31 Dec Start Your Accessible Home Search with These Tips
House hunting has the potential to be an exciting experience. At the same time, there’s a lot to learn – particularly when shopping for an accessible home. Knowing what to look for can make the home buying an adventure rather than a challenge.
Prioritize Location & Lot
Whether you’re buying a vacation property or purchasing your first home, location is essential. After all, you can renovate your home, but you can’t move it to a better neighborhood. But most importantly, the location and lot need to have the right features for both accessibility and overall enjoyment.
Know Your Local Market
The housing market can be unpredictable. In some areas, a seller’s market means homes are selling the same day they’re listed, while in other areas, properties may sit empty for weeks. Knowing your local housing market can help you prepare for either a competitive homebuying experience or a leisurely property search. By researching your market, you’ll know that when you find “the one” you need to act fast.
Hiring a real estate agent is about more than scheduling tours and prepping paperwork. A real estate agent can be your eyes and ears when it comes to new listings and properties with lots of promise.
Recognize Accessible Language
Though ideally, your real estate agent will save you time searching through property listings, you’re likely to search for homes online as well. When you do, you’ll be reading through property descriptions, and it’s essential that you know what to look for. “Accessible” means different things to various populations, so terms like “universal design” and “aging in place” become relevant.
For example, universal design typically involves features that are accessible to people of all ages and abilities – such as door handles that work as levers instead of knobs. “Aging in place” could refer to a single-story home, or one with a lower-level master suite, with few or no stairs. Thoroughly exploring the property is ideal, of course, but seeing these “keywords” could help your home search.
Don’t Trust Photos
Keep in mind that just because home photographs beautifully, that doesn’t mean it’s accessible. After all, real estate photography often skews the viewer’s perspective.
When it comes to features like wide doorways and lighting visibility features, Medium points out that the camera could be lying. Be careful not to fall in love with a property based on photographs alone – an in-person visit may be necessary to separate fact from fiction.
Keep an Open Mind
It’s possible that you may not find the perfect home for your needs. At least, it may not look perfect upon first walk-through. And it’s true that the majority of homes are not fully accessible – or even partially so. Therefore, many people with disabilities decide to build a custom home to suit their needs and lifestyle.
But there are many ways you can modify an existing home to better serve you. Incorporating universal design products, such as motion sensors for lighting and hands-free faucets, can offer the accommodations you need for comfort and safety.
Plus, as Forbes reports, retrofitting to make a house more accessible can also increase the property’s value. What works for you may not work for another homeowner, but the more adaptable your updates, the better the odds the investment will pay off when (or if) you sell your home.
Deciding to buy a home can feel intimidating when you need an accessible build. Whether it’s your first house or a vacation property, this is a big purchase. But when you know what to look for, and what changes are possible, it’s easier to find a home you’ll fall in love with.
Photo via Unsplash