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Tips for Finding and Modifying a Disability-Friendly Home
By Patrick Young
An accessible home is essential for anyone living with a physical disability or planning to age in place. The right accessibility features will keep you safe while affording you greater independence in your own home, but finding an accessible living space can be tough. Less than one percent of homes in the United States are fully wheelchair accessible, according to PD&R. Although slightly more housing units at least feature zero-step entryways and single-floor living, finding these properties can be just as difficult. Here are some tips to help you find those elusive accessible homes and make them more accommodating for your personal needs.
Make Your Own Upgrades
Remember, if you can’t find the perfect accessible home, you can make modifications to suit your specific requirements. This will open up your home-buying options significantly! Just make sure you find a home that has some fundamental accessibility elements, like a one-story design and an open floor plan. And remember to account for the costs for these modifications in your home-buying budget.
The bathroom and kitchen are two areas of the home where accessibility upgrades can have a significant impact on your safety and comfort. If you need to make bathroom upgrades beyond installing grab bars (available for under $13) and non-slip mats, you may have to hire a professional contractor. For example, a roll-in shower and a vanity with knee space underneath will make it easier to tackle your daily living tasks in a wheelchair.
Start Your Search Online
Searching for your new home online will help you narrow down your housing options so you only have to visit your top picks in person instead of traipsing all over town. First, take the time to research listings in general to get the lay of the land and know how the market looks. For example, home prices in St. Louis averaged $200K last month and the overall market is highly competitive, which means you could find a home you like that receives multiple offers. Knowing this changes the math and better prepares you for the home buying process.
Work with a Great Real Estate Agent
Even with the help of listing sites, it can still be tough to dig up accessible homes for sale. Real estate agents have access to robust listing details and will be able to find better options for your needs. Make sure you pick a real estate agent who understands the accessibility features you’re looking for and truly cares about placing you in an accommodating home.
Know Your Funding Options
People with disabilities have some unique funding options for buying and modifying homes. Depending on the nature of your disability, you may qualify for grants or loans that can help you cover your down payment or modification expenses. In some states, Medicaid may pay for your home modifications. Special mortgages even exist to help people with disabilities buy a home with low interest rates—and sometimes zero down payments!
If this happens to be your very first home purchase, it’s a wise idea to work with Justine PETERSEN. Here, you’ll receive guidance through the entire home buying process if you sign up for the HUD-Approved Housing Counseling Program. What’s more, Justine PETERSEN can also help you connect with the right lender, as well as help you find a suitable real estate agent and a home inspector. There are even programs to assist with down payments and closing costs.
As you search for an accessible home, remember to take your time and keep an open mind. It could take a while for the perfect property to come along. Don’t rush your decision! Finding an accessible home will help you live in safety and comfort for years to come, so make a list of your needs and keep looking until you’re happy.