As a real estate investor, it’s important to design your home for different types of buyers. Making sure your property is versatile to all homeowners goes beyond paint colors and tile choice. It also means thinking about buyers of all ages, including those with disabilities or physical impairments. Whether you renovate vacant properties or build new homes from scratch, here’s how to ensure your investment property is one any buyer can call home.

1. Think carefully about steps

Many homes have steps leading to the entryway. This can be limiting to anyone who has trouble walking, is visually impaired, or uses a wheelchair. It might also be a turn off to families with small children.

If you can avoid stairs altogether, try to. If you can’t avoid stairs, install a railing to grab on to.

If the home sits atop an incline, consider installing a ramp instead. This could help anyone using a wheelchair or stroller to get in and out of the house more easily. Without wheelchair access, you might find your home sale falls through.

2. Ensure hallways and doorways are wide

Some homes have very narrow, cramped hallways that make it difficult to move around. If your buyer is in a wheelchair, uses a walker, or has other mobility aids, a space with narrow hallways may be impossible to navigate.

To avoid this problem, make sure all doors and hallways are large enough to accommodate a wheelchair with a couple inches to spare on each side. You may need to shave off a few inches from interior rooms to accommodate this, but it can be extremely helpful if you want to attract a larger number of buyers.

3. Make bathrooms safe

Bathrooms can be a dangerous room for children or anyone with mobility challenges. Ensuring bathrooms are accessible shows buyers you’re invested in their safety.

Bathroom safety features may be a necessity for some buyers looking to move into a new home, so it’s important not to skip this step. Adding grab bars in showers and by toilets to help people stand and sit are two easy ways to make a bathroom more inclusive.

If you’re designing a bathroom from scratch, consider building a roll-in shower that makes it easy for anyone in a wheelchair to go in and out. You might also consider adding a built-in shower seat so those with mobility issues can sit while showering. Also make sure built-in shower shelves are low enough that someone sitting can access them.

If it’s in your budget, consider an adjustable-height bathroom sink and countertop to accommodate buyers in a wheelchair.

4. Build a convertible kitchen

The kitchen is one area where those with mobility issues may struggle to get around. First, make sure a wheelchair or walker can fit between cabinets, appliances, and the kitchen island. Then make sure the main cabinets and drawers are within reach. Be sure cabinet doors and drawers are easy to open with noticeable pull knobs. Pull-out shelves can be helpful, too.

To increase the inclusivity of your kitchen, build it with adjustable countertops to make it easier for anyone in a wheelchair to reach and access. You can also lower the sink or make it adjustable. Make sure the faucet is motion censored, activated by touch, or has an easy lever to turn on.

Ensure your appliances are also universal. French-door refrigerators can ensure those in a wheelchair can reach the majority of the space. Lowering the microwave or building it into a kitchen island is another way to make the appliance more accessible. Lastly, make sure switches, such as those to the lights and garbage disposal, are easy to reach.

All of the accommodations you make should be easy for buyers to swap out to meet their own individual needs and preferences.

5. Motion-sensored lighting

Make sure the home is well lit to help anyone with vision problems navigate the space. Installing motion-sensored lighting in specific areas, such as bathrooms, kitchens, or hallways, can be helpful for young children and elderly individuals. It can also help those with mobility issues avoid accidents.

6. Opt for non-slip flooring

Granite and stone may look beautiful, but they’re dangerous materials that can be very slick and cause falls. Avoid slippery flooring to keep your home inclusive. Vinyl is one of the best non-slip flooring options, but you can choose hardwood or cork laminate flooring instead. There are also non-slip treatments you can apply to your existing floors to make them less dangerous.

If you’re considering carpet, make sure it’s a low pile that wheelchair users can easily move across. You should also avoid adding rugs to stairs or in areas that are slippery because they could cause an accident for someone with low mobility.

7. Use color to help guide visually impaired buyers

Color is a great way to visually break up a space, and for those with visual impairments, it can also be a safe way to help them identify where they are. This might mean painting a staircase a different color, ensuring countertops stand out, or creating a different focal color for each room in the home.

Color and contrasting cues don’t have to be big, expensive home projects. Something as simple as different colored trim can help those with vision problems navigate through a space with confidence. Adding visual cues can help you sell your home to a visually impaired buyer, while also keeping them protected in their new house.

8. Keep your home adaptable

It’s impossible to plan for every scenario or possible challenge, but if you do your research and keep your space flexible, buyers can adapt the space to better fit their needs. For instance, if you aren’t sure if a kitchen island will be a hindrance to someone in a wheelchair, install a freestanding island that can be wheeled out of the way or removed if the buyer chooses.

Opting for an open layout and using furniture, such as bookshelves or couches, to break up rooms can also offer more customization for buyers who may find it hard to travel through many small rooms.


  • Luke Babich

    Luke Babich is the Co-Founder of Clever Real Estate, a real estate education platform committed to helping home buyers, sellers and investors make smarter financial decisions. Luke is a licensed real estate agent in the State of Missouri and his research and insights have been featured on BiggerPockets, Inman, the LA Times, and more. Education: B.A. with Honors, Political Science — Stanford University

Related Posts


Submit a Comment