This is a guest article written by Patrick Young with Ableusa.info. Able USA provides lots of valuable resources for people living with disabilities. Thanks for your contribution Patrick!
Buying your first house is a landmark moment. It’s also a major investment, so you want to make sure you spend your money wisely. Finding an affordable home if you have accessibility needs can be extra challenging. According to Pew Research, Americans with disabilities earn less, with a median income of $21,572 compared to the $31,871 earned on average by those without a disability. However, by teaming up with Lisa Vanderloo, and with some effort and financial savvy, you can find a first-time home you love — and can afford. Follow these tips for first-time buyers.
Set your budget in advance
To make sure you don’t spend more than you should, set your price limit in advance—and then only search within that bracket. While you can get a loan to help pay for a house, keep in mind that you will have to make a down payment, usually between 5 and 20 percent of the house’s price. It is technically possible to get smaller loans, but you’ll likely end up paying a higher interest rate. And if this is your first time purchasing a home, explore the different options available to you to ensure you’re getting the right loan.
Potential lenders will approve you based on factors like income and credit score, so request a copy of your credit report in advance to get an idea of how viable a candidate you are for a loan. In addition to your credit report, potential lenders will require documents such as tax returns, bank statements, and details on existing debts like student loans.
Look Into Financing Options
Don’t just rely on traditional mortgages when it comes to financing your accessible home, as there may be other opportunities available. For example, the Section 8 homeownership voucher program sponsored by the Department of Housing and Urban Development provides affordable and accessible options. There is also the USDA direct home loan program, which doesn't require a downpayment and offers a fixed interest rate. If you are a disabled veteran, the Department of Veterans Affairs provides benefits for qualified individuals. These benefits include home modification grants, which you can use to renovate a home so it meets your accessibility needs.
Identify Current and Future Accessibility Needs
Once you have the financial aspects figured out, you can start looking at houses. First, make a list of your accessibility needs, keeping in mind not only current but also future requirements. For instance, if you have a physical disability that is likely to deteriorate over time, will you need a wheelchair in the future? In this case, you need to look for houses with sufficiently wide doorways and hallways, a roll-in no-curb shower, and lower counters in the kitchen and bathroom. If you can’t find housing that fits the bill, there is also the possibility of undertaking accessibility friendly renovations. Keep in mind that you will have the home improvement costs to take care of on top of the actual house price. The average cost of remodeling a bathroom to make it accessible is approximately $9,000.
Remember to Consider Location
Last but not least, as you’re surveying properties, look for homes in neighborhoods that have accessible sidewalks, and that offer proximity to places like doctor’s offices, grocery stores, parks and public transportation. It’s also worth considering how close you can be to your work, if you are employed outside of the home.
Buying a home for the first time is both exciting and nerve-wracking. Follow the above steps when looking for accessible housing to make sure the process is a success. You can then reap the rewards of having a home to call your own.
Photo Credit: Unsplash
Great info on everything real estate.