Home Buying in Haverhill>Question Details

Sam, Home Buyer in Massachusetts

An old house in Haverhill

Asked by Sam, Massachusetts Tue Sep 9, 2008

I found a house online that looks nice because it's all been redone, but it was built in 1890. Is there a problem with older houses like this? The house is at 424 Hilldale Ave Thanks

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Well this is too funny :) Sam, you're asking about my listing! Great advice from all these professionals--isn't Trulia great??

I do want to comment quickly on a couple of the responses while I'm here. One fellow agent mentioned "if the house passes inspection...". However, whether you look at this home, or others, you should understand that the home inspector doesn't "pass or fail" a house (except for the Title 5/septic, if the house isn't on public sewer) An inspection is simply a snapshot of what you are buying. A good inspector will find all of those little (and not so little) warts that every property has...

Rosemary is correct is that this home has been 99.8% renovated/remodeled. I use both terms in the mls description because back in 1995, the house was brought down to the studs, both interior and exterior. ALL old siding, wallboard, flooring, ceilings, door and window trim, etc was removed from the main house, on both floors. (The exception to this is the front "sun parlor". More on that later...) Some of the rooms were repositioned, a center dining room was removed, allowing for a larger kitchen/living room, and a 1st floor bedroom added. Central heat was installed, all new plumbing and all new wiring. At that time, there was no need to finish the 2nd floor, so it was insulated and left unfinished until 2004, when the 2nd floor was completed- 2 bedrooms and an attached bath.

More than one agent mentioned lead (a valid concern!) and there are full disclosures available for the property. Remember that back in 1995 all of the old woodwork from the doors and windows was removed & replaced. The "sun parlor" in the front part of the house has the only original window and door trim, which was originally originally stained dark brown. It was painted well after 1978, when lead paint was no longer sold. However, due to the age of the house, the Seller couldn't legally say that there is absolutely 100% guarantee of no lead in the home.

Rosemary, if you haven't seen the property, I'd love for you to come by with Sam to take a look. It's quite a bit different that it was the last time you were in it, I'll bet!

You might be wondering why I know so much about this property. For the sake of disclosure purposes, I should tell you that I grew up in the house, and I am related to the Seller. I can answer pretty much anything you have to ask about the property--I can tell you that the soil is incredible, the blackberries in the back yard are delicious, and the rest, well, you'll just have to take a look for yourself. Give one of these agents a call and come take a look! You'll be glad you did :)

Valerie Cloutier, REALTOR®, e-Pro®
Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR®)
~ NH & MA Real Estate Services ~
Innovative Realty * Londonderry, NH

603-965-5197 Cell
800-746-8448 x424 Toll Free
603-425-1193 Fax
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 17, 2008
Hi Sam,
If you are coming to Haverhill, you can see what is available on my website, http://www.HaverhillAreaHomes.com for the latest listings. I have a beautiful older home in Bradford, which is a section of Haverhill on the south side of the Merrimack River that abuts No. Andover, Boxford and Groveland. Let me know if I can show this one to you as well as the Hilldale Ave house!
Rosemary Scalera
Century21 McLennan & Co.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Sep 13, 2008
Hi Sam,

I live in Amesbury and service the Haverhill housing market. I believe that there is great opportunity in our area right now and I think this is a wonderful time to be in the market. I haven't seen prices this low since the early 90's. There isn't a T station in Amesbury though we have bus service here. You would have to go to Newburyport (the next town over) and catch the T there. Here is the website for the schedule on the Newburyport/Rockport Line. http://www.mbta.com/schedules_and_maps/rail/lines/?route=NBRYROCK.

Haverhill has many different neighborhoods and is one of the larger cities in the Commonwealth. Below is a excerpt from The Merrimack Valley Planning Commission:

Established in 1640 as Pentucket, Haverhill was incorporated as a city in 1870. Although originally settled as farmland, the city evolved into a major industrial center through the establishment of saw and grist mills in the late 17th century, tanneries and boat yards in the early 18th century, and shoe manufacturing, its leading industry for 180 years. The city remained a thriving industrial center until the depression of the 1930s.

