Just last week a federal district judge ruled a retirement community had the right to refuse a married lesbian couple from moving there despite having already accepted a deposit.
In 2019 America, this stuff happens. Remember sexual orientation and gender identity are not covered under the Fair Housing Act and only 21 states and the District of Columbia protect LGBTs from housing discrimination.
Missouri is not one of these states, which is a major reason the judge ruled the way he did. This, and other examples, are well known within the LGBT community, and this fear of discrimination adds a degree of concern and difficulty to the already challenging process of buying or selling a home.
Along with eradicating such discrimination, the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) is committed to helping increase LGBT homeownership rates which stands at 49 percent according to Freddie Mac, compared to the overall number of 64 percent.
To get there, we will need the Realtor community to continue to be inclusionary and welcoming.
Here are some helpful tips for working with LGBT clients:
1. Listen, and repeat
When working with LGBTs, it is advisable to listen to how your clients refer to each other and use that same language. If they use “husband,” “wife” or “partner” you can be comfortable using that same language.
The same with “he” and “she” pronouns. NAGLREP member Jeff Little also suggests using terms like “dual” closets or vanities rather than “his” and “hers.”
Also, stay away from using the word “lifestyle.” LGBT critics will use this word suggesting we “choose this lifestyle.”
2. Don’t try too hard
Talking about your gay cousin, lesbian friend or someone who knows someone who is transgender will not go as far as you just being yourself.
I loved what NAGLREP member Katie Cartwright said: “If you try too hard it appears to be disingenuous.” LGBTs appreciate allies more than you will ever know. By being supportive, helpful and caring, your clients will open up and share a lot of valuable information that will help you be a great resource.
NAGLREP member Harris Safier says having a strong EQ (emotional quotient) is important while Susan Harris says, “be open-hearted and open to humor.”
3. Think about kids
The NAGLREP LGBT Home Buyer & Seller Survey found that 19 percent of female participants and 6 percent of male participants have kids and 59 percent of LGBT millennials say they plan to have children in the future.
The survey also found that of LGBTs with children, 42 percent indicated that they had moved homes for better schooling,
Area schools are very important. And just as you would consider the possibility of kids down the road for a non-LGBT couple, do the same with LGBTs.
Also, as NAGLREP member Tim Tyler correctly pointed out, “Even childless LGBTs have nephews and nieces that they consider family and may want to think about when looking at a house and community.”
4. Avoid steering
NAGLREP.com gets about 75,000 unique users a month with the overwhelming majority being LGBTs looking to connect with our agent members. Often, these visitors will share they are looking for an LGBT-friendly community.
They want to know they — and their children — will be welcomed.
Remember it is illegal to “steer” LGBT clients to what is commonly referred to as a “gayborhood,” the areas with high LGBT populations.
If asked on where to live, explain what you can legally provide and encourage your clients to talk to school principals and community leaders, along with visiting pflag.org for peer support and education. You can also refer them to local LGBT centers or organizations.
5. Surround yourself with a great team
Remember, the mortgage, title, lawyers and other vendors who you refer business to are an extension of your business.
You should meet with those you refer business to and make certain they have either successfully dealt with LGBT clients in the past, know state laws and are as inclusionary and caring as you are.
NAGLREP currently has more than 2,200 members and 30-plus chapters around the nation. We will hold our third annual LGBT Housing Policy Summit on April 10-11 in Washington, D.C. and welcome your attendance.