can assist you with finding the home of your dreams without making you feel uncomfortable.

Millennials and the LGBTQ Neighborhood

Posted on March 22, 2019 in Buying a Home

Several decades ago, when LGBTQ individuals and families were looking for a house to purchase, they almost always started their search in the local gay neighborhood or gay district. These areas were seen as a haven, a place where they could rest easy knowing that their neighbors weren’t going to engage in hate crimes against them. Today, things are a little different. While there are certainly still those who attack others for being a part of the LGBTQ community, acceptance is much more widespread.

The Millennial Homebuyer Doesn’t Feel Locked into a Gay District

Today’s young homebuyers have, as a whole, put off buying property immediately after college or until they have established their career. These millennials have more debt than any generation before them, owing thousands of dollars in student loans and facing an economy that hasn’t seen wages increase with the cost of living. Jobs are much more competitive, and many have decided to rent longer or even live with their parents until they can confidently buy.

But as many entered their late 20s and early 30s, they did start buying. However, those who identify as LGBTQ weren’t always quick to call up a gay or lesbian real estate agent and ask to see homes in the gayborhood. There are several reasons why this is the case.

It’s Expensive

Prices in many gay districts, especially well-known neighborhoods such as Boystown in Chicago or the Castro in San Francisco, have increased to the point that new buyers simply can’t afford them. In fact, some homeowners in these areas were pushed out during the gentrification of the neighborhood. Many of these are historic homes, which only adds to their value. Buying in many gay neighborhoods is now only for those who have very good salaries or have inherited money.

Location, Location, Location

Today’s LGBTQ homebuyers have different priorities than those who primarily bought in the gay district. Now they’re looking for specific school zones, short commutes, and the ability to walk to places. The location of their new home dictates a lot, and often LGBTQ neighborhoods are simply too far away from where they want to be.

Acceptance Has Risen

Many young LGBTQ homebuyers feel very accepted, especially in more liberal parts of the country. They don’t have to worry about hiding who they are or about buying in a specific neighborhood. They consider the entire city when looking for a home, and while some do still buy in a predominantly LGBTQ area, they no longer feel as if they must.

Up and Coming Gay Neighborhoods

Posted on March 11, 2019 in Buying a Home

We’ve all heard of the Castro District, Boystown, Chelsea, Dupont Circle, and many of the other established and popular gay neighborhoods. While these communities continue to thrive, a number of new LGBTQ neighborhoods have popped up over the years. Some come and go fairly quickly, but others are poised to become modern spaces that LGBTQ individuals and families will call home. Here are a few of these emerging LGBTQ communities.

The Marmalade

The Marmalade is a neighborhood in Salt Lake City, Utah, the home base of the decidedly anti-LGBTQ Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, the city itself is surprisingly open and welcoming to those of all orientations. Same-sex marriage was actually legal here a year before the Supreme Court made it nation-wide. The city swore in an openly gay man as its mayor in 2016.

The Marmalade is home to various gay bars, clubs, and other businesses owned by members of the community. Housing here is quite affordable, and many young professionals are calling the neighborhood home. The Marmalade is quickly transforming into a hub for new businesses and those looking for comfortable, affordable homes.

Andersonville

While Chicago is known for its gay neighborhood of Boystown, that’s not the only LGBTQ community. Andersonville is situated on the north part of the city. Originally made up mostly of Swedish immigrants, today this neighborhood has many amazing restaurants and boutiques. It’s become more than just a great LGBTQ community—it’s known as one of the best in Chicago. One of the neighborhood’s strengths is that it doesn’t try to be Boystown or any other gay neighborhood. Instead, it has created a unique atmosphere all its own.

Bywater

In New Orleans, the French Quarter is the traditional gay neighborhood, but the Bywater District has recently emerged as a more affordable alternative. This area is home to many new businesses, an open-air market, and much more. It’s less of a tourist destination, too, so it’s usually much quieter. It’s home to the renowned Country Club, which allowed gay members to join back in 1977. This was one of the first places to allow openly LGBTQ members at the time, and today, it’s the center of the community.

If you’re looking for a great LGBTQ neighborhood but find some of the more established areas to be outside of your price range, you can always talk to a gay or lesbian real estate professional about homes in one of your city’s emerging gay ghettos. These new communities may have just what you’re looking for.

