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Queery: Ryan Newcomb

The suicide prevention advocate answers 20 gay questions

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Ryan Newcomb, Gay News, Washington Blade
Ryan Newcomb, Gay News, Washington Blade

Ryan Newcomb, a 27-year-old suicide prevention advocate from Fort Worth, Texas. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Ryan Newcomb knows what it’s like to work in environments that aren’t so gay friendly. Though he wasn’t out at the time, he worked as an intern, then an appointee in the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush. He also worked for the Boy Scouts of America, a position that — while he admires much of what the organization does — did get to be a problem for him over time.

“It obviously was an organization that was not OK with my sexuality,” the 27-year-old Fort Worth, Texas, native says. “I hope it will change one day and I’m excited to see the strides it has made recently because it’s an incredible organization that inspires a lot of kids to lead good lives.”

The Bush admiration started earlier — he remembers then-Gov. Bush visiting his sixth grade class, a seminal encounter that inspired him to follow and pursue politics. He says it “rocked the boat” a bit in his Democratic-leaning family. Newcomb says he wishes Bush’s gay policies had been different but “at the same time, I’m proud of having that on my resume.”

After four years away, Newcomb came back to Washington in 2010 and works now as area director for Maryland and D.C. for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (afsp.org). Although it’s not LGBT specific, Newcomb, who’s gay, says it’s time to “break the stigma” associated with suicide.

“People need to know it’s OK to seek help … and that this is not something to be ashamed of,” he says.

Newcomb is single and lives in Chevy Chase, Md., with his two dogs, Dallas and Reagan. He enjoys traveling, reading, spending time with his niece and music of all kinds in his free time.

 

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

For about four years now. The hardest person turned out to be my incredible mother. She is an amazing woman and has been a rock for me, but is coming to terms with it on her own.

 

Who’s your LGBT hero?

So many people, but my heroes are those around me who have gone through the tough times and fought the incredible fights in their own lives as individuals. My pastor, Dean Snyder, and Jeffrey Johnson (founder of D.C. Gay Flag Football League) especially.

What’s Washington’s best nightspot, past or present? 

I have to give a shout out to Doug Schantz who owns and operates Nellie’s Sports Bar, because it’s an incredible place for sports, socializing and a great time.

 

Describe your dream wedding.

In a country church with a gospel choir, tons of flowers and every seat filled with all of our loved ones. I think the relationship is more important than what the service is like, for sure.

 

What non-LGBT issue are you most passionate about?

Raising awareness and breaking the stigma around mental health issues like depression and anxiety.

 

What historical outcome would you change?

In more modern times, the assassinations and deaths of President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert who were two of the greatest leaders and thinkers our country has ever known.

 

What’s been the most memorable pop culture moment of your lifetime?

Having met several former Presidents (Bushes 41 and 43 and President Clinton) in my former political work; and meeting Joan Rivers a few years back at a White House Correspondence Brunch. She was absolutely hilarious.

 

On what do you insist?

Structure and cleanliness. But foremost, being candid and honest to everyone, always.

 

What was your last Facebook post or Tweet?

Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unaware. Hebrews 13:2

 

If your life were a book, what would the title be?

Not sure a title would be appropriate. After all, they say, “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” right?

 

If science discovered a way to change sexual orientation, what would you do?

First, I would be in disbelief. And then I would change nothing, because God made me the person that I am and I cannot ask for more than that.

 

What do you believe in beyond the physical world? 

I believe in my Christian faith and a loving God who accepts and loves all people regardless of their sexuality or color or position in life. In that, I believe in and hope for everlasting peace after this life.

 

What’s your advice for LGBT movement leaders?

Don’t ever become like the opposition. Like Nixon said, “If you hate your enemies, you can destroy yourself.”

 

What would you walk across hot coals for?

For my family, my parents, sisters, brother-in-law and my niece. And for my D.C. family, people like JJ and Randy, who are my rocks. Randy especially, has walked on coals for me, figuratively, as a friend and that means the world.

 

What LGBT stereotype annoys you most?

That you have to lose your masculinity to be a gay man.

 

What’s your favorite LGBT movie?

“Far From Heaven”

 

What’s the most overrated social custom?

I think our five-day work week in America would do well to become a four-day work week, like much of Europe. It would be healthier and better for our longevity and stress levels.

 

What trophy or prize do you most covet?

I’d love to win a political election someday, if that counts as a prize.

 

What do you wish you’d known at 18?

That it truly does “get better” and that while my life wouldn’t always be easy, every step I take is worth the good fight. And that God has a plan that is bigger than my own.

 

Why Washington?

The culture, the scenery, the history and the people.

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Real Estate

How is the 2023 real estate market starting off? 

And what we can expect in the coming months

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The year is off to an encouraging start for the local housing market.

