When you have a disability, moving to a new house can be a challenge. You need a place that can accommodate your needs to adjust properly, which can be difficult in the hot property market. Most importantly, your budget could be troublesome while finding the best home for you. Although you might face all these issues, it certainly does not mean that it’s impossible. Planning, preparation, and foresight are keys to success but with some help that we’re going to discuss today.
Here, Saving Says gives you advice on moving home when you have a disability, with an emphasis on saving money:
What To Look For In A Home
Finding the right home can take months and is the most time-consuming part of the house-hunting process. It’s a good idea to get your feelers out as soon as you can for a suitable property after you earmark a budget. Keep in mind that you may not be able to find the perfect property with disability-specific modifications already in place – you will have to likely buy something good enough and then make the modifications to it yourself (which may add months to the moving timeline). Plan accordingly.
The more items you can tick off the list, the fewer modifications you’ll have to make and the more money you’ll be able to save down the road. Here are some considerations to determine before choosing the right property.
You’re probably looking for a property with healthcare facilities nearby e.g. surgery centers, health clinics, assisted living centers, and more. Also, a public transport system that is convenient to access is to be considered. Finally, you may want to live near your family or friends (this may be important if you need assistance with ADLs from time to time).
If you drive, you may need a separate garage with a directly accessible entryway to your home. If you’re planning to live in a condo, you may want to choose one with a designated disabled parking space. Last, you may need to consider the presence (or absence) of barriers like stairs between the parking space and the entryway to your home.
Disability-friendly kitchens come with handy modifications like lowered worktops that make cooking easier and accessible taps that you can reach even if you’re in a wheelchair. You can also find kitchens with extra surface space that offer room for aids like a jar stabilizer.
4) Access & Accessibility
You want to ensure your new home is easy to access. Some nice-to-haves: Ground floor residence, private entryway, extra-wide hallway (90cm+), extra-wide doorways (80cm+), a ramped entryway, and wheelchair lifts. Also, you should consider the accessibility of the interior space for when you move around: Handrails, smart home systems, handles and locks on doors, door entry intercom, an internal wheelchair lift, and an accessible bath are some examples.
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The Home-Buying Process
Buying a home involves five simple steps: choosing a property, arranging the financing, making an offer, arranging the home inspection, having an appraisal, and closing the deal. According to a Zillow report, it usually takes 30-45 days to close on a home once you’re under contract, assuming you have the mortgage or financing details figured out and the seller accepts your offer.
Below are some critical things you need to know about the process:
1) Know Your Rights
You are entitled to equal housing opportunities, meaning your disability cannot be the grounds for discrimination when you purchase a house. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Fair Housing Act (FHA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) are four major legislations granting you housing and loan rights. Remember that you may need to self-enforce your rights, as lenders aren’t always trustworthy or aware of them.
2) Research Mortgage Rates & Shop Around To Save Money.
If you’re planning to apply for a mortgage, start by researching mortgage rates to figure out the amount you can afford to borrow (which will determine how much home you can afford). Your credit score, current income, and employment, among other things, influence the home loan amount. You can apply for mortgages on SSI and SSDI. Lastly, shopping around is smart. Every lender has different rates and conditions.
3) It’s Advisable To Use An Experienced Real Estate Agent
An experienced real estate agent can make your house hunting a lot easier. Not only can they cut down on the house hunting time and help you find a property that’s suited to your needs. They can also advise you on how you can save money. You can use the internet or ask for referrals from friends and family to find a suitable agent.
4) You Should Try To Negotiate A Good Price
You can and should attempt to negotiate a better price with the seller – you may be able to save thousands this way or receive other benefits (like the seller agreeing to pay for the home inspection, for instance). The three best ways to negotiate down are researching the local market properly, making a strong offer on the home, and finally coming up with a good counteroffer strategy.
The Types Of Modifications You May Need To Make
After finally finding your perfect living space, you will likely need to modify it to better cater to your needs. This will typically be a mix of exterior and interior modifications (a good contractor can help you figure out the ones you need). Here are some suggestions:
1) Make Accessibility Modifications
Have a ramp installed on the path leading up to your front door or make it a gentle slope. You can make your parking space larger (4000m) to allow plenty of room for maneuvering and essentials like a wheelchair. Your stairs should have handrails on both sides to give you something to hold onto as you climb up.
2) Consider “Quality Of Life” Features
Make your home a more comfortable place to live in with some specific upgrades: having two-way switches installed, getting a smart home system, adding anti-skid tile, adding higher-intensity lighting, installing lower kitchen countertops, making your bath accessible, and setting up adjustable or pull-out style shelves.
3) Modify With An Eye To The Future
According to Brain & Life, it’s more cost-effective (and less stressful) if you make modifications to the home with the long-term prognosis of your health condition in mind. You should, ideally, use “Certified Aging in Place” (CAPS) contractors to help you with your disability modifications – they can evaluate your home and suggest modifications for you.
4) Check For Repairs & Modifications To Save Money
You may be able to get financial assistance to help with your home repairs and modifications. Some grants to check out are the Specially Adapted Housing (VA), Special Housing Adaptation (VA), The Think Alive Achievement Grant, 203K Loans (FHA), Self-Sufficiency Grant, and Rural Housing Repair Loans and Grants.
Ensuring A Stress-Free Move
Once the home has been modified to your liking, it’s time to move in. Below are some tips on making a smooth move while saving money:
1) Plan The Move-Out Early
Planning gives you plenty of time to de-clutter, clean, and get organized before moving. You can think of important details – like moving dates, transportation, packing arrangements, and more – in advance and allocate a proper budget for everything. Last-minute packing and preparation may make you drop the ball on something important or lead to unforeseen expenses.
2) Use Reputable Movers
Spending time finding good movers is worthwhile. A good team will help you get the packing done efficiently, offer good protection for your belongings, help you avoid injury risks, prevent items from getting lost, and generally save you time and energy. You can compare movers online- look for the ones with good reviews and competitive prices. You should also get quotes beforehand to compare costs.
3) Book In Advance & Off-Season To Save Money
An excellent way to save on moving costs is to book movers well in advance – some companies offer special packages and deals if you book enough in advance (several months, for instance). Also, booking off-season – during the winter months – can help you shave a significant portion of your costs. Lastly, you should also book on off days: Fridays are the most expensive while Sundays are the cheapest.
4) Save Money On Packing Costs
You can save money on packing costs with some strategizing. First consider getting free packing material from nearby restaurants, offices, or similar. Most have cardboard boxes that they want to throw out that they won’t mind giving to you. The second option is to ask your friends and family to help you pack instead of paying movers. Three, declutter and throw away non-essentials to save on room and, by extension, shipping, and transportation.
It’s always a good idea to double-check your finances before you make a major financial commitment. You can talk to a financial advisor or friends and family for help. They can help you research your mortgage options, allocate a budget, assist with the moving, and generally get you settled in faster and more comfortably.