b"A YoungD I N G H OCouple Finds theirN MIF EFirst HomeWorking with Dennis HepworthW henRyanKennedyBY ELLEN DONKER only was the coronavirus happening, I was a personal and his fiance, Jennytrainer at a gym that was that closed down two weeks Vaz,decideditwasbefore my closing date. And I didnt know if I had an timetobuyahome,income at that point. Their closing on March 30 was Kennedy knew exactlyone of the last to take place before the lockdown.who to call. A personalWhenitcametimetomove,Kennedydrafted traineratEquinoxa friend and his brother, who owned a landscaping inSummit,hehadspenttimetalkingwithclubtrailer, to move their possessions. Hepworth insisted member Dennis Hepworth and knew he was a realon helping as well, telling Kennedy, I have to work estate agent. He says Hes one of those guys thatout anyways. The four of them had all the boxes when you walk in, he just wants to get to know yourmoved within four hours flat. Kennedy says, I even name. And thats how we first met.said to my brother afterwards, I honestly think Den-Since the couple had never bought a house be- nis did more work than the three of us.fore, Kennedy started picking Hepworths brain. HeThe couple have been in their house for over a recalls asking, How do I know whats in my range?year now and love the neighborhood. Vaz has con-Where do I start? And the first thing he said was,tinued her job as a social worker while Kennedy now Let me connect you with a mortgage broker.works privately as a personal trainer on the days hes Once Kennedy and Vaz were pre-approved foroff from his job as a dispatcher for Union County. a mortgage and knew what they could afford, theyAnd hes joined the Scotch Plains Fire Department startedtheirsearch,concentratingontownsinas a volunteer firefighter. UnionandMorriscounties,suchasNewProvi- Now that the weather is warming up, Kennedy dence (where they both grew up), Long Hill, andFirst-time homeowners Ryan Kennedy and Jenny Vazsays, The first thing were looking forward to is hav-valued realtor Dennis Hepworth for his help at every step Scotch Plains. As a young couple, they were look- in the buying process. ing everyone over and having a housewarming party. ing for a starter home so they didnt need a lot ofAnd in September bedrooms. What they wanted was a move-in ready2022,whenev-house with an ample back yard for their 105-poundrenovated.Tomethebasementwasgoingtoeryonecanfreely Rottweiler, Titan, and a modern kitchen.be my cool hangout spot. It helped that they weregatheragain,they They started visiting houses with Hepworth inable to see the home the day before the open housewill be celebrating September 2019. Kennedy appreciated his respon- and get a jump on submitting a bid. Another sell- their wedding.siveness and says, The cool thing about Dennis ising point was that the house was in Scotch Plains, aKennedycred-that he was always available. So if we saw a house andtown with a volunteer fire department. Having beenitsHepworthfor I was like, Dennis, I've got to see this house tomor- avolunteerfirefighterinChatham,Kennedywasmakingthebuy-row, hed say, All right. Not a problem. anxious to join the force in Scotch Plains. ingprocessa Early on, they made an offer on a house but an- OnceKennedyandVazsbidwasacceptedinbreeze,especially other bidder had submitted an all-cash offer, some- February 2020, they relied on Hepworths guidanceduringadifficult thing that these late-20-somethings couldnt match.for next steps and resources. Kennedy says, It wastime.Hesays, In retrospect, Kennedy thinks they may have beenlike the most seamless process I could imagine. Ev- Theresnever tooimpulsivebecausenotlongaftertheyfoundery question I had, he was like, boom, right thereenoughtosay THE house.with the answer. And more so than that, it was like,abouthim.As The first thing that grabbed my eye, KennedyI never felt I was bothering him by texting him. proof, hes now re-says, was it had a beautiful 10-foot vinyl fence allAs their closing date approached, the COVID-19ferred his sister toDennis Hepworth helped find around the back yard. And then the kitchen was ful- virus entered the picture. Kennedy says, It was theHepworth to findRyan Kennedy and Jenny Vaz ly redone. And its a ranch, but the basement is fullymostnerve-wrackingexperienceeverbecausenother next home.their home in Scotch Plains.finding home /25"