The Fully Accessible Guide To Buying a Home For Disabled Homebuyers In 2019
[Click the text anytime in the article to activate text to speech. ]
There is no shortage of walls to climb and mountains to topple when living with a physical or mental disability. So, why would buying a home be any different? Home ownership is the American dream and a tremendous accomplishment that millions of Americans strive to achieve. However, the process of finding a home within your budget and making an offer is a challenge, especially if you are physically or mentally impaired. No matter the nature of your disability, every American is entitled to homeownership, that is why the Federal Government has established laws to protect those rights. The fully accessible guide to buying a home for disabled homebuyers in 2019 is designed to be the one stop shop for everything you need to know. You will find information on your rights, resources to aid the homebuying process, instructions on how to file suit if your homebuyer rights are infringed, and accessibility features to look for in a home. Additionally, we will cover advice for overcoming the challenge of finding a home that fits your needs, no matter what they may be.
- 1 The Fully Accessible Guide To Buying a Home For Disabled Homebuyers In 2019
- 1.1 What Does Federal Law Say About Disability
- 1.2 Financial Assistance
- 1.3 Homebuying Programs That Assist Disabled Homebuyers
- 1.4 Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- 1.5 Federal Housing Administration (FHA)
- 1.6 Fannie Mae
- 1.7 Habitat For Humanity
- 1.8 Assistance for Disabled Veterans
- 1.9 U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
- 1.10 For Veterans:
- 1.11 Here are the Requirements to Be Eligible for the Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant:
- 1.12 Disability and Social Security
- 1.13 Home Buyers Rights
- 1.14 Service Animals
- 1.15 Housing Counselors
- 1.16 Figure Out How Much You Can Afford
- 1.17 How To Avoid Predatory Lending Practices
- 1.18 How To Fight Back Against Predatory Lenders
- 1.19 Home Modifications For Disabled Homebuyers
- 1.20 Creating Accessible Walkways, Layouts, and Entryways
- 1.21 Flooring That Agrees With Your Disability
- 1.22 Accessible Bathrooms
- 1.23 Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
- 1.24 ILRU Directory of Centers For Independent Living
- 1.25 Accessibility Notice
What Does Federal Law Say About DisabilityThe Federal Government nondiscrimination laws say, “(e.g. the Americans with Disabilities Act, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Section 188 of the Workforce Investment Act), a person with a disability is generally defined as someone who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more “major life activities,” (2) has a record of such an impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment.” Here are some physical or mental conditions that substantially limit initial life conditions:
- Hearing, vision, and mobility impairments
- Chronic Alcoholism
- Chronic Mental Illness
- Related complexes to AIDS
- Mental Retardation
Major Life Activities Including By the Federal Law:
- Performing Manual Tasks
- Caring for Oneself
Financial AssistancePeople with physical and mental disabilities often have a harder time finding jobs and earning higher wages. As a result, people with disabilities have difficulty finding a home within their budget and keeping the mortgage current. If you do not believe me, ask the 2018 Annual Report on People With Disabilities in America.
For applicants that qualify, there are several public agencies and private organizations offering financial assistance for Americans with disabilities.
Check out this list of helpful resources on financial help for disabled homebuyers.
Homebuying Programs That Assist Disabled Homebuyers
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)For starters, HUD has the Homeownership Voucher Program; the HCV program allows families that are assisted to use a voucher to buy a home and receive assistance with paying their homeownership expenses every month.
The HCV program is exclusive to families that qualify for the program and is apart of every Public Housing Agency (PHA). When applying, you want first to make sure your local PHA offers the program. Click here to find the contact information of all PHAs by state so you can ask. When you visit the link, you will see an orange map listed below what you will want to do is click the state of your choice highlighted in orange.
To qualify for the Homeownership Voucher Program, one must meet family income and employment requirements, be a first-time homeowner, attend and pass the pre-assistance homeownership and counseling program required by the state PHA, and meet any additional needs set by the state PHA. Do not worry, if you are elderly or disabled, the employment requirements will not apply.
Contact HUD Headquarters
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development451 7th St., S.W.,Washington, DC 20410
Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgTelephone: (202) 708-1112TTY: (202) 708-1455
Federal Housing Administration (FHA)A subsidiary of HUD, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), provides mortgage insurance on home loans approved by lenders. The FHA is the largest insurer in the world, with over $1.3 trillion in policies. Every year, millions of homebuyers receive aid from the FHA so they can achieve the dream of sustainable, affordable homeownership, with the supported availability of over 300,000 affordable apartment units, including those for people with disabilities.
An FHA loan is federally insured so your lender can give you a better deal on your mortgage. For a homebuyer with disabilities, this means a lower down payment, lower closing costs, and lenient credit qualifying. If you are in the market for your first home, the FHA can get you a down payment as low as 3.5%. Hypothetically, if you were looking to purchase a house for $100,000, you would only be required to put down $3,500 which is unheard of in the real estate field.
Federal Housing Administration 451 7th St., S.W.Washington, DC 20410
Email: email@example.comPhone: (800) 225-5342TTY: (800) 877-8339
Fannie MaeFannie Mae or the Federal National Mortgage Association is a government-funded organization that provides affordable mortgage financing. How Fannie Mae works is that they buy loans from mortgage lenders and package them for sale to investors as securities backed by the mortgage.
Their HomeReady Mortgage program provides special assistance for disabled people as flexible underwriting or terms on home loans.
