Homeowner and homebuyer impressions of visitable features

Paper presented at the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning Conference, October 2014.

Jack L. Nasar, Ph.D., Julia R. Elmer, M.A., M.B.A., M.P.H., Ph.D.(c)
The Ohio State University, USA

Disability and Health Journal, Vol. 9, Issue 1, p 108–117
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.dhjo.2015.08.012


Though visitable house features (32+″ wide doors; no-step or low slope entries; and a usable half- or full bathroom on the main floor) have benefits, many developers and builders oppose them because they believe homebuyers do not want them.


The present study sought to test the accuracy of developer and builder perceived barriers to including visitable features in new houses. Specifically, we tested the desirability of houses with and without such features to homeowners and homebuyers. We hypothesized that homeowners and homebuyers would prefer to buy homes with visitable features even if they believed such homes would cost more.


In a cross-sectional study, we surveyed 96 homeowners and 107 homebuyers in Ohio. For photos of nine matched pairs of visitable and non-visitable features, respondents assessed home would sell faster, which they preferred to buy, and which had an older inhabitant. They also rated effects of each visitable feature on qualities that might affect the marketability of the home, such as good design, aesthetics, appeal to young, appeal to old, ease of hosting visitors, and resale value.


Both homeowners and homebuyers preferred to buy houses with visitable features, thought they would sell faster, and rated each visitable feature as having favorable effects on the qualities, even though they expected houses with visitable feature to cost more and to house an older person or a person with difficulty walking.


Contrary to developer and builder beliefs, homeowners and homebuyers may prefer houses with visitable features.