Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Orlando LGBT Relocation Considerations:

I am not a cultural anthropologist, nope, just a gay Realtor.  In the 33 years I've been "out of the closet" and the 15 years I've been in real estate sales, I've noticed that our community has distinctly different search criteria than the majority culture when shopping for properties.  Regardless of ethnicity, religion, income or education, our community is fairly predictable in house hunting matters.

My LGBT RELO client's generally itemize their list accordingly. 
  1. Acceptance 
  2. Location
  3. Safety
  4. Potential: The "next" up and coming area 
  5. Affordability
  6. Convenience
  7. LGBT friendly resources and services: doctors, dentists, attorney's, etc.
  8. Restaurants, bars, coffee shops
  9. Gyms, outdoor space, parks, recreational areas
  10. Community standing and reputation of area

My RELO list for non-LGBT consumers. 

  1. Location
  2. Affordability
  3. Schools
  4. Safety
  5. Convenience
  6. Employment
  7. Traffic/Commute
  8. Shopping
  9. Restaurants, bars
  10. Outdoor space and parks

The two biggies not showing up on either Top 10 list is Acceptance, which is #1 on the LGBT list and Employment options, which doesn't show on the LGBT list until #11. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Not Married-No Will-Now What?

Client Died Last Friday, Partner Left In Limbo!!!!
 
 
I write this post with a heavy heart.  I learned this morning that one of my clients died on Friday...I heard this from his partner. 
 
The partner never held ownership interest in the property, he just lived there for many years and contributed to the care, maintenance and house payments without securing a place on the title or deed. 
 
Now his partner is gone, and he has no idea if there is a Will or any other legal documentation protecting his interests.
 
I say this to all of my LGBT brothers and sisters...please, please, please, whether you are single or coupled, have your legal paperwork in place! If you are coupled and don't have anything protecting each other from tragedies, you are playing with fire. 
 
Life happens.  Life happens all of the time.  Partners die all the time, and if it happens to be your partner and if your partners family learn you have not been named anywhere as an heir, what do you think happens next? We live in Florida. We do not have the right to marry as of this date 12/17/14. Wills are not romantic and it's really not a fun conversation to have, but you must have it and act.
 
If you have no legal documentation, Wills, etc., contact an attorney!  If you don't know an attorney, my partner and I use Mary Meeks, who is a well known LGBT attorney in Orlando.  I get nothing from plugging Mary Meeks, she's just a damn good attorney.
 


Thursday, December 4, 2014

My Favorite Orlando Neighborhoods: From a Gay Realtor's Perspective

Orlando has lots of great areas, we all know that, but I happen to have a few favorites and I like each of them for different reasons.

When we first moved to Orlando years ago I thought we were moving to the land of "Bubba", where the confederate flag still waves and all pickup trucks wielded a gun rack.  I was so wrong, thank god.


The first city neighborhood we encountered was Thornton Park.  The rainbow flags, cobblestone streets, beautiful old houses and cool little restaurants immediately told us that we, as a gay couple, will be just fine in Orlando.  I, of course, fell in love with Thornton Park, but my partner, who is much more practical preferred to NOT have a project house.  Master Suites, huge closets, newish, great rooms, etc., is what he wanted, and he also wanted to be fairly close to his job, which in hindsight made total sense.  So, we didn't move to Thornton Park, but it's still in my personal top 5 favorites and it's number 1 for charm.

My next favorite is DT Orlando.  Full disclosure, I always wanted to be the young gay version of Mary Tyler Moore living DT USA somewhere, but I never did it, and to this day I regret that decision.  I like the vibe DT offers, with its walkable streets, restaurants, Lake Eola park, night life and beautiful condos!  The only thing it's missing is a decent department store of some sort, otherwise it's nearly perfect.  This ranks number 1 for active social life and LGBT activities. 



Lake Nona, which is technically the City of Orlando but feels and functions as a suburb, is my favorite suburban community.  I like this area for a few reasons, such as green space, investment opportunity and location.  First, the green space...trees, trails, little neighborhood parks, golfing, bike lanes, etc., make it extremely friendly for those of us who like to be active outdoors.  Second is the promise and opportunity of Medical City, which is already bringing high paying jobs to the region and still offers good value for housing.  The last reason is the proximity to DT (20 minutes for me), OIA, the attractions (20 minutes from Disney) and the Atlantic Ocean, which is 35 minutes away.  My partner and I live here, and what's really great is we are not alone in the LGBT realm.  This ranks number 1 for outdoor living.


Of course College Park is on my list!  Being able to walk or bike to shopping, eating and drinking establishments is a little slice of heaven in my world! Who doesn't like that?  And yet the houses are still affordable AND, depending on condition, you can still get a fairly good deal on a fixer.  This ranks number 1 for convenience.

