Article written by Patrick Young
Finding your dream home is within reach. The catch is knowing what to look for and how to address problems you may encounter throughout the homebuying process, including finding the accessibility features you need to support a disability. Visiting Photos by AG can help you cut through the fluff that is real estate photography so you know what to expect before searching online listings. Here are four other tips for house hunting with transparency and accessibility in mind.
Ensure That You’re Really Ready
You may be eager to start house hunting, but unless all your ducks are in a row, you might wind up facing disappointment. For first-time homebuyers, navigating the process can take a long time and involve numerous roadblocks. To help streamline things, get organized ahead of time.
Pull a credit report from the Federal Trade Commission to see where you stand, file the paperwork your lender might need, connect with a real estate professional you can trust, and dial in your finances to ensure your dream home matches your real-life budget. Factor in post-closing costs, too, like flooring modifications to support a wheelchair. Plus, set aside funds for a moving service you can trust, and be sure to check out their reputation, too.
Explore Assistance Programs
Though finding a perfect, accessible as-is property may be nearly impossible, the good news is there are assistance programs that may help fund your home purchase or modifications after you close. In some areas, organizations like United Disabilities Services help consumers finance home modifications to enhance accessibility. And in many states, people with disabilities (including veterans) can qualify for property tax exemptions, which can lower homeownership costs over the long-term.
Certain loan types allow for renovations, which you can undertake to make a home more accessible. Examples include the Fannie Mae HomeStyle Renovation Loan, FHA 203(k) loan, or Home equity loans (HELOC), notes Bankrate. You can also explore programs in your area by searching the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website for your state + home modification programs.
Investigate in Person When Possible
Photos can be misleading, especially when it comes to perspective. Though many real estate photographers are aiming to appeal to buyers, some can be downright deceptive, whether they intend it or not.
To ensure that what you’re seeing is what you’ll actually get, ask for a virtual tour or, when possible, an in-person viewing. Bring a tape measure, too, so that you can determine whether things are really as they appear in the listing photos.
Another smart step is to explore the home and imagine your daily routines. Will you be able to reach all the light switches? Are the thresholds between doorways low enough to navigate safely? Is the kitchen sink actually accessible for dishwashing? You know your routine best, so maneuvering around is the perfect way to see whether a home may be a good fit.
What to Look for in an Accessible Home
Every person is unique, and people with disabilities are even more so. You might have specific needs that other people never even consider, so it’s tough to create an all-inclusive list of things to look for in a truly accessible home. Here are the most common features that aim to support daily living with a disability:
• Wide doorways to accommodate walkers, wheelchairs, and other equipment
• Low thresholds between doorways to avoid trip hazards
• Non-slip flooring to prevent falls
• Ample lighting in hallways, walkways, and bathrooms for visibility
• Curbless showers (and no bathtubs) for easy entry and independent bathing
• Kitchen countertops at varying heights
• A lack of doorknobs, levers, and other handles that require less grip strength to operate are more accessible for everyone
• Under-counter access for reaching sinks, appliances, and shelves
Make a list of other features you might need, as well, and take it along as you tour properties to keep you track.
Searching for an accessible home isn’t always easy, but it is possible to find what you need. Photos by AG can help you decipher common tricks that real estate photographers use. And when it’s time to start touring homes, find one that looks great on camera and has all the features you need.