Helpful Tips for Buying Special Needs Housing

Nima Ashtyani
July 20, 2023

You should consider these tips before choosing a home for someone who has a physical or developmental disability. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) lists state and local government agencies and other organizations that can help you. At the federal level, HUD also provides information about Section 504 regulations defining federal financial assistance. In particular, Section 811 outlines Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities. It’s important to research available services before contacting a realtor. 

Finding the Right Home

Once you have a strategy and know which programs you can use to minimize costs, it’s time to think about the housing location. Is the individual with special needs employed or a student? Can they drive a car, or must they be near public transportation to work or school? If your loved one is a K-12 student, pay particular attention to school and after-school programs. Many are offered outside of the school zone in some neighborhoods. Also, consider the proximity of hospitals and doctors, shopping (food, clothing, and household goods), dining, and entertainment. Also, check for any restrictions regarding support animals if it’s relevant.

Narrow Down Your Options

Create a short list of your best options by talking to others who have faced the same housing challenges in local support groups, school parent message boards, housing assistance advocacy groups, or online forums. You can save a lot of time and money by learning from others who have gone before you. They may help eliminate some properties or neighborhoods and save you from common missteps.

Investigate the Properties

After identifying a general location that meets some of your criteria, canvas the availability of appropriate homes. When thinking about the layout and design, consider the rambler or ranch-style house. They have a low profile, very few stairs to navigate (if any), and minimal exterior and interior features that could create problems when modifying the home.

Consider Mobility

If mobility is an issue, look for a house with smooth floor coverings, such as hardwood or laminate. Smooth surfaces provide easier access to shower and bathroom areas. Also, check to see that the doorways in the home are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. Assess how many modifications would be required to address special needs while remaining within a budget. Grab bars, ramps, and other similar amenities are reasonably simple to add, and some states, cities, and counties will help pay for the modifications. 

Lending Institutions and Realtors

Not only are there federal, state, and local agencies to help you meet the requirements of a special needs home, but some lenders and realtors specialize in financing and purchasing your home. An experienced lender and real estate agent will be familiar with special needs agencies and government programs that can help you get approved for a loan and maneuver the housing marketplace for the right fit.

Online Real Estate Platforms

Get online and look., Zillow, Homesnap, and Redfin are just a few of the online options to explore real estate from your home or mobile device. Just plug in an address of a home in the area that meets your criteria, and you’ll get stats on that home as well as an aerial map of the neighborhood that allows you to click for more information about homes that haven’t been listed yet.

Realize this process takes time. Identify a strong, competent real estate agent who understands your special needs and takes the time to find the right housing solution for you. Also, speak with a trusted special needs attorney to ensure you have maximized all potential program benefits. Buying a home is probably the biggest purchase you will make in your life. Buying one that accommodates special needs adds a layer of complexity that should be well thought out before hiring a realtor.


We are constantly on the lookout for resources that can help our clients. While online articles and blog posts are no substitute for legal advice and consultation, they are useful as a component of your due diligence and may help you consider questions or concerns you did not previously have. The blog posts and articles posted on our site are offered to help our clients, and potential clients, with that due diligence. The posts provided here are not legal advice. The laws of each state are not the same and what may be true in one place, may not be true in another. Furthermore, the nuances of each legal matter may make good advice to one-person, bad advice to another.

Please enjoy the articles on our site, please use them in your research, but please do not rely on them entirely.

If you have a legal matter that you may require assistance with, please contact our New Jersey office or call us at (201) 464-2040 and schedule a consultation to discuss your legal matters. We look forward to the opportunity to work with you.

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