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What Experts Are Saying about the 2021 Job Market

Earlier this month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their most recent Jobs Report. The report revealed that the economy lost 140,000 jobs in December. That’s a devastating number and dramatically impacts those households that lost a source of income. However, we need to give it some context. Greg Ip, Chief Economics Commentator at the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), explains:

“The economy is probably not slipping back into recession. The drop was induced by new restrictions on activity as the pandemic raged out of control. Leisure and hospitality, which includes restaurants, hotels, and amusement parks, tumbled 498,000.”

In the same report, Michael Pearce, Senior U.S. Economist of Capital Economics, agreed:

“The 140,000 drop in non-farm payrolls was entirely due to a massive plunge in leisure and hospitality employment, as bars and restaurants across the country have been forced to close in response to the surge in coronavirus infections. With employment in most other sectors rising strongly, the economy appears to be carrying more momentum into 2021 than we had thought.”

Once the vaccine is distributed throughout the country and the pandemic is successfully under control, the vast majority of those 480,000 jobs will come back.

Here are two additional comments from other experts, also reported by the WSJ that day:

Nick Bunker, Head of Research in North America for Indeed:

“These numbers are distressing, but they are reflective of the time when coronavirus vaccines were not rolled out and federal fiscal policy was still deadlocked. Hopefully, the recent legislation can help build a bridge to a time when vaccines are fully rolled out and the labor market can sustainably heal.”

Michael Feroli, Chief U.S. Economist for JPMorgan Chase:

“The good news in today’s report is that outside the hopefully temporary hit to the food service industry, the rest of the labor market appears to be holding in despite the latest public health challenges.”

What impact will this have on the real estate market in 2021?

Some are concerned that with millions of Americans unemployed, we may see distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) dominate the housing market once again. Rick Sharga, Executive Vice President at RealtyTrac, along with most other experts, doesn’t believe that will be the case:

“There are reasons to be cautiously optimistic despite massive unemployment levels and uncertainty about government policies under the new Administration. But while anything is possible, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll see another foreclosure tsunami or housing market crash.”

Bottom Line

For the households that lost a wage earner, these are extremely difficult times. Hopefully, the new stimulus package will lessen some of their pain. The health crisis, however, should vastly improve by mid-year with expectations that the jobs market will also progress significantly.

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10 Items You Shouldn’t Store in Your Pantry

Not all foods store well in the pantry, even if it says it doesn’t require refrigeration. Some can go stale, others grow bacteria, and a few develop mold. Here are 10 items that are better off stored in your fridge.

Garlic-Infused Olive Oil

Homemade garlic-infused olive oil can contain botulinum spores, which grow into the bacteria that cause botulism. Any oil infused with garlic should be kept in the refrigerator to prevent bacteria growth. Throw it away after seven days.

Pure Maple Syrup

Pure maple syrup can go moldy, so it’s best stored in the fridge. If you store your syrup in the pantry and the container is opaque, you may not see the mold until you’ve started to pour syrup on your pancakes.

Sunflower and Truffle Oil

Cold-pressed oils like sunflower and truffle oil have a short shelf life if they’re not refrigerated. As they’re pricier than some of their counterparts, it’s definitely worth keeping them cold to extend their usefulness.


When stored in the pantry, nuts are more likely to go stale. If you frequently reach for the nuts, you may be leaving bacteria behind, and if you grab a few nuts while your hands are wet, the chance that bacteria will grow increases. Over time, you could end up with nuts that are both stale and covered in bacteria.

Salami and Other Cured Meats

Cured meats are prone to drying out if opened and stored in the pantry. Wrap the meat in butcher paper and refrigerate it to preserve its flavor and texture, and to protect you from potential illness.


You can extend the life of chocolate by storing it in the refrigerator. Before you stick it in the fridge, wrap chocolate tightly. Once the chocolate is wrapped, put it in an airtight container until you’re ready to eat it.


Though tortillas are rarely served cold, it’s best to store them in the fridge. Whether you use flour or corn tortillas, they’ll stay fresher longer if kept at a regulated cold temperature after you open the package.

Whole-Grain Flours

Whole-grain flours retain the bran and germ that gets removed from all-purpose flours. Both bran and germ contain oils that can go rancid if they’re not refrigerated or frozen, so keep your all-purpose flour in the pantry, but move the whole-grain to the fridge.

