describe the imageMichael Hesse and his wife Shannon and their two daughters, Riley (left) and Dakota, celebrate in front of their newly purchased home in Harwich.

“I’ve always wanted to own a place, but I never thought it could happen.”

For much of his adult life that statement exemplified Michael Hesse’s attitude toward home ownership – he would never have a place he could call his own.

But that changed last year when his landlord informed Hesse he would be selling the two-family home he and his family had been living in and renting the past four years.

Up until that point Michael, his wife Shannon and their two daughters, Dakota, 10, and Riley, 5 had been the ideal tenants. They took care of the yard and maintained the house, all in exchange for a lower rent.

So when the owner put the home on the market he gave Hesse the first shot, at below market price, because “we’d been taking care of the place so well,” he said. “We’d mow the grass. Really, whatever was asked of me I’d go above and beyond.”

Already working one job at Oysters Harbor Marine in Osterville, Hesse added another to his plate – as a waiter at Stewart’s in Eastham – last year in hopes of being able to purchase the house.

Still it was not enough. “My credit wasn’t good enough,” he admitted.

That is when he discovered HAC and tapped into the Down Payment and Closing Cost Assistance Program which it administers for the Cape Cod Commission and the Barnstable County HOME Consortium. The program provides zero interest loans of anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 for first-time homebuyers on Cape Cod with funds coming from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The couple qualified for financial assistance, taking the requisite classes necessary to secure a $14,000 loan from the county. “I found it helpful,” Hesse said of the program. “I was looking for ways to fix my credit and what we needed to do to get a down payment.”

So this past November, the Hesse’s turned their rental into a home, fulfilling a dream they did not think was possible. “I never thought I would be able to buy a place of my own, never in my wildest dreams” the 35-year-old Hesse said.

The couple credited much of their success to Brenda Rocklage, the program administrator for HAC. She deflected such praise, calling the Hesse’s “a great role model for good tenancy… We just like to hear about great outcomes for buyers who work on keeping their credit and savings positive so they can qualify for good mortgage rates and assistance from the program if they are eligible.” 

Still, Hesse said, without HAC’s assistance he and his wife would never have been able to purchase what they consider a perfect home – a 2,800-square foot house situated in the middle of Harwich’s lakes with access to the town’s bike path. “It just makes me feel, I can’t even describe it,” he said. “I feel like I finally accomplished something in my life. It is wonderful

“We found this place, loved the area and loved this house,” he continued. “We just wanted to stay here. I can see it being an intergenerational home and being passed on to our grandkids. And if our kids moved away it’d be great to have them come back and visit. What is better than that?”