Realtor Jeff Berger says housing discrimination against LGBT individuals has decreased dramatically. There’s still some progress to be made though, which is one of the reasons why he founded the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals [NAGLREP] in 2007.
“I wouldn’t say there’s widespread discrimination in the marketplace but there are concerns . . . just from time to time people not wanting to sell their home to same sex couples,” said Berger about the discrimination that still exists, “It’s usually more subtle. With marriage equality sweeping the nation, acceptance is becoming more mainstream.” His organization boasts support from national corporations such as Wells Fargo, Bank of America and Coldwell Banker. “There’s really a great level of acceptance, personally and corporately.”
A 2013 study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development states that gay and lesbian couples are much less likely to get a response to an inquiry about housing than heterosexual couples. “The primary form of adverse treatment is that same-sex couples receive significantly fewer responses to email inquiries about advertised units than heterosexual couples,” reads part of the study.
Along with countering discrimination, Berger also founded NAGLREP to better serve the LGBT community when it comes to issues of housing. Founded in 2007, NAGLREP has about 800 members nationwide with close to about 75 here in South Florida, from Palm Beach to the Keys. “About 15 percent of our membership is gay friendly and straight. We’re very active in the Keys but Fort Lauderdale would have the highest concentration.”
Speakers and industry leaders focused on the LGBT housing market will provide information and strategies on reaching out to the LGBT community during the 2014 National LGBT Real Estate Conference – October 14 to 16 at the Embassy Suites on 17th Street Causeway in Fort Lauderdale.
“A lot of the conference and a lot of breakout sessions focus on marketing and building your brand. While there are some advocacy things going on, it’s really a business conference,” said Berger.
Berger said many LGBT couples and individuals are looking for a realtor who is comfortable with their relationship and someone who can find them a home in close proximity to other LGBT individuals. “I believe that’s why people choose a NAGLREP member.”
That’s where the differences between LGBT and heterosexual couples end though, said Berk Boge, a realtor in the Miami area. “They’re really just people, like everybody else. They’re only different because they’re different individuals. Some are easy to deal with, some are hard to deal with.”
Boge, one of the gay friendly members of NAGLREP, said LGBT couples and individuals are looking for the same things as their counterparts, depending on the individual or couple: close proximity to great restaurants and shopping, sometimes a view of the ocean or Intracoastal and sometimes schools, for those who have children from previous marriages. “I really can’t tell the difference.”
Visit naglrep.com/conference2014 to register for the 2014 National LGBT Real Estate Conference.