Natural Peanut Butter

Natural peanut butter, the kind that separates in the jar, needs to be kept cool. Like the oils in whole-grain flours, the oils in natural peanut butter can go rancid if left in the pantry.


Most mustard containers indicate that refrigeration isn’t necessary after opening. But mustard loses its flavor and vibrant color fairly quickly. To keep it tasting and looking its best, keep mustard in the refrigerator.

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What Does 2021 Have in Store for Home Values?


According to the latest CoreLogic Home Price Insights Report, nationwide home values increased by 8.2% over the last twelve months. The dramatic rise was brought about as the inventory of homes for sale reached historic lows at the same time buyer demand was buoyed by record-low mortgage rates. As CoreLogic explained:

“Home price growth remained consistently elevated throughout 2020. Home sales for the year are expected to register above 2019 levels. Meanwhile, the availability of for-sale homes has dwindled as demand increased and coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreaks continued across the country, which delayed some sellers from putting their homes on the market.

While the pandemic left many in positions of financial insecurity, those who maintained employment and income stability are also incentivized to buy given the record-low mortgage rates available; this is increasing buyer demand while for-sale inventory is in short supply.”

Where will home values go in 2021?

Home price appreciation in 2021 will continue to be determined by this imbalance of supply and demand. If supply remains low and demand is high, prices will continue to increase.

Housing Supply

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the current number of single-family homes for sale is 1,080,000. At the same time last year, that number stood at 1,450,000. We are entering 2021 with approximately 370,000 fewer homes for sale than there were one year ago.

However, there is some speculation that the inventory crush will ease somewhat as we move through the new year for two reasons:

1. As the health crisis eases, more homeowners will be comfortable putting their houses on the market.

2. Some households impacted financially by the pandemic will be forced to sell.

Housing Demand

Low mortgage rates have driven buyer demand over the last twelve months. According to Freddie Mac, rates stood at 3.72% at the beginning of 2020. Today, we’re starting 2021 with rates one full percentage point lower than that. Low rates create a great opportunity for homebuyers, which is one reason why demand is expected to remain high throughout the new year.

Taking into consideration these projections on housing supply and demand, real estate analysts forecast homes will continue to appreciate in 2021, but that appreciation may be at a steadier pace than last year. Here are their forecasts:What Does 2021 Have in Store for Home Values? | MyKCM

Bottom Line

There’s still a very limited number of homes for sale for the great number of purchasers looking to buy them. As a result, the concept of “supply and demand” mandates that home values in the country will continue to appreciate.

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Turning a House into a Happy Home

Turning a House into a Happy Home | MyKCM

We talk a lot about why it makes financial sense to buy a home, but more often than not, we’re drawn to the emotional reasons for homeownership.

No matter the living space, the feeling of a home means different things to different people. Whether it’s a certain scent or a favorite chair, the feel-good connections to our own homes are typically more important to us than the financial ones. Here are some of the reasons why.

1. Owning your home is an accomplishment worth celebrating

You’ve likely worked very hard to achieve this dream, and whether it’s your first home or your fifth, congratulations are in order for this milestone. You’ve earned it.

2. There’s no place like home

Owning your own home offers not only safety and security but also a comfortable place where you can simply relax and kick-back after a long day. Sometimes, that’s just what we need to feel recharged and truly content.

3. You can find more space to meet your needs

Whether you want more room in your home for your changing lifestyle (think: working from home, virtual school, or a personal gym), or you simply prefer to have a large backyard for socially-distant entertaining, you can invest in a location that truly works for your evolving needs.

4. You have control over renovations, updates, and your style

Looking to try one of those complicated wall treatments you saw on Pinterest? Tired of paying an additional pet deposit for your apartment building? Maybe you want to finally adopt that fur-baby puppy or kitten you’ve been hoping for. You can do all of these things in your own home.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a move-up buyer who wants to start a new chapter in your life, now is a great time to reflect on the intangible factors that turn a house into a happy home.

