Home Beat: A Gem in Haverhill
In Which Our Writer Buys His First Home
In the previous edition of Home Beat, I chronicled difficult experiences I encountered while house hunting during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. My partner and I had been searching for nearly six months by the time that column was published. A global crisis was not enough, however, to keep us from our goal of home ownership. Don’t mistake our stubbornness for lack of caution. We focused on virtual tours, vacant homes, and other means to ensure our safety and the safety of others through this entire process.
The last column concluded with uncertainty. The stress inflicted upon us was caused by a sour combination. We were first-time homebuyers in Massachusetts (a notoriously unfriendly space for our ilk), trying to relocate during a global pandemic that thinned the competition but inspired some purchasers to be especially motivated.
After entering a bidding war for a home in Westford earlier this year, we were crushed to learn that our offer was second best. We had started to imagine ourselves sitting on the home’s large wooden porch and watching the sun beam down on the babbling brook nearby. Unfortunately, we were forced to forget the narrative we wrote in our heads and begin working on a new one.
It’s no wonder my partner was skeptical the next weekend when I planned a private showing at a vacant home in Haverhill. The night before the tour, she looked at me: “Do you really want to go tomorrow, Tyler? Perhaps we should take a weekend off.” Despite her plea, we knew it was too late to cancel, so we prepared to journey from Wellfleet to Haverhill.
After a long car ride, we arrived at the three-family home. At first, it seemed unusual. It was a light shade of yellow, and the siding curved into a roof that was smaller than the building’s base (think Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson wearing a children’s baseball cap). The listing agent opened the door for us and we stepped inside, reservations in tow.
The floors were glossy hardwood, the living room ceiling stretched 10 feet above the floor, and the kitchen was nicely updated with luxury vinyl floors and a tile backsplash. Our skepticism quickly morphed into enthusiasm.
We still had a lot of work ahead of us, including making an accepted offer. Something was different about this property, and we felt surrounded by an aura of good fortune. Our offer was sent two days after our private showing and accepted the next day. The home inspection, a fear-inducing event for every buyer, concluded with the inspectors informing us that we had found a “complete gem.”
Was that how it was always supposed to work out? Were we fated to stumble upon our first property instead of tactically targeting the perfect dream home on the internet? Either way, a global pandemic was not enough to stop us.
Weeks after our home inspection, the Federal Housing Administration appraisal was approved and the bank sent us the glorious “clear to close,” almost ensuring our successful purchase (unless we decided to buy a car the day before our closing — but that’s a different story). We closed on our new home on Friday, July 17, prompting a celebratory dance session for hours after the paperwork was filed. Now we begin our journey as homeowners and landlords, so there are sure to be many twists and turns in our future. For starters, I will begin queuing the amateur plumbing videos and prepare for a trip to the hardware store.