“Location, location, location” can sometimes be a little too much like the expression “water, water, everywhere – but not a drop to drink” for those real estate shoppers who want to ensure that they own a home in a gay-friendly neighborhood. There are tons of houses on the market right now, and buying opportunities are fantastic. In fact, the inventory of bargain priced homes for sale is larger and more diversified than it has been in decades.

But the question in the mind of most GLBT buyers is whether or not the location of the property is also adequately and appropriately diversified. Before making the biggest and most important purchase and investment of a lifetime, it helps to know whether or not the money is going into a neighborhood that will not only support the value of the real estate but also the values and lifestyle of the homeowner.

Before buying any property, anywhere, it is always advisable to get to know the area ahead of time, with firsthand experience and personal observation. Spend as much time as possible walking the streets near the house or condo and meeting people, because once the home is purchased those strangers will likely be the welcoming committee, the fellow condo association voters, and your new next door neighbors.

Use the opportunity of face to face contact with locals and neighbors to dig deeper, even it means asking rather candid, straightforward questions. Negative responses to inquiries about gay and lesbian subjects can be the most informative of all – even if they do ruffle your feathers – because that kind of reaction is usually just the tip of the iceberg in terms of a deeper and more insidious bigotry. Before setting up house in a community find out for sure whether or not there are any other GLBT residents, organizations, small businesses, newspapers, arts groups, and so forth. Scan the message boards in local cafes and bookstores, look for GLBT community papers and magazines, or do research on the Internet. One of the best sources of information is GLBT travel guide books. They may not explain real estate market specifics, but they do list the addresses and neighborhoods of a wide range of GLBT businesses and attractions. If the community assets and resources you seek are conspicuous by their absence, it may be time to start house hunting elsewhere.

But keep in mind that you may also be pleasantly surprised. One lesbian couple we know moved to what they thought was a nice town, but then found it hard to locate the city’s GLBT underground scene. Feeling isolated and somewhat desperate they finally asked a neighbor where they might go to find the GLBT underground, and the neighbor just laughed. “We don’t have a gay underground because we brought it out of the closet years ago. The whole town is a GLBT scene so stop trying to uncover it and just get out there and enjoy!” They bought a home and have lived happily (above ground) ever since.

Using a qualified Realtor who is an active member of the GLBT community is one of the best ways to zone-in on gay enclaves. But many homebuyers make the mistake of assuming that just because their Realtor has a rainbow decal on their car, they are automatically familiar with the local gay community. Or they take it for granted that every gay-friendly real estate agent is an experienced professional who fully understands the nuances of the local market. Rather than making broad assumptions, interview agents and chose those who impress you with their depth of knowledge and expertise – both in terms of the housing market and in regards to the GLBT community and social network. Work with one who demonstrates competence and with whom you have a good rapport, because the key to a successful working relationship with a Realtor is excellent two-way communication.

One of the benefits of finding and working with an especially qualified and resourceful Realtor who has connections to the GLBT community is that they can, in turn, introduce you to an entire network of other professionals in the area. Through her or him you can soon get the names and phone numbers of mortgage brokers, insurance agents, home inspectors, contractors, and attorneys who can also provide needed guidance and helpful advice.

GLBT home buyers can effectively fine tune their real estate “Gay-dar” by performing a small amount of due diligence background research in these easy ways. The process of exploring a neighborhood to check out the attitudes of those who live and work there does not have to take time or cost money. Not doing adequate investigation, however, can have extremely costly repercussions – both personally and financially – and can turn a dream home into a major disappointment or outright nightmare.

To find quality real estate experts serving the GLBT community, visit www.GayRealEstate.com. These agents and brokers take pride in helping clients find homes in neighborhoods they enjoy within communities they love. Toll Free phone number 1-888-420-MOVE (6683).

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Jeffery Hammerberg is Founder and President of Gay Real Estate, Inc. – the nation’s largest group of companies connecting gay & lesbian home buyers and sellers to gay, lesbian and gay friendly real estate agents. Since 1997, Hammerberg has created a virtual real estate marketplace for the LGBT community.

Photo credit: www.GayRealEstate.com.