- 3% required down payment
- Cancellable mortgage insurance Immediate appraisal orders from lenders
- No geographic location restrictions on loans
- Freedom on the first day from reps and warrants that are available
Know Your Options is an excellent source of educational information on housing for disabled homebuyers that happens to be operated by Fannie Mae as well.
Contact Fannie Mae
3900 Wisconsin Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20016-2892
Southwestern Regional Office
International Plaza II 14221 Dallas Parkway, Suite 1000 Dallas, TX 75254-2916
Midwestern Regional Office[/sayit]
One South Wacker Drive, Suite 1400 Chicago, IL 60606-4667
Northwestern Regional Office
1835 Market St., Suite 2300 Philadelphia, PA 19103-2909[/sayit]
Southeastern Regional Office
1075 Peachtree St. N.E., Suite 1600 Atlanta, GA 30309
Western Regional Office
135 North Los Robles Ave., Suite 400 Pasadena, CA 91101-1707
Email: Contact Form
Phone: (800) 232-6643
Habitat For Humanity
The nonprofit organization primarily rebuilds a home for those with inadequate housing. However, they also do a lot more than that for the community; here are some of the things they do.
- Repair and Renovates Existing Housing
- Leads Holistic Neighborhood Housing
- Fights for fair housing policies
- After natural disasters, they assist communities with cleanup and rebuild
- Accepts and resells donated materials for homes through their online store Restores
- Provides small loans for home improvement in 3rd world countries
Here’s what you will need to qualify for “Habitat Homeownership.”
- In need of better housing
- Have a rent or mortgage you cannot afford
- Living in a home that is inaccessible for your disabilities
- Willing to partner and either rebuild your home or volunteer at a Restore.
- A partnership may include prerequisite hours in classes such as personal finance, home maintenance, and other related topics to ensure you can provide the demands of home ownership
- Able to pay an affordable mortgage provided by Habitat Humanity which is then recycled back to rebuild more homes and help others
If you meet these requirements, then give your local Habitat a call or their international hotline 1-800-422-4828 for more information on how to sign up.
Contact Habitat For Humanity
Habitat for Humanity International121 Habitat St.Americus, GA 31709-3498 USA
Phone: (800) 422-4828 or (229) 924-6935
Assistance for Disabled VeteransDisabled veterans can benefit significantly from the right kind of financial help that can lower the size of their home loan.
If you are a disabled veteran, you are going to want to check out these sources for assistance:
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
The VA or U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers housing assistance to those who have a service-connected disability. The VA housing assistance can aid those who are servicemembers, Veterans, and surviving spouses to purchase a home or refinance a current home loan. They also offer services to help you build, repair, or keep your home. If you are a veteran with disabilities connected to your service and require home modifications to live as independently as possible, they will help you make them.
Here are the Eligibility Requirements for VA Home Loan Programs:
Service Requirements for Service Members and Veterans on Active Duty:
|When did you serve?||You meet the minimum active-duty service requirement if you served for at least this amount of time:|
|Between September 16, 1940, and July 25, 1947 (WWII)||90 total days|
|Between July 26, 1947, and June 26, 1950 (post-WWII period)||181 continuous days|
|Between June 27, 1950, and January 31, 1955 (Korean War)||90 total days|
|Between February 1, 1955, and August 4, 1964 (post-Korean War period)||90 total days|
|Between August 5, 1964, and May 7, 1975 (Vietnam War), |
orFebruary 28, 1961, to May 7, 1975, if you served in the Republic of Vietnam
|90 total days|
|Between May 8, 1975, and September 7, 1980 (post-Vietnam War period), orBetween May 8, 1975, and October 16, 1981, if you served as an officer||181 continuous days|
|Between September 8, 1980, and August 1, 1990, |
orBetween October 17, 1981, and August 1, 1990, if you served as an officer
|Between August 2, 1990, and the present (Gulf War)|
|I’m on active duty now||90 continuous days|
|When did you serve?||You meet the minimum active-duty service requirement if you served for at least this amount of time:|
|Between August 2, 1990, and the present (Gulf War)||90 continuous days of active service|
|Any time period||6 creditable years in the Selected Reserve or National Guard, and one of the descriptions below is true for you
At least one of these must be true. You:|
Here are the requirements:
For Veterans:A Copy of Your Discharge or Separation Papers (DD214)
For Active-Duty Servicemembers:
A statement of service that is signed by your commander, personnel officer, or adjutant that shows this information
Your Full Name
Social Security Number
Date of Birth
Date You Entered Duty
Duration of Any Lost Time
Name of the Command Providing the Information
- A Copy of Your Discharge or Separation Papers (DD214)
For Current Members of the National Guard or Reserves that have not been active:
A statement of service signed by your Commander, Adjutant, or personnel officer that shows –
- Your Full Name
- Social Security Number
- Date of Birth
- Date You Entered Duty
- Total Number of Creditable Years of Study
- Duration of Any Lost Time
- The Name of the Command Providing Information
If you are a discharged member of the National Guard and were never active, this is what you will need:
- A Report of Separation and Record of Service (NGB Form 22) for each period of National Guard service
- Your Retirement Points Statement (NGB Form 23) and proof the character of service
- A Copy of Your Latest Annual Retirement Points
- Proof of your Honorable Service
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs works with the Specially Adapted Housing Grants (SAH) and the Special Housing Adaptation (SHA) to provide grants to eligible veterans so they can rebuild, purchase, or remodel homes to meet their needs. This comes in handy if you are unable to afford to remodel and have trouble getting into the shower, bathtub, entering your house and more.