The Wheaton/Wass Real Estate Team is here to help.  Call today: 719.822.1444

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The Holidays Aren’t Stopping Homebuyers This Year

The Holidays Aren’t Stopping Homebuyers This Year | MyKCM

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us, yet finding the perfect holiday gifts for friends and family is certainly still top of mind for many right now. This year, there’s another type of buyer that’s very active this holiday season – the homebuyer.

Each month, ShowingTime releases their Showing Index which tracks the average number of appointments received on active U.S. house listings. The most recent index notes:

“The Showing Index reported a 60.9 percent jump in nationwide showing traffic year over year in October, the sixth consecutive month to see an increase over last year.”

Here’s the breakdown of the latest activity by region of the country compared to this time last year:

  • The Northeast increased by 65.5%
  • The West increased by 64.7%
  • The Midwest increased by 55.7%
  • The South increased by 54.7%

Why is the traffic so active?

The health crisis definitely put homebuying plans on pause for many earlier this year. Buyers, however, are in the market and making moves well past the typical busy homebuying seasons of spring and summer.

One of the main reasons buyer traffic has continued to soar in the second half of 2020 is how dramatically mortgage rates have fallen. According to Freddie Mac, the average mortgage rate last December was 3.72%. Today, the rate is a full percentage point lower.

Bottom Line

There are first-time, move-up, and move-down buyers actively looking for the home of their dreams this winter. If you’re thinking of selling your house in 2021, you don’t need to wait until the spring to do it. Your potential buyer is very likely searching for a home in your neighborhood right now.

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Knowledge Is Power on the Path to Homeownership


Homeownership is on the goal list for many young adults, but sometimes it’s hard to know exactly how to get there. From understanding the homebuying process to pre-approval and down payment assistance options, uncertainty along the way can ultimately hold some buyers back.

Today, there are over 75 million Millennials and 67 million Gen Z’ers in the U.S., making up a significant number of both current and soon-to-be homebuyers. According to a recent Fannie Mae survey of more than 2,000 of these individuals:

“88% said they are confident they will achieve homeownership someday.”

In addition, the survey also reveals that for younger generations, the motivation to own a home may be more emotional than financial compared to previous generations:

  • <50% say they want to use their home as an asset
  • 78% believe it’s the best way to live the way they want, without restrictions
  • 80% believe homeownership is the best way to make it on their own

Whether homeownership goals come from the heart or are driven by financial aspirations (or maybe both), the obstacles standing in the way don’t have to bring these dreams to a screeching halt. The same survey also reveals two key roadblocks for potential buyers. Thankfully, they’re both easily overcome with the power of knowledge and trusted advisors leading the way. Here’s a look at these two challenges potential homebuyers face today:

1. 73% of future homebuyers are unaware of low-down-payment mortgage options

For those who want to purchase a home, low-down-payment options are instrumental to affording one sooner rather than later, especially given the amount of debt many younger adults have accumulated. Fannie Mae also notes:

“Among the challenges they face is an unprecedented amount of debt, along with a lack of understanding of the mortgage process and their own purchasing power. Debt, in particular, creates many obstacles such as a limited ability to save and the fear of taking on more debt.”

Today, there are more than 2,340 down payment assistance programs available nationwide to help relieve this pressure. Understanding what’s out there and the options available may help many buyers become homeowners faster than they thought possible. In a year like this, with record-low mortgage rates making their mark in the history books, being able to take advantage of the opportunity buyers have right now is essential to long-term affordability.

2. 64% of buyers expect lenders and other real estate professionals to educate them about the mortgage process

While many people love to do a quick search online to find instant answers to their questions, it isn’t the only way younger generations want to consume information or build their knowledge base. As the survey mentions, having trusted professionals help them learn what it takes to achieve their dreams is definitely on their wish list too.

Bottom Line

If you’re aiming for homeownership someday, it may be in closer reach than you think. Let’s connect so you can learn about the process and get the guidance you need to make it happen.

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Chances of Another Foreclosure Crisis? “About Zero Percent.”

Chances of Another Foreclosure Crisis? “About Zero Percent.” | MyKCM

There seems to be some concern that the 2020 economic downturn will lead to another foreclosure crisis like the one we experienced after the housing crash a little over a decade ago. However, there’s one major difference this time: a robust forbearance program.

During the housing crash of 2006-2008, many felt homeowners should be forced to pay their mortgages despite the economic hardships they were experiencing. There was no empathy for the challenges those households were facing. In a 2009 Wall Street Journal article titled Is Walking Away From Your Mortgage Immoral?, John Courson, Chief Executive of the Mortgage Bankers Association, was asked to comment on those not paying their mortgage. He famously said:

“What about the message they will send to their family and their kids?”

Courson suggested that people unable to pay their mortgage were bad parents.

What resulted from that lack of empathy? Foreclosures mounted.

This time is different. There was an immediate understanding that homeowners were faced with a challenge not of their own making. The government quickly jumped in with a mortgage forbearance program that relieved the financial burden placed on many households. The program allowed many borrowers to suspend their monthly mortgage payments until their economic condition improved. It was the right thing to do.

What happens when forbearance programs expire?

Some analysts are concerned many homeowners will not be able to make up the back payments once their forbearance plans expire. They’re concerned the situation will lead to an onslaught of foreclosures.

The banks and the government learned from the challenges the country experienced during the housing crash. They don’t want a surge of foreclosures again. For that reason, they’ve put in place alternative ways homeowners can pay back the money owed over an extended period of time.

Another major difference is that, unlike 2006-2008, today’s homeowners are sitting on a record amount of equity. That equity will enable them to sell their houses and walk away with cash instead of going through foreclosure.

Bottom Line

The differences mentioned above will be the reason we’ll avert a surge of foreclosures. As Ivy Zelman, a highly respected thought leader for housing and CEO of Zelman & Associates, said:

“The likelihood of us having a foreclosure crisis again is about zero percent.”

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How to Refinance Your Mortgage

refinance your mortgage

With interest rates hovering near historic lows, more and more homeowners are looking to lock in lower monthly payments by refinancing their mortgages. If you’re thinking of refinancing your mortgage loan, here’s how to approach the process.

Step 1: Establish a financial goal

You should have a clear reason for refinancing your mortgage, whether it’s tapping equity for debt repayment, shortening the term of your mortgage, or reducing your monthly payments. Bear in mind that refinancing doesn’t always save you money in the long run. If you’re lowering your interest rate but restarting a 30-year mortgage, you could end up paying less per month, but more over the full term of your loan. This is because most of your interest charges occur in the early years of a mortgage loan. Be sure you will be able to achieve your financial goal before you start the refi process.

Step 2: Know your credit score and payment history

To qualify for mortgage refinance you will need approval from your lender. The better your credit score, the more likely you are to get approved. You will also enjoy better interest rates if your credit score is high and your payment history is sound. It may make sense to spend a few extra months improving your credit score before you begin the refi process.

Step 3: Figure out your established home equity

Your home equity is the current value of your home minus what you still owe on your mortgage. To determine yours, get your current outstanding balance from your mortgage loan statement. Then, get a local real estate agent to run an analysis to determine your home’s current estimated value. Your equity will be the difference between the two. For instance, if you still owe $225,000 on a home that’s worth $300,000, your equity will be $75,000.

Although you might be able to refinance your loan with as little as 5 percent equity; you will get better rates and have to pay fewer fees if you have at least 20 percent equity. When it comes to equity, the more you have, the less risky the loan is from the viewpoint of your lender.

mortgage refinanceStep 4: Compare lenders

You can save thousands of dollars during the refi process by getting quotes from several different lenders. Once you settle on a specific lender, ask when it will be best to lock in your interest rate, so you won’t lose money if rates start to climb before your loan closes.

In addition to comparing lender interest rates, inquire about fees and ask if they will be rolled into your new mortgage or due upfront. It’s not uncommon for some lenders to offer “no-closing-cost loans” that ultimately add to the loan balance or come with higher interest rates.

Step 5: Document your finances

Your lender will want documentation that gives clear insight into your finances. Gather bank statements, recent pay stubs, federal tax returns and anything else your lender needs to process your application. Your lender will also look at your net worth and credit history, so be prepared to disclose your liabilities and assets upfront. By having all of your documentation available upfront, you can streamline the refi process.

Step 6: Prepare for the home appraisal

In some instances (but not always), your lender may require an appraisal to determine the property’s current market value. If so, you should expect to have to pay a few hundred dollars for the appraisal. Be sure to let the lender know of any repairs or improvements you’ve made since buying your home since this could lead to a higher appraisal.

Step 7: Raise some closing cash

Although you may be able to lower your monthly costs by refinancing your mortgage, it will cost you some money in the short-term. The loan estimate and closing disclosure should list how much money you are expected to pay out of pocket to close on your new mortgage. You can finance your closing costs, but this will generally result in a higher rate on your loan.

Step 8: Monitor your new loan

Once you close on your new mortgage loan, be sure to store copies of your closing paperwork. You should also consider setting up autopayments to make sure you always remain current on your loan. Some lenders will even give you a lower rate if you agree to sign up for auto-payments.

Bear in mind that some lenders will resell loans on the secondary market after closing or, in certain instances, years later. This means you will owe mortgage payments to a completely different company, so watch for any mail notifying you of such changes.

With six decades of collective experience, The Wheaton Team provides expert advice and invaluable guidance for clients. Our team specializes in residential real estate throughout the Tri-Lakes area and all of Colorado Springs. We can guide you through the complex buying, selling and financing process, so you can bring your vision to life.

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Common Mistakes to Avoid When Home Staging

home staging

Staging is a critical part of the home selling process. Ideally, you want to downplay the property’s weaknesses, highlight its strengths and appeal to the greatest possible pool of potential buyers. Unfortunately, far too many sellers mismanage the staging process. Here are some of the most common staging errors that turn off buyers.


Since taste is subjective, it’s important to avoid putting a personal stamp on your design scheme. You may love that rustic painting or wildly patterned throw pillow, but buyers may not share your opinion. Likewise, while your family photos and collectibles may seem like treasures to you, they will make it harder for prospective buyers to imagine themselves living in the home. When a buyer enters your home, they should see clean lines and a welcoming, neutral home environment. Be sure to depersonalize the property before you schedule a showing.

Going Too Neutral

While it is important to make your home feel clean, airy and relatively neutral; you can go too far. Without at least some color, a home can appear boring, bland and sterile. Some flowers and fruit baskets can help enliven the home. A general rule of thumb is to make sure your furniture is neutral and infuse a bit of color here and there with pillows, rugs and throw blankets. Avoid painting rooms with non-neutral colors, since this can make them feel dark, small and closed-in.

home staging mistakes to avoidNot Making Repairs

Unless they are especially picky, most buyers are willing to accept a few minor imperfections. When they neglect to make important fixes, however, sellers are inviting low-ball offers. While you don’t have to spend money perfecting your home, you should definitely shore up any structural issues and eliminate aesthetic eyesores. Talk to your agent about which types of repairs and improvements are most important and which aren’t necessarily worth the expense.

Making Rooms Seem Like Dungeons

Dark, poorly lit rooms do not pique buyer interest. It’s important for sellers to remove draped tassels, bulky fabrics, heavy or dark-colored window treatments and anything that blocks light. It’s generally best to go with light or translucent curtains that accent windows without blocking too much sunlight. It’s also best to add a light source in any room with fewer than four lights. It’s best to use warm or soft LED white bulbs with at least 800 lumens. You should also be sure all bulbs in your house are the same so rooms have a seamless, cohesive feel.

Not Prioritizing

When it comes to selling a home, not all rooms carry the same weight. Ideally, you want to focus your time and money on rooms that have the greatest potential to influence a buyer’s decision. These include the kitchen, master bedroom and living area. While children’s bedrooms, guest bedrooms and bathrooms also matter, they should generally take a backseat to these other critical areas.


The best way to prepare your home for sale is to eliminate clutter as much as possible. When professional stagers prep a home for market, they often remove up to half the owner’s furnishings to make the property look bigger. Ideally, you want prospective buyers to be able to move from room to room without having to navigate through chairs, couches and loveseats. You also want to minimize items on the coffee table and avoid piling pillows onto furniture, since all of this can make a home look cluttered, small and unappealing.

Unfortunately, inexperienced stagers tend to have trouble restraining their impulses to do more than they should. They seed the air with artificial scents and air fresheners. They clutter rooms with too many decorations, pillows and chairs. They try to overcompensate for small floor plans by adding furniture to make the home look lived in. These rookie mistakes are so common, it’s often surprising for buyers when they walk into a properly staged home that stands out from similar properties on the market.

