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Buying property for those with disabilities and special requirements

Posted: July 2012

By Jo Eccles

Finding a property can be incredibly stressful and difficult at the best of times, but this even more so when you have to take a disability or long term illness into account when assessing your requirements.

Each year we handle one buying or rental search at significantly reduced fee or free of charge for a good cause and there are often some important factors to take into consideration. For example, we were recently approached by a trust who wanted to invest in a buy-to-let property which had capital growth potential but would also create an income for an individual who sustained lifelong injuries from a car accident. We found a superb investment opportunity which we’re confident will provide a healthy and dependable income for the trustee.

If you are searching and you have a disability or medical condition, or you’re searching on behalf of someone else, do be realistic about accommodation requirements. For example, do you need wider door frames or a spacious, more accessible, bathroom, or would a porter or caretaker in the building be a big help? If you have a dog which you really don’t want to give up, you may need to obtain consent from the freeholder before you exchange contracts. Additionally, it’s important to be realistic about how your situation may change. We have just worked with a client who has Parkinson’s and, whilst she can manage stairs at the moment, she knows that they may become difficult at some stage so this needed to be factored in. There were a number of fantastic properties which she loved but just weren’t practical long term. In the end we settled on a split level property which had wide enough stairs for a stair lift if she needs one later down the line.

We’ve worked with many clients over the years who had very specific requirements. For example, we worked with one very accomplished banker who was completely blind. He had incredible technology at his fingertips to help him do his job, but he needed help with his property search. We arranged a property tour and, interestingly, his gut feel on each property was absolutely spot on. We showed one property which had a very run down communal entrance, but the property itself was gorgeous. When we walked into the entrance lobby, our client said he didn’t get a good feel and said he didn’t even want to go up to the flat. In the end, the property he got the best feel from was the nicest by far, so, although we would have advised him on that, he picked it up himself.

As with any search, be as upfront about your requirements straight away as the more an estate agent understands what you’re looking for, the more effectively they can work for you.

If you have a question you’d like Jo to answer please email info@sppropertygroup.com or tweet her @joeccles.