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A blog from CityRealty (Links below will take you to the 6sqft site)


Renting or buying a home with an intimate partner or spouse is often a monumental moment. Even if you’re not tying the knot, finding a home is often the first step toward making a more serious commitment. For many people in the LGBT community, however, shopping for a new home is a bit more challenging. Despite New York City and New York State’s robust laws preventing housing discrimination on the basis of marital status, sexual orientation, and gender identity, LGBT individuals often still face challenges on the housing market. For this reason, many people in the community prefer to work with an LGBT agent or broker who they know will have their best interest in mind whatever barriers they encounter.

The role of LGBTQ brokers and agents


Officially, real estate professionals help clients find listings, negotiate deals, and navigate the reams of paperwork that come along with renting and buying a unit. Unofficially, agents and brokers do a lot more, and this may be especially true in the case of LGBT real estate professionals who work with members of their own community.


When Caitlin Spence, a music teacher, first moved to New York City in 2008 with her partner, like most new residents she found navigating the city’s housing market difficult. Being a woman in a lesbian relationship made the process even more difficult. “No one was outright homophobic, but we found ourselves navigating a lot of awkward questions—usually, the obvious, ‘So, you know, this apartment only has one bedroom—which one of you will be sleeping in the living room?’” Spence adds that as a professional couple in their thirties who had great financials and had previously owned a home in Chicago, they were not fully prepared to repeatedly feel humiliated at viewings. After complaining to a friend, they got a referral to an out and proud gay broker.


“He was a young gay opera singer who worked in the industry when he wasn’t working on an opera production and, honestly, working with John was a night and day difference for us,” says Spence. Among other things, Spence emphasizes that her broker was able to steer her away from any owners and management companies that had a reputation for discriminating against LGBT couples. As Spence puts it, “John was our filter, but he also added comic relief and a human face to a pretty stressful experience. We’re still grateful that he was there as we broke into the New York housing market.”


Such stories aren’t unusual in the real estate industry. LGBT agents and brokers regularly help their clients navigate both the legal and effective terrain of renting and buying. Over time, they have also put pressure on their employers to offer LGBT awareness training to all agents and brokers. Most recently, LGBT agents and brokers have also started to play a key role in influencing housing policies nationwide. Much of this work is being spearheaded by the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP).

Photo via Wiki Commons

The National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals


Founded in 2007, over the past 12 years, NAGLREP has been proactively making renting and buying easier for the LGBT community. NAGLREP’s more than 2,300 members include real estate agents and brokers, as well as mortgage, insurance, and title agents, home inspectors, and real estate industry trainers and educators. The organization states that their mandate is to “advocate on behalf of the rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community as it relates to housing and discrimination laws” and “initiate action and encourage existing efforts amongst the civil rights community, local and state Realtor Associations, and the National Association of Realtors to support fair housing for the LGBT community. NAGLREP is a stakeholder at HUD.”


To fill their mandate, NAGLREP provides an essential service to renters and buyers. Using their “Find a Real Estate Professional,” LGBT individuals across the United States can easily find a local LGBT-positive real estate professional to search their housing search or sale. But NAGLREP also plays a key role in researching and advocating for fair housing policies. This past April, for example, the organization held a two-day policy summit in Washington, DC. At the Summit, the results of their most recent report were among the topics on the agenda.

NAGLREP report finds more LGBT owners in suburbs and small communities


With the support of Freddie Mac, NAGLREP’s most recent consumer and industry report offers insight into LGBT home ownership. The results of their 2019-2020 report reveal that LGBT individuals are still less likely to own a home than their heterosexual counterparts. However, the study has also found a majority of NAGLREP members believe that the legalization of gay marriage has increased the likelihood of LGBT couples purchasing a home and will continue to do so in the future. Notably, Freddie Mac data reveals that 73 percent of all married LGBT couples own a home. By contrast, home ownership among non-married LGBT couples is only 41 percent.


Perhaps, the most surprising finding in the NAGLREP LGBT Real Estate Report, 2019-2020 is where the LGBT community appears to be buying. While most LGBT renters continue to concentrate in urban areas or “gayborhoods” like the Castro, LGBT owners are not necessarily buying in large urban centers. According to the report, only 28 percent of owners live in a big or medium size city while 35 percent live in the suburbs and 37 percent live in small communities.


With the LGBT community moving out of historically gay urban neighborhoods into the suburbs and even small towns, it seems likely that out LGBT agents and brokers will continue to play a vital but often behind-the-scenes role in the LGBT community and broader real estate industry.

NYC Pride 2019

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Contributing Writer Cait Etherington Cait Etherington has over twenty years of experience working as a journalist and communications consultant. Her articles and reviews have been published in newspapers and magazines across the United States and internationally. An experienced financial writer, Cait is committed to exposing the human side of stories about contemporary business, banking and workplace relations. She also enjoys writing about trends, lifestyles and real estate in New York City where she lives with her family in a cozy apartment on the twentieth floor of a Manhattan high rise.
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