Here are the Requirements to Be Eligible for the Specially Adapted Housing (SAH) Grant:
|Eligibility||Living Situation||Ownership||Number of Grants You Can Use|
|Permanent||Home is owned by an eligible individual|
|Eligibility||Living Situation||Ownership||Number of Grants You Can Use|
How To Apply
To apply for a SAH/SHA grant, you will need to fill out and submit the VA Form 26-4555
You can find this form:
- Online via http://www.ebenefits.va.gov/ and submit it online as well.
- For download here VA Form 26-4555 and submit it by mail to your closest Regional Loan Center
- By calling the VA directly at 1-800-827-1000 to have a claim form mailed to you
- Visit the nearest VA regional office
Contact the VA
U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
810 Vermont Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC 20420
Phone: (800) 827-3702
TTY: (800) 829-4833
Homes For Our Troops purchases and builds specialty homes modified for severely injured veterans in Iraq and Afghanistan after Sept. 11th, 2001, they are a nonprofit organization.
Here are the Basic Qualifying Criteria to receive assistance:
Injured in the Iraq/Afghanistan war after 9/11/01
In the process of retiring or retired from military service.
Have received a COE (Certificate of Eligibility) from the VA Specialty Adapting Housing Grant Program
The home from HFOT must be your primary residence. You must provide proof of the resources needed to maintain the house and accept the responsibility of home ownership. Which, includes ongoing maintenance, upkeep, property taxes, home insurance, and utilities.
If you are a disabled veteran who wants to apply you can do so online here https://www.hfotusa.org/inquiry/
You can also send a message via email here Intake@hfotusa.org.
Contact Homes For Our Troops
Homes For Our Troops
6 Main St.
Taunton, MA 02780
Phone: (866) 787-6677
Back to Table of Contents
Disability and Social SecuritySocial Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are forms of support that help the disabled pay for basic needs, including housing or a home loan. Every bit of extra income can help reduce the cost of buying and maintaining a home.
If you are a disabled potential homebuyer and not receiving SSDI or SSI, you should check your eligibility. Depending on your work history, you may qualify for SSDI and SSI. To find out if you qualify, visit the SSA or Social Security Administration website and fill out the questionnaire.
If you find yourself having difficulty reading text on the computer, the site also has an Accessibility Help page.
Social Security Administration Office of Public Inquiries 1100 West High Rise 6401 Security Blvd. Baltimore, MD 21235
Email: Visit the contact us page
Phone: (800) 772-1213 TTY: (800) 325-0778 Find a local Social Security office: https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp
Home Buyers RightsUnder the United States Federal Government nondiscrimination laws the definition of a person with a disability is “someone who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more “major life activities,” (2) has a record of such an impairment, or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment.” As someone who has a legal disability, you are entitled to rights that protect you from discrimination.”
No matter if you are in the market to rent or buy a home, you are protected by these rights under the Fair Housing Act.Here are your rights as a disabled renter or homebuyer:
Landlords and homeowners cannot refuse a tenant or homebuyer based only on their disability. Landlords and homeowners cannot refuse to rent or sell to an individual associated with disabled buyer or renter or who intends to live in the residenceMortgage Lenders, Zoning Practices, New Construction Design, and Advertising cannot be manipulated to refuse sale or rent to a disabled homebuyer/renter, their associates, or someone who intends to live with themOwners of housing facilities are required to be fair and make reasonable expectations in their policies or operations to accommodate people with disabilities equal housing opportunities.Landlords are required to allow disabled tenants to make reasonable access-modifications to the household to meet their needs. (Landlord is not required to pay for the modifications)New Multifamily Construction with 4 or more units must be designed and built to allow access for people with disabilities.
What This Means
If you are currently enrolled or receiving government benefits due to being disabled, then you are protected under the Fair Housing Act when securing a mortgage. Lenders are required by law to not discriminate against borrowers who apply for home loans and receive government assistance.
The Fair Housing Act permits you to put in a request for reasonable access-modifications that allow you to enjoy the dwelling and have equal opportunity. Federal Law requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations and modifications for disabled persons. “Any change in the customs that enable a person with disabilities to enjoy housing opportunities or to meet program requirements is a reasonable accommodation. In other words, reasonable accommodations eliminate barriers that prevent persons with disabilities from fully participating in housing opportunities, including both private housing and federally-assisted programs or activities.” Source:https://www.hud.gov/program_offices/fair_housing_equal_opp/reasonable_accommodations_and_modifications
Good examples are accessible everyday use areas, wide enough doors to allow wheelchair access, kitchens/bathrooms that provide wheelchair access, and more adaptable features for the disabled.
The only exception to this rule is if the “accommodation or modification results in an undue financial and administrative burden” on the housing provider or constitute. However, disabled homebuyers and homeowners still have several Federal programs offering grants for home modifications.
Reasonable accommodations apply to legitimate service animals as well. A disabled homebuyer or renter is allowed under the Fair Housing Act to request an exception to a ‘No Pets Policy’ if they have a service animal. As a result of widespread complaints to service animals, HUD has issued a notice addressing this issue and redefines what a “service animal is.”
