The Northwest Multiple Listing Service, which I am a member of here in Olympia, WA, has recently added features to our database in order to identify properties that will fit the needs for people with physical limitations. This undertaking by two NWMLS brokers (Barry Long and Tom Minty) earned the NWMLS a “Best Practices Award” from the Northwest Access Fund, a nonprofit organization serving individuals with disabilities.
For listing brokers, we now have listing input options that include how the property can be accessible, from entrances to the home to interior entrances to the kitchen, for example.
What defines accessibility?
The NWMLS has responsibly created an “Accessibility Information Supplement” for brokers with 48 definitions. Listing brokers and sellers can review the definitions to make sure the property is being marketed appropriately per these definitions. For example, the supplement cites the minimum width of hallways and door openings, the types of floor coverings that are considered in the accessibility of the house, types of handles on doors and fixtures, the height of switches, outlets and other controls, etc. Additional training will also be available to brokers to properly use these fields.
Many buyers are looking for properties that suit their current needs for accessibility but many buyers are also looking at homes for their future where they can age in place. These new data fields mean brokers can search and filter listings for their clients’ specific requirements.
In the past, when disabled access is listed and marketed, what comes to mind are hospital-like grab bars and ugly DIY ramps. With these new data fields, listing brokers can highlight specific features and assistive devices instead of using a blanket and undefined term of a property having “disabled access.”
The NWMLS is owned by its member real estate firms and is the largest full-service MLS in the Pacific Northwest. There are more than 29,000 real estate professionals with 2,200 member offices. The NWMLS serves 23 counties in Washington State.
Portions of this post are from the NW Reporter which is a joint monthly real estate newsletter from the NWMLS and the Seattle King-County REALTORS.