Shopping for a new home – or your first – is an exciting experience. When you have accessibility requirements, however, the search can become complicated, especially if you’re unsure what to look for. Here are seven things you should prioritize while shopping for an accessible home.
Tip #1: Finding Support and Community
Buying an accessible home can involve a long and sometimes challenging journey. Housing, in general, is complicated for people with unique needs. Fortunately, you can find a community and connect with others in the same situation through digital means. Yoocan, a collaborative online community for people with disabilities, lets people share experiences and products. Whether you’re looking for advice or want to see how others navigate housing challenges, Yoocan helps narrow your search.
Tip #2: Learning About Your Financing Options
If you’re a first-time homebuyer, there might be a steep learning curve before you even find the house of your dreams. Investigating your credit score, getting paperwork together, and finding a trustworthy real estate agent are all important items on your to-do list. You’ll also want to know how much you can realistically afford your new home.
Tip #3: Sourcing Special Funding Programs
Special funding programs can help make your new home more affordable. Habitat for Humanity is one notable organization that helps families build or modify homes. Another helpful program is the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. Families that qualify for the HCV program can use their assistance amounts as homeownership vouchers, reducing the monthly cost of owning a property. You can also search the National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) registry for local housing help and funding programs in your area.
Tip #4: Keeping Potential Modifications in Mind
Finding the perfect accessible home can be tough. But another option is purchasing a home and making accessibility modifications before you move in. Organizations like ModestNeeds.org offer grant programs to help with specific expenses, which could help you make necessary repairs and modifications. If you are an eligible U.S. veteran, you may also qualify for a unique housing grant that can help you make home modifications, notes the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Tip #5: Looking for “Good Bones”
Regardless of the type of accessible features, you need in your home, looking for “good bones” is a smart place to start. Good bones refer to a house that’s in decent condition structurally, even if it needs paint and minor sprucing up. As a homebuyer with a disability, you will also want to view the potential property through an accessibility lens. For example, an open floor plan is friendlier to wheelchair navigation, while lever-style door handles are easier to operate for people with fine motor challenges.
Tip #6: Seeking Out Universal Design Features
Universal design is a concept with the potential to make your home search easier. As ProBuilder explains, the universal design focuses on equitable use, flexibility, low physical effort, and other principles that are friendly to people of all abilities. One study highlighted that UD has become the new “accessible” standard for people with disabilities, though these design features are also trendy and versatile in a range of architectural styles. A newer home branded with universal design may have features such as curbless showers, wider doorways, and lever-style door handles rather than doorknobs, eliminating or reducing the need for modifications.
Tip #7: Planning for Whole-Home Enjoyment
While ground-level master bedrooms and zero-drop entryways might be vital items on your new home checklist, don’t forget about the rest of the property, too. Consider the lot around the house and whether you’ll be able to enjoy the landscape – or just have room to add a garage. Depending on what you plan to do outside, such as gardening, you may need to extend accessibility beyond the front door.
Finding your dream home might take some time, but it might be easier than you expect. From financing and paperwork to tracking down your dream home with every accessible feature on the list, consider these steps to help you through each stage. Homeownership may just be waiting on the other side.
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