To report suspected housing discrimination, contact:
Office of Compliance and Disability Rights Division
Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th St., S.W., Room 5242
Washington, DC 20410
Phone: (800) 669-9777
TTY: (800) 927-9275
Back to Table of Contents
Housing CounselorsThe homebuying process is challenging to navigate, and if you are disabled, there are some additional obstacles to overcome. You will need to acquire financing or pay in cash for your home, what type of mortgage and size to request, and how to negotiate your offer. The majority of Americans cannot handle the thought of taking on the home buying process alone for these reasons we strongly recommend asking a friend or a family member for assistance. Do not stress if you do not know anyone who can assist you through this process; you can hire a housing counselor.
Housing counselors focus on assisting homeowners when dealing with foreclosures. However, they also help first-time homebuyers in the home buying process. When searching for a housing counselor, you must make sure they are HUD approved. HUD housing counselors assist clients that cannot afford counseling at little to no cost. If you are a homeowner facing foreclosure or currently homeless, then counseling services will always be free of charge. Housing counseling agencies are allowed to charge reasonable and customary fees when providing pre-purchase services, reverse mortgage, rental, and non-delinquency post-purchase counseling.
However, certain conditions must be met to charge fees:
- Agencies must provide counseling to those who demonstrate they cannot afford the fees.
- Agencies are required to inform clients of the payment structure before providing counseling services.
- Fees must be reasonable and in line with the services provided.
Benefits of a Housing Counselor:
- Counselors will give you the full information on down payments, interest rates, monthly principal payments, taxes, and maintenance costs with the help of a mortgage loan officer.
- Explain your local housing options
- Research available financial assistance programs on your behalf
- Negotiate an offer
- Walk you through the paperwork
- Help you find a home based on your financial situation and needs
- Make sure nobody takes advantage of you and aid you in avoiding expensive mistakes
If you have or are currently working with a housing counselor, who is not complying with these requirements.
Figure Out How Much You Can Afford
Finding out how much you can afford is the first step in house-hunting and the mortgage approval process. Figuring out your budget allows you to avoid disappointment by finding realistic options when you apply for financing.
- Know How Your Lender Operates
The first thing you need to know when it comes to buying a house is that you are not limited .by the price itself but by the monthly mortgage payment. For example, a home with higher property taxes, insurance, and HOA (Homeowners Association) fee will cost more per month than the same house with lower taxes, insurance, and no HOA so your mortgage lender will factor this in. When consulting a mortgage lender, they will use the lower monthly payment of two payments when that payment limits lending to you and you.
- The Nitty Gritty of the Front-End Ratio
As an example, let’s say your mortgage lender uses the front-end and back-end ratios of 15% and 25%. When you are doing this, it is vital to use the exact ratios that your lender uses.
- Add Up Your Debts Every month.
Firstly, before calculating your back-end ratio, you need to add up all of your monthly debts that apply. Typically, a lender does not include miscellaneous debts such as your monthly electric bill, lawn care cost, and cable bill. More so, if you are currently renting a home, this monthly payment is not included.
Student Loans (However, student loan payments are lender specific as some may consider the actual amount you are paying each month, and others may consider your hypothetical payment under your repayment plan. This is something that you are better off asking your lender how they judge it.)
Credit Cards – only the minimum payments are taking into consideration on average
Lines of Credit – monthly payments alone
Other loans that you may have
Child Support Monthly Obligations
- Determine The Back-End Ratio Maximum Payment
When calculating the maximum monthly mortgage payment you can afford on the back end, take your annual income, divide it by 12, and then multiply it by .25 (or your lender’s backend ratio if different). Next, subtract your monthly debts from the results of the equation above, and you get your maximum monthly mortgage payment for the back-end ratio. For example, let’s say that your annual income is $70,000 per year and that your monthly debts add up to $600. Taking $70,000 dividing it by 12 and multiplying it by .25 gives you $1,458.33 Factor in your monthly obligations of $600 by subtracting this from the total which provides you with a maximum monthly mortgage payment of $858.33.
- Use the Lower Payment to Determine Your Budget.
The lender handling your loan will use the lower of these two payments to determine the maximum threshold you can afford for a monthly payment. In our example, we have a front-end payment of $875 and a back-end payment of $858.33. Hypothetically, you would be limited to the lower of the two payments, which is $858.33 for a maximum monthly mortgage payment.
Mortgage rates are constantly changing, and every home you consider will have different property taxes and insurance rates. Therefore, it is challenging to set a maximum monthly dollar amount budget. Conveniently, we have a mortgage calculator below for you to determine your exact budget based on the current rates, insurance, property taxes, and HOA fee of the homes you are considering. Furthermore, we also have an existing mortgage rate calculator below to help you find the right rates for you.
On average, across the nation of America, homeowners will pay 0.5% of the purchase price in homeowners insurance (i.e., $500 per $100,000 of home price). Now, you have all of the tools to determine the best home and monthly mortgage payment for your situation.
- Be Certain You Can Afford What You Are Signing Up For
One last thing, just because you can qualify for a mortgage payment does not mean it fits your lifestyle budget. What I have shared with you these are only guidelines, so be confident that your new mortgage payment is a realistic fit for your lifestyle and budget.
- Calculate The Cost
Back to Table of Contents
How To Avoid Predatory Lending PracticesWhat is Predatory Lending?
Predatory Lending in recent years has garnered significant media attention, and the majority of cases have been in the elderly and disabled. Fraudulent or abusive practices by a lender or broker that removes equity from the homebuyer and increases the risk of foreclosure are predatory lending.
Characteristics of a Predatory Lender:
A lender may encourage you to frequently refinance this way they can charge you more points, raise your interest rates, and extend out your loan all to your disadvantage.