One interesting statistic is that there was a 25% increase in weekly mortgage applications two weeks ago, according to a CNBC story I read recently. Yes, mortgage applications are down from an entire year ago, but they are starting to rebound, as the interest rates have started to soften a little bit over the past few months.  

Another interesting statistic I heard is that in the last quarter of 2022, 42% of sellers were giving concessions to buyers at the closing table, a 10-year high, according to an article in Money magazine.  

No one has that proverbial crystal ball, but it does seem like I have heard, anecdotally, from many agents that the buyers are starting to come back out into the market. They are realizing that there might be concessions they can get from the seller, they can do the home inspection, and maybe even ask for repairs or credits, and not feel like they must walk blindfolded into the housing market without some sense of confidence.

Sellers are also getting creative with attracting buyers. Some sellers are trying to find lenders that will help the potential buyer find a competitive interest rate or will offer to pay part of the buyer’s cost to buy down the rate for the first few years of the loan. Some sellers are hiring home inspectors, prior to listing their homes on the market, to do an inspection of their home and then doing the needed repairs before it even hits the market, which should provide a cleaner and smoother contract period for the buyer AND the seller.

During 2022, D.C. raised the HPAP (Home Purchase Assistance Program) amounts.  Those who qualify to use the program for down payment assistance can get thousands of dollars more for their down payment, and the income limits were raised also, meaning more people qualify to use the program.

As we all know, a lot can change over a year, but Q1 2023 seems like it is starting off with a busier real estate market than the last quarter of 2022. Buyers seem to feel more confident to get back into the market, and many sellers are willing to work with all types of buyers to get their homes under contract, sold, and to move forward with their lives.

If you have any questions about these programs or thoughts about moving into the market in 2023, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Joseph Hudson is a Realtor with the Rutstein Group of Compass. Reach him at 703-587-0597 or [email protected].

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Real Estate

Spring market readiness: buyer’s edition

Get ready for more inventory and faster sales

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The spring market technically gets underway next month.

Here in the D.C. metro area there are historically two cyclical “busy” times in the market. Spring market, which falls between February through June/July, and fall market, which is around August until about November. Honestly, the D.C. metro market is historically always pretty active, however the spring and fall markets are those times where we see an increase in inventory, open houses attendance, open house traffic and properties selling quicker. As we are heading into the spring market time (historically begins after the Super Bowl, aka the Rihanna concert for my non-sports folks that is Feb. 12) I wanted to go over a few tips to do NOW in order to make sure you are ready to go.

PICK A QUALIFIED REAL ESTATE AGENT

It is vital to work with a real estate agent that you can trust. I often tell my clients that we are about to get real intimate and basically start dating. The home buying process involves many late night phone calls, weekends spent driving around looking at properties and learning truly what a client wants. For this very reason you should feel comfortable with your agent. You need someone who will speak your language as well as speak the language of negotiating and get you into a home.

Where do you start looking for a real estate professional? For starters, I am sure you know one real estate agent in D.C., but if you don’t, look to friends and family. Ask if they know of a great Realtor and then go from there. It’s not always the agents that are plastered all over bus stops or grocery carts that you should gravitate to; do some homework and seek an agent who writes for the Washington Blade, was voted Best DC Realtor by the Washington Blade readers (aka me – and this is totally a joke – maybe).

PRE-APPROVAL

This is almost more important than selecting a real estate agent. Find a lender who will fight for you. One thing as a listing agent that I love to see is when a buyer’s lender calls me when a purchase offer is submitted to tell me how wonderfully well qualified their clients (aka you) are and that they will fight to keep the transaction on the estimated timeline. This illustrates that you have a team behind you that supports you and your goal of purchasing a home. When I get a call from a buyer’s agent that they have submitted an offer for their clients and this is why they are the most well-qualified buyers and love the home right before I get a call from a lender who speaks highly of their buyer clients and the buyer’s agent — chef’s kiss — it truly does make a difference.

Where do you start looking for a lender? Well once you meet an amazing real estate agent, ask who they would recommend. Please note that we as real estate professionals are not allowed to receive any kickbacks from lenders or service providers. I always provide a list of lenders that I have worked with in the past that have performed well – it’s your duty to research and speak to those lenders, and more, in order to select the one that is best suited for you.

UNDERSTAND YOUR CURRENT LEASE

This is one that is often overlooked. You should have a look over your current lease. Reviewing your lease will give you timeline info as to when you can start your search and what timeframes you are working with. For example, if you are on a month-to-month lease currently then you can begin your home search now. You will need to give your current landlord a 30-day notice that will likely line up with a 30-day closing period, which is pretty standard here in the D.C. metro market. If you have a lease with a few months left, it’s important to understand what a possible lease break would look like from a financial perspective or if you are not willing to break your lease then it will give you a timeframe of when you can start the home buying process.

