AgentBrokerage

Head of NAGLREP, Jeff Berger, shares recap from the 2015 conference

A Q&A with the founder of real estate's most prominent LGBT organization
  • Earlier this week, the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) held its second-ever annual conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
  • Keynote speakers at the conference included Sherry Chris, President and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, and Jim Obergefell, the real estate agent who was also the lead plaintiff in Obergefell vs. Hodges, the Supreme Court case that legalized marriage equality earlier this year.
  • NAGLREP founder Jeff Berger said the content was much like any other real estate conference, and that discrimination issues still plague the LGBT community.

Earlier this week, the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) held its second-ever annual conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Keynote speakers at the conference included Budge Huskey, the Coldwell Banker CEO; Sherry Chris, President and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate; and Jim Obergefell, the real estate agent who was also the lead plaintiff in Obergefell vs. Hodges, the Supreme Court case that legalized marriage equality earlier this year.

Jeff Berger

Jeff Berger

We caught up with NAGLREP founder Jeff Berger to hear more about the conference.

How did the Supreme Court marriage equality decision affect the mix of content at NAGLREP?

There was a common theme about how the LGBT community will be confident homebuyers in today’s market. We definitely feel marriage equality will increase homeownership in the LGBT community just through confidence.

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That doesn’t mean gay and lesbian people didn’t buy homes before or own homes before, but in general, more people will get married and start to form families. It’s a generation-changer, we feel.

Marriage equality was hardly the end of the road for LBGT equal rights. What other barriers to equality do you see?

We released an LGBT buyer and seller survey this year — Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate was a title sponsor. Throughout the study, we found that 73 percent of LGBT respondents are concerned about discrimination in some part of the homebuying process.

That could mean the real estate agent, the mortgage — discrimination somewhere in the process. Being treated fairly seems to be a common theme, and just because same-sex marriage is legal doesn’t mean that all the barriers are broken down.

Discrimination still exists in society, but part of it could be perceived. I don’t think that 73 percent of LGBTs are actually being discriminated against, but that’s the perception, and that number should be a lot lower.

What do you think were the big takeaways from the NAGLREP annual event?

We focus on being a real estate conference, but specializing in LGBT agents and gay-friendly agents. Our conference is not so specifically tailored toward LGBT for that reason. If you look at our agenda and you take out the “LGBT,” it looks like any other real estate conference, and that was important to us.

While keynote speakers and awards were tailored toward LGBT fair housing and the community at large, we also offered workshops on working with millennials, forming teams, luxury, we had a great design panel, top agent panel, top producers panel, and they were very well-received. We really kept the breakouts more mainstream because LGBT is maybe 5 to 6 percent of the market — some agents, of course, concentrate a higher percentage of their business on LGBT clients — but you’d probably see these sessions at any real estate conference, including Inman Connect.

People absolutely loved the conference. It was a very warm and friendly environment, everyone was introducing themselves to each other — I guess that’s one of the takeaways. People said, “I met more people at this conference than I have at any other conference I’ve been to,” despite the number of attendees or size of the event.

The 2016 NAGLREP conference will be held October 10 through 12 in Fort Lauderdale. Visit the association website to learn more.

Email Amber Taufen.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated.