- For a real estate professional, websites are an essential marketing tool.
- Websites providing services to the public, like real estate, are considered places of public accommodation by the ADA.
- The role of ADA in real estate ensures digital websites and resources are accessible to all, especially people with disabilities.
- NAR recommends companies follow ADA compliance according to the latest Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
- Real estate websites should ensure that their web services are easy to use.
- Realtors should work closely with web providers and accessibility experts to ensure ADA compliance for real estate websites.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance is essential for real estate websites because it ensures that individuals with disabilities have equal access to the information and resources available on the website. This includes alt text for images, proper formatting for screen readers, and clear and consistent navigation. By making sure their websites are compliant with the ADA, real estate agents, brokers, and property managers can ensure that they are not excluding potential customers or clients who may have disabilities. It is also a legal requirement for websites to comply with ADA, which can avoid lawsuits and penalties.
How Does ADA Apply to Real Estate?
The ADA of 1990 aims to ensure equal rights and opportunities for individuals with disabilities. As a provider of services to the public, the real estate industry is considered a place of public accommodation under the ADA. It is required to ensure that its digital resources, including websites, are accessible to everyone.
Failing adherence to ADA compliance standards can expose real estate businesses to legal action. While the Department of Justice (DOJ) has yet to provide clear guidelines for the real estate industry, it has been on the radar of organizations such as the National Association of Realtors (NAR) for several years. To address digital barriers, NAR recommends that real estate businesses proceed with ADA compliance according to the latest universal standards of digital compliance, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG).
How Does Web Accessibility Relate to Real Estate?
Web accessibility is critical for real estate professionals to provide equal access to all potential buyers. By making your website accessible, you can ensure that everyone, including individuals with disabilities, can easily explore open house listings, financial information, and company details. This increases your customer base and helps drive more sales and higher revenue.
Furthermore, incorporating accessibility into your website’s design improves its search engine optimization and overall user experience. Real estate websites are particularly susceptible to lawsuits related to non-compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). By making your website accessible, you can reduce the risk of legal action and the financial impact it can cause.
What Are Common Accessibility Issues for Real Estate Websites?
ADA compliance for real estate websites can be challenging as it requires providing equal access to all potential buyers, including those with disabilities. Some of the common issues that real estate websites face in this regard include the following:
- difficulty in navigation
- lack of support for assistive technologies such as screen reading and zooming
- lack of closed captions or transcriptions for videos
- lack of sufficient time to complete actions on the website, and
- lack of guidance on how to take action.
These issues can make it difficult for individuals with disabilities to interact with the website, access information and make informed decisions about their subsequent home purchases.
Then What's a Realtor to do?
NAR has consistently advised working closely with web providers to ensure ADA compliance for your real estate website. Though most steps involve coding and may be out of your hands, speak to your web provider about what YOU can do, like providing appropriate alternative text for your photos or generating captions for your video content.
While working on accessibility for your website, you may be exposed to plaintiffs’ attorneys who “specialize” in sending non-compliance letters to business owners for monetary settlements. In this case, do not panic. Instead, speak with your legal team/counsel first and report to your errors and omissions insurer as soon as possible to proactively address the issue.
How To Achieve ADA Compliance for Your Real Estate Website?
ADA compliance for real estate websites is crucial to providing equal access to all potential buyers, including those with disabilities. Here are some key points to consider when addressing common issues with ADA compliance:
- Navigation: The website should be easy to navigate and use for individuals with disabilities.
- Assistive Technologies: The website should support assistive technologies, such as screen reading and zooming, to make it easier for individuals with disabilities to interact with the website.
- Video Content: Videos should have closed captions or transcriptions to make them accessible to individuals with visual impairments.
- Time Consideration: Sufficient time should be provided for individuals with disabilities to complete actions on the website.
- Guidance: Clear guidance should be provided on how to take action on the website to prevent individuals with disabilities from taking unwanted steps.
In the past, companies often resorted to a manual approach to update and amend their websites for accessibility and compliance, which can be cost-intensive and time-consuming. However, with the advent of automated solutions, obtaining and maintaining a compliant website can be affordable.
These automated solutions can help audit, plan, and implement the necessary changes quickly and efficiently without requiring specialized professionals. With the automated solutions available today, real estate professionals can ensure that their website is accessible to all potential buyers and stay compliant with the ADA.
How does PREP help?
PREP is an advanced, AI-powered technology ideal for real estate businesses with high volumes of document digitization needs. The platform offers several key features to help businesses achieve and maintain compliance:
- Automation and Acceleration: PREP automates and accelerates the PDF and document remediation process for complete ADA and WCAG compliance, saving businesses time and resources.
- Document Support: The platform can handle various documents, including brokerage agreements, reservation agreements, and property agreements.
- Quality checks: The platform includes quality checks by accessibility experts for accuracy, ensuring that all documents comply with the latest accessibility standards.
- Short turnaround time: With the help of AI, the platform can quickly turn the process around, allowing real estate professionals to focus on other essential tasks.
- Cloud-based platforms for collaboration: PREP offers cloud-based platforms for collaboration and team coordination, enabling real estate professionals to work with their teams and partners seamlessly.
Using PREP, real estate professionals can ensure that all their documents comply with the latest accessibility standards without the added cost and time associated with manual methods. Contact an expert today and learn how PREP can help your real estate business achieve and maintain compliance.
Ensuring that your real estate website is accessible to all users is crucial to stay compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and avoiding costly lawsuits. By committing to website accessibility, your business can meet legal requirements and reach a larger audience, helping people find their dream homes. Making your website accessible can increase your revenue and customer base.