It takes experience and expertise to strip away needless clutter while still maintaining a warm, inviting feel. This is why it’s generally best to work with a real estate agent who knows how to professionally stage a home to appeal to a wide array of buyers.

Thinking of selling your home? The Wheaton Team is here to help. With more than six decades of collective experience, our seasoned professionals specialize in residential real estate throughout Colorado Springs and the Tri-Lakes area. Let us guide you through every step of the staging and selling process, so you can close at a price that meets your expectations.

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Buying In A Historic Neighborhood: What To Know

historic neighborhood

Owning a home within a historic district provides a unique opportunity to celebrate and share the history of your property. It can also be a worthwhile investment since historic homes tend to maintain great property value even in slow real estate markets. To better understand the pros and cons of this type of investment, consider the following.

It comes with limitations. 

If you choose to buy a home in a designated historic district, there may be certain restrictions on what you can do to your property’s exterior. This can include everything from painting to installing new windows. Before you begin any type of renovation or upgrade, you will need to check with your local planning department to get the ok.

Districts listed only on the National Register of Historic Places don’t typically restrict what you can do to your property; that said, areas on a local or state registry often impose restrictions. While such restrictions can limit your options, they apply equally to everyone. This means you won’t have to worry about your neighbors painting their exteriors with an atrocious shade of pea green.

Easements are binding

When you set up a historic preservation easement, it will protect the historic integrity of your property in perpetuity. This legal tool imposes restrictions on what can happen to the home and requires any future owners to adhere to your rules.

You will typically pay a government agency or qualified preservation organization to hold the easement, and your payment may qualify for a federal tax deduction. Before buying a historic home, it’s important to find out if any sort of easement is already in place. You should also determine what the easement entails and who holds it.

Maintenance can be expensive.

buying in historic neighborhoodHistoric homes stand the test of time because they are structurally sound. Many people are surprised to learn that homes built in the 1980s can actually deteriorate faster than homes built in the 1800s. It all depends on the original workmanship and the quality (and consistency) of maintenance.

If any of this is lacking, you could end up paying thousands of dollars in repairs and restorations. It’s best to exercise caution if you’re thinking of purchasing a historic home that needs extensive work. Some state historic preservation offices will provide grants or tax benefits for homeowners. These can help with maintenance and repair costs for the exterior of registered properties.

Whatever the case, even structurally sound historic homes are likely to require steady maintenance to help them hold up against Father Time.

It can be difficult to get insurance and financing. 

Some lenders may hesitate to provide financing for a historic home that needs extensive repairs. In some instances, you may be unable to secure a traditional loan backed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. You may, however, be able to acquire a private HUD Title 1 loan to cover smaller repairs.

You can also look into acquiring rehab mortgage insurance which can help pay for the purchase of the home and some of the rehab costs. You may also be able to apply for a Fannie Mae HomeStyle Renovation mortgage for similar purposes.

Bear in mind that some insurance companies are reluctant to provide policies because they often assume that replacement costs are higher for designated historic homes. You will have an easier time getting insured if your property is only federally registered and free of restrictions. Whatever the case, expect to spend some time shopping around for a decent homeowner’s insurance policy.

Historic homes are old. 

Although most lenders typically won’t demand a home inspection, it’s best to get one before purchasing an older home. While an average inspector may be great at uncovering problems with modern homes; they may not have the expertise to properly inspect a historic property. It’s best to find an inspector who has extensive experience with historic homes and the unique issues they present, such as the possible presence of asbestos and lead paint.

It’s also important to understand that historic homes may not be able to satisfy your modern-day desires. You simply may not be able to install a fully equipped kitchen or expansive master bathroom amid historic architecture. What’s more, any upgrades you make could actually devalue your home.

With this in mind, it’s best to ask yourself a few questions before you consider making a purchase. Are you viewing it as an investment or a home? Can you live without modern conveniences, and how will any changes you make affect the home’s character and resale price? It’s important to carefully assess your goals, so you won’t be blindsided by the realities of owning an older property.

If you’re interested in buying a home, The Wheaton Team can help guide you through the complicated buying process so you can find the home of your dreams. Contact us today to learn more.