A mortgage broker who lends strictly based on your assets rather than your ability to pay back the loan.
False advertising, deceptive, and manipulative marketing strategies are signs a lender is predatory.
Steps to Avoid Predatory Lending Practices
- Watch Out For Red Flags
Lenders who want the best for your situation will fully disclose the actual costs of the loan and explain all of the inherent risks.
After you apply for a loan, you should receive a loan estimate. A loan estimate is a 3-page form which details the information of your monthly mortgage payment, estimated interest rate, and total closing costs. Additionally, the form will include all of the info about penalties and whether your interest rate will be “fixed” or “adjustable.”
The loan estimate will be written clearly at an 8th-grade level, so it is easy to read and understand.
Before sending the loan estimate, the lender will require several specific pieces of information from you. If you have given them essential information about yourself and have not received a loan estimate, then ask why. In some cases, they may need more information; however, if they do not have a legitimate reason, it is safe to say they are illegitimate.
- Watch Out For “Loan Flipping”
“Loan Flipping” is what we discussed earlier when a lender demands frequent refinancing to hike your interest rates, charge more fees, and extend out your loan. In most cases, the borrower of the loan does not benefit from a refinancing, which strictly generates costs for the lender.
A good indicator your lender is predatorily requesting a refinance of the loan is if you have recently refinanced and they are asking again.
- Avoid Loans That Never End
Avoid interest-only loans or loans that are extended out for more than 30 years this structuring makes it nearly impossible for you to pay off this loan.
Be sure to read through the amortization schedule thoroughly, so you understand that you can pay off this mortgage in the correct amount of time.
A red flag is if a lender refuses to provide an amortization schedule or is being difficult when you request one.
- Turn Away From Balloon Payments
Balloon payments are when a lender lends you $300,000 for 30 years, but the balance is due at the end of 30 years. In this situation, depending on the interest you are paying you may end up with a large balance at the end of 30 years, which is due. Lenders structure loans this way so they can make you refinance at the end of 30 years and begin paying off close to the same amount of money you requested 30 years ago.
The simple way around this is to use our mortgage calculator. Calculate how much interest you are paying over the course of the loan. Then, calculate how much is due at the balloon.
Furthermore, demand an amortization schedule so you can see how much the balloon payment is estimated to be. Do not stay satisfied with necessary information your lender provides, such as monthly mortgage payments, insurance, and your interest rate.
- Come Prepared If You Are Elderly or Disabled
The elderly and disabled are an easy target for predatory lenders who are especially vulnerable because they may be alone and not mentally sharp. If you are disabled or a senior citizen remain skeptical and ask many questions when dealing with any lender.
More so, predatory lenders target first-time buyers or those who are not as sophisticated. If you meet any of these characteristics and do not know anyone with real estate knowledge, it may be wise to hire a housing counselor who will walk you through the process.
- Be Concerned if Your Lender Does Not Care About Your Finances
Lenders who pray on the weak will lend based on the equity you have in your home rather than how much you can afford to pay every month. Lenders do this because they know if you default on the loan they can foreclose and take your house along with all of the juicy equity in it.
A clear sign is if your lender is not concerned with your employment status and finances. If the lender is only focused on how much equity you have in your home, then run away.
- Ask Questions About Mandatory Arbitration Clauses
An arbitration clause is a mutual agreement that says if there is a dispute, it will not go to trial and will be settled outside of court. Instead of presenting your case to a judge who is not bought by anyone, you would show your case to an arbitrator who is allowed to be a private attorney paid for by the lender. Large corporations use arbitration because they can afford to pay private attorneys and avoid convictions at a public trial.
Any loan with a mandatory arbitration clause is not a loan that you want to be doing. Alternatively, make it clear that you will not be proceeding with the loan unless you have the option of suing in court.
- Educate Yourself on Deceptive Language
Predatory lenders use common phrases to manipulate you into thinking that you are getting a great deal.
Here are some of the common phrases used:
“No Upfront Fees” The word to watch is “upfront” this does not mean no fees at all as the lender will be rolling the charges in the mortgage.
“No credit, bad credit, it does not matter” If a lender is not concerned with your credit history, how are they judging they will get paid on this loan? Often, predatory lenders will give home buyers loans and improvement loans using your occupied house as collateral. If you default on the mortgage, they can foreclose and take your occupied house.
“No Costs For Enquiring” Lenders do not lend for free. However, the loan evaluation may be free, but absolutely nothing else is.
Back to Table of Contents
How To Fight Back Against Predatory Lenders
- Contact your local consumer protection office.
You can report predatory lenders to your state’s consumer protection office. Check their website or give them a call at 1-844-USAGOV1.
- Talk to an Attorney
Often, borrowers have no idea they are a victim of predatory lending until they begin to fall behind on their mortgage. All of a sudden, you will realize that your mortgage payment has increased considerably or the lender has filed a notice of default and begun the foreclosure process. In these cases, it would be best to contact an attorney as soon as possible. If you have fallen behind on your mortgage, not because of the lender and decide you want to sell your house, then call a real estate company like us, “David Buys Houses.” Contact your local bar association and find a lawyer. Proceed to call the lawyer of your choosing and discussing the problem at hand.
Please have all of your documents ready to present to the lawyer so they can understand your case. You will need a copy of your loan agreement, correspondence, and a payment schedule.
- Take them to Court
If you have a scheduled hearing from your lender attempting to foreclose then if it fits your situation, brings up predatory lending as a defense. If you win, then you get to save your home. In some cases, you may be able to sue for “rescission” or canceling of the contract.
