More real estate listing services adding accessibility features – Chicago Tribune

On the heels of the movement to add green features to multiple listing service releases, a trend to list accessibility features is also gaining momentum.

Local registration services are not required to highlight extra-wide doorways that can accommodate wheelchairs, master bedrooms on the first floor, entrance thresholds that are level with the sidewalk, bars support in the bathroom, lever door handles and faucets, and other similar features. But they should.

After all, according to the latest figures from the Census Bureau, almost 20% of the population has a disability. That’s almost 57 million people. Of course, not all of them are severely disabled, but about half are.

Moreover, between 2005 and 2010, the number of people with disabilities increased by 2.2 million. And in 2010, about 30.6 million people had difficulty walking or climbing stairs, or used a wheelchair, cane, crutches or walker.

According to the National Association of Realtors, South-Central Wisconsin’s Multiple Listings Service was the first to include accessibility requirements, in 1991. When agents submit a property for listing, they can check up to 15 accessibility features, including ramped entrances, 42 1-inch-wide hallways and doors, and roll-in showers.

Several other SEO services have since followed Wisconsin’s lead, but it wasn’t until two years ago that a movement began to add accessibility terms to the standard real estate data dictionary. This effort is led by the Real Estate Standards Organization, a private entity dedicated to creating voluntary e-commerce standards so that they are the same everywhere.

Consistency is “really crucial,” says Bill Lubin, a Philadelphia broker and past chair of the National Association of Realtors MLS’s Issues and Policy Committee.

Without an agreed-upon set of standards, Lubin says, there’s no easy-to-check data entry field for agents when listing homes for sale. So “they have to be marketed in the notes section” of the listing, and the result is that they don’t show up in searches.

According to the National Association of Realtors, 23 of the nation’s largest multiple listing services support the effort to standardize accessibility requirements. Now, smaller services are also registering, adding common terms such as low-profile carpeting, swing doors, entry slopes less than a foot, doorbells that flash lights inside the home, taller toilets and lower light switches.

The more advanced services also list features that make some communities more livable than others, such as safe streets, outdoor places for people with disabilities to congregate, and transit options.

Now, the more than 800 multi-registration services across the country are being asked to feature accessibility features in a single data field starting early next year. This way, potential buyers who are confined to wheelchairs or have another major disability can more easily search for homes that meet their physical needs.

So if you’re selling a home with accessibility features, make sure your agent ticks those items in the appropriate box to appeal to the widest possible audience of home seekers. And if you’re a buyer, ask your agent to search the multiple listings service by one or more of these characteristics. You might get lucky and save yourself a lot of wasted time looking for places that just won’t work.

Meanwhile, a new website has popped up in Southern California to help buyers connect with trained agents to help them find homes with green features and take advantage of energy rebates and financing initiatives.

The site, is sponsored by Energy Network, a local government organization administered by Los Angeles County. It connects buyers in the Nine Counties area with agents who have completed the National Association of Realtors’ green designation courses and can advise them on the full range of green features.

Dan Knapp, senior marketing manager at Build It Green, which runs the program on behalf of the Energy Network, says some 460 real estate professionals and nearly 50 appraisers have been trained so far in the art of buying. , sell and appraise sustainable homes. And many more are online.

“We’re seeing high demand” among those pros, Knapp says. “They see the market going in that direction and they react.” An agent with NAR’s green designation can “get people thinking about energy costs,” he adds, and help them “get more home for their money.”

The response among the real estate community has been so great that the program will soon be offered in the San Francisco Bay Area and later in other parts of the state.

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