House Hunting with a Disability in Mind
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In the United States, almost 60 million people live with a disability of some kind. From mobility concerns to vision impairment, hearing loss or mental illness, people living with a disability deserve a home that empowers them to live a happy, safe and independent life. On average, fewer than 5 percent of the homes available on the market are accessible for people with disabilities. This means the search will be hard, but not impossible. Whether you are house hunting with a disability or are supporting a loved one as they look for a new home, this article is for anyone searching for an accessible home.
House Hunting with a Wheelchair
For those looking for a new home that can accomodate a wheelchair, there are some important elements to keep in mind before you even start. You’ll want to make a list of what you need to be able to fully function — with ease — in your new home. For instance, looking at single-story homes will make navigating your new house much easier. Ask your realtor to search for properties owned by someone 65 or older. Seniors who choose to age in-home often make the kinds of modifications that people with mobility issues need, like stair lifts, handrails and wheelchair ramps. Look for a home with a spacious kitchen, so you can have a clear turning radius when you’re cooking and preparing meals.
House Hunting with Anxiety
Major life changes, like buying a home, can feel overwhelming to people with anxiety. Before you start the house hunting process, be sure to talk to your health care provider about how to prepare for any triggering situations. Keep in mind that managing anxiety can be hard for some people who live alone. Be sure to research crime rates so you only search for homes in neighborhood or communities where you feel secure. Take an extra step to manage your anxiety and look for homes where owners have made security a priority. Ask your realtor to be on the lookout for a home with security options in place or that can be easily modified to increase security. And, of course, plan to have your locks changed immediately upon closing to ensure peace of mind. A local locksmith can easily tend to this. You’ll also feel better if you opt for a service that is insured and bonded, registered with the Better Business Bureau, and has reviews on multiple sites, in particular third-party websites.
House Hunting with Low Vision
Striking a balance between your dream home and an accessible home may take a few compromises. One thing you should never have to compromise is your right to being treated fairly by lenders, sellers and real estate agents. It’s illegal for them to discriminate against you in the home-buying process because of your disability. With the support of professionals who are honest and have integrity, people with low vision have a better chance of finding a home that empowers them to live more independently. Start with a brightly painted front door. Contrasting colors helps people with low vision identify the room they are entering, so look for homes that don’t require you to strip wallpaper or use buckets of primer before you paint. Different textures also help you identify rooms. Be sure your realtor knows you want a home that has a variety of flooring — tile, carpet and hardwood.
There are many financial assistance programs out there to help people with disabilities find a home or turn a house into a home. Be sure find out of you qualify for any of these speciality grants and loans before you begin your search. This can help you budget for a home that you might have thought was out of reach or may need a few modifications after you move in. Though the house hunting process may take longer than you’d hoped; try not to give up. You can — and should — live in your dream home.