Atlanta is the blue heart in the red south, and it’s no surprise that the city is growing in LGBTQ numbers. For first-timers here in the ATL, finding the perfect place to settle down with your family can be stressful, but leave it to one of Atlanta’s most well-known LGBTQ real estate agent to guide you in the right direction for the ultimate living experience in the South!
We caught up with Shannon Hames, a Realtor with Common Ground Real Estate, on just what makes Atlanta the place to settle down for LGBTQ couples across the country, and how she can add that special touch to your home buying experience!
Tell us a little about yourself and how you ended up in real estate?
Before I came out, I was a stay at home mom and helped run our family real estate flipping business. When I came out and divorced my ex-husband, my wonderful gay attorney, Jeff Cleghorn, encouraged me to get an education. I got degrees in both Marketing and English & Professional Communications. It was natural for me to go back to real estate. But this time, I put my education to work and used my marketing and communication skills to benefit my clients. I joined the Common Ground Real Estate team at PalmerHouse Properties because both were gay-owned and had a great reputation for giving back to the LGBTQ community. I finished last year as a Top Producer with the Atlanta Board of Realtors and it feels great to not only be working with other LGBTQ people but being really successful, too.
What do you offer to the Atlanta LGBTQ community as a real estate agent?
People in the Atlanta LGBTQ community have always tried to help each other out. We know what we share in terms of struggles. It’s hard for a Realtor who isn’t gay to understand what it feels like to live around homophobia, transphobia or intolerance. Being a lesbian, I DO know what that feels like. Because I can relate, I work hard to make sure that my clients feel safe, welcomed, and affirmed.
In addition to working with clients, I am also working for the LGBTQ community within real estate. HB 19 is a comprehensive civil rights bill that was just introduced by Rep. Sandra Scott. It would extend protections in housing, employment, and public accommodations to include sexual orientation and gender identity. The Georgia Association of Realtors (GAR) was ignoring the bill. Two members of my team and recently attended a meeting at the GAR headquarters where they discussed their legislative priorities. Our purpose was to get them to support and nurture the bill. I’m happy to say that that ball is now rolling! Making sure that my LGBTQ community has access to fair housing is as important to me as selling a swank Midtown Loft.
What makes Atlanta so unique for the LGBTQ community and potential home buyers?
Atlanta has a lot of cool projects going on. The film industry has helped bring creatives here and we are seeing some upgrades to the cityscape. My current favorite is the Atlanta Beltline. It is 22 miles of repurposed abandoned railroad tracks that encircle the city. It will eventually connect all of these little neighborhoods. It’s a fantastic green space where people can walk, ride bikes, play, enjoy ever-changing art, and visit shops and restaurants along the trail. It’s bringing unprecedented redevelopment, preserving historic neighborhoods and giving people a healthier place to socialize. The LGBTQ community is ripe to meet each other out in the fresh air and sunshine.
Atlanta used to have two main gayborhoods: Midtown for the guys and Decatur for the ladies. Now, thanks to the shrinking need for the safety of gayborhoods, the LGBTQ community can spread out and enjoy being part of the diversity of many neighborhoods. Love family neighborhoods? Let me show you Morningside/Lenox Park. Love counter-culture? I’ve got homes for you in Little Five Points. Want walkability, brewpubs, and fun greenspace? I’ll take you to Old Fourth Ward. Want a starter home where values are on the rise? I’m going to show you around Grove Park. Industrial loft living? Cabbagetown. Each little area has its own vibe and the LGBTQ community are welcome members of all of them. It’s wonderful that we are no longer confined to our own little spaces.