Chicago's Gay Vacation Real Estate

Tue. September 11, 2007 12:00 AM
by Greg Jarvis

I have to admit, I'm still surprised when I get calls from out-of-state buyers who want to purchase second homes or vacation real estate in Chicago. Especially gay buyers. When you think of vacation homes (especially gay destinations) you're probably thinking South Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, P-Town, or maybe somewhere a bit more remote like Rio.

There are several reasons why Chicago draws gay buyers from near and far. One of the primary reasons would be that most of the traditional "vacation" destinations are so far out of financial reach. Consumers are reluctant to make a large financial commitment on second homes in areas with extremely highly priced homes and/or destinations where the real estate market is near or in a recession.

Chicago is one of the major great cities where you can find condos under $200,000. Not many other gay destination cities can even compete with our real estate prices.

Many of my out-of-town buyers are from hot areas like Arizona and Florida. What draws them to Chicago is mild temperatures in the spring and fall where it can still be fairly hot in other regions. Additionally many vacation home buyers are originally from the North, missing the change of seasons and their Northern roots.

What I'm also seeing a lot of is the short-term rental of second homes. During the months that home owners don't plan on visiting, owners are finding it easy to find seasonal, weekly or monthly renters who will pay a premium for short period rentals without a lease. Many homeowners find that this rent pays the mortgage, tax and assessments at a time when the home would otherwise be vacant.

O'Hare and Midway, being two of the busiest airports make Chicago easy and inexpensive to travel to. Inexpensive airfares and a $2 train ride to downtown make Chicago even more appealing. We are one of the only major cities where it doesn't cost a fortune to get to the city.

Besides the wonderful shopping and delightful restaurants, Chicago has what is one of the most active and largest gay communities in the United States. I'm finding that many of my gay second home buyers are simply looking for a place to go "home" where it's ok to simply be gay.