What real estate agents need to know about stair lifts 

If your buyers have mobility issues, or even reservations about having stairs, here’s what you need to know to suggest stair lifts as an alternative means of traveling safely between levels.

Whether the result of neuropathy, injuries, age or disabilities, homebuyers with mobility issues have specific needs, especially in a home with more than one floor.

Installing an elevator is one solution to avoid being confined to one floor of a multistoried home that involves expense, electrical upgrades, safety features, and structural alteration to one’s home.

An alternative, which is simpler and less costly, is installing a chair lift, also known as a stair lift.  

Especially in today’s tight-inventory market, agents have to get creative and solve problems to get the deal done. If your buyers have mobility issues, or even reservations about having stairs, here’s what you need to know to suggest stair lifts as an alternative means of traveling safely between levels.

Chair lift 411 

In its simplest form, a chair lift is a seat with an armrest and safety belt that rises on a rail installed on existing stairs, powered by a small motor under the chair’s seat. 

The rail can be installed on the wall or the stairs themselves, depending on the type of chair lift system. The rail is an aluminum guide to which the chair is attached that guides the rider to the next level of the home.

Straight staircases adapt most easily to stair lifts, but custom-designed installations are available for curved stairways. If a straight stairway terminates at a landing, homeowners can install a second chair lift for the second run of stairs. The landing can be a transfer point for the user to move from one seat to another if they have the mobility to do so. 

Some chair lifts can turn corners, preventing the need to transfer from one seat to another.

Outdoor use

In addition to indoor use, users can use stair lifts for outdoor stairs. Waterproof materials are used for the seats’ upholstery, and the rail is attached to outdoor stairs with metal brackets, similar to indoor installations. Tracks can also be mounted on walls, depending on the system that works best for the homeowner’s type of stairs, materials, and desire.

Safety features are available for the stair lift to prevent accidents and tripping by able-bodied people climbing the stairs on foot. A folding seat and footrest will tuck the chair and footrest out of the way to use the stairs. Some chairs offer a footrest that automatically lifts when the user folds the seat up for safety purposes. 

Safety

Safety sensors in the mechanism can determine if any obstacles are on the stairs and halt motion to prevent collisions. As mentioned, automobile-quality seatbelts and armrests come with the lift. A remote control option enables the stair lift user to “send” or “call” the lift.  

Power outages are a concern with any mechanical device, so battery-operated lifts are available, making the lift reliable at all times. A final safety feature is a swivel seat, which allows the user to turn to exit easier once they reach their destination. 

Whether indoors or out, straight or curved stairs, a stair lift allows unsteady or mobility impaired individuals the ability to move between floors in their home safely. 

No structural changes are required, and homeowners can install them without extreme damage to stairs or walls. As the seat and footrest fold up against the wall, others who reside in the home might continue to use the stairs. Real estate agents who are showing homes with stairs to buyers who might have reservations about their ability to travel up and down comfortably are wise to suggest stair lifts as an alternative means of traveling safely between levels.

Gerard Splendore is a licensed associate real estate broker with Warburg Realty in New York. Connect with him on LinkedIn.