Everyone needs a home where they will feel comfortable, safe, and happy. When it comes to people with disabilities, it's vital that housing is appropriate and adjusted to their needs. Still, even with over 4 million people with disabilities in Australia, finding accessible housing for special needs is a challenge. Thus, home buying for the disabled is not the same as a typical house purchase procedure. From finding an affordable property to knowing what to look for and different ways of funding, there is a lot of information to gather, especially if you are a first-time homebuyer.
What to look for in a home
Regular homes demand many modifications to be a suitable living environment for people with disabilities. The things to pay attention to when looking for a home on the market are:
• The location - Even though the area influences the cost, you need fast access to services, transport, and other amenities.
• The home's internal layout - Homes with modern floor plans and many stairs usually are not a good choice for people with disabilities. However, this also depends on your level and type of disability. Make sure that the layout design won't make it harder to get around.
• External access - Some buildings have ramps for disabled access; others don't.
• Bathroom design - Needless to say, not all bathrooms are fit for the disabled. Since this is a significant home investment, it's essential to look for practical designs that won't require much remodeling.
• Access to kitchen and laundry - Access to essential premises of the property is crucial for any level of disability.
Looking for the home of your dreams is hard as it is without having to pay attention to essential specifics that will make your living space functional. Your future home needs to meet minimum accessibility requirements or a potential for upgrades and renovation, which can cost a substantial amount of money.
Additional costs of home buying for the disabled
When setting up a budget for a home purchase, it's important to include the costs of modifications and all other additional relocation expenses. Typical home upgrades include widening doorways, installing ramps, removal of bathroom hobs, and adding handrails. Before setting your mind on a place, make sure to calculate the costs of the remodeling. Then take the sum off your budget. After you find the home by your likings, hire a home inspector familiar with the necessities of people with disabilities.
The process of home buying for the disabled requires the same amount of time investment or even more than the common home buying process. You need to be aware that besides the expenses of home improvements, there will be some other significant costs to consider. The most common ones are homeowner's insurance, interest rates, closing costs, earnest money, and moving expenses. Thus, when it comes to becoming a homeowner, not only money but a time investment is also necessary. Make sure to start the preparation procedure as soon you can. Only when you gather all the required information about the paperwork and moving costs can you have an easy relocation to your new home. Moving with disabilities is challenging enough, so you need to be well-reppared.
Consider hiring a housing counselor
Buying a home requires a lot of research, but good advice and some tips could save you a lot of money. Unlike most home buying processes, people with disabilities have additional options to explore regarding ways of fundings. In such cases hiring a HUD-approved counselor might be a good idea. They can provide you with all the facts about mortgage interest rates, down payment, and additional costs. More importantly, they can introduce you to available financial assistance programs people with disabilities can apply for.
Ways of funding
Many programs could help you secure some funds for your home purchase. For example, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) will provide partial funding for home upgrades, while Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) offers a bespoke residence for those who need special support. In addition, the National Construction Code constantly aims to improve performance levels and standards in newly built properties.
If you happen to be a first-time homebuyer, you're eligible for the Australian First Home Owner Grant scheme. You can get $7.000 to cover your expenses or invest in anything property-related. The criteria for obtaining the grant are:
• that you don't own any residential property,
• neither you nor your partner received this grant before,
• you're over 18 years old,
• that you haven't previously lived for a period longer than six months in a property you're interested in purchasing.
The Access Home Loan Scheme is another program that helps people with disabilities to buy a house or remodel the existing property to their needs. Both the disabled and their caretakers can apply for it.
Mortgages and loans
Applying for a loan is a usually inevitable part of the home buying process. Before even starting to browse the housing market, make sure to be pre-approved for the loan. Such a procedure requires a review of your financial situation and credit history. Only then will you know what kind of credit are you eligible for. When you get approved, you will need to pay the down payment. Most likely, it will be 3-10% of the home cost. In some cases, lenders don't ask for a down payment, but that means the monthly payments will be significantly higher.
Before taking the mortgage, it's good to know that a disability pension is an acceptable form of income in most cases. However, your eligibility depends on the estimate of your income-expenses ratio. Some mortgage lenders will set their guidelines or may limit the number of funds to borrow. The important thing is to look for more than one option to consider and decide on the best deal.
Home buying for the disabled doesn't have to be a daunting procedure if you educate yourself about the options and benefits you're eligible for. You can find a lot of assistance in local non-profits and federal programs. It's also imperative to inform yourself of your rights as a person with special needs to make the whole process easier on yourself.