Today, as more and more people discover the city’s natural beauty, diverse mix of rural, suburban, and city landscape, excellent transportation network, and vibrant downtown and nightlife, Haverhill is experiencing a strong resurgence, with a diversifying economy and robust housing market. Found within the City of Haverhill is a revitalized business district which, residents note, includes one of the finest Queen Anne style industrial streetscapes in America. An established restaurant district and a proliferation of specialty shops are all within walking distance of each other, while surrounding neighborhoods reflect interesting architectural diversity, displaying Victorian splendor, blue-collar housing, and early 20th century middle class avenues. These residential neighborhoods display Haverhill's prominence in the shoe industry as well as its wealth of ethnic heritage and tradition. A rural village built around Bradford Common, a river-front area where shipbuilding was carried on, is also part of the city's architectural resources.

The city has a tremendous array of active and passive recreational opportunities. The Merrimack River meanders through the city providing opportunities for fishing, canoeing, and sailing. A trail network along the river is under construction to provide walking, jogging, and bird watching opportunities. Haverhill's residents invite visitors to come and watch the growing population of bald eagles, which seasonally inhabit the city along the Merrimack.

I would also recommend that you visit http://www.Mass.gov where you can search for Haverhill and check out Haverhill's webpage at: http://www.ci.haverhill.ma.us/. All of this will help you reach your own conclusion about Haverhill. I also recommend that all my clients contact the local police and fire departments for answers to questions they might have.

Sam, if you want to drop me an email I would be more than happy to send you an eNeighborhood report for Haverhill.


Maurine Turcotte, ABR
Keller Williams Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 12, 2008
Good Morning Sam, If you decide to put in an offer, make sure you make it contingent upon a home inspection, that right there will tell you everything. The will check the major itms like roof, windows, siding, fondation, electrical, plumbing and heating. You should also have a lead paint test if you have kids under 6 and have a pest inspection. Some houses built in 1890 are stronger than ones built only 20 years ago. Use a buyer broker to guide you and assist you through each step. ake a good offer, use your contingincies and you will be fine. You may even want to review the sellers property information report BEFORE buying to see if anything stands out. Good luck Sam.
Web Reference: http://www.ScottSellsNH.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 12, 2008
Hello again Sam-
As I'm sure you know, before you get serious about a house- you need to be preapproved with a lender. If I can help you out with that, I'd be happy to. We're a conventional and FHA lender in Mass and NH.
As far as the areas of Haverhill, none of the real estate agents are able to tell you what is a "good" area vs what might be a "bad" area, legally.
Haverhill is literally a huge city/ town with a lot of different areas and feels to it. In general, you are correct about the couple streets that run parallel to the Merrimack River in the downtown vicinity- but it is all very subjective depending on what you're used to, etc.
If you're worried about crime, when you come into Haverhill you should stop in at a local police precinct and just ask them where the highest crime rates are in the city. That may help your decision.
Thanks, and good luck,
Ken L.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Sep 12, 2008
You all are very helpful. Thank you so much! I will be coming to the Haverhill area sometime in the next couple of weeks to see what the neighborhoods are like. Because this is an older house, I wonder if it's in a bad area? I've heard some things about Haverhill that don't sound so good, especially in some of the older neighborhoods. There are supposed to be 3 streets that run alongside a river, and the streets run parralel to each other. Does that sound familiar to somebody who knows Haverhill streets? The prices of houses seem to be really good there, especially compared to other places that I could get the T from. I noticed that one of you works in Amesbury. Is there a T station there? Thank you again!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 11, 2008
Hi again,
Yes I have been in the house but it was quite a long time ago. If you care to call me I can discuss it further. I am a Centurian Agent (top 2% of Century 21 nationwide) and have been representing buyers and sellers since 1987.
Best of luck!
978 314-4967
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 11, 2008
Hello again Sam - My recommendation would be to go with an agent that has had specialized training as a buyers agent. ABR and CBR - Accredited Buyer Representative and Certified Buyer Representative are 2 of the realtor designations that indicate an agent has completed this formal training. Ask the agent you are looking to represent you how many buyers he or she has represented and what they bring to the table as your representative. The seller should have been asked to fill out a "lead disclosure" or Property Transfer Notification which you should review. If the seller has tested for lead they should have reports available to you. I hope that helps. Let me know if I can be of any assistance to you. I have been trained as an ABR and CBR and teach buyer representation to other agents.

