Imagine the difficulty many disabled Americans face when searching for a new home. Even with the best of intentions, many realtors fail to understand the accommodations that should be made when working with clients who have disabilities. According to the US Census Bureau, 56.7 million Americans, 19% of the population, are living with some form of physical disability. That’s nearly 1 in 5 citizens!
From wounded veterans to injured longshoremen to families with children who are confined to a wheelchair, working with the physically challenged can be an extremely enriching experience to those who take the time to understand the difficulties that their clients will face during their search for a new home. Here are a few tips to ensure the clients you work with will have the best possible experience while you guide them through the home-buying process.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask Questions
Begin on the right foot with every new client you encounter by inquiring about any medical situations or disabilities that impact the client on a daily basis. Be sensitive, but direct. It is inappropriate, of course, to ask “Is there anything wrong with you,”. It is courteous to ask, “Are there medical conditions or physical limitations that I should know about in order to make sure I can find properties that meet your needs?”
Keep an Open Mind
Take the time to hear out all of the accommodations your client is looking for in a new home. Understand why each of these accommodations is important to your client. For example, how tall are the kitchen counters? This might seem like a trivial or strange question, but they may frequently require a cooking space that can be worked at while sitting. Ask your client to discuss which accommodations are highest on their list of priorities. If they are adamant about something that seems out of the ordinary, take the time to consider why this would be an area of importance for them.
Meticulously Plan Ahead For Your Client
After understanding the specific accommodations your client will need in their new home, take the time to carefully inspect each property you plan to show them. Measure the doorways in each room, measure the width of the hallways and outdoor walkways, ensure that there is at least one handicap friendly entrance to the home. It can feel extremely discouraging to a physically challenged client to show up to a home only to find that their wheelchair or walker cannot fit through the bedroom doorways or something of the like.
Also, bear in mind the length of the tours you plan for your client. A few hours on a Saturday might seem normal to you, but for a client who has difficulty walking and requires the use of a cane such a day viewing homes could take a real physical toll on their body.
If your client is showing signs of weariness or displeasure, consider cutting the day short or planning another time to finish the tour. Your goal should be to ensure the comfort and safety of your client at all times without demeaning them. Pay attention to how they are doing and be flexible enough to adapt on the go.
Budget is another area where you should have patience with your client. Even homes that already fit many of the needs your client has will probably still need some renovations in order to be perfect for them. These accommodations will often be expensive for a disabled individual. Even if a home seems to be within the price range that your client indicated they were interested in, the cost and effort required to install any additional accommodations will occasionally push the home out of that range. This is an area that is helpful to plan ahead for, but some costs are unforeseen, and you should be understanding of that fact if your client expresses it.
Joseph James Real Estate is looking for a few good men and women
Joseph James Real Estate is a full-service brokerage with offices in Kearny, New Jersey. We value opportunities to work with clients with special needs and disabilities and strive for excellence in finding the right housing for customers. Do you have a passion for people and for real estate? Contact us below to find out more about joining the Joseph James team.