Disabled Homebuyers: Tips for Buying the Accessible Country Home of Your Dreams
What is your dream home? We’ve all been asked this question before, or at least thought about it. Some people prefer the big city and some like the idea of a suburban neighborhood. For you, your ideal home is a country home with lots of land and that rustic charm. There’s absolutely nothing stopping you from living in your dream home, but as a disabled homebuyer you’ll need to add accessibility to your list of must-haves. If you’re in the market for a new home, here are some great tips to help you through the process.
Work With a Realtor
As a disabled homebuyer, you might think that you know best when it comes to what you want in a home. While you certainly are knowledgeable of your own situation, it is best to work with a realtor who has experience in the entire home-buying process. So, what should you look for in an agent? Interview several agents and look for one with plenty of experience in your target area, including working with disabled homebuyers, as well as references and good reviews. Be open about your needs and any necessary modifications so this can be factored into the budget. And don’t be afraid to ask about specific examples of a time when they had to adapt to a client’s needs. According to the LA Times, “Finding the right home for a client with a disability requires planning, research, time, diplomacy and a little extra heart.” The right agent will express their willingness to work diligently to find the right home for you whether it is a sprawling farm or country cottage, all with your accessibility in mind.
Modifications in Mind
Many homes will come with some of the accessibility you require, such as a single-story home, zero-step entry, or a spacious layout and wide doorways to make room for mobility equipment. However, chances are that your dream home will require some modifications to make it work for you. You might need to widen the doorways or replace the carpet with hardwood to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers. Perhaps your safety needs require the installation of a ramp, grab bars, or a zero-step shower.
Whatever modifications you need, factor this into your budget. You’ll likely benefit from buying less house than you can afford, as you can use the money saved to make modifications. If down payment and affordability are an issue, you may be able to qualify for disabled homeowner assistance. Look to programs like Fannie Mae’s Community HomeChoice, Habitat for Humanity or through state housing agencies and local nonprofits. You may also be eligible to receive up to $15,000 via Oregon’s Downpayment Assistance Program for First Time Homebuyers to help with the down payment and closing costs.
Before You Move In
Once you’ve made the purchases and the keys are in hand, you’re probably excited and ready to move in as soon as possible, but there are a few things you need to do first. Living in the country means a lot of peace and quiet – just the way you like it – but peace of mind is important. Ensure your home is secure by rekeying the locks -- this should be your first priority. Don’t forget to check smoke detectors and change the air filters. Cleaning your home is a must as well before your belongings arrive. This should include the kitchen and appliances, bathrooms, and even the walls and floors. If you need a little help getting your home move-in ready, take advantage of cleaning services (these typically cost $30 - $60 an hour).
The prospect of buying a new home can be daunting if you don’t know what to expect. Make things stress-free by working with a realtor who can help you find an accessible home while also making sure the home has modification-potential. Before you make the trek to your new home, make sure it is move-in ready, then you’ll be well on your way to home sweet home.