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Better Search, Better Access for Your Next Home

The addition of 12 new search criteria to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service (NWMLS) makes it easier for buyers to look for a new home.   While these changes may not seem like a big deal, they’re pretty exciting, especially for those living with physical challenges who are looking for a new home that accommodates their lifestyle. ​

The latest changes to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service make it easier to look for a new home. 

For instance…

A person in a wheelchair or on crutches can now search for entrance accessibility, a wide bathroom or kitchen, or bedroom on the main floor. This allows buyers with physical challenges to quickly assess which listings would be suitable for their lifestyle. ​

Saving time for the buyer…

Previously there was no way for a buyer with physical challenges to know if a property was even accessible from the curb without driving by the listing.  Only after driving to the property could the buyer assess whether the approach from the curb would even allow handicapped access to the property. This had to be done before deciding whether to view the property, which could be unsuitable for their needs.

The alternative was for the buyer’s real estate agent to view the property without the buyer to assess accessibility prior to scheduling a tour with the buyer. This process ended up taking a lot of time, with buyers feeling fatigued just looking for an accessible home. In the climate of our competitive market over the last two years, you can imagine how difficult it was for buyers with physical challenges.

Still lots to do…

The new search criteria in the NWMLS system is amazing.  Nevertheless, for homes in the Greater Seattle area, there is often work that needs to be done to accommodate buyers with physical challenges.

For example, bathrooms are a major concern for buyers in wheelchairs because they often do not have enough space for somebody in a wheelchair.  Another consideration is the accessibility of the bathroom itself.  If a property, for example, has its living area and kitchen on the main floor, with only a powder room, then a buyer with physical challenges would need to remodel the powder room by adding a shower and making it wheelchair accessible.  The feasibility of such a remodel should be made before the property is purchased and then completed before the buyer moves into the property.


The same remodel should be considered for people who are having difficulty accessing the top floors of their home but could live on the main floor if the powder room was remodeled.  Such a remodel would allow them to live in comfort for several years or while recovering from knee and hip replacement or other surgeries.We’re happy to see these changes in the NWMLS’s search criteria that will make it easier for buyers with physical challenges to find their next home.

If you’re entertaining thoughts of a remodel project for yourself, consider downloading our Remodel Reality Check worksheet.

Remember to also follow our projects on Houzz, or follow and watch our progressive remodel live videos on our Facebook page.

What else?
Improving accessibility will help older homeowners age in place (featured in Seattle Times)
Is ‘visitability’ included in your home remodel goals? (featured in Seattle Times)
Remodeling Toward a More “Universal Design”
Could a Remodel Make Daily Activities Easier as You Age?
Remodeling Strategies for Aging Homeowners

About Olga Lockhart

Olga Lockhart, Marketing Manager for Pathway Design & Construction, researches, analyzes, and writes about these key topics: Universal Design, Aging in Place, Northwest building & Seattle remodeling trends, air quality issues, and solutions, during construction. She's also willing to chat about travel and culture out of the office.

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