Buying a Home: Tips From a Realtor With CF

As a real estate broker, I was already familiar with the first-time home buying process when my husband and I began our own house search. But little did I know that my CF would make me my toughest client yet.

| 4 min read
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Drucy Borowitz, M.D.
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My husband Andrew and I got married, moved across the state of Illinois and started our new jobs in August of 2015. We love living in the same town as my cystic fibrosis care center and being closer to family. It has made life a lot easier and a lot more enjoyable. So this spring, we decided it was finally time to buy a home and start planning for our future.

Buying a home is an exciting and nerve-wracking experience for most first-time homebuyers. As a real estate broker, I luckily already knew what the process entails. I love helping clients find the perfect home that fits their lists of wishes and needs. Little did I know that I would be my toughest client yet due to my CF.

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Andrew and I started our search like anyone else: We made our wish list. Although most people search for the biggest house they can afford (typically two stories for newlyweds), a master bathroom, a two-car garage and granite countertops, my CF and health was our number one priority. So, our list looked more like this:

  1. Small, single-story home with three bedrooms: For our search, Andrew and I needed a single-story home (under 1,200 square feet) that still had three bedrooms. Between work and my medications, I could barely keep up with cleaning our apartment, so a small home was key. Also, my CF-related arthritis means that I have problems with climbing stairs and doing daily chores like carrying laundry. Having less square footage helps lessen the workload for me while still providing us with extra rooms so that we can start a family in the future.
  2. Clean with no mold, radon or water problems: This is especially important if there is a basement (which our home has) or is an older home (1970s and on). Having a buyer's inspection helped ease our minds about any issues with the house. Plus, I made sure there were no problems on the disclosure report; no past flooding, no leaking and updated plumbing and electrical systems. Although buying homes that are in foreclosure or an estate can sometimes get you a better price, it can also mean there are no disclosures, so you are walking in without knowing anything about the property. We did all the proper inspections to make sure our older home had a clean bill of health.
  3. No carpet (or be at price point where we could replace it): In addition to my CF, I also have a lot of allergies. In the past I always broke out in rashes when sitting on carpet, and it really helped me when my parents eliminated it from our house. Allergies can be a big trigger for my lungs, so looking for surfaces that are easy to clean was important throughout our search. Our house has hardwood floors throughout the first floor, and in the basement we are doing another solid surface that is easy to clean. Although it was difficult, my husband and I finally found a place that met our needs and we closed on our new home on June 17, 2016. Since then, we have been working toward making it more “CF-accessible” by adding a pullout drawer with a drying rack for nebulizer cups in our kitchen, turning part of the pantry into a medical center and storing all my medications together in one place. We put my vest machine and nebulizer in a storage ottoman that doubles as our coffee table in the living room. This helps keep the machines out of sight and within reach, and ensures that everything stays clean and tidy.
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Any buyer can make a house fit, but not all buyers can find a house with the bones they need. Making sure you look into the aspects of a home that could affect your health is the most important factor, which is why we decided to put our needs list ahead of our wish list throughout our homebuying process. It worked out for us. We found what we consider to be our forever home, and we couldn't be any happier!

This site contains general information about cystic fibrosis, as well as personal insight from the CF community. Opinions and experiences shared by members of our community, including but not limited to people with CF and their families, belong solely to the blog post author and do not represent those of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, unless explicitly stated. In addition, the site is not intended as a substitute for treatment advice from a medical professional. Consult your doctor before making any changes to your treatment.

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Drucy is the vice president of community partnerships at the CF Foundation. For more than 25 years, Drucy was the CF center director at the Women and Children's Hospital of Buffalo, and she is a clinical professor of pediatrics at the Jacobs School of Medicine of the University at Buffalo. She has worked on a wide range of committees and projects for the Foundation over the past three decades, and she will continue to have some involvement with the Therapeutics Development Center in Buffalo, where she is co-principal investigator. Drucy and her husband Phil Glick have two adult children and one grandson.

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