ORLANDO, Fla. – With homeownership rates among the LGBTQ+ community below the general population, a Central Florida realtor team is working to change that.
From dancing through listings to shimmying at closings, Shawn Layton and Jimmy Hendrickson are the husband realtor team of the Central Florida Home Boys. They’re making their mark on the Central Florida housing market.
“I’m a little bit more extroverted and he’s more introverted and I think the balance, the yin and the yang, work out in our favor in life and in business,” Layton said.
The husband team started their real estate business almost 5 years ago. They said they both left comfortable careers to become realtors.
“We did it and never looked back,” Layton said.
They use social media and their iconic wooden bowties to stand out among the thousands of realtors in Orlando with their dog and mascot, Kira, by their side.
Layton and Hendrickson said they found success by just being themselves.
“We are honest with each other and everyone else. We promote and encourage same sex couples in the LGBTQ+ community,” Layton said.
Layton and Hendrickson said that is the most rewarding part of the job. They said half of their clients identify as LGBTQ+, with many members of the community moving to Orlando every year because the city is inclusive and accepting.
Layton said they understand their clients’ needs.
“They do look to us for that safety and security, that’s really why they look to us,” he said.
The husband team also serve as presidents of the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance Orlando chapter. It is a national nonprofit that brings the community and allies together to promote fair housing across the country.
They said the LGBTQ+ community faces challenges just like anyone entering the competitive housing market.
“I think homeownership is important to anyone in the LGBTQ+ community for the same reasons it’s important to anybody for owning a home. Everybody wants that feeling of home,” Hendrickson said.
But the rate of homeownership among the LGBTQ community is lower than the general population, 49% compared to 64%, according to the nonprofit.
“While we live in a very inclusive area, the struggles and challenges that other people face in the LGBTQ+ community nationwide are different, which is why we get a lot of people moving here because they want to be in a more included area,” Layton said.
As they continue to promote homeownership among the LGBTQ+ community, Layton and Hendrickson said they will keep dancing and shimmying to make each home buying or selling experience for their clients a memorable one.
“A lot of them have come to us now to expecting to shimmy at the closing table and they’re super excited about it,” Layton said.
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