How to Buy Your First Accessible Home.

Buying your first home is an exciting process, but it is not always easy. It can be especially difficult when you are trying to secure long-term living arrangements and have disabilities to consider. Fortunately, you don’t have to go it alone, and you have a support network that starts with your agent.

If you’re just getting ready to start the home buying process, keep reading. We’ve got a few tips to help you navigate the process without losing your bearings.

Get your credit and finances in order.

Although you’re likely excited about buying your first home, it’s almost always best to take pause and evaluate your financial situation first. Contact your bank and ask to speak with their mortgage department. They should be able to help you figure out how much you can afford based on how much money you have and what you make. You also need to know your credit score. Before you choose a lender, it’s a good idea to get your paperwork in order as well – bank statements, outstanding balances, etc. – so that you can give them as much information as possible to streamline the loan process.

When you have a disability, you may also be eligible for some assistance programs that can help you pay for modifications that you might need. There are also a few types of loans and grants to make the home buying process a bit more affordable. Disabled World lists Rural Development loans, SNAP grants, and housing grants for disabled veterans as potential resources.

Define your needs.

Finding a house that is ability-ready is sometimes a challenge. But if you start by defining what your specific needs are, then you can skip over properties that won’t work. To do this, think about your limitations. If you are in a wheelchair, for example, having a house with multiple living levels might not be the best option. In this case, you may ask your agent to look at ranch-style houses or condo units with an elevator.

Some features that might be useful are 30-inch counters, a large bathroom with enough space to turn around without hitting your knees on the toilet or tub, and having a place to park that doesn’t require the use of stairs to enter the home.

Know what modifications are feasible.

Even if you can’t find an ideal home, do not give up. With a few tweaks, most homes can be made to accommodate people of all abilities. Some modifications are simple and affordable, too.

Grab bars in the bathroom, which Fixr estimates costs around $140, can help you safely get into and out of the bath if balance is a problem. Poor lighting is another easily remediable obstacle if you have vision problems. If you are concerned about tripping and falling, you might look at having the carpet removed from the home and having it replaced with a low-pile variety or laminate flooring.

There are also more comprehensive remodeling projects that can make your dream house more accessible. Live in Place Designs, a PA-based firm that specializes in aging in place, suggests stair lifts, which can reduce the chances of taking a tumble if your preferred home has more than one level.

To sum things up, your first step is to understand your finances. Once you know what you can afford and what help is available, you can match your means with your needs. And even if you don’t find the perfect home right off the bat, remember that there are ways to make most houses fit you like a glove.

Article contributed by: Patrick Young, |


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