Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Home-buying Tips for Seniors in Need of Accessible Homes

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Home-buying Tips for Seniors in Need of Accessible Homes
(Guest article by Patrick Young)

According to a 2011 Housing Survey, less than 1 percent of US homes are wheelchair accessible — and fewer than 5 percent of properties would meet the needs of residents with moderate mobility impairments. With the right modifications, however, about 33 percent of properties would be accessible to individuals with mobility impairments and disabilities.

If you’re aging in place and looking for ways to make your home environment safer and more comfortable as you grow older — even if you don’t hold a disability or use a wheelchair — you may be thinking of purchasing an accessible home. However, modifying your current property could be a better solution in some cases, especially if you can’t find an accessible home that meets all your needs. For some important tips that will help you to find a safe and comfortable home that accommodates you as you age, read on!

Finding Senior-Friendly Accessible Homes

While finding an accessible home isn’t as easy as it should be, it can be done if you know which features to look for and take the time to hire a good real estate agent to assist you in your search. Below, you’ll find a few steps you can take to increase your chances of finding a senior-friendly home that meets your changing needs:

  1. Make a list of the features you’ll need in an accessible home, such as a one-level floor plan, non-slip flooring, and at least one fully accessible bathroom.
  2. Hire a real estate agent with plenty of experience in assisting senior clients.
  3. Meet with a trusted mortgage lender to explore your financing options.
  4. Begin your search for an accessible home.

While your real estate agent can help you to find accessible homes for sale, you can also browse online through websites such as Zillow, Trulia, and Redfin. However, you’ll need to remember to filter your search to include the words “accessible” or “handicap accessible.” Additionally, your local Center for Independent Living may be able to assist you or connect you to other valuable resources in your area.

Financing the Purchase of Your Accessible Home

In addition to finding the perfect senior-friendly home, you’ll need to meet with a mortgage lender to obtain financing for your home purchase. Your loan options may include a standard mortgage, Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), or Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). Additionally, according to PennyMac, former service members may qualify for a VA loan, which is a type of mortgage that offers lower interest rates and other great benefits such as no down payments or mortgage insurance premiums. If you meet income restrictions, the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC) may be able to assist you in financing your purchase as well.

Making Senior-Friendly Modifications to Your Home

If you can’t find accessible housing, making a few senior-friendly modifications to your current home can be an excellent alternative to buying a new property. Not only will these home modifications improve your quality of life as you age in place, but they’ll also reduce your risk of falling and injuring yourself. Depending on your wants, need, and budget, several of these modifications may include the following features:

  • Installing grab bars near all toilets and bathtubs.
  • Replacing carpeting and ceramic flooring with vinyl or hardwood.
  • Replacing all door knobs with senior-friendly lever handles.
  • Eliminating any tripping hazards, such as rugs or cords.
  • Opening up living areas by removing excess furniture.
  • Widening doorways and hallways to accommodate a wheelchair.
  • Lowering cabinets and countertops.
  • Installing a chair lift or elevator, especially if you live in a multi-level home.

To assist you in financing your home modifications, finding a reliable contractor, and determining which types of improvements to make, contact your nearest Eldercare Locator.

Finding an accessible home that meets your changing needs isn’t always easy, but these tips will help you to find or modify a property that allows you to safely and comfortably age in place. Fewer homes are available to meet the changing needs of seniors and individuals with limited mobility, but an experienced real estate agent can help you to explore your options and make decisions that will benefit you well into the future.  

By: Patrick Young.

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