Many individuals with disabilities live fully independent lives, pursue successful careers, and overcome many odds to live the life they choose. However, one area that is commonly difficult for people with disabilities is homeownership. Finding affordable homes that suit their needs can require long and, often, fruitless searches. If you have a disability and thought home ownership was out of reach, these essential tips will help you turn your dream of homeownership into reality.
Take Advantage of Home Ownership Programs for Individuals with Disabilities
There are more than 40 million Americans living with a disability, but few of them own their own homes. While there are many programs available designed to provide support for persons with disabilities, most of these programs are aimed at rental housing. The Fair Housing Act prohibits sellers, real estate brokers, and lenders from discriminating against individuals with disabilities. Be sure to know your rights under the Fair Housing Act so that you can advocate for yourself throughout the process of purchasing a home.
Get Everything in Writing
If you’re purchasing a new construction home, it’s still helpful to work with a real estate agent who can guide you through the buying process. It’s imperative that you get everything in writing, whether you’re purchasing an existing home or a new construction home. Make sure you thoroughly research builders before making a decision, and remember that your home may not look exactly like the model home that you toured and selected, based on any differences in materials that you’ve chosen or upgrades that you’ve opted for.
Shop Around for the Best Mortgage
There are many options when it comes to obtaining a mortgage loan, but it’s a good idea to shop around for the best rates and terms rather than borrow from the first lender you contact. Some lenders have different conditions and are more likely to lend to borrowers with unique circumstances such as lower income levels. Additionally, if you’re working with a program designed for individuals with disabilities, you may be required to work with lenders that participate in the program. Research available programs and decide whether you’d like to use a particular program before you start shopping for lenders.
Always Hire a Home Inspector
Many lenders require borrowers to have a home inspection as part of the purchase process, though some allow borrowers to skip this step. Even if your lender doesn’t require it, you should always hire a home inspector to be sure that there are no hidden problems with the property. Home inspectors can uncover major issues that could cost you thousands of dollars to repair later on. After a home inspection, you have the opportunity to opt out of the sale or request that the seller either repair problems or lower the sale price.
Buying a home is a complex process for any buyer, but individuals with disabilities have other concerns to weigh, such as whether the property is accessible or could be made so with modifications, cost considerations, and other concerns. Working with a real estate agent, getting everything in writing, securing the help of home ownership programs for the disabled, and always getting a home inspection are all essential tips for choosing the right property and lending program for your needs.
Image via Flickr by Sanjoy Ghosh