You could also counter sue for “damages” or monetary compensation. Discuss with your lawyer the possibility of a counter sue case under your state’s laws and how much you might be able to get. Some federal laws that allow a counter sue is fraud or violations of home buyers rights.
- Get the Media Involved
Contacting the media may be a good idea, especially if you are disabled or elderly because you are apart of a vulnerable community. Shedding some public sunlight on the predator will bring outcry and support for your case and a possible winning verdict. You should contact your local newspaper or television station they may run a story on the lender and expose them.
Back to Table of Contents
Home Modifications For Disabled HomebuyersThe majority of Americans most significant source of wealth and investment is in the home they own. However, for elderly disabled, individuals with disabilities, and disabled veterans, most of the world is uncomfortable, and their home is the one safe place they can enjoy. For this reason, it is crucial that they have access to the best resources to make home modifications as a disabled homeowner.
After spending quite some time rehabbing houses throughout Sarasota and the State of Florida, I have extensive experience when it comes to home remodels. That is why I created the “Fully Accessible Guide To Buying a Home For Disabled Home buyers” to not only walk you through the home buying process but also make your home as comfortable as possible.
- Federal Aid For Veterans, Seniors, and People With Disabilities
Federal Assistance for veterans, seniors, and people with disabilities is something I covered earlier in the article. However, in case you skipped right to this section, I am going to cover it again for you.
The Fair Housing Act is the most relevant and vital Federal Law when it comes to remodeling single family homes for the disabled. A housing provider cannot refuse reasonable modifications to your dwelling or everyday use areas or refuse reasonable accommodations to rules, policies, practices, or services if necessary for a comfortable living. However, you may be required to pay the remodeling costs out of your pocket and return the property in its original condition upon leaving if you are renting.
Under the Fair Housing Act, the following conditions must be accessible or modified to accommodate disabled homeowners or renters:
- Light switches, thermostats, and other climate controls
- The entire house must be available by wheelchair
- Reinforced bathroom walls with grab bars
- Modified kitchens and bathrooms that can be accessed the same way as someone who can walk without aid or a wheelchair.
Some more critical Federal Laws that can affect your home modification include:
- Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504)
- Title II of the American Disabilities Act of 1990
- Age Discrimination Act of 1975
- Architectural Barriers Act of 1968
Discrimination in programs using Federal or Public Funding is against the law. Accessibility requirements for buildings altered, constructed, designed, or leased with certain federal funds after September 1969 is in the Architectural Barriers Act.
When planning a home remodel for a person with a disability or special needs, you may need help with the funding as remodeling can get pricey. Fortunately, there a variety of support programs to choose from.
If you need help buying, renovating, or remodeling an existing home, then give the Federal Housing Administration under Section 203(k) a call they will help you. Additionally, the FHA has an efficient 203(k) Mortgage Program for less extensive remodeling or improvements. Another option is the FHA Title 1 loan, which is a fixed-rate loan used for home improvements, repairs, and rehabs under $7,500 without any down payment. However, if your budget is going to exceed $7,500, you will have to use your home as collateral or come out of pocket for a down payment. These are great to pair with the 203(k) Mortgage Program because when you buy a house, you can go right in and make the necessary modifications using the FHA Title 1 loan.
Choosing the best FHA loan for your situation comes down to the amount you need to finance, how much equity you have in your home and external factors such as your Debt to Income ratio. If you do not know where to start, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a list of sponsored housing counseling agencies (as covered earlier in the guide) throughout the country. For more information on everything, funding checks out the other sections of our guide “Homebuying Programs That Assist Disabled Homebuyers,” “Assistance For Disabled Veterans,” and more in the “Table of Contents.” (insert links to these sections here)
- Planning Your Home Remodel
Hire an Expert
Hiring an expert home remodeler is going to ensure that your home is modified to the standards that you deserve. Not only will they get the job done on your behalf, but they will also customize your home to your needs.
When searching for an expert, it may be wise to look for a specialist disability remodeler. More so, be sure they are a Universal Design Certified Professional (UDCP) through the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI).
The universal design emphasizes “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.”
Now that you have gone through the regulations, funding, and found the ideal home remodeling expert, it is time to figure out the specific modifications that fit you or your loved one’s needs.
Before you do anything, you need to evaluate your goals and needs for these home modifications fully. To do a remodel, you are going to need a checklist to make sure everything goes according to plan. Fortunately for you, we have got you covered, save our infographic checklist below for all of your needs.
Creating Accessible Walkways, Layouts, and Entryways
To bring the most comfort to your life, you need first to consider how you will navigate into, out of, and through your home, especially if you are in a wheelchair. Think about it your rooms can be friendly and comfortable as ever but this will be to no avail if you or others cannot easily access the rooms.
To begin, let’s tackle the mobility issue of homes that have leveled entryways and stairs, the two options to choose from are ramps and lifts. Based on my experience, ramps are more affordable, more reliable, and less prone to breaking down due to not having electronics or other moving parts. Choosing the best option for you depends on your budget and how high of a rise you have to navigate. A ramp is not the best fit in cases where the vertical lift to your entryway and the amount of space you have to work with is slim.
There are many types of lifts to choose from, including an inclined platform, vertical platform, and stair lifts. Companies that specialize in lifts can work with you to determine which is the best option for your needs. When looking for a vendor, be sure to check google reviews, ask for references, and photos of past work to ensure its quality.
