How is Buying a Home Different for Gay/Lesbian Couples?

Periodically, we’ll run guest columns from our member realtors on their areas, and issues that affect gay and lesbian buyers.  Here’s the next in the series – a great column from Kathleen McMullen about buying real estate as a gay or lesbian couple.  (click here to see Gay Realty Network’s Phoenix real estate page):

Gay Phoenix Real Estate

As a real estate professional and member of the gay community, I am often asked, “Why do you focus on the gay community?” I am a real estate agent; I help people buy and sell houses. Sexual orientation does not change that fact. But it occurs to me that the majority of Realtors do not understand the gay community or their wants and needs.

Gay CoupleIt’s not that gay and lesbian home buyers are that different. Actually, we are quite the same. However, as a real estate professional, I understand that a good agent does more than just “find a house.” We Realtors provide understanding and guidance on the largest purchase in a person’s life. But more than that, buying a house should be a fun and personal experience.

Over the years, I have worked with several clients that have come to me after a negative experience with other realtors. It’s not that these real estate professionals aren’t good Realtors. Rather, that buying a house is still a process firmly associated with a “traditional” heterosexual family. The advantage in working with a professional who specializes in the gay market is the process and perhaps the result. Instead of defining (or defending!) yourself against the assumed norm, you are allowed to be you, without the embarrassing questions.

In buying your previous homes, you may have heard, “Surely you want separate bedrooms and baths, so I’ll show you homes with two master suites.” What possible answer is there: 1) Make it clear that you are sleeping in the same bedroom… and then the awful answer, “oh, I see”, followed by the uncomfortable pause; or 2) Say nothing.

Some of my clients are still not “out” or want their privacy or just don’t want to answer these kinds of questions. The buyers may fear being disrespected by the agent, not getting quality service or perhaps creating an uncomfortable situation for both parties.

Or buyers are asked, “Which one of you will be on the title?” The assumption being that one person is making the purchase and the other will be a renter. Many laws that govern home ownership and property are still based upon heterosexual norms and legal definitions of marriage. Understanding those regulations and protecting the rights of both parties does require a level of expertise and knowledge that many real estate agents lack.

My partner Kris and I know all too well the pain and discomfort that comes from these questions. The good news is this, not all real estate agents ask them. That’s why I specialize in the gay community. Instead of questioning your personal sleeping preference, what we really want to know is “Do you want a pool?”, “How many bedrooms and baths would you like?”, “How much do you want to spend?” You know the important stuff in buying your next home. It’s this level of understanding, protection and empathy that every home buyer deserves. So, yes, I do specialize in the gay community not because they are special, but they are special to me.

Kathleen McMullen, Lesbian Phoenix RealtorAbout Us: The Dream Home Catchers are Kathleen McMullen and Kris Carlile. This highly experienced duo work with families of all sizes to find (or catch!) their dream home. Dream Home Catchers provide a variety services – this premier real estate partnership specializes in three communities that reflect their own experiences and passion. In order to provide unparalleled service and understanding and help others to create their dream home, Dream Home Catchers specialize in: The Gay and Lesbian community; Families transitioning a member to a care facility; Couples moving to their dream home for retirement including Phoenix Relocation. “When I work with my clients, they don’t have to explain why they only need one master bedroom, or the overwhelming emotion of trying to sell their parents’ house, or the importance of finding a house that reflects what they have been working for their whole life.” – Kathleen McMullen.

Kathleen and Kris provide the support, resources and communication needed to ensure that your home buying experience from start to end, is organized, thorough and most of all, fun. Located in western Phoenix, the Dream Home Catchers have extensive knowledge of Sun City, Peoria and West Valley neighborhoods but they serve individuals looking for homes in Scottsdale, Fountain Hills and across the Greater Phoenix area.