6 Tips for Locating Barrier Free Homes in Colorado
Locating Barrier Free Accessible Homes in Colorado
As you may have already experienced, locating barrier free homes in Colorado can be very challenging. Here are a few tips that we hope will help to make your search a more enjoyable and productive one.
Tip #1 - Know the Accessibility Lingo!
It may sound simple, but knowing as many relevant words and terms as possible can really help. For example, if you are only searching for "homes with handicap access", you may risk missing out on a site in your area that is using only the term "barrier free homes". When searching, include your location along with as many related terms as possible. Use words that may be indirectly related as well. Everyone's idea of accessibility will not be the same. However, some of these terms may produce sites that offer helpful home search resources. For example, a house designed for the site impaired may have some of the same features needed by someone with wheelchair access needs. So this real estate listing may not say anything about "wheelchair access" but may instead say, "level entrance, or no steps, or ramp access".
More on how to search Accessiblity Terms:
The word "handicap" or "handicap accessible" is one of the most frequently used property search filter terms to identify these accessibility features. However, there has been a shift to update that term to simply the word "accessible" or "accessibility". The good news is that some Real Estate Multiple Listing Services are doing a GREAT job improving search filters to help us track and locate homes with improved accessibility features. Our main PPAR MLS here in the Colorado Springs, Colorado area has an incredible selection of filters to isolate the specific features desired. However, some MLS services are lagging behind with little or no filters available for accessibility. Unfortunately, "accessible home" can mean anything from a simple "grab-bar" in the bathroom, to a fully accessible custom home design. In most cases, we will still need to find creative ways to locate the homes with the accessibility upgrades.
Searching the listings for clues in the property write-ups can tell us which homes may indeed be the ones with the accessibility features we are looking for! There will be words in property descriptions that may be just enough to help make these properties locatable. Search for words such as "stair lift" or the terms, "no stairs" and "extra wide doors". When these terms are located in a write up, there is a good chance this home will have other accessibility features. You may also want to search outside of your current needs for terms that may produce usable properties such as, "homes with grab bars", "chair lifts", "wheelchair lifts", "walker friendly", "senior friendly", "roll-in shower", "home with disability features", "level entrance", or "all one level living". Search with the idea that finding a home with a few good accessibility features may be a better candidate than most to give you a great starting point. Adding your personal style and modifications can then determine where you will ultimately take this property.
Tip #2 - For Accessibility Home Shopping in Colorado - Use Our Advanced Searching Tools
Using Advanced Filters
Our Website at Red House Mountain Realty of Colorado offers public access to advanced searching filters. Currently our website offers 4 Colorado MLS (Multiple Listings Services) options with various ways to isolate the current listings for accessible properties in their areas. Start by choosing the area of most interest to you. Once you have chosen your MLS the advanced filter options will appear below. Each MLS is different. Some offer help with accessibility searching and some do not at this time. There is a tutorial located at the top of the search page if you need one. (We have already isolated many of these accessible home searches for you here.)
At this time our MLS search areas offer:
#1 Pikes Peak MLS (El Paso & Teller Counties) Pikes Peak offers a lot of Accessibility filters under the drop down titled "handicap" (left column toward the bottom).
#2 RE Colorado MLS (Elbert, Douglas, Park & Chaffee Counties). Re Colorado offers the "Accessible Approach with Ramp" filter under the drop down entitled "Accessibility Features" top right column of advanced filters.
#3 Co Real Estate Net MLS (Gunnison, Saguache, Mineral, and Most of South Western Colorado) Does not have a specific filter for Accessibility however, they do offer a word search field called "remarks" in which you can type words or phrases that you are searching for in the listings. Typing in "handicap" etc. will pull the listing with these words used in the listing write-ups.
#4 Westcliffe MLS (SW Custer County and Areas Surrounding Westcliffe, Co) Westcliffe also offers a word search field called "remarks" for entering words and phrases you are looking for. It is also located at the bottom right column.
#3 - Search with Accessiblity Modifications in Mind
Because the inventory of accessible homes is limited, and the needs of each individual so varied, it may be worth the thought of modifying an existing home to meet your needs. Keeping the modifications to a minimum is of course the goal. For example, starting with a one level home or a home with a workable entrance for you will be less expensive to modify than a house with several level changes and tight spaces. Also consider homes with extra square footage and large rooms. Larger homes can be easier to modify and maneuver than tight floorpans where every inch already has a dedicated and necessary purpose. For example, a narrow stair case will be a poor candidate for a chair lift. However a wide staircase may accommodate that just fine. Even small home elevators can be added from between $10k - $20k if the space is there without expensive structural obstacles. So, that unfinished basement suddenly becomes a promising place to add an elevator into that nice wide area on the second level. However if everything is finished and accounted for, it becomes much less practical to consider such a modification. Thinking this way, may open up homes previously unconsidered and ultimately even SAVE you money!
Here are a couple of companies which currently do residential elevators and lifts in our area: https://coloradohomeelevator.com and https://coloradocustomlift.com
A more affordable alternative to a home elevator would be a simple chair lift or platform lift. You may be able to turn an otherwise unsuitable house into a great possibility with the addition of one of these more practical platform lifts. These are easier to add than an elevator and cost between $2,000 - $5,000 installed. Here is a site that you may want to look at to see if you may even qualify for any assistance with that cost. If you are local, I would also recommend checking with The state of Colorado which offers benefits to build ramps, modify bathrooms, and a variety of home accessibility modification projects.
This Kitchen Remodel was done by BJ Contractors, a local Colorado Springs Colorado remodeling company.
# 4 - Shop 55+ Communities
If you are old enough, searching for homes in 55 plus only communities could give a home with a great layout to start from. These communites are built with senior living in mind. Often with wider doors, level thresholds and roll in showers already in place! This is also a newer concept in some cities, meaning you may even find new construction taking place. Finding a new construction project could offer opportunities to put in your own finishing touches!
#5 - Keep an Eye out for Repurposed Commercial Spaces
When you are shopping residential real estate, finding commercial opportunities can be tricky. This is because commercial real estate is typically listed separately from residential and does not show up on many consumer real estate websites. However, repurposed commercial spaces for sale can be a very interesting consideration for accessibility. Former churches, schools and office buildings were often built with accessibility in mind. Some very creative residential spaces have come out of these repurposed structures and they can sometimes be had for a fraction of the cost! Per square foot cost of commercial is typically much less to comparably sized residential space. Ever want your kids to have their own indoor basketball court? Just sayin' 😉 I have seen several interesting and sometimes very beautiful buildings come available over the years. These zoning allowances and changes seem to be more commonly available in the smaller communities.
#6 - Enlist the Services of a Professional Realtor in Your Area
Choosing to work with a local buyer's agent familiar with accessibility properties can make your search for a barrier free home much easier! Working with a buyer's agent is typically free to you. Buyer's agents are paid by the posted commission offered by the seller. A good buyer’s agent will be your advocate in not only finding a suitable property, but also in helping you to negotiate the best terms and conditions for your purchase. Professional buyer's agents have access to advanced search filters that are not typically available on consumer search property sites. If you are local to Colorado or are searching for an accessible property in Colorado, please consider using us to help you with your search or sale of any Colorado accessible property. Also, be sure to check out our Colorado Homes Accessibility page. We offer advanced searching tools to the public here! We have made it possible to shop for accessible properties with mountain views , water features and even accessible properties bordering national forest. If you are out of our area, we would still be happy to assist you with a referral to an area professional just contact us here.