4 Steps That Can Help Seniors and Homebuyers with Disabilities Save Time and Stress

Today I am posting another writer’s article who reached out to me to share useful tips to helping Buyers navigate the real estate market and some of these tips are handy for anyone in the market for a property.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

Watching people hunt for the perfect home on TV can be entertaining. When it comes to hunting for your perfect home, however, things can feel more stressful than exciting. This can be especially true if you’re a homebuyer who is also living with disabilities, as you will likely need to find a home that has accessibility features. That can be overwhelming for many shoppers. So, if you’re worried about the process of finding and buying that accessible home, keeping these tips handy can give you some serious peace of mind.

Finances Should Come First

When it comes to being smart about buying an accessible new home, you really need to start with some financial steps. Gather any pertinent documents related to your finances — including tax returns, bank statements, and credit reports — and go over them very carefully. That way, you can put together a realistic price point for your new home.

Wondering what that price will get you in your desired location? You can use online tools to research local home prices and features included in local listings. Couple that information with the right financial steps and you should be in good shape to start searching for a new home with the accessibility elements you need and the features you want.

Something to consider here as well is that it’s always best to have a knowledgeable lender by your side before you start your official house hunt. Look for a lender associated with the Idaho Housing and Financial Association. Tim Kinkeade with First Home Bank is an excellent example of a loan originator with decades of experience. Your loan officer can even help you find state-funded programs that can help with down payment money if you’re struggling to come up with the cash you need to make the leap into homeownership.

Using All the Tools at Your Disposal

If you are serious about buying an accessible home, you should work with a realtor right after you have your financial plan sorted out. Local real estate agents will likely have access to more listings that are available online; plus, you won’t have to comb through multiple sites. You may even be able to find an agent with special certifications that can make the process even smoother, especially if you are a senior with disabilities looking for a new home with more accessibility. Either way, be sure to let your realtor know which features are crucial for you.

Of course, these are difficult times for house hunting since most of the country is on COVID-19 lockdown. The good news is that you can use online tools to get a clearer picture of the local market and specific homes you’re interested in. For example, some agents offer live virtual tours of homes which will give you an in-person perspective. While it’s not the same as being there in person, you’ll still be able to explore the house without having to leave home. 

Accessibility Can Be Stylish

If this is your first time looking for a home with accessibility features, you should know that accessibility does not have to be boring when it comes to home design. Just check out this home that was created for a buyer who became disabled after a motorcycle accident. After a complete renovation, an older ranch-style home was transformed into a completely wheelchair-accessible living space, with small touches that make getting around and getting comfortable easier. Safe bathrooms can be beautiful as well, especially with the growing popularity of walk-in showers. The newest showers are just as stylish as they are safe, and they can be added to your home for around $1,000 to $2,300, depending on the size you need.

Modifications May Be Needed

As you can see from the accessible home example above, renovations may be necessary in order to turn your dream home into an accessible safe haven. That shouldn’t put you off from your home search, but you will need to budget for modifications as you determine how much home you can afford to buy. You can also look into additional financing options that can help cover any needed home modifications, including special FHA home loans. These loans do come with additional stipulations but you can use them to make just about any type of improvement to your new home. For accessibility modifications, you may also be able to use other funding sources to help out with costs, including grants from non-profits or VA benefits. Your lender might be able to offer suggestions here as well.

Buying a home that includes accessibility features shouldn’t be any more stressful than finding a home that doesn’t. Still, homebuyers who are living with a disability can face additional challenges when searching for their dream home, including having to budget for future home modifications and finding a home where they can age in place safely during their golden years. If you are a home shopper who is living with disabilities or looking to age in place in your next home, be sure to keep this guide handy so you can save yourself some hassle.

Patrick Young is an educator and activist. He believes people with disabilities must live within a unique set of circumstances–the outside world often either underestimates them or ignores their needs altogether.

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