Working With The Disabled: A Real Estate Niche

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Published date: Apr 11, 2018
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Real estate agents specialized in homes for the disabled

We’ve recently written an article for Autism Awareness Day on how Children on the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) need safer homes and, while researching the subject, we noticed how limited the results were when searching for real estate agents that specialize in clients with special needs.

The ones that did come up were scarce, consisting primarily of real estate agents that had relatives with special needs and decided to make knowledge gained in their personal experience regarding their struggle available to clients.

After the frustration passed, we thought to ourselves that this lemon needs to be turned into lemonade. Applying the supply and demand ratio to this situation, it quickly becomes apparent that homes for the disabled constitute a highly attractive real estate market niche for realtors interested in working with disabled adults and families.

First, some context:

Currently, there is no official license or regulation concerning the professional aid of people with special needs in real estate. The Americans with Disabilities Act, a civil rights bill signed in 1990, does apply to every field of work and prohibits professionals like real estate agents from discriminating against people with disabilities. 

 

However, empathy is the bare minimum all real estate agents should have towards any homebuyer or home seller, right? It is, after all, what agency is all about: you advocate for a person and their needs, which are always unique; no two people are alike, after all. When working with disabled adults, individualism is key. 

Tips for working with disabled adults

So, what we are saying is that, from a business standpoint, this is great news as you won’t have to spend money with specialized courses or certifications – though they will hopefully be created down the road to help sort the really specialized agents in homes for the disabled from the ones who only claim it as a marketing tool for their brands.

If you’re interested in working within the disabled community, invest your time and attention researching and working to better understand the many challenges dealt with by people with unique needs when looking for a home that better suits them.

However, that doesn’t mean it will be a piece of cake. After all, being a real estate agent working with disabled adults entails much more than making sure the house has an accessible bathroom or the doorway is large enough to pass a wheelchair through.

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How to specialize in aiding clients with special needs

The term “special needs” is used to a variety of groups and conditions: people on the autism spectrum disorder (ASD), veterans with traumas (mental or physical), blind or deaf people, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, ADHD…  That means there’s no “one size fits all” solution in this niche. Nonetheless, there are some general paths all real estate agents working in this niche should consider:

Re-learning the concept of location

The “location, location, location” motto becomes imperative here. You’ll want nothing but the best places in the US to live if your child has special needs, right? But there is a sensitive difference, for instance, as to what qualifies as being one of the Best School Districts for a family that has children with disabilities.

As real estate agents working with disabled adults/families will quickly find, most special needs home buyers value inclusivity rather than pure academic excellence. Far more important to these home buyers will be the availability of schools with accessibility features, a track record of good special needs education and social integration of children with disabilities and even a low ratio of teachers to students.

A realtor working with disabled adults will find that it’s imperative to have this information at the tip of the tongue. For more information regarding special needs education, you should read the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, an important piece of American legislation put in action also in 1990.

Sometimes, school is not even a factor, but still, you have to know what sort of facilities can help them soothe their everyday obstacles. What are the best hospitals around? Is there a specialized one that's great for your client's condition? Are there any stores or services around highly recommended for any kind of disability? And what about the house itself?

Accomodations for the differently abled

Real estate agents working with disabled adults or families with disabled children will need to consider other factors. Is the property close to a body of water or any other kind of danger that can pose a problem for people with disabilities? Is it secluded, a gated community or a cul de sac to better protect children with disabilities from wandering and getting lost? Does it have a reliable home security system that can help protect them?

Moreover, when doing a home relocation, the community that will surround your client is also of great importance. Are they educated on the subject? Do they embrace those with unique needs? When working with disabled adults/families, it helps to be easygoing, observant and professional, and be knowledgeable not only about the features of the house, but the tastes and way of thinking of the neighbors in the area.

In fewer words, you should be the kind of realtor that ends up becoming friends with your clients even if in the end, they didn't become clients. If you’re a “close the deal and move on to the next” kind of agent, then this is not the right niche for you.

In-depth knowledge of extra legislation

Did you notice how we’ve already name-dropped two important pieces of legislation regarding those with disabilities? As a real estate agent working with disabled adults/families, you will need to be intimately familiar with all the pertinent legislation. Not just the federal ones - like the homeownership voucher program - but the several state (even district!) legislation that can impact the process of finding the perfect homes for the disabled.

 A real estate agent serious about aiding clients with disabilities has to know them all to hook their clients up with the best opportunities possible when looking for homes for the disabled.

