Connect with us

Real Estate

Protecting the American Dream of homeownership

D.C. law bars housing bias in wide array of categories

Published

on

homeownership, gay news, Washington Blade
Looking for a home? D.C. law protects you from discrimination based on a wide range of categories.

Monday, as we commemorate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I am reminded of his most famous speech of Aug. 28, 1963.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

When I hear, “I have a dream,” I automatically associate it with The American Dream of homeownership, which so many of us take for granted. If you have a job, a good credit score and a bit of cash, you can buy a home no matter what you look like, where you come from, or who you pray to (or not). But it wasn’t always like that.

One of the most important legislative initiatives, The Civil Rights Act of 1964, ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. 

Then in 1968, shortly after the assassination of Dr. King, President Lyndon Johnson signed The Fair Housing Act as a tribute to King’s work in the Civil Rights Movement. The act prohibited housing discrimination based on race, color, religion and national origin, and in 1974, sex was added to the list.

In 1988, President Ronald Regan signed The Fair Housing Amendments Act, which added handicap (physical or mental) and familial status (pregnant woman or a parent or guardian of children under the age of 18) to the list of classes protected by law from discrimination, bringing the total to seven. 

Those of us who are members of the National Association of Realtors must follow a strict code of ethics that prohibits discrimination. We complete fair housing refresher courses every two years and there are even testers, who play the role of a buyer on the phone or at an open house to ensure that we are adhering to fair housing principles.

Although the seven national protected classes haven’t changed, most states have added a few more over time. I’ve been licensed in California, Washington, Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia and I have to say that D.C. has the most progressive and inclusive protections against housing discrimination of any state I know. 

In addition to the national protected classes, The District of Columbia Human Rights Act of 1977, as amended, adds 11 more. Age, marital status and sexual orientation are three that are also common in other states, but we have some that people may not be aware of. 

The family responsibilities category builds on familial status and protects those who are supporting any person in a dependent relationship, such as a child, grandchild, or parent. 

Whether you wear the blue jersey, the red one, the green one, or some independent color, you cannot be discriminated against for your political affiliation.

Don’t want to lease your property to a large group of unrelated people? Be careful. If they are enrolled in a college, university, or secondary school, then they are covered by the matriculation protected class.

Source of income is another protected category, so money from a parental co-signer, a trust fund, or even a Russian oligarch is good here.

If you live in mom’s basement in Chevy Chase or do most of your work at Starbucks on Capitol Hill, the geographic location of your place of residence or business cannot be used to discriminate against you. 

Are you tattooed, pierced, underweight, overweight, clad in a leather harness and chaps, or looking fabulous in a pink wig and stilettos? Good news! You cannot be discriminated against because of your personal appearance.

D.C. has taken a decidedly broadminded and compassionate stance by adding the two most recent protected categories: gender-related identity or expression, appearance or behavior that is different from what you are assigned at birth and victim of an intra-family offense, one who was subjected to domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.

Now, I’m betting that anyone can fit into at least one of the preceding categories, but just in case, I’ve added a few of my own.

Most anyone who owns a puppy, kitty, or other furry animal will tell you his pet is part of the family, so much like familial status and family responsibilities, furparents should be a protected class.

Hip hop or opera, country or smooth jazz, showtunes or go-go, nobody should be discriminated against for the type of music that brings them joy.

And finally, whether it’s Kimmel, Colbert, Corben, Fallon, Myers, Maher, Noah, Oliver, or the cast of Weekend Update, discrimination based on your preference of late-night television host will be strictly prohibited.

Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland and Virginia and Director of Education & Mentorship at RLAH Real Estate. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.  

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real Estate

Investing in real estate: What you need to know

From REITs to flips, tips for getting started

Published

on

In many cases, buying or selling a home is a very personal experience. Many people buy a home with the intention of living there – making memories, building a family, becoming part of a community. The same is true of sellers. Selling a home, in many cases, is simultaneously difficult and exciting – it means the ending of one chapter and the beginning of another. While the majority of buying and selling experiences may be personal – increasingly, others in the market are interested in real estate not just to find a home, but also to make a great investment.

In our current market, it’s easy to see why real estate can often end up being quite a profitable investment. In 2021, sellers often saw huge profits on the sale of real estate – but even in years where profits aren’t quite as significant as this year, real estate has often proven to be a sound and reliable long-term investment strategy. Real estate investments can add diversification to your portfolio, and a very successful venture, particularly if you buy and sell when the circumstances are right.

