It's hard to find good rental housing when you have a physical disability. The housing crisis facing renters with disabilities is well-established and getting landlords to pay for accommodations is a challenge. As a result, it makes homeownership an attractive option for people living with physical disabilities.
Homeownership is an opportunity to live in a home that perfectly matches your needs and to only have to make changes once, rather than modifying apartments every time you move. The benefits are real, but finding a home is more complicated for buyers with disabilities. The home features people with disabilities need don't always match the housing stock. And because every disability is different, there's no one-size-fits all solution to accessible homebuying.
As a buyer, it's important that you know what you need in your future home. First, use a calculator, like this one, to figure out how much house you can afford. Then review this checklist of accessible design features from Livable Homes. You probably won't need every feature on the list, but go through and make two lists: one list for essential futures, and one for nice-to-have features. Next, divide each list into two categories: features that can't be changed or are expensive to change, and features that are possible and inexpensive to change.
You should have four lists:
- Expensive essentials: These are non-negotiable features your home must have when you buy it, because they're impossible or too expensive to remodel.
- Inexpensive essentials: These are features your home needs to have, but can be added inexpensively through remodeling.
- Expensive amenities: These are nice-to-have features that are worth spending more for because they're impossible or expensive to remodel.
- Inexpensive amenities: These are nice-to-have features that are inexpensive to add on. These are the lowest-priority features.
Now that you know what you need in your future home and which features to prioritize, you're ready to start house hunting with your REALTOR.
Buying an Accessible Home
As a disabled homebuyer, you have the same rights as any other buyer. The federal government has established several laws and administrations for the sole purpose of protecting your rights as a disabled home buyer, no matter the nature of your disability. You can't be denied a mortgage or denied the right to buy a house on the basis of your disability, and income from public assistance is considered the same as any other income.
While you can't be refused the right to buy a house, finding the right house is challenging. Use websites that have filters for accessible homes and use your list of must-have features to search for homes using keywords. Your real estate agent can also help you identify local homes that meet your needs. When you view homes, pay close attention to any features that present an obstacle.
Remodeling for Accessibility
After buying a home, you'll likely need to make modifications to achieve full accessibility. Prioritize the modifications that have the greatest impact on your home's livability. To save money and speed up your home's completion, hire contractors for big projects and complete smaller ones yourself and with the help of family and friends.
Hopefully, all of the modifications you need to make fall into the inexpensive category. However, if you have big projects or a lot of little projects, you may need additional financing for remodeling. HUD backs certain loans and mortgages for homeowners with disabilities, which you can learn more about at Loan.com. If that's not an option, consider a Home Improvement Program loan through your county government or a personal loan.
Finding the right home takes more effort when you have a physical disability, but it is possible. When you have an accessible home, you no longer have to make little accommodations to navigate your environment. Instead, your environment accommodates you. Buying a home that matches you is powerful and freeing, and it's worth the hunt.
Article provided by Medina at Accessiville.org.
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