Get out of your comfort zone

Working with disabled adults/families to find appropriate special needs housing can be difficult. It requires you to pay much closer attention to detail than your regular “detail oriented” client. What’s more, taking them out for a house tour might take more of your time then you would expect.

Plus, unfortunate though it may be, unexpected situations might happen, and you have to be able to help them out the best you can. All of that requires a larger dose of patience, calm and attention than what you are accustomed to. It is challenging, but, trust us, there are also unique rewards working this particular niche and you will hopefully enjoy them as soon as you start.

In the end, it’s all about being equipped and well prepared with the best resources to make the process easy on your client, so reach out to organizations that fight for this cause and explain your intentions, ask for help with your education. They will appreciate your effort and might even – down the road, once you’ve proven your commitment – send leads on your way.

If after reading this article you think you might like to specialize in working with disabled adults/families, congratulations and thank you! There are a lot of people out there craving for knowledgeable help and you're the one who will fill that void. 

Disability Statistic Annual Report

Here are some statistics to back this info: according to the 2016’s Disability Statistic Annual Report made by the University of New Hampshire, the percentage of people with disabilities rose from 11.9% in 2010, to 12.6% in 2013, 2014, and 2015. That’s 12.6% of the total US population! And breaking that number down: over half (51.1%) of those 12.6% are people in the working ages of 18-64, while 41.2% are 65 and older. Disability in children and youth accounted for only 7.2% (ages 5-17) and 0.4% (under 5 years old). So, as you can see, there’s a lot of work to be done!

Conclusion

If you read it all and concluded this is not the right real estate niche for you, there's absolutely no problem. You are already helping just by reading it and acknowledging the importance of the subject and can help even further by spreading the word to colleagues that might be interested in following this path.

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Comments for Working With The Disabled: A Real Estate Niche


Tanya Hayes Tanya Hayes said:

I'm a 47-year-old disabled woman and I'm looking for rent or to own three-bedroom home.

Nov 17, 2020  20:52:36

 
Real Estate Agent

Hey, Tanya! Thank you for reaching out to us. We can provide you with the needed support if you contact us via live chat or by giving us a call at 1-866-495-4953. We will do our best to help you with your housing needs, and we are looking forward to hearing from you.

Nov 23, 2020  08:03:55
 
Jean E Whitehead Jean E Whitehead said:

I need an accessible apt n long island, ny

Jun 13, 2020  16:28:55

 
Real Estate Agent

Hey, Jean! Thank you for reaching out to us. Please search in our directory in order to find the local real estate agents in New York that will be able to further assist you. Also, feel free to contact us directly at 1-866-495-4953 or via live chat.

Jul 14, 2020  06:50:59
 
Audrey Dufiori Audrey Dufiori said:

While doing some very basic research regarding home buying I ran across some information which indicated that presently there are some very beneficial programs available for disabled individuals and their family members who reside with them...that's me!! So, I was looking for a realtor who is aware of these programs and might be able to help.

Jun 12, 2020  13:48:29

 
Real Estate Agent

Hey, Audrey! If there is a particular program you are interested in, we highly recommend you to find the local real estate agents in New Mexico in the area you want to buy the property. Our agents would be able to fill you in with all the information you need about these programs. If you have trouble finding a real estate agent don't hesitate to contact us directly at the phone number displayed at the top.

Jun 19, 2020  09:19:13
 
Sharon Alexander Sharon Alexander said:

I have a very low credit score. I am wondering if the best thing for me to do is try rent to own because I don't have a lot of money to put a down payment either?

May 17, 2020  13:12:50

 
Real Estate Agent

Hey, Sharon! There are actually ways to get a home loan without having to put a down payment. Some of the home loans that exist out there can allow for that. This might increase the overall monthly repayments, but it is possible. Check out our article on home loans with 0 down payment for more details. Also, it is possible to get a home loan with lower credit scores but usually, that would require a higher down payment. Therefore, you might not be able to get both, but for more details check out our article on the minimum credit score in the USA for home loans. Rent to own is also a perfectly valid option, but you would have to find the option that is best for you at the moment. Thank you for your question and hopefully, you will be able to own a home in no time.

May 20, 2020  11:27:29
 
ERIC O DAWSON ERIC O DAWSON said:

I'm 55 years old and my brother Jerome Dawson is my caretaker. We need to buy a home in N.Charleston SC, that is handicapped ready for me with doors 32-inches wide and 80-inches in height and two full baths and one with a wheelchair shower and a ramp for my wheelchair.