If you are planning to remodel the entryway, it may be a smart option to survey the landscape and make it more comfortable. You can level the ground, build wheelchair accessible pathways, and remove potential hazards such as holes or rocks.
Moving on, we now need to make the interior and exterior doorways accessible for all. On average, a doorway needs to be 36 inches wide or larger so a wheelchair can pass through comfortably. Depending on the home to widen a doorway, it may require reframing, stud removal or adding drywall, and door installation which can get quite extensive. Instead of removing the door frame, you may want to consider installing wide throw hinges or swing clear hinges which can add space to the doorway without extensive remodeling.
Another option is to remove the door and hinges altogether. Alternatively, you can install a curtain or screen or a pocket door these work great in rooms where privacy is essential such as a bathroom. If you decide on a pocket door, then consider a wall hung door or sliding door as it does not need any framing. These types of doors are more comfortable to open, less expensive, and easier to install.
When it comes to hardware, you want to install multiple handles and locks at varying heights, so they are accessible for all. If you have the money to spend, I strongly recommend automatic door openers. However, consider the likelihood of future repairs and costs.
Furthermore, look into installing a peephole on the front door at an accessible height. Alternatively, you could fit an intercom so you can identify potential visitors.
Lastly, avoid potential tripping hazards near the door for people with poor vision or mobility and place thin doormats that will not prevent wheelchairs from moving.
Flooring That Agrees With Your Disability
Flooring is one of the most crucial remodeling aspects around a disability or need and must be accessible for every room in the house.
Before you start comparing carpet, tile, laminate, hardwood, linoleum, or stone, you have to take into account these characteristics.
Resilience: The floor you choose must be sturdy and able to endure a lot of foot traffic and wheelchair traffic. For example, something like epoxy a commercial type of flooring will be highly durable and look great.
Easy To Maneuver: If you are in a wheelchair or someone who is living at home is you are going to want to consider how it will move on the floor. Stay far away from the carpet as it is tough to roll a wheelchair on its material. The best choice would be hardwood, epoxy, linoleum, or laminate in that order.
Looks: You have to decide on whether you want a floor that shines or one that has a matte finish. Wheelchair tracks are going to show up on shiny floors more often than a floor with a matte finish. The lighter the color, the more difficult it will be to keep clean. A non-skid flooring type like hardwood, stone, or epoxy is best, so you can avoid slips and falls.
Here are our insights on the flooring options available to you:
Hardwood Floors – Hardwood floors are the most attractive option, and they also help people who have allergic reactions. More so, they are entirely wheelchair accessible and prevent slips and falls. The only downside to hardwood floors is they do have some wear and tear over time and can be costly.
Laminate Floors – There are two types of laminate floors to choose from one for residential, and the other is for commercial. Going the commercial route is ensuring that you have a durable wheelchair accessible floor that can take in massive amounts of traffic. Choose the flooring with an AC rating of 3 or higher this way it remains durable for long periods.
Stone Flooring – Stone flooring is in use for people with both wheelchairs and joint aches. Limestone avoids slipping as these stones are anti-skid and have an even flat surface for wheelchairs.
Tile Flooring – The tile floor is the best option for wheelchair accessibility, and they do not stain easily, which means less time for maintenance. The only downside is that the tile becomes very slippery when wet. Vinyl Floors – Vinyl is relatively inexpensive, smooth, and durable, which tends to be a fan favorite among wheelchair users. You can get vinyl floors in some very gorgeous looks. They are available in replicas of hardwood, tiles, and stone.
Epoxy Flooring – Epoxy floors work wonders and can be made into large beautiful designs. Typically, epoxy floors are in garages and industrial spaces; however, they can be used in homes as well. They create a high-shiny gloss surface that can significantly increase the brightness of the interior. The coating goes over concrete, which creates a highly durable surface that can withstand large amounts of traffic and wheelchair usage. Oil and water resistant epoxy are very easy to clean, and they create a seamless surface that lasts for years.
Linoleum – If you want a hypoallergenic flooring that is made almost entirely of natural materials, then linoleum is the choice for you. Linoleum has a pliable surface which bounces back upon falls. More so, it is durable and resists scratching or denting of the surface. The downside is they are not slip resistant and may need periodic sealing to keep the floors looking good.
Carpet – If you are a disabled homeowner, renter, or buyer that struggles with joint aches, that carpet is the right choice for you. Some people with disabilities are falling prone in these cases carpet is a soft, comfortable, and protective surface for falls. Stain resistant carpets are available, and most are slip resistant. However, there are extensive downsides to installing carpet in your home. For instance, carpet collects dirt and dust, which will cause people with allergies and asthma to have outbursts. Carpet is a thicker surface which requires wheelchair users to use more energy to move around.
Concrete – Concrete floors are durable, easy to maintain, and allergy free. If you choose a concrete surface that is free from grooves and level, then wheelchair users will not be a problem. The surface is one of the most durable materials available and very scratch resistant. On the downside, concrete is very smooth and slippery. For disabled people who have joint aches, these type of surface will be unforgiving.
Cork Flooring – The bounce back in cork flooring makes walking more comfortable and reduces pain in your joints, legs, feet, and back. Cork is a cushioned surface which prevents injury when there are falls. Hypoallergenic conditions in cork flooring can help reduce the triggers of household allergies and respiratory problems. Cons are the resilient surface makes wheelchair travel very difficult, and wheelchair travel can leave permanent dents in the floor.
