I was looking at expired MLS listings as a source of new investment properties, and came across one that is listed as handicap accessible. Not sure if I should pursue it.
1) Is there a rental market for Handicap accessible houses?
2) Anything I should be concerned about, maintenance wise?
3) Anyone with experience renting Handicap accessible homes via section 8?
It definitely wouldn't be a turn off for me. I would make sure that it truly is handicap accessible per state standards. You wouldn't want to market it as such and get in trouble if something small doesn't add up. I would actually advertise it as handicap friendly personally. State the benefits over a normal home. If you are going section 8 as well you will probably have more people needing the "features" so that could be beneficial.
First of all, I advise not to use the term "handicap" as it is considered a derogatory term by the vast majority of people in the disability communities.
Accessible design is a good thing and could be quite marketable. Find out what modifications have been made to the home to make it accessible for people with disabilities. Many of the modifications would be fitting and a positive thing for a wide variety of people, not only for those with disabilities. For example wider doors, lack of steps, lower thresholds, safety rails, safety grab bars are all good. Chair height toilets are a plus, except for those with young children. Lower counter tops will appeal to some. Visual smoke/CO alarms (which also have audio signals) will appeal to many. Parking close to the dwelling will be preferred by most renters. Accessible design and universal design can be made quite appealing aesthetically. It can broaden your market of prospective renters rather than hinder it.
Advertise the unit as accessible only if it meets all the criteria for being labeled as such. Take photos of the unit. The public will decide if it is a good fit for them or not.
In addition to the great points @Marcia Maynard shared, being accessible (or even simply being "friendly" if it doesn't quite meet that higher bar of accessible) can definitely help it command a premium in the market. Specifically in regards to Section 8, it is fairly easy to rent it for a 10% premium over the Fair Market Value rate for your locality for applicants that ask your local PHA for a "reasonable accommodation" to spend more than the voucher would usually allow for a unit, as yours has X features that allow them to live there with their disability, which can't be found in available units under the FMR. Over 10% has to go through extra levels of approval, but can be obtained if someone can demonstrate needs that can't be met in most/any other local rentals.
In terms of the general market, being more accessible than most units really helps attract older tenants who often struggle to find housing that meets their needs as they age, especially in markets with a large share of older housing stock (which tends to have much more steps, narrow/awkward bathrooms, etc.). In general, the more people that want to rent your unit, the more $ you can command in rents and the more selective you can be in choosing your next tenant.
The Federal ADA standards are hard to meet. We had a bathroom that was 10 x 18 and still could not meet all the requirements for turning radius and clearances.
The costs of modifications is high to meet all requirements. There are often programs of government funding to help with modifications and some tenants have access to grants to modify even properties that they are tenants.
@Marcia Maynard Thank you for all the great info. I only referred to the Home as handicap accessible, because that is how it was listed in the MLS. If I do acquire this property (I'm definitely interested now), I will be sure to market it correctly. Do I just use the word Accessible on it's own, or wheelchair accessible (or friendly, if it doesn't meet ADA standards)?
Thanks for responding @Bradley Bogdan. I heard anecdotally that you can get higher rents through section 8 for Accessible house, because there is a shortage of them in the program. I don't have any first hand knowledge of this being the case though.
My long term plan is to rent housing through section 8. Where I live, there are a glut of section 8 applicants, and not enough housing for them. My first (and only) property so far, already had a tenant in place, so I didn't go through getting it inspected for section 8.
If I acquire this property, I will definitely talk to someone at PHA to get the scoop for my area.
Thank you @Ryan Dossey
From the pics, it looks like zero entry from the garage, and there are safety rails by the tub/shower, and toilet. It does look like carpeting in the living area, but that is easy to change.
First I need to contact the owner of the expired listing, and see if they are ready to negotiate.
We did carpet in a house designed for wheel chair use. It was an extremely low pile less height than even level loop carpet, check a carpet store for this type of material. And of course laminate floors also work.
@Tim Lindstrom did you end up purchasing thing property? If so did it command a premium for getting it rented since it was handicap accessible?
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