5 House-Hunting Tips for Home Buyers with Disabilities
Buying a house is supposed to be an exciting time, but for people with disabilities, it can be anything but.
Most homes aren’t designed with disabilities in mind, and many buyers searching for an accessible home struggle to find properties that meet their needs. But while finding an accessible home isn’t always easy, it shouldn’t feel impossible. If you’re on the hunt for an accessible home, use these five tips to guide your search.
Hire an Agent Who Knows Her Stuff
Finding the perfect home can be tiring in the best of circumstances, but especially when you have unique needs. For weeding out homes that don’t fit your criteria and honing in on the ones that do, you need an exceptional real estate agent. Mia Romar with Team Romar not only knows the local area, but she also understands the unique needs of all her clients. Rather than tackle the home-buying process alone, partnering with a savvy agent ensures you find and close on the perfect accessible home.
Know Your Dealbreakers
Start off by getting the lay of the land in the areas that speak to you the most. Gauge home prices, inventory and get a sense of how competitive the market is before you dive in. These will be your initial driving factors before you start on the nitty-gritty of finding the right home to fit your situation.
Some things simply aren’t an option when you have a disability. Depending on the nature of your disability, that may be stairs, narrow doorways, huge lawns, or a lack of public transportation. Whatever your dealbreaker, it’s important to know it before you start house hunting. Otherwise you may waste precious time viewing homes that aren’t the right fit.
On the flip side, it’s helpful to have a list of features you do want in a home. While some of these may be negotiable, others are must-haves, such as:
- Covered parking.
- Zero-step entrance
- Open layout
- Wide doorways
- First-floor master suit
- Accessible bath or shower
Shell Out for Wood Floors
Hardwood floors can increase a home’s price by more than 5%, but for buyers with disabilities, that premium is worth it. Hardwood floors are easier to navigate for mobility device users than carpeting, while offering more cushion and warmth underfoot than manufactured flooring like luxury vinyl. That doesn’t necessarily mean that carpeting is a dealbreaker, however. Installing hardwood floors can be surprisingly affordable if the house is empty and you don’t need subfloor repairs.
Set Aside Funds for Repairs and Maintenance
Speaking of home improvements: There’s a good chance you’ll have to make at least a few modifications to your new home, such as installing grab bars or raising electrical outlets. Your home may also need repairs, and as a homeowner with a disability, you may not be able to do them yourself.
A home repair fund is also important for every homeowner, but especially for buyers with disabilities who are more likely to rely on contractors for routine home repairs and maintenance. As you decide how much home you can afford, make sure you’re leaving a financial cushion for upkeep.
Take Advantage of Special Financing
That’s not to say you have to be wealthy to become a homeowner. In fact, there are a number of programs designed to help people with limited incomes and disabilities achieve the dream of homeownership. In addition to low down payment mortgages backed by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), buyers can take advantage of programs designed for homeowners with disabilities including Fannie Mae Community HomeChoice and disability housing grants for veterans. However, before you apply for FHA loans, make sure you understand the finer details of this program, including the interest rates and required down payment.
An accessible living environment is the key to independence at home. While finding an accessible home comes with challenges, homeownership is worth the effort for people with disabilities. When you have a space you can modify to your needs, you gain a home for life.