First Home: Must-Know Tips for Buyers with Disabilities


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Homeownership has big advantages for people with disabilities. When you own your home, you can make modifications that let you live independently without worrying about a landlord’s approval or starting over every time you move. However, affording a home and making it accessible is no easy feat when you live with a disability. Not only do people with disabilities earn less on average, but many homes aren’t designed with accessibility in mind. This doesn’t mean the dream of homeownership is out of reach. However, there are certain things you need to keep in mind when buying a home when you have a disability.

What makes a home accessible?

Accessibility is relative. However, some homes are more adaptable than others. Ranches or ramblers are among the most accessible home styles, thanks to their single-story design and free-flowing layout. Without staircases or narrow passageways to contend with, these homes are easily adapted, whether you have a mobility impairment, hearing loss, or another disability.

New homes are also increasingly being built with universal design features like zero-step entrances, smooth flooring, raised electrical outlets, wide corridors, and open floor plans. Some multi-story homes even include home elevators. These modern touches make homes friendlier to all owners, whether you’re a disabled adult, a senior, or a family with young children.

Accessibility renovations: What to expect and how to pay for it

Unfortunately, new homes also tend to come with a hefty price tag. As a result, many disabled buyers purchase an older home with the intention of retrofitting for accessibility. This may include projects such as:
? Installing a wheelchair-accessible entrance.
? Creating knee space under sinks and countertops.
? Purchasing accessible kitchen appliances.
? Installing a curbless shower with a shower bench.
? Creating low storage spaces.

Remodeling is costly, too, and new homeowners have yet to build equity they can leverage for renovations. That leaves many buyers to turn to personal loans, construction loans, or credit cards to finance renovations. Before going this route, research home modification grants for people with disabilities. Some governments offer grants or low-interest loans to assist with disability home modifications.

What to know about buying a fixer-upper

Buyers who qualify for enough financing can save hassle and expense by purchasing a newer home that needs minimal modifications. However, that’s not a possibility for every buyer. If you’re on a strict budget, you may be shopping for a fixer-upper as your first home.

Choosing a house that needs work helps buyers get into a home for less, but it’s risky. It’s difficult to know exactly what you’re getting when buying an older home and renovations often cost more than expected. While a thorough inspection helps buyers avoid a potential money pit, some as-is sellers only allow buyers to inspect for informational purposes after an offer has been accepted. The bargain price of as-is homes is attractive to low-income buyers, but it’s not a decision to make without consulting with an attorney and examining the property and records for potential red flags first.


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Location, location, location

One of the main tips for buyers with disabilities is a barrier-free home is your top priority when purchasing a home. However, accessibility goes beyond your new home’s four walls. When shopping for homes, be sure to consider a property’s location as well as its amenities. Access to healthcare, public transportation, and safe streets is just as important for people with disabilities as an accessible home.

Homeownership is a sign of success and stability. For adults with disabilities, it’s also the key to long-term independence. Use this advice to find a place of your own and you’ll be able to enjoy your accessible home for years to come.


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