The Heartland Multiple Listing Service, an informational housing system used by real estate agents in the St. Joseph and Kansas City area, has added a more detailed filtering system for accessibility features.

Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant housing is difficult to find for the elderly and those with physical disabilities, which is why Kenton Randolph, the owner of Randolph Seating & Mobility, partnered with Berkshire Hathaway as an accessibility specialist to come up with a solution by updating the filters in the MLS.

“There is a growing need for ADA-accessible housing, not only in St. Joe, but in multiple communities,” Randolph said. “So as people age, a lot of them are wanting to age in place, therefore desiring to have a home that will allow them to do that.”

Randolph said there are two issues with ADA accessible housing — inventory and identifying. This new feature will help with the identifying problem by helping those with physical disabilities find the home that’s right for them.

“Somebody comes to a real estate agent and asks about buying a home,” Randolph said. “Then the agent would be able to go into the matrix and search it by looking for a house that has wheelchair entry, accessible bathroom or stairlift.”

The previous MLS only stated if the entry of a house was accessible, but didn’t include anything inside the house. The updated filters include door widths, bathroom accessibility, stairlifts and ceiling tracks, to name a few.

“So in order to help my clients try to find more accessible homes, the MLS offers them an avenue to go in and select what modifications this home may have that is accessible — ramps, smart technology, bathroom handicap accessibility, kitchens, bedrooms, so forth,” Randolph said. “So it gives a lot more expandability.”

The new MLS was six months in the making and followed the example of Northwest MLS in Oregon.

The Northwest and Heartland MLS are leading the way in accessible housing. They are one of the few systems in the entire country with detailed accessibility features.

Randolph said the goal is for all MLS systems to have these detailed filters, because it provides an easier way for those with disabilities to find housing with the proper needs.

“Everybody has unique needs,” Randolph said. “Not all people require the same amount of accessibility. Some of them don’t need an overhead lift in a home, so you can narrow that technology down.”

This updated MLS is new, and Randolph said real estate agents need to use the accessibility features for it to be effective. But if it is utilized, the identifying problems surrounding accessible housing could face a possible solution.