Tuesday, March 10, 2020 / by Nicole Solari
Your Guide to Buying an Accessible Home
Buying a home is often a long, stressful process. But for people with disabilities who require accessible housing, finding the right place to live is even more difficult. According to PD&R Edge, fewer than five percent of houses in the United States could be deemed truly “accessible” for someone with moderately limited mobility. The majority of homes do not have the right modifications in place, and finding an affordable, accessible home can be very challenging.
Thankfully, there are resources to assist people with disabilities throughout the home buying process. And with certain renovations, previously inaccessible homes can become comfortable spaces that are much easier to maneuver around. Here are a few helpful tips for purchasing and modifying a house with accessibility in mind.
Work With a Real Estate Agent
Every home buyer should take steps to get pre-approved for a mortgage, and most will consider working with a real estate agent. However, connecting with a qualified real estate agent is absolutely essential for anyone seeking accessible housing. A real estate agent with experience in this area can help you weed out the many homes in your region that will not be accessible or easily modified, which would be a very time-consuming task if you attempted to do it on your own.
Consider the Neighborhood
Anyone who is looking to buy a home should carefully weigh the pros and cons of their potential new neighborhoods. For instance, you might want to ensure that you’ll have wide sidewalks to get from place to place. You may need to confirm that you’ll have access to a reliable public transport system. Whatever your specific needs are, take the time to double-check that you can live comfortably in the neighborhood.
Research Alternate Funding
Moving, buying an accessible home, and paying for necessary modifications can be quite expensive. For many people, paying for all of this on their own would be practically impossible.
Thankfully, you can apply for alternate funding sources to help you cover the costs, including modifications. For example, the VA can provide grants for accessible housing to veterans with disabilities, and the Rural Housing Repair Loans and Grants program offers funds for people aged 62 and older. According to TurboTax, buyers with tax-advantaged ABLE accounts can put the funds from these accounts towards accessible housing. The Red Cross and Americorps may also be able to help with providing loans.
Look for Key Features
What makes a home “accessible?” Ultimately, that depends on the needs of the homeowner. However, it certainly doesn’t hurt to look for a few key features while you visit homes. Are there stairs leading to the front door? Is the house only one story? If not, does it already have an elevator? Was it built with an open floor plan and wider doorways? These are all important factors in determining how accessible a particular house really is.
Once your offer on a certain home has been accepted, you can start planning to make the appropriate modifications. Basic modifications can include a shower chair and rails for your bathroom, kitchen renovations to lower countertops, or a chair lift if there are stairs in the home. You might also consider building a ramp for the front door or inside your home. According to Best Bath, working with an architect who is knowledgeable about the design standards set by the Americans With Disabilities Act will make the process simpler and ensure that the ramp is safe.
People with disabilities may face additional obstacles while house hunting. It’s best to seek out support before beginning the process. When everything is said and done, you’ll be able to move into the accessible home of your dreams, and the extra effort will be well worth it.