May 14, 2020  17:17:27

 
Real Estate Agent

Hey, Eric! Congrats for your decision to buy a home. We can help you by providing a direct link to our directory page where you could get in touch with one of our real estate agents in Charleston SC and they would be able to help you. Also, you can get in touch with us via our 24/7 live chat or contact us directly at the following phone number 1-866-495-4953.

May 20, 2020  11:15:12
 
Joel Hartzell Joel Hartzell said:

Real estate agent who specializes in disabilities such as mobility issues

Mar 02, 2020  02:49:23

 
Real Estate Agent

Hey Joel,

Thank you for reaching out to us. Are you an agent specializing in disabilities? If that is the case and you want to advertise with us then feel free to contact us for further details. If you are looking for an agent, depending on where you live, we might have a real estate agent in the area that can help. Provide a list of cities so we might have an agent reach out to you. Also, feel free to call us at 1-866-495-4953 (8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.) or via the live chat window for more details.

Mar 27, 2020  11:41:03
 
Neressa Neressa said:

We are looking for condo. One of the realtor agents should know better about the wheelchair accessible. He showed us the condo...there is no ramp on the sidewalk to the condo. Come on! They should be considering before showing us the condo.

Jan 29, 2020  12:31:21

 
Real Estate Agent

Hey, Neressa! We are sorry to hear about that! Unfortunately not all real estate agents are specialized in aiding people with disabilities during the home buying process. This is a real estate niche where only a few agents operate. Since you don’t need any credentials, it is a thing of personal preference for agents if they would like to specialize in this niche or not. For most agents who specialize in providing special needs housing, it could be family members or close relationships with people with special needs that motivated them to specialize in this area. If you are interested in finding local realtors in Tucker GA use our directory. Also, don’t hesitate to contact us directly via live chat, email or give us a call. We will do our best to aid you in finding the right agent to help you.

Apr 13, 2020  10:07:45
 
Brooklyn Bliss Bella Brooklyn Bliss Bella said:

asking for a friend who has down syndrome, what is flexible rent near 900 to 1,000? and what time will be ok with u?

Dec 31, 2019  03:43:16

 
Real Estate Agent

Hi Bella! 

We do not offer rentals on our platform, but we can help you connect with a real estate agent in your area who will work with you or your friend to answer any questions you may have or help you find a listing that suits your needs. Simply enter your city into the search field at https://www.realestateagent.com/, select "renting" from the categories immediately above the search bar, and click enter.  We hope you find what you're searching for! 

Jan 03, 2020  05:53:28
 
Lee. Oh Lee. Oh said:

I may need a real estate agent for Central Bucks County or Eastern Montgomery County in PA that can help with special needs.

Sep 15, 2019  13:21:05

 
Real Estate Agent

Hi, Lee! On RealEstateAgent.com you can find real estate agents specialized in any niche imaginable, including special needs housing. Please get in touch with our real estate agents in Doylestown PA, PA or even with the real estate agents in Philadelphia PA. Also, take the time to read our blog on special needs housing as well. We hope that you'll find it useful. If you have more questions, don't hesitate to contact us by phone or via the live chat window. 

Sep 16, 2019  06:30:02
 
Elizabeth Elizabeth said:

I have a husband with DEMENTIA. :( I could use some help for us.

May 04, 2019  18:55:57

 
Real Estate Agent

Hello, Elizabeth! We are here for you! How can we help you? We have a live chat service every day, Monday through Friday and you may also call us at 1-866-495-4953 (8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.). Please contact us! 

May 07, 2019  05:11:24
 
Giselle Rodriguez Giselle Rodriguez said:

Need help looking for a house

Apr 26, 2019  19:55:45

 
Real Estate Agent

Hi Giselle, you will find a few articles on special needs housing on our website and we hope you find these informative and helpful. Let us know which city you are in need of an agent and we will have an experienced agent contact you. 

May 01, 2019  03:39:29
 
Matt Matt said:

I'm reading the article about real estate agents specialized in homes for the disabled. We could use some help to find a "special needs" agent in northern New Jersey who can work with an adult client with aspergers. We need to find a rental while we sell our home. The person is ok with paperwork but is uncomfortable/anxious with online application databases like the NTN. We would like to work with someone who can be empathetic to this condition and find a way to help us rent without using NTN. I would like to know if the agents featured below are just local agents or if they work with persons with disabilities. Thank you, Matt

Mar 19, 2019  14:33:56

 
Real Estate Agent

Matt, thank you for reaching out to us.  You stated you need assistance in Northern NJ.....please provide us a few cities so we may have an agent reach out to you. Also, feel free to contact us directly 1-866-495-4953 x0.

Mar 20, 2019  17:23:25
 

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