AccessibilityBuyers June 24, 2020

Hunting for a More Accessible Home

By Patrick Young for Heather Maddox Homes

In recent years, universal design has become more popular than ever. However, that doesn’t mean it’s suddenly easy to find an accessible home for sale in every neighborhood. There are places where you can search for already-accessible homes online, but even so, finding the perfect property in your target area can be extremely challenging. If you’re in the market for an accessible home, keep reading for tips on finding a house that offers everything you need.

Minimize the Need to Renovate

Unless you find a move-in ready home that’s already accessible, it’s probably necessary to plan on a few renovations. You can make things easier on yourself by choosing a home that already has some of the features you need. For example, a home with hardwood or vinyl floors won’t require a lengthy reflooring project before you move in. Likewise, a home with an open concept will already offer the space you need to maneuver.

Consider how the home’s driveway, garage, patio, and walkways will work for you as well. A home that already features accessibility in these areas will reduce your need to renovate.

When you choose a home that’s already as accessible as possible, you can focus your attention to specific areas that need work rather than paying for a complete overhaul. Projects such as replacing door knobs, putting up grab bars, and installing a stair lift are usually not complicated (stair lift installation averages $3,000 – $4,000). Installing a wheelchair ramp, putting in more accessible cabinets, or remodeling a bathroom to include a walk-in shower can be more involved.

Be sure to plan and budget appropriately for your renovation so you don’t run into any surprises. Also keep in mind that there might be assistance programs that help you foot the bill.

Avoid Design Pitfalls

It can be hard to search for accessible homes on mainstream real estate websites, which don’t always have the types of filters you want.

There are certain design features that will make a home inaccessible and incredibly costly to renovate. For example, a home with a sunk-in den or living room might be a dealbreaker. Depending on your needs, a home with more than one story might be out of the question as well. As you search for the ideal home, you can get better results by filtering out the features that you know won’t work for you. The last thing you’d want is a design that restricts you from using and enjoying all the home has to offer.

Consider the Neighborhood

The home itself is important, but so is its proximity to shopping, recreation, and services you need in the community. Think about what amenities you want to live near when choosing a home. The location you pick will affect how much you spend on a home, so be sure to have a realistic budget for the area (homes in Renton have been going for $528,000 on average over the last month). Looking at other local homes can help you determine what a fair price is once you start narrowing down your search.

The neighborhood you choose should also be accessible with well-maintained sidewalks and safe places to cross the streets. Some cities are better than others, says New Mobility, but many other neighborhoods are improving their accessibility level.

Think About Resale Value

Even though you’re focused on buying a house now, you might also want to consider its future resale value. Accessible modifications can sometimes increase your home’s value, but it depends on factors such as location and the type of modifications you made. If you plan on doing renovations to your home, consider how you can make the design look seamless and appealing to a wider range of future buyers.

Finding a new home is never easy, especially when you need to shop with accessibility in mind. Many homes can be made accessible by doing renovations that suit your needs while also appealing to potential buyers in the future. As you hunt for accessible housing, keep in mind that the ideal home will also make it easy for you to access everything you need in the community.

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. He has been disabled since he was a teenager. When he’s not busy working, he spends time playing on a wheelchair basketball team and enjoys cooking with his wife. He created Able USA to provide advice and help to others navigating the challenges of life that come with having a disability.