Property website TheHouseShop.com have found a shocking lack of success from UK agents in marketing accessible or barrier free' homes. The accessible homes market is âseverely underdeveloped and estate agents lack the means and resources to properly advertise disabled-access propertiesâ according to Nick Marr of The House Shop.
Part of the problem with effectively marketing accessible or disabled-access properties is that there is no commonly agreed definition of what makes a home accessible. Disabled peoples needs are so diverse, and the range of accessible improvements available so broad, that many advertising platforms simply do not distinguish accessible homes from regular listings. This means that disabled house-hunters are missing out on hundreds of suitable homes, with carefully thought out accessible improvements that will have cost thousands of pounds to install.
Conrad Hodgkinson, of Accessible-Property.org.uk, has been running a dedicated accessible property listing service for almost a decade and has shared The House Shopâs concerns over this sector of the market:
âAround 10% of the population describe themselves as disabled and an ageing and less mobile population will only add to the pressure for greater supply, identification, and marketing of accessible and adapted property. Unfortunately, many estate agents are failing to recognise this.â
Estate agents blanket approach to marketing means that they typically lack the specialist or niche marketing capability to properly advertise accessible homes. Nick Marr of The House Shop believes that estate agents are losing valuable business to the private sales market as accessible homeowners turn to the For-Sale-By-Owner service after receiving negative feedback from agents.
âDisabled homeowners are increasingly turning to direct sales or peer-to-peer selling to market their homes after failing to find suitable buyers through estate agents. Over the years we have had a number of disabled homeowners approach us after being advised by their agent to rip out or downplay accessible improvements so that their property appeals to the broadest possible market. For homeowners who have spent, in some cases, tens of thousands of pounds improving and adapting their homes, this is the last thing they want to hear.â â Nick Marr
Conrad Hodgkinson supports Marrâs comments from his own experience with Accessible Property Register:
âUntil estate agents get the message that access is a plus and that marketing property that meets the needs of all increases the range of potential purchasers, not much is likely to change and disabled and older people will continue to struggle to find suitable property.â
Marr is quick to point out however that estate agents are not entirely at fault here, as they quite simply do not have access to a marketing platform that allows them to distinguish between regular and accessible homes. The House Shop now want to help agents effectively market their adapted and accessible homes, free of charge.
The House Shop are the first property platform to have created a listing system that allows agents to select accessible features that apply to the property and distinguish them from regular listings. And from a buyerâs perspective, The House Shop have also launched an Accessible Property Search, that allows disabled house-hunters to filter out unsuitable properties.
âWe have been promoting accessible homes for many years and our site attracts an audience that seek these types of homes. Agents will benefit from using services such as ours, and other niche property sites like that at accessbleproperty.org, to target an audience in desperate need of suitable accommodation.â â Nick Marr
On a practical note, Marr advises, âAgents that use agency software should ensure that these companies also pass on any highlighted accessible features to sites like ours and other portalsâ.
If a property meets any of the following requirements then it should be classed as an accessible or adapted home and can be listed under the Accessible Properties section on The House Shop and the Accessible Property Register:
- Access to upper floor via stair lift
- Access to upper floor via wheelchair lift
- Adapted bathroom
- Adapted kitchen
- Entrance level bath or shower room
- Entrance level WC
- Environmental or SMART controls
- Fixed or tracking ceiling hoist
- Level access shower/wet room
- Level access to all main living floor rooms
- Level access to garden/grounds
- Level or ramped access to the property
- No steps on approach to property
- Off-street or unrestricted on-street parking
- Sheltered housing
- Supported living (warden or other assistance available on site)
- Wheelchair access
- Wheelchair lift
- Wide doors
- Wider-than-standard doorways
Find out more about listing your accessible properties with The House Shop here: www.thehouseshop.com/accessible-property