• If you’ve ever bought a condo before, you know there are several must-haves a home needs in order to be added to the growing list of properties you’re considering. If you’re living with a disability, you also know the most important aspect of a home is that it has accessibility features, or the potential to be modified to become more accessible.

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    In addition to being accessible, other big factors related to your future home are the price and location. There’s a lot of thought and planning that goes into assessing and buying an accessible home, but working with Condo Metropolis will put you on the right track to finding the perfect condo for your needs. And if you’re still anxious, we hope the tips in this guide will help you out along the way.

    Determine What You Can Afford

    Before you start looking (and falling in love) with condos, it’s helpful to calculate what it is you can easily afford to avoid looking at properties outside of your price range. You could probably crunch the numbers yourself to come up with a ballpark estimate, but there are calculators online that take all the nitty gritty details into account such as annual income, expenses, mortgage payment, mortgage amount (APR, interest), and down payment. Once you have a concrete number, you can then take a look at the condos in your desired area to see how they’re priced and get an idea of the local housing market. In Orlando, for example, the current average sale price of homes is $275,000.

    Find the Right Location

    There might be tons of condos on the market, but you can make your house hunting search a lot easier if you can filter out the good locations. What exactly qualifies a property as being in a “good” location? It means different things to different homebuyers, but the general consensus seems to be the neighborhood, development, lot location, and of course, the house itself.

    The neighborhood should be accessible (near major routes with several points of entry); be well-kept as far as trees, landscaping, etc. and have a low crime rate. If you have kids, check out the school district. (Tip: If you have a child who has a disability, you’ll want to meet with schools to get a good feel for the environment and put a solid educational plan in place.)

    What Features to Look For

    So far, we’ve only discussed the parts of the condo-hunting process that get you to the actual hunt itself. Once your finances are squared away and you have a location in mind, here’s where you start looking for those homes with potential!

    The bathroom is one of those places we frequent quite often, but it can also be the most inaccessible. Chances are you won’t find a bathroom with accessibility features already in place, but the good news is that you can easily modify the bathroom to meet your needs. Start by checking out the dimensions of the bathroom to ensure there is plenty of room to safely move about, as well as measure the doorways and sinks. The doorway should be wide enough for access via mobility devices, and sinks should have enough clearance underneath for a wheelchair.

    The kitchen is the gathering place of the home, so it needs to be accessible, too. Some helpful kitchen modifications might be movable shelves, lowered cabinets and countertops (or a pull-out countertop to minimize the amount of renovation), a drawer-style dishwasher, and of course, plenty of space to maneuver. Perhaps you’d like to add additional lighting under cabinets, or would like the kitchen island lowered or removed altogether. It’s all up to personal preference and what works best for you.

    Living Areas
    Living areas such as the living room, bedroom, and den are places we go to for comfort and rest, but they may need a facelift as well. You might need to remove doors between high traffic areas, or even take out a wall. Depending on the disability, removing carpeting and replacing it with strategically placed sturdy/textured rugs will improve maneuverability and traction. Ultimately, what you need varies, which we’ll discuss below.

    Purchasing a condo takes some effort on your end. Purchasing a property with accessibility in mind requires a little more work, but it goes a long way when your living environment works with you rather than against you. By keeping your needs in mind and finding a condo that either fits the bill as is or can be modified to fit, you’re sure to find a place you can make a home.

    By Patrick Young.

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