MLS & Fair Housing; Selling a Home with Disability Access.
As Realtors, we commonly have clients with request for things like a gas fireplace, a two car garage, and finished or walk out basement. Ok, that's not to hard depending on the area and price range. The MLS's allow for defining and choosing these features when an agent lists a home, and a simple search by another agent looking on the MLS for their buyer brings up homes with those features.
Shouldn't this be a Fair Housing Issue?
Picture this now, a client in a wheel chair wants "E-all-of-the-above", but also needs disability access. As a buyer's agent, life just got difficult as MLS's are not required to highlight disability access features in their listings. She's going to want hallways that are at least 3 feet or 36 inches wide, a shower she can roll into and thresholds an inch high or less.
Luckily, more and more MLS's are getting on board with Realtors professional and legal outlook is that fair housing and equal opportunity is for everyone, including our disabled citizens, and as Realtors we need to offer equal service to all. A little hard to do if the local MLS doesn't provide disability and accessibility criteria to listing agents.
In October 2012 the Real Estate Standards Organization who develops electronic (internet) standards for the real estate industry's e-commerce officially added a list of of accessibility terms to to its data dictionary, and were added at the time with the support of 23 of the nations' largest MLS boards. Such terms included things like "entry slope less than 1 foot", "lowered light switches" or "low pile carpeting". While MLS's that use any of the terms found in the standard's data dictionary accessibility list are now required to present a single criteria option "accessibility features", which is huge for Realtors trying to serve disabled clients. Unfortunately, this is not enforced with MLS boards who do not use such terms.
I can't imagine why an MLS wouldn't use or allow such terms. It should be a universal law in my opinion.
If you're a Realtor and your local MLS doesn't provide for our disabled citizens as such, I urge you to contact your local board and bring this very real need to their attention.