For all the changes our family has experienced during the past decade – both good and bad – we’ve had one enduring constant: our house. We’ve lived in a lot of places over the years, which is why our current house is so special; we’ve lived in it longer than anywhere else.
Buying a home can be an arduous task, especially for LGBTQ families. We survived the ordeal by always using great realtors, which made all the difference. So, to better understand the home buying needs of gay parents, I spoke with two of the LGBTQ community’s top realtors: Babs De Lay, principal broker and owner of Urban Utah Homes and Estates; and recent Fabby recipient Juan Magana, a realtor with Mansell Real Estate.
The first step for anyone buying a home is understanding what you want: the number of bedrooms, square footage, and where you want to live. You also need to know your price range. But there are other considerations for LGBTQ parents, like the schools, parks, and even the other kids on the street.
Babs De Lay, who’s been at this for 35 years advises, “One thing to watch is the age of the schools and attendance (will that school be closing soon due to lack of students?), proximity to mass transit (look at future mass transit maps) and where commercial development is going in in the areas you might want to live. For years I touted the close proximity of Rose Park to downtown, and the solid homes built there on big lots. Very few listened. Now Rose Park homes, thanks to TRAX going all along North Temple, are hovering near $300,000 – 10 years ago they cost $150,000.”
It’s also crucial to understand your finances. Seven-year veteran Juan Magana cautions against over paying for a home, and suggests his clients work toward building equity. “Know your numbers,” he suggests. “I have all my buyers meet with my lender first to determine their purchase price range. It’s a deciding factor when shopping for a home. Lenders are also often aware of various grants and programs available to home buyers, and can suggest which ones to pursue.”
De Lay agrees, “It is important to find a lender from the LGBT community who will sit down with you and talk you through the myriad of loans out there, and who will understand your home life. You want a lender for life to help you through your financial stages of first time buying, growing to a bigger home, refinancing, etc. Same as with a lawyer, CPA, or insurance agent, find a real estate broker for life.”
But don’t look to your realtor to choose your neighborhood for you. Legally, they can’t steer you to one neighborhood or away from another. De Lay said, “I frequently get asked, ‘Where is the gay neighborhood?’ My answer is, ‘gays live everywhere!’ I always think that the gayborhoods are Marmalade, 9th and 9th, and Sugar House, but nowadays LGBT folks are gaytrifying Rose Park, Poplar Grove, the Granary District, South Salt Lake and sections of Ogden.”
Remember, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Magana suggests overlooking some aesthetics. “Some homes will have a few things that will need to be updated and that’s OK! See it as an opportunity to put your own touch into a home. It can also be a factor in price negotiations.”
But definitely don’t skip the inspection or rely on a friend or family member to do it. De Lay says, “Inspectors know to conduct radon, meth, sewage scopes and other valuable tests.”
One last bit of really important advice for LGBTQ home buyers: “When you do put on your big pants and buy something, get a will /estate plan drawn up,” advises De Lay. “I’ve had to work with very sad stories over the years where one owner died and forgot to put the partner on the deed and the partner was out on the streets after the funeral.”
There’s no denying it, buying a home can be a stressful experience. But with the right professional guidance, you can find the perfect house for your family, and start creating decades worth of memories.