To start the homebuying process, every homebuyer—including people with disabilities—should assess their financial situation and what they can afford.
Additionally, if you’re an aspiring homeowner, review your credit score and look into ways to lower your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio—how much of your income goes toward paying off debt every month. Improving your credit score and DTI will put you in a stronger position to qualify for a mortgage and receive competitive interest rates.
Follow these general steps to make the best possible home purchase:
1. Seek external help. First, ask for guidance from a housing counselor or mortgage advisor who specializes in working with people with disabilities. These experts can assess your financial situation, explore suitable mortgage options and help you navigate the homebuying process.
2. Find a licensed realtor. As you prepare to shop for homes, see if you can connect with a licensed realtor experienced in serving individuals with disabilities. They may be able to help you shop more efficiently by identifying properties that meet your accessibility requirements.
3. Obtain a preapproval letter. Getting preapproved by a mortgage lender gives you a sense of how much home you can afford and shows sellers that you’re a serious buyer.
4. Shop for homes in communities that meet your criteria. When looking at homes, pay attention to accessibility features and modifications. Proximity to public transportation may be important to note as well.
5. Put in an offer. Once you’ve found a home and mortgage lender you love, negotiate and put in an offer. Submit a mortgage application with your lender, and be sure to provide all the required documentation to support your loan request.
6. Consider other programs and grants. If applicable, apply for down payment assistance programs or renovation grants. Your housing counselor or mortgage lender can guide you through this process.
7. Get the home appraised. Before the underwriting process begins, your lender will arrange for a home appraisal. This usually costs several hundred dollars and helps give lenders an idea of how much the property is worth.
8. Complete all necessary inspections and a final walk-through. Pay special attention to areas related to accessibility and modifications during this time. Ensure the property meets your needs.
9. Close. Finalize paperwork and financial transactions to close on your loan and take ownership of the property. Get ready to sign several documents, but it’ll all be worth it in the end when you receive the keys to your new home.