Thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), public spaces have to meet design standards for accessibility. You aren’t likely to find the same standards in most households, however, which presents a challenge when you’re ready to buy a home. The good news is that more builders and individuals are seeing the value of universal design. This means that more accessible homes are hitting the market, and if you do find one that needs modifications, there are some great design options and simple solutions to choose from.
Where to Start
The process of buying a home can be confusing, especially for first-time homebuyers. To clear up this confusion, find out everything you need to know as a first-time buyer, such as how to get your finances in order, the importance of checking your credit score, and what paperwork you’ll need to apply for a home loan.
You’ll also need to set a budget before actually looking at homes, and of course, you’ll want to find a skilled and qualified real estate agent to work with. The right agent can help you make sense of the process too, and they may even help you find financial assistance for buying or modifying a home for accessibility. You can find grants for accessibility modifications from federal and state agencies, in addition to a number of private organizations.
When you start searching for a lender, keep in mind that the right loan for you will depend on your situation. For example, veterans are eligible for VA home loans, which have a lot of benefits you wouldn’t get from other sources. VA rates are lower than most other loans, and you may only need a low down payment — or none at all. Another bonus is that you won’t have to pay private mortgage insurance, which adds up to significant savings.
If you aren’t a veteran, it’s still important to know the different options for getting a mortgage. The traditional choice is to go to your bank or credit union, but you could also use a mortgage broker or an online lender. Each option has pros and cons, so you’ll want to consider how those apply to your situation.
Perhaps the most important financial issue is that your budget is determined by more than just your mortgage payment. Make sure you account for all the costs of homeownership, such as taxes, insurance, and maintenance. Also, it’s important not to forget moving costs! Take some time to search for a reliable moving company that gets positive reviews from customers, and be sure to include that cost in your budget.
Making Your Wish List
When you’re ready to find your home, the first thing to do is make a list of the features you want and need. These are just a few accessibility features to consider:
- Floor Plan: Look for a single level home and a floor plan that has wide-open spaces.
- Entry: You’ll want an entry that doesn’t have steps or where a ramp could be installed.
- Kitchen and Bathrooms: Safety is a top priority in bathrooms, along with accessibility features like curb-free showers and lower counter height.
- Flooring: Many people who use wheelchairs tend to prefer hardwood floors or laminate for easy maneuverability.
When you’re searching for homes, be sure to consider the cost of modifications and how that impacts your overall budget. Some modifications are more affordable than others, such as installing special door hinges rather than widening a doorway. Other projects, such as a bathroom remodel, will come with a higher price tag.
In the best-case scenario, you’ll find a home that checks off all the right boxes, but it’s also possible that the right home will only meet some of your requirements. Don’t worry if this happens! Finding the right home always starts with lining up your finances. Once you’ve done that, we can work together to find the one that meets your needs and your budget.
Guest Post by Patrick Young
Patrick created Able USA to offer resources and advice to others with disabilities in an effort to help them navigate the various aspects of life as a person with a disability.
Photo credit: Pexels