The Dos and Don’ts of Accessible House Hunting

Creating accessible housing is about designing spaces to meet the specific needs of the people who live there. There’s no one right way to find a house that meets your needs, but some methods are better than others. Number 1 Home Inspector offers some basic guidelines to help you.

Do get a credit report

Your credit score can really affect the interest rate that you will pay on a home mortgage. Luckily, it’s easier than ever to get a copy of your credit report. You can search online to get a credit report from all three credit bureaus, typically for free.

If your credit score isn’t as good as you’d like it to be, make a plan to improve it. If you have any outstanding debt, calculate your current income, along with how much you can afford to pay off each month. Then, automate your finances so the money goes into paying off debt.

Don’t get impatient with the process

Whether you’re paying off debt or struggling to find a house that has what you need, it can take longer than you’re comfortable with. However, don’t lose hope. Being patient can prevent burnout and help you stay motivated, even as you’re looking for better housing. A solid idea of what you’re looking for and how much you’re willing to pay can help you focus on your goals.

Do check nonprofit and federal programs

Housing can be expensive, but you don’t have to pay for it all alone. For instance, if you live in a rural area, you might be eligible for a grant to help with home repairs that improve home function or accessibility. Check out any governmental and non-governmental programs you might be eligible for that can help you in your housing.

Don’t go without pre-approval

When you get pre-approved before house hunting, you get to see the maximum amount you can borrow, discover what loan options you have and gain negotiating power with sellers. According to Investopedia, here are the things you need to be pre-approved for a mortgage before you go house shopping: proof of income, proof of assets (a bank statement that shows you have money for a down payment), good credit, employment verification, and solid identification.

Do search for houses that meet your basic needs

You have your mental list of deal-breakers; now’s the time to write them all down. This helps you get an idea of what you absolutely cannot live without. You can avoid wasting time on any house that doesn’t fit the criteria.

Don’t reject a house you can modify

Again, having a list of what you need is important. Some modifications are cheaper than others, so figure out what you’re flexible on. Some modifications include widening doors, adding grab bars, lowering counters and sinks, and even removing appliances or hardware to widen floors. Calculate the cost of common accessibility modifications with houses that you’re interested in. In some cases, the combined cost of the home and modifications will come out to less than a similar home with the features already in place.

What about an “as is” property?

There are a lot of pros and cons to buying an “as is” house. On the one hand, you could save a serious chunk of money if the house has minor issues that won’t cost more than what you’re saving in the long run. Especially if it already has accessibility features or will be easy to modify. On the other hand, there are risks that come with buying “as is,” mostly due to serious defects that can cost thousands of dollars to replace or repair (e.g. cracked foundation, faulty roof, mold, asbestos, etc.). If you are considering an “as is” property, work with Number 1 Home Inspector for a thorough and detailed inspection that can help you decide if this sort of investment is worth the effort.

Do explore the neighborhood

When it comes to real estate, location is crucial. This is why it’s important to gauge whether a neighborhood you’re considering is accessible as well. Do the sidewalks have ramps? Is the house close to a grocery store, your work, or good public transportation? Take some time to explore your future neighborhood, and see if it’s safe and gives you access to everything you need.

Don’t ignore any red flags

If you’ve got a bad feeling in your gut, trust it and ask about whatever you may be uneasy about. Simply knowing common red flags can make you a wiser buyer. Some include bad smells, neighborhood turnover, flickering lights, bugs, or even fresh paint. Again, working with Number 1 Home Inspector will help identify anything that proves to be a deal-breaker.

Despite changes in universal design for homes, it’s still tough to find a perfectly accessible home within your budget. But be patient. Improve your credit score, identify what you need, work with a reputable real estate agent and home inspector and keep looking. A good house is always worth it.

When you’re ready to make an offer on a home, connect with the experts at Number 1 Home Inspector to ensure you get a professional and thorough property inspection. With a detailed report, you can be confident that you’re making the right investment.

This article was written by Patrick Young

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