How to Get an Accessible Home to Call Your Own

Buying

Article By: Patrick Young (patrick@ableusa.info)

Buying an accessible home is really easy. All you need is a load of cash in the bank for a down payment, a fantastic credit score, and favorable terms for a mortgage. That’s it.

As you probably guessed, that’s not exactly true. In fact, the property market has become downright vicious in recent years, with more and more hurdles in the way of financing and a horde of buyers honing in on the properties they can afford. Plus, if you have a disability, your diamond in the rough must be mobility-friendly and comfortable to live in. That’s a lot to ask.

But you’re used to overcoming hurdles, so there’s no reason to give up. You just need to create a solid plan to move into a nest you can call your own. Here’s a step-by-step guide for how to do it.

Create a Budget

Figuring out what you can afford is a little more complicated than checking out your account balance; it’s more a matter of income. Roughly speaking, your mortgage payments shouldn’t be more than 25 percent of what you bring in each month, though you must also consider additional expenses, such as the modifications to make your new home livable.

Boost Your Credit Score

It’s almost impossible to get a mortgage with a low credit score, which is often the result of missing credit card or student loan payments. If you’re behind on your obligations, catch up as quickly as you can to improve your reputation with lending agencies. Start by getting a copy of your credit report to find out where you stand.

Start Saving Up

Cutting expenses helps your home-buying effort in a number of ways. The savings you accrue can be put toward a down payment, which is traditionally 20 percent of the value of the property. You could also use the money to take a bite out of debt and raise your credit score, or fund repairs to make your dwelling accessible and mobility-friendly.

Engage an Agent

Once your financial house is in order, it’s time to start hunting, and you need a guide. Though many choose to look for a home on their own, an experienced real estate agent brings specialized knowledge that makes the process faster and more productive. They’ll aid in negotiations and can help you find a mortgage lender, which is well worth the fee you pay.

Look for Key Features

When talking to your agent, be clear about what you’re seeking. Ideally, you should be searching for a one-story home with lots of floor space and wide doorways. It should also be located in an area with accessible transport as well as mobility-friendly shops and restaurants, which make for a much cozier neighborhood.

Plan Your Modifications

Though a dwelling may meet the criteria above, it’s not necessarily ideal, though it could be with a few minor adjustments. BraunAbility touts features like wheelchair ramps (installation can cost between $3,500 and $8,000) as well as countertops with knee space for easier meal preparation. The bathroom also deserves some attention. You may not need a full remodel (which can cost as much as $25,000 in Washington, DC); adding some grab bars and a shower bench may be enough.

Get Financing

Those modifications don’t come cheap, but you’ll find financial aid through government agencies such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Charities like the Red Cross and AmeriCorps may be able to lend a helping hand as well.

Be Patient

This process is going to take time, and a lot of it. Much depends on your current financial situation, including your credit score. Even if that’s on the mend, you still have to contend with a long search for the right property, and haste could wind up costing a fortune in repair bills or being saddled with a bad investment.

You’ll be able to own your own home if you’re committed and wise about the process it takes to get there. That’s the most important ingredient to house-hunting success, regardless of your physical ability.