Mark Gracy (978) 861-4016
The Gracy Team http://www.GracyTeam.com
Keller Williams Realty (978) 984-3107
Web Reference: http://www.GracyTeam.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Sep 11, 2008
Hi Sam,

I am an ABR which is an acronym for Accredited Buyer's Representative. As such, I would always recommend that you as the consumer have your own representative in a real estate transaction. When you are looking for a buyer's agent ask them if they have earned the ABR designation or it equivalent.

In my opinion there is no difference between renovated and remodeled. The agent's use of "100% renovated" may have been figuratively speaking even if a lot of work has been done. The agent states that lead paint is UNKNOWN. Due to the age of the house you could have a lead paint risk assessment performed prior to purchase and during your 10 day inspection period. Lead could still exist on the window sills, baseboard, door moldings, etc.

Sam, let me know if I can help you. I service Haverhill and work from Amesbury.


Maurine Turcotte, ABR
Keller Williams Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 10, 2008
Thank you for all the answers. I guess my next step should be to find a buyer's agent. Can anyone be a buyer's agent, or do I need to contact a buyers real estate agency? I do have another question about this house though. Is there a difference between "renovated" and "remodeled"? And if it was 100% renovated, would lead paint still be a problem? I don't have kids now, but someday I hope. It looks like wood doors in the kitchen, and white doors in the bedroom. Plus it says new windows. Where would the lead paint be? Actually everything looks new in the pictures except for a brown door with little glass panes (maybe in the front of the house, because I can see the street through the door). Rosemary, have you been in the house before? Thank you all for the help!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 10, 2008
Hello Sam- I come at this from a mortgage person's point of view, but also as a builder. Here are some brief thoughts- without seeing anything or knowing the details.
1. Do you have kids? Especially 6 or under. I'd be a little concerned about lead paint hazards. Does it have a delead certificate?
2. The structure/ wood itself can usually be very old like that, as long as the systems and the roof has been updated within the last 20 years or so you should be "OK". What's the age of the following:
roof? most shingle roofs will last about 20 years or so
boiler/ furnace? most are only good for 15 years or so- maybe 20.
electrical? I assume its circuit breakers, and it needs to be 100Amp minimum. But 200A is much better these days.
Any wood/ insect damage in the basement? main beams, etc.
Water or water damage in the basement?

Just some talking points. If you have any questions or need any help with your process, please feel free to contact me. Good luck,

Ken L.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Sep 10, 2008
According to the listing agent's posting in MLS this property has been remodeled and renovated. I agree with Cameron in that ANY home you are interested in you should have inspected by a licensed home inspector who will look a bit deeper than than overall cosmetic appearance of the property. The upkeep for an older home all depends on what has been done and when. Get some representation by a buyers agent and make sure you have a good home inspection if you decide to pursue any property.

Mark Gracy
The Gracy Team
Keller Williams Realty
Andover, MA
Web Reference: http://www.GracyTeam.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 9, 2008
I know the house you are referring to! It has been completely remodeled to the point that it is almost all new materials and most of the old details are gone. However, it is a good price, very cute and has a very large lot. Let me know if I can help you with it!
Rosemary Scalera
Century21McLennan & Co.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 9, 2008

Architecturally older houses have much more character (if it hasn't been stripped out) than those built today. They were also built with a different type of construction and materials that many argue are superior to those materials and methods used today. Certainly the technology has changed but, in the past we overbuilt our homes. With the introduction of building codes to the process, there was now a minimum that has unfortunately become the norm rather than the base method.

Old houses do require maintenance and there is no way you should even think about buying it without an inspection, but in the end the choice is a preference one. If the house passes the inspection and the price is good for the area and condition, and most importantly, you like the house for what it is (an old house) - you should jump in with the help of an experienced real estate pro to walk you through the rest of the process.

Cameron Piper
Web Reference: http://www.campiper.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Sep 9, 2008
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