Who are Diana & Paul … I grew up on Long Island, NY and Paul is from a town called Lichfield, England. We met in graduate school in England in 2006 both studying Conservation and Biodiversity. As both housemates and classmates we quickly became friends. Our mutual love of music and the environment brought us even closer together and our friendship soon became something more! After graduate school we lived together in Oxford, England where we both started our environmental careers. After my visa ran out, we had to come back to the US. After a few years doing long distance, Paul finally moved to the US in 2011. We were married shortly after, moved to Boston and had our wedding in 2012 on Long Island. While living in Cambridge, I continued my career in conservation while Paul pursued a career in energy efficiency. In 2017 we welcomed our first son, Alex. While Alex was a baby we started our search for a house. Nine months after closing on our house in Swampscott, we welcomed our second son Rowan in 2019. Our family of four loves exploring all the beautiful spots on the north shore together and especially loves year-round beach visits. Now we both work in sustainability. I work for a community solar non-profit while Paul works for a sustainability consultancy.
Initially we were working with another real estate agent who was recommended by a friend but he left the field and when he did, he connected us to Corinne. Once we met her, we realized she was a great fit for us. Not only was she so knowledgeable and friendly but she also could accommodate our need to look in two very different locations in MA. Most real estate agents only work in one area but she came with us to Maynard and Lynn/Swampscott.
We wanted to buy a home because we knew renting was throwing our money away and we wanted to invest in something that was ours. We also were planning to grow our family and a small apartment in Cambridge was not going to fit us all eventually.
The insane competition for a house. We put offers on many properties before we got our house. We could not compete with cash buyers or buyers willing to forgo an inspection. The only reason we were able to finally get our house was because it was a fixer upper and that meant less competition. I’m not sure we would have ever been able to if we wanted to buy a house that was already remodeled.
The best part was going to open houses and talking about them together and with Corinne. It was fun to envision our life in a place and talk about what we would do or change. Then of course the other best part was actually closing on our house. I remember the day we went in to sign the papers with the lawyers. Corinne bought us a lovely bottle of champagne which we saved until we actually got into the house and finished all the work (and Diana was no longer pregnant!).
The competition was the hardest part of buying. It was very disheartening to find amazing homes only to be outbid every time. We must have put offers on almost 10 homes before we got ours. We were starting to give up hope we’d ever find somewhere. But when we saw our home in Swampscott, a 15-minute walk to the beach, we knew we just had to get it. Although we knew it needed a lot of work, I don’t think we quite realized just how much work it was going to be. Remodeling the home was definitely the hardest part of the whole process. We hired some contractors to do the major work: all new windows and trim, a new kitchen ceiling and floor, fixing termite damage, a new stair banister, plumbing for an upstairs washer/dryer, refinishing the hardwood floors and more! Paul and I, along with help from some friends and family, did a lot of the grunt work: scraping away 60 years worth of wallpaper, repairing cracks in the walls, and painting every room. We spent two months working on the house before we moved in and the work still wasn’t done! Since I was pregnant, Paul did most of the work getting the house in order each weekend. He did more painting, remodeled the kitchen and the upstairs bathroom and did as much as he could before our little one arrived that fall. The following summer he got to work on the outside of the house and dug out a new driveway and built a retaining wall to level out the front yard. Although there will always be something to do for an old home, the hard work has paid off and the house and outside look beautiful now.
Watch this before and after video to see their complete renovation
Yes absolutely. Corinne is wonderful. We have kept in touch and when we ever do sell our house she will absolutely be our agent. With MA properties we get a quarterly email about other properties in our area that have sold recently. It’s a nice way to know what our house might be worth even though we’re not ready to sell yet.