Who do you picture when you’re writing your property descriptions or choosing photographs? Make sure that you’re creating an inclusive image of all types of potential buyers, including those with disabilities.
You may be surprised to learn that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 61 million adults living in the U.S. are challenged by a disability. That’s 1 in 4 of the people you’re potentially marketing your next listing to. That number is only projected to grow larger as the baby boomer generational cohort continues to age and, potentially, require additional assistance.
When you’re putting together the marketing collateral for your listings, make sure you’re not leaving out those who might be looking for a home and also living with a disability. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to make your marketing more relevant; just be aware that not everyone navigates the world exactly the way you do.
Be mindful of potentially discriminatory language
When you’re writing your property description, keep the needs of buyers with disabilities in mind. Remember that they may not be able to access a space or location the same way that someone else would. Avoid the use of language that assumes a specific level of activity or mobility, including phrases such as the following:
- Steps to the clubhouse
- Walking distance to local schools
- Easy walk to parks
Just as a “quiet neighborhood” may mean different things to different people, proximity to local amenities is different for those who are in a wheelchair or who walk with a cane. Instead, hop on Google Maps and provide the distance to local features, as follows:
- Clubhouse just 75 yards from your front door
- Nearby (0.25 miles) elementary school
- Pamela Smythe Park just across the street (0.1 mi)
Provide a floorplan and measurements whenever possible
For everything from doorway clearance to the rise of stairs and ramps, measurements can be extremely helpful for those who are in wheelchairs or using walkers.
A floorplan — especially if it shows the direction of doorway openings and accurate measurements — can help a buyer with disabilities determine whether the listing is a possibility for them and what accommodations they might need before making an in-person viewing appointment.
Include a virtual tour or video walkthrough
Similarly, by offering a more comprehensive perspective on the space itself through a virtual or video tour, you allow the homebuyer with a disability to get a sense of how the space would, or wouldn’t, work in their particular case. In addition, you take away some of the anxiety that might go along with paying a visit for an in-person tour of the home.
Highlight accessibility features in the home or common spaces
You may be tempted to hide away accessibility features when having the listing photographed or to dismantle them before putting the home on the market. Instead, see them as a valuable selling point for those who may need them in order to make the home workable.
Ask the sellers whether they would be open to removing accessibility features like stair lifts or ramps if requested. That way, if an interested buyer doesn’t want these features, they know that they will not have to pay for their removal. This creates a win-win proposition where installed mobility aids are available if needed and removable if not.
Implement accessibility options to make your website more useful for those with visual impairments
As outlined in this recent article, many websites are not accessible for buyers with visual disabilities. Explore resources for making your own website more user-friendly and meaningful for people who are searching for a home while also living with a visual impairment. Adding alt text to listing photos and narrating walkthroughs clearly and with useful details can make your listing stand out from the rest.
Educate yourself about the challenges people with disabilities face, then work to create solutions that make the home search process easier for them. When you enter into the experience of another, it creates more empathy and a more meaningful level of engagement so that you can become a valuable resource for buyers and sellers who are living with disabilities, both in your market and beyond.
Christy Murdock is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant and the owner of Writing Real Estate. She is also the creator of the online course Crafting the Property Description: The Step-by-Step Formula for Reluctant Real Estate Writers. Follow Writing Real Estate on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.