Know What You Want and Need: Tips for Disabled Home Buyers
The needs and rights of disabled individuals entered fully into the public consciousness nearly three decades ago with the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act. Unfortunately, disabled Americans who enter the real estate market sometimes still find it difficult to find a property with the amenities and accessibility features they require to live safely, conveniently and independently - especially if the house was built before 1990.
Informative online resources can be difficult to find, so be diligent about finding a good realtor, researching the housing market, and taking advantage of government programs that can help disabled individuals make their home ownership dreams come true.
Clarify your needs
Before you begin looking for a house, it’s necessary to clarify your housing needs. If you’re in a wheelchair, stairs will be an impediment, which means you’ll require a wheelchair access ramp and doorways wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair, a bath or shower with easy access, and safety features like non-slip surfaces and grab bars (inexpensive grab bars can be purchased for under $15). If a house doesn’t feature all these modifications, some won’t be that costly to implement, but others such as a bathroom remodel can get pricey (e.g., a bathroom remodel in St. Petersburg can cost up to $18,000). Once you’ve outlined your physical needs and know what accommodations you’ll require, determine how much you have to spend and begin focusing on preferred neighborhoods.
Help is available
A knowledgeable real estate agent, one who’s familiar with the area you want to live in, can be a valuable resource for a disabled home buyer even if your agent isn’t experienced working with disabled clients. Realtors can help you find the right house and financing that suits you, though it can be a complicated process. Fortunately, there are counselors from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in each state who can help you find the financial assistance necessary to purchase the home you want.
You are protected under the Fair Housing Act, which prevents lenders, realtors and homeowners from discriminating against you during the home-buying process. It’s an important point to remember because according to HUD, subtle forms of discrimination still crop up.
Just finding a suitable property can be challenging for disabled individuals. Do plenty of online research and keep an eye on house prices and property values in communities that interest you. Barrier Free Home, which lists accessible houses, condos and apartments, is one of the most useful Web-based resources for buyers seeking accessible housing. It posts nationwide listings of accessible homes with enough criteria to conduct a comprehensive and focused search.
Each listing includes photos and details like square footage and number of rooms as well as information of interest to disabled persons, such as whether a property has a level entry, roll-in shower, roll-under sink and counter space, and more. Barrier Free Home also makes it easier to find homes that may lack certain features, but which can be added or modified affordably after purchase. Accessible Properties is another searchable online tool with detailed listings for accessible houses, condos and more. AMS Vans provides online information about wheelchair-accessible homes.
Help with packing and moving
Once you’ve done your research, found a property that’s suited to your needs, secured financing and are preparing to close the deal, it’s time to begin packing and planning your move. Spend time researching companies that will do the packing for you, read customer reviews, check their profiles with the Better Business Bureau, and get at least three quotes (the average cost for hiring movers is $25 per hour for each mover). Like any good moving company, your packers and movers should be fully insured and in good standing with their local trade association.
For many homeowners, their first instinct after closing is to start cleaning or to immediately move in. While these are obviously some of the most important things to do, truly, the very first step should be rekeying all the locks. Doing so ensures no one else has the ability to enter your new home. Schedule a locksmith to change the locks as soon as possible so you can cross this task off your list. While you're assessing security, it doesn’t hurt to confirm that your windows, garage and any other points of entry have strong locks in place.
Take control of the home buying process right from the beginning by knowing what you need and want from a new property. Talk to friends and colleagues who could put you in touch with an experienced realtor who can help make sure your rights are protected. You deserve the home of your dreams and shouldn’t settle for anything less.
Courtesy of Pixabay.com.