Finding Wheelchair Accessible Properties via Estate Agents and Property Portals

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Finding Wheelchair Accessible Properties via Estate Agents and Property Portals

Changes are happening to level the property search processes for older and disabled people with accessible housing needs. Find out more and what these changes means for you.

Finding Wheelchair Accessible Properties via Estate Agents and Property Portals Rightmove Zoopla OnTheMarket AccessiblePRS

The context to searching for your next Wheelchair Accessible property.

Making it easy to find a wheelchair accessible home has always been one of three top priorities for Guy Harris and AccessiblePRS - along with increasing the supply of wheelchair accessible homes and rewriting the narrative around accessibility so that mainstream housing organisations and professionals understand the benefits and embrace it.

On 30th November 2023, National Trading Standards published updated guidance for letting agents and landlords to improve material information in property listings. In addition to the guidance on its dedicated webpage, NTSELAT has published short guides for agents, sellers and landlords, and buyers and tenants. We've been working closely with them to introduce updates that are effective and implementable. They've seen what we achieved with The Accessible Letting Scheme.

Critically, search updates need to work in the mainstream and NOT, we firmly believe, on a(nother) startup, niche website. If you take Rightmove as an example, there are 1 million UK residential properties advertised on Rightmove every month across Resale, New Homes and Rental. And Zoopla is not far behind, whilst also offering consumers a whole load of free, current and historic property data. While OnTheMarket offers property seekers other reasons for using their portal. No startup will compete with these in the near future. And with that work that we do, we're making accessibility a familiar and normal part of how we all think about properties.

The Accessible Letting Scheme (already a bit of a misnomer as our clients also want to do the same work with their sales teams) is about standardising the whole property search system. It needed to be a system that:

  • Fits in with the UK's existing and long established property infrastructure. There are 24,500 estate agents across the UK, and updates need to be feasible for them to get behind, and that work for property searchers.
  • Enables property searchers to search and filter online effectively (what we call "the 3am test") so that searchers first interaction with agents is positive and works in the same way as anyone else searching.
  • Sets up everyone for success and is fact based, so that there's no grey area about defining a property as "accessible." Most of the UK housing stock isn't accessible and estate agents cannot be expected to define properties as accessible effectively.
  • Property searchers, with accessible housing needs, know how to use and that works in the same way across all platforms and agencies.
Because Guy Harris is a property professional with lived experience of disability (full time wheelchair user with a spinal injury since 2003), he understands how the sector works, has relationships throughout the industry, sits on a number of property industry bodies and working groups. 

Rome wasn't built in a day...

We've launched. We're already working with some of the leading brands in the sector. We've already seen some fabulous successes. We now have the Government behind our work in mandatory changes that are coming through in the end of 2023 / start of 2024 (achieving this was seismic, by the way). But will take time to spread the word, sign up and train agents - in our standardised way that makes sense to them, and gets you what you need. You can play your part by telling your agents about our scheme (give them this link).

So what do you need to know?

Top of our list would be that you need to take responsibility for your own search. When you understand how agents work, and how competitive the market is at the moment (because the UK isn't building enough homes, and certainly not enough good quality ones), you'll understand the value of learning how to search effectively for properties and how to BE CREATIVE!  Here's a friendly shortlist to help you understand what you can do to help your property search.

  1. Read our Advice Guide.
  2. Look for three new property characteristic filter search boxes on the three main property portals and agents' websites (these should appear in 2024 if not already available): (1) step-free access (2) wet room (3) lateral living - which means, living room, kitchen, bathroom and at least one bedroom on the entry level.
  3. Use the primary search key phrases. Follow the link to find out what they are and why they work.
  4. You should start seeing photos and video tours that capture more of the visual information that you need. You can also ask an agent to send you a video tour taken on their smartphone and sent via SMS / WhatsApp / Signal / etc... Or ask for a Virtual Viewing to get in first!
  5. And have a portable ramp that you can take with you for viewings! You might need to get up a step into a home that would otherwise be perfect.

Good Luck!

We'll be keeping you updated. If you haven't registered, you can register here so that can tell you about properties that become available via other our channels.
Article Last Updated: 4-December-23
Find wheelchair accessible homes AccessiblePRS