If asked what their gay and lesbian clients want in a home, many realtors will probably list some of the things that any buyer, no matter of his or her orientation, wants: a nice home, natural lighting, hardwood floors, high ceilings, and a good sized yard. While it’s true that every buyer is going to want some of the same things, there are a few unique features that many LGBT buyers look for. Here are a few of them.
The neighborhood and location are often very important to LGBT buyers. Many want to live in their city’s gay district. Barring that, they want a neighborhood that is fairly open and accepting of them. They don’t want neighbors who may threaten their homes or their property. For those with children, the school district their home is located in may be extremely important. They’re looking for schools where children of LGBT couples will be accepted or protected from abuse. They may look at things like crime statistics or the number of hate crimes that have occurred in an area. If you’re a seller, it’s best to be aware of how your neighborhood ranks on these reports so if it’s brought up, it’s not a surprise.
Another location factor that sellers have little control over, but that plays a major part in many LGBT couples’ decisions is the legality of same-sex marriage. Those who live in states where marriage is legal may find it much easier to sell property to LGBT couples simply because they will be able to enjoy more protection and rights to the property.
Despite the stereotypes, gay men are not always looking for homes that are very feminine or incredibly trendy. Some simply want a small house that they can call home. Likewise, not all lesbian couples want a workshop in the back yard or a big garage in which to park their trucks (although they may want some place to park their small car). If you know you have potential LGBT buyers looking at your home, stress your home’s best features, not what you think they want to hear. Stereotypes may be correct at times, but they’re also very incorrect at times, too.
If you do want to market your home to an LGBT audience, the best thing to do is to make your home look as good as possible. Like any buyer, gays and lesbians simply want to purchase a good property that will serve as a home for them and their family.
If you’re getting ready to move, you’re probably in one of two situations: either you’re moving first and then finding a job in the area, or you’re moving for a job or some other reason that doesn’t give you a chance to pick out your new home city. If you don’t really have a choice in where you’re moving, you may end up in an area that’s less than LGBT-friendly. If you find yourself in a fairly conservative city, know that it’s not completely hopeless.
First of all, check to see if there’s a gay or lesbian real estate agent who works in the city. You might be surprised to find that there is. Even in the most conservative city, there are some LGBT people. At the very least you can find a LGBT-friendly realtor to help you find a house.
Many good-sized cities have gay districts. Even in conservative states like Oklahoma and Texas, there are liberal areas. San Antonio, Texas, for example, is quite liberal. So are Dallas and Houston. In Oklahoma, Tulsa is fairly liberal. Oklahoma City, despite being home to a very conservative state governor, also has a growing gay district. There are places like this all over the country if you know where to look for them. That’s why finding a good gay or lesbian realtor is a must for some moves.
There may not always be a gay district in your new home, or you may not want to live in that area. That’s okay. If that’s the case, you can talk to your realtor about other areas that may be very friendly, but aren’t necessarily “gay ghettos.” There are a lot of progressive neighborhoods that are made up of a diverse number of people that may be perfect for you and your family.
Another area in which your realtor can help you is in learning about the state laws regarding LGBT people. Does the state protect you from being fired if your employer learns of your sexuality? Can you legally get married in the state or file for a domestic partnership? You may also want to ask about LGBT-owned businesses, special interest groups, or sports teams. You could also ask if there’s a gay newspaper published in the area.
If you’re relocating to a conservative area, remember that even in the most unlikely of places, you’ll find people willing to help you out. Your realtor has a huge amount of information available that you should certainly take advantage of.
Most people are familiar with real estate agents who specialize. Some work only in a certain area or neighborhood, while others specialize in historic houses or new buildings. But lately, a new type of specialized realtor has appeared: the gay and lesbian real estate agent. These realtors work primarily with members of the LGBT community in helping them find their dream house or sell their current property. Some people may wonder why realtors are choosing to focus on this certain demographic.
One might expect all of these realtors to be gay themselves, and almost all of them are. The opposite is not always true—while most gay and lesbian realtors do have a large percentage of LGBT clients, many also work with straight buyers and sellers. Many also work in offices that are not predominately gay, but are very supportive, although those who work in real estate offices in areas like the Castro District of San Francisco may have a large number of gay and lesbian coworkers.
One of the reasons more and more gay and lesbian realtors are starting to advertise their sexuality is that many LGBT people are no longer looking to live in gay communities. While there are still gay people who want a home in Washington D.C’s Dupont Circle, just as many want to live in other areas of the city. This means they’re looking at a much larger area, and they may need more help from a realtor.
Some gays and lesbians are simply more comfortable with a realtor who understands their experiences and the language they speak. A LGBT agent wouldn’t, for example, show much shock or surprise when a man calls another man his husband or his boyfriend. A straight agent might. Even those it may be a small moment of surprise or discomfort, it’s still enough to damage the working relationship between the couple and the realtor. When you’re looking to make a purchase that’s as large as buying a home, you have to be comfortable with the person representing you. If you or your realtor isn’t, the process may not go as smoothly as it might otherwise.
Gay couples still fear being rejected or discriminated against. These specialty agents see that there is a need for realtors who understand and are a part of the LGBT community. By putting those fears at ease immediately, potential buyers and sellers won’t have to deal with the stress of hiding their sexuality or pretending to be something they’re not.
Some people may find the idea odd—why would someone want to hire a gay or lesbian Realtor? That doesn’t really have any bearing on how good of a real estate agent they are. But there are many reasons why you might want to hire a gay realtor. Of course, you do want to make sure they’re a competent agent before you do so. Here are a few of the things an LGBT real estate agent can do for you.
If you’re looking for an area that is LGBT family friendly, a gay or lesbian real estate agent is probably the best person to ask. They know which businesses are more gay-friendly than others, and they have an idea of which neighborhoods are popular with gays and lesbians. They may also know which schools are more open to students with gay parents and which employers offer domestic partner benefits. They can tell you where most of the gay bars, clubs, and other businesses are located. This can be very helpful, especially if you’re new to the area.
Some LGBT realtors will also keep an eye on what properties are available in the gay neighborhoods and recommend them to their gay and lesbian clients. They can also point out areas where they feel that LGBT people may not want to live due to several issues, including safety.
Real estate agents also have contacts with many other businesses, including movers, builders, roofers, maintenance people, landscapers, and more. They can connect you with LGBT-owned businesses for just about anything you need. This can be very helpful if you need work done on the property and want to support local gay and lesbian-owned businesses.
When working with a realtor, it’s important that you trust him or her. You’re going to be asking this person to help you make what is most likely the single largest purchase you’ll ever make. If you’re not comfortable around your realtor, it can throw off the entire process. Having a gay or lesbian realtor can put you more at ease, especially if you want to ask them questions about gay neighborhoods. You don’t have to be afraid that they’re judging you and your partner, nor do you have to appear to be roommates or friends looking to share expenses.
Again, of course, you don’t want to hire a LGBT realtor just because of their sexuality. However, if it’s between several top notch realtors, you certainly want to hire the one you’re the most comfortable with.