A year after its launch in the United States, a new association for LGBTQ real estate professionals is expanding to Canada and is looking to take the plunge with chapters in Europe. It invites its 1,300 members to attend its first conference in September in Las Vegas.
The LGBTQ + Real Estate Alliance officially formed last June and opened its membership, which costs $ 200 per year, in October. It now has 55 chapters in America, from Hawaii to Puerto Rico, and recently hosted chapters in Ottawa and Montreal.
Established as a 501 (c) (6) nonprofit, the organization can advocate for various issues and take positions on political battles. He aims to lobby for “housing and shelter for all”, whether someone is LGBTQ or straight.
“We want to be inclusive,” said John Thorpe, 52, a gay man who is the alliance’s founding president and chairman of its board. âFrom homeless LGBTQ + youth to aging members of the LGBTQ community, there are housing issues across all age groups and demographics. We really want to draw attention to these and focus.
A key goal of the alliance, said Thorpe, is to help LGBTQ people looking to become homeowners. He recently hosted a national virtual seminar to explain the process for first-time homebuyers in the LGBTQ community and created a guide to follow. The alliance also encourages its individual chapters to organize such sessions for their local communities.
“LGBTQ people don’t necessarily have someone in their corner to help them with the home buying experience,” said Josh Pringle, 42, a gay Palm Springs resident who is vice president of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Desert Lifestyle Properties and participated in the alliance’s webinar. “If you are gay and your family doesn’t talk to you or your family has disowned you, this important decision is yours alone. There is no one to contact to buy a house.”
Ironically, Pringle has no plans to become a homeowner himself and is happy to be a tenant in the city that has long attracted LGBTQ tourists, retirees and increasingly younger members of the LGBTQ community and those who can work remotely. The average price of a single family home in the Palm Springs area is now $ 900,000 and condos are selling for around $ 500,000.
The inventory of homes for sale is extremely low, noted Pringle, whose company employs 106 people in three offices and also has divisions focused on escrow, commercial property and vacation rentals. He joined the alliance last month and loves the way it encourages its members to work closely with homebuyers, whether that’s answering their questions about the process or holding hands with people. when they are afraid to make an offer.
âWe’re taking you down the yellow brick road of buying a home,â said Pringle, who previously lived in San Francisco and worked in the fashion industry before moving to the Valley a decade ago. Coachella and enter the real estate profession.
According to published in June by the National Association of Realtors, LGBTQ buyers bought older, smaller homes than non-LGBTQ buyers and expect to live in their new home five years less than non-LGBTQ buyers. They were more likely than non-LGBTQ people to be single men and unmarried couples, and were more likely to identify as men than as women.
Bisexual buyers and sellers were more likely than other groups to be younger, to be first-time buyers or sellers, and to report lower incomes. The report found that the median selling price of homes bought by LGBTQ buyers was $ 245,000, compared to $ 268,000 for non-LGBTQ buyers, and leaned heavily towards urban areas rather than small towns or rural areas. .
Married couples made up 39% of LGBTQ buyers and sellers, while 21% of deals were made by an unmarried couple, 22% by a single man, and 15% by a single woman. The median age (42) and annual income ($ 93,200) of LGBTQ buyers and sellers were slightly lower than those of non-LGBTQ buyers and sellers ($ 46 and $ 97,000, respectively).
Forty-two percent of LGBTQ buyers were first-time home buyers, compared to just 32% of non-LGBTQ buyers. The report used aggregate data from responses from people who specified their sexual orientation to the NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers Survey from 2015 to 2020, totaling 41,950 responses. Just over 4% of all survey respondents – 1,574 people in total – identified as LGBTQ.
âReal estate is one of the biggest investments most Americans are going to make,â Thorpe said. “It is important for the creation of their wealth.”
The national homeownership rate is around 66% but is 49% among LGBTQ Americans, Thorpe noted.
âIt doesn’t make sense because the US LGBTQ economy is bigger than the countries of Australia, South Korea and Canada combined, so there is an anomaly there,â Thorpe said. “Part of the reason is that many LGBTQ Americans live in metropolitan areas where affordability is an issue. The other is education on the home buying process.”
A licensed broker in Florida, where he lives part-time in Wilton Manors with her husband, Thorpe was Regional Vice President of Better Homes and Gardens for 17 years. He recently became Vice President of International Business Development at Von Poll Immobilien / Real Estate and is based in Frankfurt, Germany, although he spends time in Torremolinos, Spain, where the couple also own a home.
âThis is the South Florida of Europe,â Thorpe said, as it attracts many LGBTQ retirees.
He was able to continue working with the alliance through virtual teleconferencing platforms such as Zoom, which is how the Bay Area Reporter contacted him on Tuesday. At one point, the organization would like to form chapters abroad, he said, as it has received requests from interested people in the UK, Spain, France and Germany.
But before it can do that, it needs to develop its benchmark platform, part of the benefits for alliance members. It’s based on zip codes and the alliance only recently completed updating its sponsorship system to include Canada, Thorpe explained.
“It must be searchable,” he said, adding of Europe, “the interest is there”.
A number of the alliance’s founders were part of the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals, which formed in 2007 and has more than 2,800 members, according to its website. It also offers a referral service for potential buyers, whether LGBTQ or heterosexual, and advocates for fairer LGBTQ housing laws at the local, state and federal levels.
Thorpe told BAR they decided to form the alliance to have a more transparent association and to attract real estate professionals who had not joined a diversity-focused group in the past. About 75% of alliance members, he said, have never been involved in an LGBTQ real estate organization before, while 10% are straight allies.
âIt resonates with so many people,â Thorpe said. âAs Hillary Clinton said, ‘It takes a village. We’ve grown tremendously and we’re doing extremely well.’
The alliance is hosting its first convention at Resorts World, the newest hotel to open in Las Vegas, September 22-24. The NAR has recently become one of its high profile sponsors.
He has also signed agreements with the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals and the Asian Real Estate Association of America to work together in the future and organize joint events between different professional groups.
âThese are firsts. They’ve never happened before,â Thorpe said. “All of our thinking is to help all communities if we work together.”
To learn more about the alliance, visit its website.
Do you have any advice on LGBTQ business news? Call Matthew S. Bajko at (415) 829-8836 or email [email protected]
Help the Bay Area Reporter keep going through these trying times. To support local, independent and LGBTQ journalism, consider becoming a BAR member.