Added on July 23, 2019
Searching for an accessible home when you're living with a disability can be a long and frustrating process, especially when you're on a budget or trying to make plans for the future. Figuring out what your specific needs are can be difficult in a new home, so it's crucial that you think about them before you begin looking. Do some research on common modifications, and find out how much you can expect to pay for a home in your area. Don't forget to check to see if you qualify for any special loans or grants, especially if you're a veteran or your partner was. For example, PennyMac VA loans are available to any former service member who served at least 90 days of active duty or at least six years in the Reserves or National Guard, and some surviving spouses of vets also qualify. Finally, keep in mind that if you can't find a home that has everything you want, you may be able to make some changes yourself.
Make a list of all the things you need to consider. Location is always a factor, as you'll likely want your new home to be close to your doctor, your family, or perhaps just your favorite restaurants. You'll also want to think about the things that will make your daily life easier and safer; if you have mobility issues, for example, a one-level home with plenty of space to move around will be important.
When you're searching for a new accessible home, here are a few things to consider.
Searching online for a new home can take some time and plenty of patience, but it can be a great place to start when you're looking in a specific area and figuring out what you can afford. While not every real estate website has an "accessible" search, some of them do, and you can narrow down your choices with one of these before setting out to do tours and open houses. Some will even only show you homes that are one level, so if you use a wheelchair or have other mobility equipment, you can view houses with the assurance that they'll all fit your needs.
Check Your Credit
When it's time to get a mortgage, ensure that your credit score is where it needs to be. There are many myths associated with lenders and credit applications, so it's important to make sure you understand what goes into your credit report. Late payments can drag down your score and stay on your report for as long as seven years. However, not having enough of a credit history can also lead to a rejection from a mortgage lender. Finding a good balance is key, so do a little research to find out more about how to safely raise your score.
Think About Your Future
It's imperative that you think beyond your current needs when looking for a new home; you'll want to think about the future and how things may change. For instance, you may be okay with having a big yard now, but will you be able to maintain it five or 10 years down the road? The more you think about the details now, the easier things will be for you in the future. This is often referred to as "aging in place," but it can be helpful for people of all ages.
Can You Make Changes Yourself?
Accessible homes and their modifications can run the gamut, from walk-in showers instead of tubs to specially made countertops that allow for easy accessibility from any height. However, there are easy changes you can make yourself if the home you like doesn't have everything you're looking for, and they won't break the bank. Think about adding lighting for better visibility, placing rubber-backed mats in the bathroom, and replacing doorknobs on cabinets and drawers with easy-to-grasp levers or handles.
Searching for an accessible home can take a while, so it's important to get started early. Look online to get an idea of cost and locations before you go searching on your own, and ask friends and loved ones for help when you need it. This will help to reduce stress throughout the process.