|Scott and Lynn Durante with their children Hailey (from left), Anthony, Charlotte, Elizabeth and Jeweleann in their Cotuit home.|
How does one celebrate becoming a first-time homeowner?
After he and his wife closed on their new home in Cotuit - but before they moved in at the end of October - Scott Durante did so by sitting quietly on the front steps of that house, thinking about how his life was about to soon change for the better. “It was an amazing feeling to know a lot of our hard work was actually paying off,” he said.
A little more than a month later, as the holiday season began, Scott went shopping for a Christmas tree to put in that home. Of course, he purchased the biggest one he could find for his living room. “It was too dang big for the room,” he laughed. “But it was my first year as a homeowner so I decided we’ll have a huge tree. It was great, especially having them [our kids] wake up and be in their own home on Christmas. My oldest daughter is almost 16 and never had a home of her own until now.”
Until a few months ago, Scott, his wife Lynn and their five children Elizabeth, 15; Jeweleann, 13; Hailey, 11; Anthony, 7; and Charlotte, 2, had only rented homes in Centerville, never knowing the satisfaction and pride that comes with being a homeowner.
That changed two years ago when the Durantes were informed by their landlord that he was intending to sell their rental.
So the couple visited Gael Kelleher, HAC’s director of real estate, asking her for guidance. Kelleher suggested they may qualify for a USDA loan which helps low-income families become homeowners.
Since then Scott and Lynn took the requisite classes through HAC’s Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC) to help rebuild their credit and prepare them for becoming first-time homebuyers.
“The thing that’s so good with them is they followed all the rules,” said Kelleher. “They took the class. They fixed their credit. They did everything a first-time homebuyer should do.”
HAC Provided Much-Needed Help
Scott, who works full-time as a tow truck driver, had similar praise for the work HAC did in helping his family which has gone through some difficult times over the years.
In 2007, the Durantes had to move out of their home and into his mother’s house in West Barnstable after he lost his job. “HAC has been great,” Scott said. “When we were down and out a couple of times, my wife called you. At one point we were referred to a shelter, but we didn’t take it.”
The family’s problems did not end there. Five years ago, he and his wife noticed their son was having physical difficulties – eye fluttering, pausing when he walked – so they took him to a neurologist. Anthony underwent an MRI, discovering that he had an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) in his brain, requiring surgery.
“It was very scary being told your son is going to have brain surgery to save his life,” Scott said.
Today, Anthony is a healthy vibrant boy though he requires therapy to address his physical and sensory needs. “He is very smart, but you have to kind of keep him engaged,” Scott said. To that end, the Durante’s home in Cotuit has been a blessing. A room with a hot tub has since been transformed into a recreational space for Anthony.
“It was good to get our own home so we could build a room for his needs,” Scott said.
The house, a small saltbox with three bedrooms, a finished basement and a wooded lot, has also been a much-needed gift for the entire family which includes pugs Bella and Brutus. Thanks to the home, the Durantes have been able to save more than $400 a month in their mortgage compared to what they paid in rent.
Perhaps the best part for the Durantes is the freedom they have since gained. “You don’t have to call the landlord and ask him what color paint is acceptable or if you can put up a shelf,” Scott said. “You don’t have to ask the landlord to replace the stove or refrigerator. We have the freedom to do whatever we want, to a point, and don’t have to answer to anybody else.”