The World Bank estimates that 1 billion people worldwide experience some form of disability, and in one-fifth of these cases the disability is significant. In spite of this, finding accessible homes can still prove a tall order. This week we heard from ABLE USA to put together some of our top tips for house-hunting when searching for accessible homes.
There are many reasons why a person would look for a home with plenty of accessibility features. From people living with a disability to retirees simply planning to find a place to spend their time in safety and comfort, an accessible home can in many instances be life-changing. Furthermore, the expense of making renovations to a property to render it more accessible oneself adds cost, time and effort to an already stressful process.
So whether you are looking for an accessible home yourself, or for a home that can welcome friend or family that could benefit from these features, we hope our tips today can make your experience more straightforward.
First Thing’s First
Perhaps you’ve seen a few properties listed online that take your fancy? Considering contacting the seller directly? It may seem appealing at first but we strongly advise against taking the process on alone. This is particularly important when you are looking for accessible properties with specific features so that you aren’t wasting your time. Without an agent filtering houses for you, there will be a lot of misses before you even have a chance of finding something worth your time. Moreover, searching without help makes the seller assume you are underrepresented, often giving them more bargaining leverage.
When it comes to finding a house with accessibility features, the right real estate agent has the experience and know-how that will keep you on track. They act as a buffer for you when dealing with the seller and can help you find the right house in a good neighborhood. When it comes to price guidance and negotiations, your agent knows when it is a good time to push further and when to walk away. Plus, they handle the paperwork that comes with buying a house. When finding a real estate agent, look for one whose niche is accessible homes. An experienced real estate agent whose niche is accessibility can help narrow down your search and get the best price. It is also worth discussing your situation with them carefully before you start the process.
Looking for Accessibility Features
Different people need different accessibility features. You may not find many homes that already have simple things like ramps, grab bars, and shower benches installed, but for the most part these are easy to install. Features you really want to look for include:
- Well-lit rooms
- Clear walkways and wide door frames
- Low-profile exterior door thresholds
- One-story floor plan
- Slip-proof flooring
- Handrails for stairs and steps
- Easy-to-reach cabinets
- Kitchen work surface low enough to use while sitting
- Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in each room
These features cost a lot more when it comes to renovations. Having them already in place will save you the headache of finding a contractor and paying to make these modifications.
Start with some online research to see the accessible homes available in your area and to get a feel for market prices. Once you’ve narrowed down the properties you like, email the listing links to your real estate agent before your first meeting. Giving your agent parameters and preferences helps them narrow down the search to properties that will interest you. Your agent can also keep an eye out on similar finds in new listings so you can get the scoop on the best houses.
Alternatives to buying
Shopping for a new home is work, of course. But it can also be very exciting going through properties, looking at your options, and imagining how you could make a house your home.
However, if you are not ready for a big move just yet, modifying your current home can also be a great, more carefree solution. This comprehensive guide courtesy of HomeAdvisor will walk you through all the areas of your home that may need to be modified such as the kitchen, living room, bedroom, bathroom, stairs, and entryway. A lot of these are easy to implement and can have a great, positive impact.
Thank you to Patrick Young from ABLE USA for his words and advice. If you are looking to move to Barcelona and are after an accessible property, please visit us in store! We are always delighted to meet some new people and can help discuss all your criteria to find the perfect property for your needs.