DON’T LOSE SIGHT OF THE GOAL

This is super important. While the market has changed in the past few months, we are still not out of the water completely. The ripple effect of COVID and the constraints on the housing market will be seen for a while longer. While you might not have 15 offers on a home it’s likely you could still expect two or three. Even though we are heading into the spring market where there is historically an increase in inventory, we are in such a shortage currently that it’s even more vital now than ever before to ensure you are ready to rock and roll.

The home buying process can truly be a fun process. By following the steps above and ensuring that you are well equipped and positioned to start off the spring real estate market there is little doubt that you will meet your goal of becoming a homeowner this year.

Justin Noble is a Realtor with Sotheby’s international Realty licensed in D.C., Maryland, and Delaware for your DMV and Delaware Beach needs. Specializing in first-time homebuyers, development and new construction as well as estate sales, Justin is a well-versed agent, highly regarded, and provides white glove service at every price point. Reach him at 202-503-4243,   [email protected] or BurnsandNoble.com.

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Real Estate

Affordable home renovations for successful selling

From paint to floors, a few simple fixes to boost value

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Refreshing your home’s paint job can add instant value.

Without question, the 2023 housing market is off to a slow start, particularly in comparison to the red-hot market that existed during the pandemic. This can understandably be discouraging for those who need to sell their home and hope to obtain a favorable offer. The good news is that one constant truth about the housing market is that it will change – eventually. In the meantime, there are steps that hopeful sellers can take to increase the value of their homes and their chances of obtaining the offer that they want. 

One step that some sellers consider is making minor upgrades or renovations that will increase the sale value of their home. This leads to the question – what are some fairly easy upgrades a homeowner can make without breaking the bank that may be appealing to potential buyers? Let’s take a look at a few options together.

Refresh the paint: This is a simple and very cost-effective option for giving your home a new, fresh look. A quick coat of paint can truly work wonders. It helps the home look brighter, cleaner, and newer, and can be appealing to the eye of many potential buyers. When considering which colors to choose, it’s important to keep in mind that selecting more traditional, neutral colors is often advisable. After all, you don’t know what a potential buyer may like, so choosing colors that appeal to many and are more subdued may be a wise choice. You may want to also consider repainting the trim and the ceilings to complete the fresh new look.

Make some easy kitchen upgrades: Many have heard that upgrading the kitchen is one of the most popular renovations to a home and one with the best return on investment. As the kitchen is often the hub of the house, this is certainly true. The good news is that homeowners often need not do a complete and expensive kitchen renovation to get some bang for their buck. Some more simple tasks like upgrading older appliances to newer ones, changing out light fixtures, or repainting cabinets and adding new hardware may go a long way toward increasing your kitchen’s appeal to potential buyers.

Landscaping: Landscaping is the literal “curb appeal” that many homeowners need to give their house that extra sparkle to attract potential buyers. Upgrading your landscaping may sound intimidating at first, but it can truly be a cost-effective option for increasing the value of your home. It may be worthwhile to pay for a consultation with a landscaper regarding some steps you can take to increase your home’s appeal from the outside. Often these options can be very simple – things like removing debris, planting a few shrubs here and there, pruning trees, and other similar tasks. After all, the first step to getting a buyer to appreciate the inside of your home is to draw them in from the outside.

Refinish hardwood floors: While replacing your flooring entirely is an expensive and time-consuming process, the good news is that refinishing your floors is a fairly simple and cost-effective option for increasing your home’s appeal. It can add extra shine and a little bit of wow factor, without breaking the bank. 

These are only a few options of many for cost-effectively updating your home. Regardless of the market conditions, there are always steps that potential sellers can take to add to the appeal of their home and hopefully catch the eye of potentially interested buyers. Another important step that sellers can always take is consulting with a knowledgeable and experienced real estate agent who knows their particular community and what attracts buyers in that community.  At GayRealEstate.com, we are here to help you find the perfect agent to achieve your real estate goals.

At GayRealEstate.com We’re Here for You

The current real estate market may seem intimidating to those hoping to sell their home for the best possible price – and that’s understandable. While it may be intimidating, however, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By marketing your home well, investing wisely in renovations and staging, and finding the right real estate agent, you can greatly increase your chances of obtaining a favorable offer, even in a difficult market. 

At GayRealEstate.com, we’re here to help you find that real estate agent. You need and deserve an agent who understands the unique needs of LGBTQ home buyers and sellers, and who understands the market in your local community. If you’re ready to get started, get in touch with us today. We look forward to learning how we can help. 

Jeff Hammerberg is founding CEO of Hammerberg & Associates, Inc. Reach him at 303-378-5526 or [email protected].

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