Finding Your Accessible Dream Home

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“Accessible” and “dream home” aren’t two words that typically go together, but as home builders embrace universal design, it’s becoming easier to find homes that are both accessible and beautiful. If you’re a home buyer with a disability or are simply looking for a “forever home” that you can live in through every stage of life, read this guide to learn how you can buy an accessible home.

Buying an Accessible Home

There are lots of reasons why you might want an accessible home. Accessible homes enable independence for seniors and people with disabilities. Many accessible features also make daily life easier for people from all walks of life, whether it’s a parent pushing a stroller or carrying arm loads of groceries into the house.

Even if you don’t need an accessible home today, it’s smart to consider accessibility in your home purchase. Needs change over time, and buying for accessibility today ensures you can live in your home for years to come.

Along with accessibility needs, you’ll also need to consider your budget (Lake of the Woods home sales average $285,000) and which type of mortgage fits your finances best. If you have a spotty credit history, an FHA loan may be your best option. For example, PennyMac FHA loans have broader credit requirements, and you may be able to pay as little as 3.5 percent down. 

Accessible Homes: The Basics

A lot goes into making a home fully accessible. However, the average homeowner doesn’t need every accessibility feature available. If you’re in search of a forever home or shopping for an age-friendly home for your senior years, pay attention to major details like these:

  • Single-story living.
  • Step-free entrances.
  • Flush thresholds.
  • Wide doorways and hallways.
  • Ample lighting.
  • Raised power outlets.
  • Blocking for grab bars.

Thankfully, these home features are popular in new construction, making it relatively easy for buyers to find a house that offers basic accessibility. However, while these are the building blocks of accessible housing, they may not be all you need to enjoy full independence at home.

3 Ways to Increase Home Accessibility

Even when buying new construction, you may need to make changes to achieve full accessibility at home. Since remodeling can be costly, it’s important to factor these costs into your home-buying budget. You may even be able to roll remodeling expenses into your mortgage!

Replacing Carpet

One popular change for wheelchair and mobility device users is replacing carpet with wood floors. Mobility devices can’t move easily on plush carpet, and seniors are more prone to fall with high-pile carpeting underfoot. While there are a variety of alternatives to carpet, wood flooring offers the best return on investment because it’s both durable and in high demand by home buyers. Homeowners can save money by choosing inexpensive woods, removing old flooring themselves, and scheduling installation while the home is empty.

Adapting Counters and Cabinets

Most homes come with standard-height countertops and cabinets, but these can be inaccessible for wheelchair users and people with other disabilities. However, with counters and cabinetry accounting for as much as 60 percent of kitchen remodeling costs — which run nearly $30,000 on average — creating an accessible kitchen is costly. If you can’t afford to completely replace counters and cabinets or are worried about impacting your home’s resale value, talk to your contractor about working with what you have. For example, you may be able to add storage solutions that maximize lower cabinets or install a two-tier kitchen island to match your existing space.

Designing an Accessible Bathroom

Due to the high cost of bathroom remodeling, it’s best to buy a home that already suits your accessibility needs. But if you can’t find the right home in your budget, you may have no choice but to invest in bathroom updates. While minor changes like installing an accessible shower head and grab bars are affordable, replacing a bathtub with a walk-in tub or barrier-free shower costs as much as $5,000 or $15,000, respectively. However, for people who need them, the independence an accessible bathroom provides is priceless.

Finding a home that checks every box is difficult in the best of circumstances. When you have a disability or need an age-friendly home, finding the right home can seem impossible. But the truth is that there are lots of homes out there just waiting to be turned into your accessible dream home. Rather than giving up on your house hunt, reach out to an experienced agent who knows how to find the right home for you.

 Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Fredericksburg, Stafford, Orange, Locust Grove, Culpeper, Northern Virginia or even Maryland or DC, we are your Real Estate team committed to finding the perfect home for you! Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by homeowners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar, and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, one of our area expert advisors will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.

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