Over the last several years, many gay neighborhoods around the country have shown steady appreciation, leading investors, and particularly LGBTQ investors, to consider whether the time is right to consider adding real estate to their investment portfolio. For those considering real estate as an investment strategy, here are a few helpful tips:

• Consider REITs: For those just getting started with real estate investment, Real Estate Investment Trusts, or “REITs” for short, might be a good option. These provide the opportunity to invest in real estate without owning the physical real estate yourself. They are often compared to mutual funds, and you invest in a company, a REIT, which owns commercial real estate like office buildings, apartments, hotels, and retail spaces. Generally, REITs pay high dividends, which make them a popular investment in retirement, as well as for investors not wanting to own one particular piece of property.

• Consider investing in rental properties: Rental income can often be a steady, reliable source of income if you do your due diligence researching the property itself, the surrounding neighborhood, and the potential community of renters. While maintaining a rental property will certainly require some investment of time and energy on your part, it can be a profitable long-term investment and one that is appealing to many people.

• Put your skills to work: If you have a skill set that includes being able to renovate and upgrade homes – or if you know a trusted person or team of people who does, flipping a home that could use some renovation can be quite a profitable investment indeed. Getting a home that could use some extra TLC at a good price and updating it can result in a sales price that is significantly higher than the purchase price. This can certainly be a very good investment – and a fulfilling project too.

• Be willing to listen and learn: When trying something new, it is almost always helpful to talk to those with experience in that area. Investing in real estate is no different. Having a mentor who can give you some tips and advice from their own experience is invaluable.

• Get to know the neighborhood: When making any real estate decision, whether you’re going to live in a home yourself or purchase property for investment purposes, knowing the neighborhood and community you’re interested in is important. A key part of that will be finding a real estate agent who knows and loves the community that you’re interested in, and who understands the market in that area. This can make all the difference between a smooth and successful process, and a stressful one.

(At GayRealEstate.com, we are dedicated to our mission of connecting LGBTQ home buyers and sellers with talented, knowledgeable, and experienced real estate agents across the country who can help them to achieve their real estate goals. Whether you’re interested in buying or selling a home that you live in personally, or buying and selling for investment purposes, we can connect you with an agent who knows and loves the community, and who can help you achieve your goals. Contact us at any time. We look forward to helping you soon.)

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

Continue Reading

Real Estate

Dining without a dining room

Today’s hosts are likely more casual than in the past

Published

on

The large formal dining room is a thing of the past. Here are some tips for a more modest Thanksgiving set up.

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, you may be thinking about gathering your loved ones and kindred spirits to celebrate the positive things in your life, praise your higher power, pay homage to indigenous people, or just stuff your face and fall asleep in front of the television at the traditional Thanksgiving after-party: the football game.

Thinking back to my childhood, I remember the wonderful smells coming from the kitchen. The elegant table in the formal dining room was adorned with a crisp, white tablecloth, “the good china,” sterling silver place settings, a variety of serving dishes for the forthcoming bounty, and a cornucopia centerpiece containing dried fruits and vegetables.

My dad, Ozzie, would carve the turkey and my mom, Harriet, would bring out the pecan and mincemeat pies for dessert…wait a minute…did I really grow up in a 1950s sitcom? Yup, I did, although Ozzie was Don and Harriet was Grayce.

Sometimes we would visit my maternal grandparents in Maine, whose formal dining room was less so – an extended part of the living room in the 1940s version of an open floor plan in their three-bedroom apartment over the general store and gas station that my grandfather owned.

On occasion, we would go to Massachusetts to spend a day or two with my paternal grandmother and her extended clan. There was nothing “formal” about the dining room there. Dinner took place on a litany of card tables set up on the jalousied porch off the kitchen.

When dinner was over, my grandmother would rise from the head of the table and declare, “I made the dinner. Now you do the dishes.” My father and his sisters would scurry like baby chicks to adhere to her demand.

As I grew older, I rarely lived near family. Every so often, I would be invited to dinner as the obligatory guest – the girlfriend of whatever young man I was seeing at the time. Later, I would become part of the restaurant holiday dining crowd.

For several years, I had a standing date with a good friend for dinner and a movie on Thanksgiving Day. We would choose restaurants that advertised dishes like Lobster Thermador, Champagne Ravioli, or Boeuf Bourguignon, but would invariably select the traditional turkey dinner with dressing and all the trimmings from the prix fixe menu.