Ogunquit, Maine’s LGBTQ Summer Resort

Posted on February 15, 2019 in Buying a Home

Few people think about going to the far Northeast for a summer getaway, but that’s exactly why many people visit Ogunquit, Maine. That weird name is from the Abenaki language, the indigenous people of the area, and translates to “beautiful place by the sea.” That certainly describes this small little town. It has a permanent population of less than 1,000 during the off season, but that number jumps during the summer.

History of Ogunquit

Ogunquit, Maine’s LGBTQ Summer ResortThe area was settled by the Abenaki tribe of native Americans. In 1641, a number of European settlers arrived in the area and set up a village. Later, a sawmill and shipyard were built near the Ogunquit River. By the late 1890s, many artists had moved into the area, and it wasn’t unusual to see both fishermen at work while artists painted them. During this time, the area became a popular summer vacation destination, and it wasn’t long before the number of hotels outnumbered the fishing boats.

In 1980, Ogunquit officially separated from the city of Wells to become its own town. By this point, the town was a full-on tourist destination and was attracting people from as far away as Australia. People even started to come for other reasons than the beach. Horror fans who read Stephen King’s The Stand began visiting Ogunquit to see the places he mentioned in the book.

The LGBTQ Community

Around the mid-80s and 90s, the LGBTQ community became quite prominent in Ogunquit. There had always been a number of LGBTQ artists in the area, but during this time, the town become a major tourist destination. Many LGBTQ-owned restaurants, hotels, bars, and other businesses opened in Ogunquit, mostly in the old village area. The town’s tourism industry became even more prosperous, leading Ogunquit to being named America’s Best Coastal Small Town in USA Today’s 2016 Reader’s Choice issue.

The town has also started undergoing gentrification. Older parts of Ogunquit have been restored, and housing costs have increased because of this. The cost of living is significantly higher in some areas, especially housing, although the cost of other things, including groceries, healthcare, and even utilities, are around average for the country and below average for Maine.

If you’re able to handle these costs, though, Ogunquit is a great place to live. During the off season, it’s a very quiet town. However, it’s close enough to the Portland-South Portland-Biddeford metro area that it’s not too far away from the amenities of a large city. You’ll find a number of gay and lesbian real estate agents who can help you find the perfect home in this little village.

How Have LGBTQ Buyers Affected the Real Estate Market

Posted on February 1, 2019 in Buying a Home

Acceptance of LGBTQ individuals and families has increased in recent years, and while there are still certainly hate crimes and discrimination, the community is overall in a better place than it has ever been in the U.S. This acceptance has led to a great impact in a number of industries. For example, in the years since same-sex marriage was legalized, industries related to weddings have seen an increase in profits thanks to more LGBTQ partners marrying. This has also resulted in changes to the real estate industry.

A New Focus on Family

While marriage isn’t a requirement to have children, for many, it is the basis of a family. Being married also makes certain processes, including adoption, much easier. According to a survey conducted by Community Marketing & Insights, many LGBTQ couples do see marriage as the ultimate relationship goal, especially for those who want to have children.

What does this have to do with real estate? With more and more couples marrying and having children, more LGBTQ families will take school zones into consideration when deciding where to live. The survey showed that more couples with children, especially same-sex female couples, were gravitating towards the suburbs and cities. They want to make certain their children have the best education possible and make that a priority when choosing where to live.

Moving Up

With this focus on family comes the need for a larger residence. While LGBTQ couples did purchase homes prior to the same-sex marriage ruling in 2015, more and more couples have sought to become homeowners since then. Part of the reason didn’t purchase homes before was due to the fear of discrimination. They didn’t want to apply jointly for a mortgage because they weren’t certain if they would be discriminated against by the lender, but individually, neither made enough money to qualify for the mortgage.

Today, this is no longer the case. It’s become quite normal for same-sex couples to apply jointly, and it has become very clear that discrimination in housing is not acceptable. This means more homes are being sold to same-sex couples who are considering starting a family. Their needs have changed. Traditional gay neighborhoods are starting to disappear as these families seek out specific school districts or no longer prioritize living in specific parts of the city.

If you’re thinking about purchasing a home, you want to make certain you have the right experts on your side. Working with a gay or lesbian real estate professional can provide you with a wealth of benefits.