My final choice is Colonial Town...North & South.  I think this area is ripe for being the next up and coming location in Orlando.  We are here at least twice a month gobbling up Vietnamese food then heading to the Milk District for a drink, or two.  Everything is here.  Shopping, restaurants, some super cool mid-century modern houses complete with terrazzo flooring...everything!  Sprinkle a little bit of "fairy dust"on a fixer and watch what happens.  This ranks number 1 for potential/opportunity.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Back Yard Before and After in Lake Nona, Orlando, Florida

Back Yard Before and After 


Don't be afraid to try your hand at remodeling and design, especially with real estate!  Express yourself, show off your ideas, be creative...chances are you'll be rewarded with immediate equity.

In an earlier article I showed my kitchen, before and after, on an inexpensive budget.  The same frugile budgeting took place on the planning and design for the back yard space.  Below is BEFORE we undertook our yard transformation.



Fortunately, both of us are very handy and familiar with power tools, so we immediately saved thousands of dollars on labor costs by building, and designing, the wood pergola ourselves.  Here is the AFTER picture showing the same space.


The tumbled stone wall and kitchen was designed by us, but we hired someone to do the work since neither of us have the skill to do quality paver and stone work.  The wood table was designed and built by us, too...all lumber was special order solid cedar from Southern Pines Lumber, rough cut, and absolutely beautiful.  The stain is a 3 step process with a product called Sikkens.  Below is a picture of me working on the finishing details.



The yard needed many loads of crushed concrete to elevate the lot from the somewhat steep drop in grade.  The posts are 8 x 8 solid cedar buried in two feet of concrete and rebar.


Including the patio furniture, wood, pavers, grill, fridge, paver labor, trees and all other supplies, we spent a small chunk of money on this back yard transformation, even when doing most work ourselves.   A recent appraisal estimated this outdoor living room, kitchen and dining room space at $34,000...and it only cost us 1/3 that amount.


I am always happy to help clients, or anyone, on how to transform bank owned/REO's properties on a tight budget!

Gay Orlando Realestate 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How To Buy A Brand New House with No Savings or Down Payment in Orlando, Fl

How To Buy A House With No Savings or Down Payment


Outside the immediate city and suburbs of Orlando, Florida, there is a type of financing called USDA, which is zero down.  Most builders still want an earnest money deposit (good faith deposit) of $1,000, but that is credited back at closing.

Areas of Apopka, Haines City, Clermont, Wedgefield, Kissimmee, Groveland, Clermont, St. Cloud, Deltona & Davenport, etc., have new home builders accepting this financing.   Enter address to see if a specific area is eligible.



Additionally, I've been getting closing costs paid and appliance packages included in the transaction for my clients!  (FYI, if you want the best deals buying new construction, always have a Realtor negotiating on your behalf...you'll likely get a much better deal.)

If you don't have 3.5% down for FHA or 3%-5% down payment for Conventional, this is a terrific option.

Take a look at the link below for more information, and if you want to actually talk to a live person about this type of loan, I'd be happy to give you my Orlando contacts.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Is The Death of The Gay Ghetto Imminent?

Long before Stonewall, a few large cities had areas and pockets where gay and lesbians settled, informally, but even then people had to be careful of their actions, movements and associations.  Following Stonewall, the LGBT community discovered their collective power and began to demand equality, not just the right to hang out in a club or bar without being arrested on morals charges, but the right to be seen and live where we wish. In this spirit, the era of the Gayborhood or Gay Ghetto was formed. 

The 1970’s and 1980’s saw this trend spread throughout the country, and soon many places, small and large, had areas where LGBT people settled. Gay men and women flocked to these neighborhoods for safety, opportunity and camaraderie.  These areas were not the gentrified areas of town; far from it, they were usually the forgotten and wayward…dilapidated and run down were the common characteristics.  

The 1990’s and 2000’s found these areas and neighborhoods as transformed, gentrified and sought after. In fact, many of these areas are home to the affluent in their respective cities.



Actually, our history isn’t that different from other minority groups in U.S. history.  Like the others before us, we sought areas to live, out of necessity, community and safety, but after greater acceptance by the majority, the need to stay together began to wane. 

That brings us to today.  Are Gayborhoods still forming, and if so, are they relevant?  Where can LGBT men and women find the ubiquitous Rainbow Flag and HRC symbols? In essence, where do we all live?  

Of course, exceptions are everywhere, particularly in the south and Midwest. If you travel too far from an urban center, it can still be a somewhat unwelcoming, and in some instances, a hostile experience. Fortunately, the wind of change is blowing in our favor, particularly with gay marriage and broader LGBT acceptance and political power.
That said, what’s true for Minneapolis and Orlando might not be the case for Cheyenne or Montgomery or Paducah. The stark reality is this: being openly gay in some parts of this country can still be down right dangerous. 

So, is the Gay Ghetto still relevant?  If you are circumspect or frightened of being who you are within your community, I’d say Yes, it’s still relevant. 

But if you are lucky to live in an area which supports fairness and equality, you might just decide it’s OK to live where ever you wish, without the safety of having LGBT brothers and sisters as neighbors.  Personally, this evolution is a bit sad, but it’s ultimately tremendous progress, isn’t it? 

Time will no doubt tell the story of the Gayborhood and Gay Ghetto, but one thing we do know, they empowered us and saved us from 24/7 misery and discrimination, and for that, I will be forever grateful.

