Life, Love, And Coloring Books
Theo Lorenz talks about their journey as a realtor, author, and a staunch advocate for the trans and non-binary communities.
Long before Theo Lorenz began their journey as a Twin Cities realtor, they always had a knack for sniffing out the perfect homes.
“For about a decade before I actually got my license, I’ve always been curious about architecture and about how cities are planned and about the ways that people live in their homes: like how they place their furniture, or how they make use of the space,” they said. “I was the real estate snoop that helped all of my friends find apartments and, occasionally, houses. I really enjoyed it. I loved combing through listings for apartments, seeing what would work for the people I cared about and what wouldn’t. I never got paid for any of that, of course, because I was just doing it as favors.”
However, Lorenz’ natural aptitude for the world of realty and pressure from their friends to make a living on said skills led them to take the plunge, getting their license early last year, and they’ve been on a roll ever since. But Lorenz’ trajectory as a queer realtor extraordinaire contrasts greatly with where they were before.
“I knew I wanted to get just far away enough from home to live in dorms or an apartment, and I ended up spending a decade at Hamline because I got my undergrad in my B.A. in English with a minor in studio art,” said Lorenz. “I worked in I.T. while at Hamline as a student worker for nine of those ten years, and wound up in the graduate program for creative writing, so I have an MFA in Creative Writing. It’s not the most useful degree, but it’s actually been really useful in real estate.”
After grad school, Lorenz made a name as an author of coloring books, penning bestselling titles such as Unicorns Are Jerks: A Coloring Book Exposing The Cold, Hard, Sparkly Truth and Dinosaurs With Jobs: A Coloring Book Celebrating Our Old-School Coworkers. Lorenz managed to make this into a full-time career.
“I was living off of those—like a good living—because it was at the height of that market,” they said. “And then that market started to fade because it was a trend. I said, ‘Okay, I need a career change. Fine. I’ll do real estate.’ And I just fell in love with it.”
In terms of their philosophy as a realtor, Lorenz always tries to lean heavily on the customer service element when helping clients look for a new home.
“I try to treat them as people first, instead of clients,” said Lorenz. “I want to know what they need and I want to help them get it. The paycheck is definitely secondary, which has bitten me in the ass a couple of times because I could have been making more if I was casting a wider net or being a little more of a shark. But I don’t care to be a shark. I just want to help people find a home and find a place that works for them and that they can be proud of.”
Lorenz’ status as a trans, non-binary person also lends them a unique perspective when it comes to helping out clients who also identify in a similar way.
“When I bought my home in 2015, I had a lovely realtor,” said Lorenz. “She was very good, but I didn’t even try to give her my pronouns because I knew she wouldn’t get it. And that’s something I’ve heard from multiple non-binary and trans friends and clients. I wound up being the person that people sometimes go to when they have another realtor who treats them poorly. And then I try to help them sort of pick up the pieces from that and move forward in a positive way and try and make it less stressful and make sure they that they feel respected and listened to.”
In fact, as of this writing, Lorenz is the only listed transgender realtor on the Minneapolis page for the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP). Lorenz has plenty of personal and professional life experiences to attend to the needs of their trans/non-binary clients.
“When you look at a collection of various pride flags and all the different colors, I think I’ve at some point identified as about half of them,” said Lorenz. “And it’s not indecision: I had a very long process of coming out and figuring out who I am now. I’m non-binary, I identify as trans, and then ‘queer’ is the label I usually use. I went through a lot of different ideas of, ‘Is this who I am? Is that who I am?’ And I was sort of a late bloomer. I knew I wasn’t just interested in the opposite sex at around 20, but I didn’t fully figure that out until my mid 20s, and then it wasn’t until my late 20s that I started to really sort out the gender thing.”
Luckily, Lorenz has benefitted from an incredibly welcoming support network of family and friends, and very recently, Theo and their partner Pip tied the knot after dating for four years.
“My fiancé is also non-binary,” said Lorenz. “We both kind of were late bloomers on the gender front. They hit 30, had a baby with their now-ex who’s a lovely guy. We co-parent awesomely. And then while they were pregnant, they kind of figured out that they weren’t a woman. Pip is this incredible goofball with a giant heart.”
Lorenz and their new spouse are soaking in the joys of wedded, familial bliss, while similarly experiencing the joys of parenthood as the new stepparent to Pip’s five-year-old son. But Lorenz is still trucking along in the realty world, and with the fall season now here, Lorenz has one word of advice for people looking to find a new home this time of year.
“Patience,” they said. “The Minnesota real estate market is especially cyclical because of our weather. You see all of this inventory, all of these homes on the market in late spring all through summer, and then as fall comes, the number of houses on the market just wanes and wanes and wanes and there’s a steep drop into winter.”
“But along with that drop, you also see the prices get lower,” Lorenz continued. “So it’s really a tradeoff. If you’re going to buy during the colder months, you’ll probably get a better deal. But you also will have to be a little more patient, because there won’t be as many houses on the market. There also won’t be as many people buying because we’ve got to trudge through the snow.”
So as this realtor/author/stepparent multi-hyphenate continues to make a name for themself in the world of real estate, don’t think they’ll stop there. Aside from their usual slate of coloring book work, Lorenz was recently hired to illustrate a graphic novel about Stonewall, written by author George Johnson.
“He’s an amazing, incredible black queer author,” said Lorenz. “The script pages that I’ve seen so far are beautiful. It’s such an honor to get to do that. This is a book that’s going to matter to people and it’s going to change minds.”
Most importantly, Lorenz continues to try to help others in need.
“Something I would like to do in the long run is to figure out some way to do a scholarship program to get more queer folks—especially trans and non-binary folks—into the field [of real estate],” they said. “I am always open to helping people through that process of getting into real estate. It is a fascinating, weird, diverse field.”
For more information on Theo Lorenz and to reach out about real estate services, visit myrealtortheo.com.