Silver Lake: A LA LGBTQ Community

Posted on January 7, 2019 in Buying a Home

Many people think of Los Angeles as a welcoming place for everyone, but that’s not necessarily the case. There are parts of LA that are conservative and parts that are quite open and progressive. Silver Lake is one area that’s considered an LGBTQ haven. Founded in the 1900s, this community has served as home to Walt Disney’s first major studio, unique pedestrian staircases, and more.

When Did Silver Lake Become a Gay Ghetto?

Silver Lake - An LA LGBTQ CommunitySilver Lake didn’t start out as a gay village. In fact, during the 1950s and 60s, the community was home to many Latino citizens. They mostly commuted to downtown LA to work in the various manufacturing plants located there. However, the 70s saw these plants close due to outsourcing. As a result, Silver Lake fell into decay, and many of the more affluent homeowners left the area.

As they moved out, LGBTQ individuals and families moved in. As with many cities, LA had slowly pushed those they found “undesirable” to the more disreputable neighborhoods. Silver Lake became a hub for the gay leather subculture of LA. For a time, it was known as a location for public sex, but that changed in the 1990s. Gentrification began transforming the area, and today, Silver Lake is home to many boutiques, restaurants, and other shops. Home prices have risen, too, driving out some renters and making it difficult for others to buy property in the community.

The Mattachine Society and The Black Cat Tavern

While it didn’t become a full-fledged gay neighborhood until the 70s, the LGBTQ community has had a presence in Silver Lake since the 1930s. The gay organization Bachelors Anonymous, which later became the Mattachine Society, is considered the first organized gay group. Its founder lived in Silver Lake and often held meetings there.

Silver Lake made headlines in 1967 after police raided the Black Cat Tavern, a popular LGBTQ bar. Fourteen people were arrested, and brutal force was used. Six weeks later, community members held a protest, one of the first for LGBTQ rights. This happened two years before the Stonewall Riots. Some 25 years later, in 1992, LGBTQ activists marched down Sunset Boulevard in protest of violent acts perpetrated against gay men in the area.

Looking to Live in Silver Lake?

While the price of buying a home in Silver Lake has certainly increased, it’s worth it if you want to live in what many call the hippest neighborhood in LA. You can contact a gay or lesbian real estate professional to get the ball rolling.

Options for LGBTQ Snowbirds

Posted on November 30, 2018 in Buying a Home

Snowbirds is a term used for people who live most of the year in a northern climate, but then move to a warmer area for the harsh winter months. Many snowbirds own RVs and simply drive south when the temperature drops, while others may own a second home in a warmer state. If you’re a snowbird, and also a part of the LGBTQ community, never fear—there are plenty of welcoming places for you to go during the winter.

You might enjoy your snowbird location so much that you decide to move there permanently or to purchase a second home in the area. If that’s the case, you have a number of different factors to consider.

Snowbirding to Florida

Many people on the East Coast spend the winter in Florida. This is an excellent location for LGBTQ snowbirds. St. Petersburg is considered both a very welcoming city and a great place to escape the winter. It’s very affordable, has a lot to offer, and isn’t far from the beach. For those who really love the big city, Orlando is another good destination, although it tends to be more expensive due to the high number of tourists. Lake Worth is known for its large LGBTQ community, as is South Tampa.

Options on the West Coast

On the other hand, you may want to spend some time in California. The golden beaches of this state are well-loved by snowbirds, but you do need to keep the climate in mind. San Francisco may seem like the natural place for LGBTQ snowbirds to travel to, but the rain and the proximity to the ocean do keep the temperatures in the 50s or lower during December and January.

Instead, try going inland a bit. Anaheim is popular since Disneyland and other attractions are located there. It’s also not far from the warmer beaches of southern California.

Other Locations

Snowbirds are often attracted to locations in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, and South Carolina. Of course, not all of these locations are known for their welcoming attitudes. You can do your research and learn more about specific locations before you travel there. If you’re in an RV, of course, you can always simply load up and drive somewhere else if you decide you don’t like where you are!

Once you do find the perfect place to escape the cold, you may want to look for a more permanent option than an RV. You’ll find many gay and lesbian real estate professionals are ready to help you purchase a second home or make the move to a warmer climate.