Gay Orlando Realestate

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Debunking LGBT Myths About Orlando, FL

Each year, Orlando Gay Day's attracts 170,000+ folks from all over the world, and this year, Orlando Gay Pride hosted 135,000+ during the annual October celebration.

Disney, Universal, I.T., Medical, Hospitality and start ups all thrive in Orlando, and while the community enhances and nurtures creativity, the climate and business environment make living here very comfortable.

The image of "Bubba" or "Good Ole Boy's" riding around our communities bashing LGBT doesn't exist.  That said, I think a two hour drive away from any urban center in the United States is vastly different, in terms of attitudes and beliefs, than what we find living near D.T. USA.  Orlando is no different.

If you are considering purchasing a second home, vacation condo or plan to relocate or retire in a warm climate, I strongly encourage you to consider Orlando.  Politically friendly and safe, affordable real estate prices, no state income tax, fabulous climate and gads of things to do 24/7 365.

Gay Orlando Realestate

Thursday, October 23, 2014

#1 LGBT Realtor in Orlando, FL: Introduction to College Park

This neighborhood is one of Orlando's most popular and consistently sought after areas, and the prices tend to reflect the reality.  When you walk along Edgewater Drive near Princeton St., you'll find numerous restaurants, shops and services all within walking or biking distance for College Park property owners.

Gentrifying, but not in a stuffy or pretentious way, a College Park home search will show varied prices with the more expensive properties overlooking lakes or closer to Edgewater, Princeton and Smith Streets, which is the main commercial area.  

General map of College Park, Orlando, FL, loosely defines the area boundary as Colonial Ave. (s), Orange Blossom Trail (w), I-4 (e) and Minnesota Ave. to the north.  Depending on which side of College Park you live, one can easily bike to D.T. Orlando or head over to Lake Eola Heights and Thornton Park, which are two other popular neighborhoods with gads of rainbow flag/ HRC stickers.

Please feel free to share your list of popular LGBT neighborhoods, communities and subdivisions in the Orlando area!

Gay Orlando Realestate




Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Little Creativity Goes A Long Way With Orlando REO'S & Short Sale Homes

Cash is low and your kitchen needs work...now what?
KITCHEN BEFORE 

My partner and I bought this house in 2009, which was an approved short sale, and as you can see the kitchen was an after thought, at best.  Builder basic everything...
We didn't have the funds to spend vast amounts of money on this room since every space in the house needed updating.
Full disclosure: I loathe Honey Oak finishes.  It's ubiquitous where I grew up, in the upper Midwest, and I am sick of seeing it.
Since the cabinets are cheap, I couldn't physically sand them.  I found a carpenter who used a chemical sanding process to lift the finish then he sprayed with dye instead of stain.  The process went like this: chemical sanding, sand paper smoothing, dye, lacquer, sanding, lacquer and that is it. 
I didn't like the "boxy" look of the island, so I ordered large, decorative legs online and had the carpenter install them, which made the island 11 feet rather than 10.  He also built the cabinet above the fridge and built the doors for the island...he also installed the hardware, which we purchased at IKEA for $12 dollars a pair. That refinishing and construction portion of the project cost $1,700.  The granite slab, counters and back splash added another $3,300...we have $5,000 into this facelift + $2,500 for the new appliances, which are Jenn Air scratch and dent.

KITCHEN AFTER
If you don't like the dark finish, which is what we like, you can actually find any color...we could've done the island one color and the wall cabinets something else, which is what we had done with a house we once owned.
Don’t be afraid of creativity!  Transforming the ugly into something lovely is one of the ways to build equity in real estate.  These improvements add real value.  One year after purchasing this house in 2009 we took advantage of low interest rates and refinanced.  Because of this kitchen, we went from 3.5% equity to 21%, which removed our mortgage insurance and substantially cut our house payment.
Call me if you ever want to find something like this for your own personal project.

Gay Orlando Realestate




Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Property Ownership for LGBT Couples in Orlando, FL

How Should My Partner and I Title Our New Home?


Every LGBT couple I have worked with since 2001 asks the same question, and since I am not an attorney, I can only share what has worked for my family.

Since marriage is still not an option for gay couples in Florida, my partner and I purchase real estate as Joint Tenants in Common with Right of Survivorship, which allows for survivorship rights.  This is not 100%, however, so it's very important to get your legal house in order, pun intended, to avoid a legal nightmare.

In Orlando, we have wonderful LGBT Community Leaders, and one of them, Mary Meeks,  is a well known attorney who's been fighting for Marriage Equality in Florida for years.  http://www.marymeekslaw.com 

We've used Mary on several occasions, the most recent was updating our Living Wills, Wills and Medical Directives.  

When in doubt about LGBT legal issues, call an LGBT attorney.







Buyer, Seller Real Estate Information & Tips In Orlando, Fl

Buyer, Seller Real Estate Information & Tips In Orlando, Fl

Gay Orlando Realestate

Medical Building Proposed Near East Park: Lake Nona Area

Medical Building Proposed Near East Park: Lake Nona Area

Is Storey Park the next Lake Nona?

Is Storey Park the next Lake Nona?