Bamboo Flooring – Strand woven bamboo flooring is the strongest bamboo flooring available and more durable than most hardwood floors. These floors go best in rooms that have high amounts of wheelchair traffic. Other varieties of bamboo flooring may dent under wheelchair pressure, so this one is your best bet. The downside is that the material used to make bamboo flooring may contain formaldehyde, and it can be a slippery surface.
Regardless of the type of flooring, you choose, it is vital to research on your own to find the best fit for your needs. There are many resources and experts available online that can assist you in this process.
Firstly, let’s begin with making all electrical controls as accessible as possible to users. Doing this means finding controls that do not require manual dexterity to operate. We are not just talking light switches, be sure to make all thermostat controls, electrical outlets, and anything plugged into the outlets accessible as well. Not only the location of the switch is important, but the location and angle of the lighting itself too. Light positions and viewpoints that work well for others may shine directly into the faces of disabled persons. Therefore it is crucial to redirect lighting or even change fixtures to make it comfortable for all. Also, when purchasing a ceiling fan consider buying one with a remote or a long chain.
Right now, we are in the midst of the worlds greatest tech boom in the history of humanity. The rise of smart home technology has allowed mass automation via wireless controls by smartphones, tablets, motion sensors, and voice activation. Including smart home tech like Bluetooth and wifi enabled systems that involve the lighting, thermostat, and door locks is a must if you are disabled.
Smart home technology is still a bit pricey but is rapidly becoming more affordable to homeowners. One of the best qualities of intelligent home technology is that most devices do not require a full home overhaul. Which means most of these devices you can buy one by one such as the Amazon Alexa smart home hub, Smart Lock Pro (automated door locker), Smart Doorbell (answers the door for you), and Smart Lighting (adjust the light using your phone).
Out of all the rooms in the household, the bathrooms are one of the essential places to modify for senior citizens and people with disabilities. Modifying bathrooms for privacy and independence is vital for safety reasons such as entering and exiting the shower or bath and using the toilet. Bathroom doors should be 36 inches wide to accommodate wheelchairs and in general, should be open enough to allow free movement of any kind. Depending on the layout of your bathroom, the plumbing may have to be rerouted to open up the landscape. Sinks
For disabled people who have back issues or are in a wheelchair, it is best if sinks are higher up and have space underneath. Doing this allows people to not have to bend over and wheelchair users can roll right up to the sink.
If you have an existing sink that requires modification check to see if it has a cabinet base that can be remodeled so you do not need a new one. Wall cabinets need to be installed as much as possible to conserve floor space and be within reach. Touch operated faucets and other fixtures are going to be your best bet. However, if these are too pricey you may opt for faucets and handles with lever type handles instead of knobs.
Toilet seats need to be higher up than what is standard for ease of movement and comfort when moving from a wheelchair to the seat. Grab bars on both sides of the toilet are a good look to make it easier for you to sit and stand up. Furthermore, depending on how far you are going with this remodel consider changing the layout so a wheelchair can sit comfortably next to the toilet.
Showers and Tubs
Choosing the best shower or tub comes down to your budget and whether you are doing a complete remodel or a small modification.
- Accessible Kitchens
The principles we previously applied to bathrooms also apply to the kitchen. Sinks and stoves need to be wheelchair friendly along with cabinets and valves that are lever-handled. For maximum accessibility, make sure that:
- Sinks are shallow-basined
- Faucets have hoses
- Insulate pipes below the sink to prevent the risk of scalding
When searching for appliances, consider ADA compliant ones that need little to no remodeling of the home to install.
As far as cabinets, installing drawers that contain cleaning supplies and cooking utensils near the sink or stove will make these areas easier to use. The length of the countertop is more important than the depth of it. Strongly consider installing motorized adjustable countertops, cabinets, and sinks as long as your budget allows.
- Cognitive Remodeling For People With Disabilities
We have already covered a lot as far as remodeling, but for people who have autism spectrum disorder, down syndrome, dementia, Alzheimer’s, and more have cognitive challenges that need be considered. When remodeling the home, take into account how specific features stimulate the senses and emotions. Being aware of how things feel, look, smell, sound, and taste around the house can make a world of difference in the lives of disabled loved ones and their caretakers.
Consult their caretakers on changes you need to make around the home to best accommodate the disabled individual. Once you have completed home modifications, your next best step is to contact an agency that can assist you with the costs around the home. Now, we have already mentioned some earlier in the guide; however, there are some more that are helpful.
Back to Table of Contents
Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program keeps families safe by helping with energy costs.
Find Your Local Office to Apply: https://liheapch.acf.hhs.gov/db/index.php.
Contact The Program Federally: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/ocs/resource/division-of-energy-assistance-federal-staff
Back to Table of Contents
ILRU Directory of Centers For Independent Living
The center for independent living is a “consumer-controlled, community-based, cross-disability, a nonresidential private nonprofit agency that is designed and operated within a local community by individuals with disabilities and provides an array of independent living services.”
Find a Center Near You: https://www.ilru.org/projects/cil-net/cil-center-and-association-directory.
Back to Table of Contents
The Fully Accessible Guide To Buying a Home For Disabled Homebuyers In 2019 was created and designed with the needs of disabled homebuyers in mind. The design, formatting, and style were created to be easily interpreted by people who have visual, hearing, and mobility disabilities. The guide cooperates with a wide range of assistive technology.
This guide was published to comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and meets level AAA conformance guidelines.
Back to Table of Contents