Neither weddings nor fires nor unemployment

by Brian Keaney

A version of this was later published in The Boston Sunday Globe.

I was late to my sister’s wedding.  I made it in time for all of the important parts, but I spent most of the day running around trying to jump through yet another hoop in my quest to buy a house in foreclosure.  That day, and of course it was that day, some form or another had to be delivered right away or the whole thing was going to fall through.

And so, with less than an hour to go before my father walked her down the aisle, I forwent the limo ride with my family and took off in my brother-in-law’s car.  Daunted at the prospect of missing the wedding and losing the house, I forgot to take the emergency brake off until I was a half mile from the bank.  Running across the lobby in a sweat-drenched tuxedo caused more than a few people to stare that hot July afternoon and, whether out of pity or fear, everyone stood aside when I announced that I needed to cut the line.

I first viewed the house only hours after it went on the market.  It was a small two family house on a postage stamp lot about a mile from where I grew up, but the rent I could collect would cover my mortgage.  It seemed like a great deal, and I made an offer the next day.  That was the last time anything went smoothly.

The day after the inspection, the last day I could back out without forfeiting the deposit, I lost my job.  When the bank came out to do their appraisal, they determined the house needed repairs before they would give me a loan.  I had to ask my uncle–who quickly hired me in order to save the purchase–for a day off to go fix up a house I didn’t yet own.

Two days after the wedding I turned 30, probably the least fun birthday ever.  A week after that my Jeep exploded while driving on the beach.  My little cousin and I got out safely, but my beloved Jeep spent the night, Luca Brasi style, at the bottom of Cape Cod Bay.  I was fairly certain that the Charles River was going to run red with blood and swarms of locusts would darken the sky at any moment.

Delay after delay pushed back the closing until weeks after the lease on my apartment expired. When I finally got to the attorney’s office, my first task was to sign and fax the mortgage. Before the rest of the paperwork was competed, however, a question arose about whether I was buying one duplex or two condos. When no one had any answers I left in a hurry, only to realize later that I now had a mortgage but no house to show for it.

After the deed was finally in my hands, I discovered the tenants I was counting on to pay the mortgage had moved out.  Their apartment was empty, save for all the trash, furniture, and other assorted junk they left behind.  I not only had to clean it all out, I also had to find a new tenant, and fast.

For all of the headaches endured while buying this house, everything worked out in the end.  After three years of living there with a great new tenant as a next door neighbor, I used the equity I built up as a down payment on a bigger house down the street.  When people ask why I moved just four houses away, I smile and tell them I wanted to be closer to my family.  All the easier, I say, to be with the nephew my happily married sister has given me.