Fast-forward to 2020 and we may not have gathered at all, content to have Whole Foods or Door Dash deliver Thanksgiving dinner to be eaten in front of the television while watching Hallmark movies.

Now here we are. The formal dining room has gone the way of the good china and the sterling silver. For most of us, they are simply not necessities in our lives any longer. So how do you host a dinner party when there is no room specifically designated for dining?

First, you don’t need to purchase things you have no room to store later. Although “rent” can be a four-letter word to a real estate agent, a party rental company’s website allows you to select items online and have them delivered and removed at a fraction of the cost.

Are you trying to seat a large group for dinner? Let’s start with the premise that all your guests do not need to be at a banquet table. Consider having several tables for two or four placed around the room. It will give you the ambiance of your favorite bistro and still allow for conversation among your guests.

You can also rent folding chairs, linens, place settings, and stemware. Once your order arrives, just set the tables and add candles or your favorite centerpieces to complete a festive look.

If you have no room for a seated event, you can order standing cocktail tables. Your breakfast bar or kitchen counter will make a perfect buffet line.

Better yet, have an open house, inviting guests at slightly different times so you see everyone without feeling like you’re in the middle of a crowded concert.

Is your style even more casual? Rather than worrying about recycling plastic cups and sporks, pick up a bunch of Oftast dinner or dessert plates for 79 cents each at Ikea. Add a 6-pack of Svalka wine glasses and cutlery service for four from the Mopsig collection for $5 each. Pull out some pillows and eat while sitting cross-legged on the floor surrounded by family and friends.

Some of us may have trouble getting back up, but we’ll be in perfect position to fall asleep during the football game.

Valerie M. Blake is a licensed Associate Broker in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia with RLAH Real Estate. Call or text her at 202-246-8602, email her via DCHomeQuest.com, or follow her on Facebook at TheRealst8ofAffairs.

Continue Reading

Real Estate

How has the meaning of ‘home’ changed during COVID?

People want peace — a place to get away from it all

Published

on

Many buyers are still looking for space in a new home.

During the pandemic, “Home” must have taken on different meanings for many people.  As was reported often in the news, many people found themselves dissatisfied with the home they bought before the pandemic, and now, several months or a year and a half later, the home that was meant to be for dinner, sleeping, and the occasional breakfast was now frequently central operations for a squad of 4-6 people, 24 hours a day, all working, zooming, streaming, in class, learning how to cut their own hair online, looking up recipes online because they were tired of the same five meals they have had for four months at a time, and the balcony that was nice to have for a Friday evening glass of Sauvignon Blanc at sunset was now not enough for Mom, Dad, the 3-year-old and the baby on the way.  

So off they went to find a new “home” and then put the old home on the market. But now that older home is sitting, getting showings but no offers. Did they make a mistake? Are they now going to have two mortgage payments? Well, probably not indefinitely. What I am seeing is that home purchasers were quick to pull a trigger and go aggressively after the new home that was going to be the solution to all their woes, but the buyers for the first home are much slower.  Less rushed. They are entering the market maybe. Taking advantage of lower interest rates. They are not feeling rushed and are not competing as much for properties. One agent reported multiple offers, but after the place was on the market for almost a month. Again, people are taking their time.  

Basically, what I am seeing is that people want space in their new homes. They want room to relax, spread out. They might even want a relaxing environment. A quiet night’s sleep.  Many people in the past year have reported higher anxiety levels than at any point of their lives.  A good night’s sleep can mean the difference between sailing through that meeting or appointment the next day or feeling like you have to cancel everything and call your therapist.  People want peace. Our lives are spent arguing online and hearing news headlines that are more “breaking news” than they were an hour ago. It’s natural to want a refuge. A place to feel you can get away from it all.  They don’t want sirens and people wandering the alleys at night.  They don’t want fixer uppers as much. They want to move and move now into something they can feel comfortable in.  That’s what I am seeing.  

People want a place they can work in, but still feel at home. They don’t want to feel that their work lives and their home lives are literally on top of each other – they want some separation. Whether it’s a separate room, or an entire floor that is dedicated to work, they want to feel they can step away from it when they need to.  

I also have a homebuyer seminar on Zoom next Thursday evening at 6 p.m. Feel free to contact me to get the access link. 

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

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Follow Us @washblade

Sign Up for Blade eBlasts

Popular