Every home buying experience is different, but rarely is it an easy process. And if you have a disability, it can be extra stressful. However, if you know what to look for and make some preparations, you can reduce the stress and find the accessible home of your dreams. Here are five things to keep in mind when looking for an accessible home.

Improve Your Credit

First things first: You want to make sure you have a good credit score so that you won’t get held up when trying to get a mortgage. Start by viewing your credit report. According to the FTC, you can get one free copy per year by going through Annualcreditreport.com, which is the only authorized source for free credit reports. To verify your identity, you will need to share your name, address, birthday, and Social Security number. If you need to improve your credit score, there are steps you can take. Just remember to be patient throughout the process.

Research Your Desired Neighborhoods

Another important part of the home-buying process is choosing the best neighborhood for you and/or your family. It helps to ask yourself questions like:

     How safe is the neighborhood?

     Are there grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, and other amenities nearby?

     Do you like the school district?

     How close is the nearest hospital?

When you have a disability, it’s also important to consider whether you want to travel through the neighborhood with your wheelchair or other mobility aid. Are the sidewalks safe? How many curb ramps and pedestrian crossings are there in the neighborhood?

Look for Good Features

It can be very difficult to find homes that are already accessible. However, don’t lose hope, as you can make modifications that make your living space everything you need. Since modifications can get expensive, it helps to keep in mind some structural features to look for that can reduce the number of changes and additions you need to make.

A single-floor layout will generally work better because there are fewer steps to deal with. To ensure you have room to comfortably maneuver through your home with a mobility aid, don’t consider a home with narrow doorways and hallways. And if you find a house with cabinets that are lower than standard height, it can save you from having to lower them later.

Plan for Modifications

The modifications you will need to make to your new home will often depend on your needs. For instance, if you use a mobility aid, there are some general changes that will keep your living space safer and more accessible. To make sure you can comfortably enter and exit your home, look into a quality wheelchair ramp for your entranceway. Also, think about installing threshold ramps so you can move around inside your home.

If you need wider doorways, see if expandable hinges are an option or bring in a contractor to remodel. You also want to make sure you can access daily necessities like cooking and personal hygiene, so it may be necessary to lower your cabinets and sinks and install items such as non-slip mats, grab bars, and shower chairs.

Prep for Moving In

Once you’ve picked out a home, it’s time to prep for move-in day. First of all, you’ll want to change the locks. As soon as you know your closing date, find and hire a locksmith; you should plan on paying around $96 to $210 for new locks to be installed. Also, you may need to choose a moving company and coordinate moving details. Since you want to start your new chapter in a clean environment, consider hiring a cleaning service to deep clean the home.

Preparing will help you find the perfect home that you can make accessible. Start by checking your credit score and taking steps to improve it. Pick a good neighborhood and consider the structural features when choosing a home. Make modifications that are necessary to turn your new home into the safe and accessible living space you need. Finally, take care of tasks like changing the locks, arranging moving details, and deep cleaning before you move in.

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