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Accessibility filters on listings an industry game changer

By Juliet Helmke
02 April 2024 | 11 minute read
wheelchair disability myb

New filters for searching properties are set to vastly improve the ability for people with mobility issues to find a suitable home.

Currently available on realestate.com.au’s web platform and soon to roll out to mobile, users can now narrow down properties with seven new filters to tell them if a home is single-storey, provides step-free entry or elevator access, and includes amenities like wide doorways, accessible parking, bathroom grab rails and roll-in showers.

As REA Group’s general manager of consumer product Jonathan Swift explained, while the firm knows that more could be done in the real estate industry in general to ease property searches for people with disabilities, the group hopes this latest change will go a long way to improving the initial home hunting experience for people with mobility issues specifically.

“What we do know is that for people that have accessibility issues and mobility issues in particular, being able to enter the property can be a real challenge, so we know these users spend a lot of time looking at things like photographs and 3D tours to try and understand aspects like, is the doorway wide enough for their needs?”

This rollout has not only a practical application in providing searchers with information that might lead them to properties with a greater chance of required amenities, but it serves as something of an educational tool, too, in bringing it to agencies’ attention that these are specifications about a home that they need to know, and be able to provide recommendations on.

Swift noted that elements like photography will continue to be important in helping consumers make decisions that are tailored to their needs, but the hope is that this will improve experiences in the initial stage so that they can narrow down the list of properties to the best possible candidates.

Of course, success of this goal relies on use, particularly on the agency side, and the firm is embarking on a campaign to raise awareness among their members of not only the new features, but their importance in providing the best possible service.

Swift feels confident that “a sizeable chunk of our audience will embrace these features straight away as a great way to potentially pick up new inspections and new leads, for your property or the property your marketing right now”.


For Paul Davies, founder and CEO of One Agency, the update will be an easy one to integrate into its process of posting listings, as the network has been asking agents to identify wheelchair-appropriate properties in its listings for the last several years, and has been at the forefront of calling for portals to add this element into search.

Still, he acknowledged that the industry needs some education on the importance of this feature.

“The need for [accessibility filters] came to my attention over two years ago when conversations between former Sydney eastern suburbs real estate agent and retired army veteran Tahnee Barnes and Nic Fren of Bespoke Media – who are former colleagues – brought this to my attention,” he remarked.

Since then, the agency has displayed a wheelchair logo in its onsite listings for properties that have accessible amenities.

Davies remarked that the REA Group’s initiative in this area is a “welcome improvement to our industry”.

“Until now, those with mobility challenges have had to physically inspect properties with the hopes of gaining entry. Not all properties are clear with property descriptions or photography to indicate potential access points or accessibility. This will lift our industry standards and image by offering a better service which is more inclusive,” he said.

Paralympic gold medalist and NSW parliamentarian Liesl Tesch also commended the new filters, calling it “fantastic news” from realestate.com.au.


Juliet Helmke

Based in Sydney, Juliet Helmke has a broad range of reporting and editorial experience across the areas of business, technology, entertainment and the arts. She was formerly Senior Editor at The New York Observer.

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