Home accessibility is not highlighted very often and in Seattle you do not find a large number of long flat ramblers. Accessibility is a feature that should be considered when making a home purchase or doing any remodel or renovation that adds current value to your life because it will later add appeal to a larger audience when you go to sell. Our neighborhoods tend to be hilly and the homes are a reflection of that, with a street level entrance and a basement that is day-lit on the lower level as the property slopes down in the back. In the course of my career I have had clients from many different walks of life want easier accessibility; the parents of a special-needs child, a husband with a wife undergoing radiation, and an older retiree who was planning to undergo knee replacement and I can tell you, these homes are rare.
The numbers in the image below represent the top-ten most expensive homes deemed “Accessible”. These homes were selected based on the entry being level or less than a one-stair entrance. That the main entertaining areas could be reached by someone who would have difficulty navigating stairs and that there was some outside area of the house, a patio or balcony that was also accessible. The house also needed a main floor bedroom and full or 3/4 bathroom. Some of these homes offered multi-level living with an elevator others did not.
The huge number of baby boomers set to retire are going to have a large impact on what homes are being sold and the demographic of the purchaser as outlined by FiveThirtyEight.
Can every home be accessible? Sure – if you have an unlimited budget, but most of us don’t, so it is essential to identify your end game and visualize the demographic you think may be able to use the space and flourish. The more demographics you can appeal to, the greater the demand for your house, increasing the likelihood of it being sold – and at a better price. For example, if you have a house with a long stairway to the front door and no off street parking this home would not broadly appeal to families with young children who would envision having to haul strollers up and down those stairs after walking a half block with a tired toddler. These aspects of the house limit the numbers of potential buyers. That said, there is a buyer for every house, a person who doesn’t drive and is compensated for the stair climb with an amazing view might be thrilled, but since most home buyers and owners become sellers eventually it is a good idea to look at a home from a broad, long-range view of who will want this house next.
Understanding your home’s strengths and weaknesses helps your realtor market your home. These numbers from the National Association of Realtors show that the renovation costs are not completely covered for kitchen and bath remodels which bucks the trend of the last few years. This is something to consider when you choose whether to invest in renovations for you home. A great realtor can help you sort through your options to help you determine what will make you happy now, and in the future.