J.J. Hebert is a bestselling author living in the Seacoast, New Hampshire area in the United States. He grew up near Lake Winnepesaukee in the Lakes Region (NH) and relocated to the Seacoast about 11 years ago. Many of the settings in his debut novel, Unconventional, are based on actual locations on the Seacoast, including Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
While researching his book based on the Seacoast, Hebert became interested in local real estate. Portsmouth, for instance, is replete with historical houses and buildings. It is not uncommon to encounter homes from the 1700s while strolling the streets of Portsmouth. The Governor Langdon house was built in 1784 and the Governor Goodwin Mansion at Strawberry Bank Museum is from 1811.
Today, J.J. owns his own home near Portsmouth. The contemporary colonial sits on about an acre of land and features four bedrooms, a couple bathrooms and one of J.J.’s favorite rooms: the movie theater. Although historical buildings are of great interest to him, J.J. found that a modern home was more suitable for he and his family. J.J. is the founder of MindStir Media, a full-service book publishing company headquartered in North Hampton, New Hampshire, just a few miles from Portsmouth. He works out of a home office filled with books that he has published — books he has authored personally and books of other authors. Some of MindStir Media‘s authors are also local New Hampshire residents, and some of those books include references to New Hampshire based buildings and real estate. Hebert works with author clients nationwide.
In what city/state was your first house located in and approximately what year did you buy it?
After a fairly short house search, my wife and I ended up buying a home on the Seacoast, New Hampshire in 2015. We worked with a great local real estate agent, Megan, and she walked us through the entire process. She was fantastic.
What was your living situation prior to buying your first house?
One of my first apartments was at North Beach in Hampton, New Hampshire. I was literally a stones throw away from the ocean. It was a small and cozy apartment where I spent most of my time writing Unconventional, my first novel. Later on, I ended up moving about 10 miles north to another apartment, more like an in-law’s home that the landlord had renovated. Unlike the first apartment, this one was sort of like a mini house in that it wasn’t attached to any other units.
What motivated you to purchase your first house?
I really wanted to own property. Renting has its perks such as the fact that I could call my landlord if there were any issues with my apartment, but as many will tell you about renting, it’s kind of like throwing your money away. I saw buying my house as an investment.
How did you go about getting the money together to buy it?
It was several years in the making. When I first moved out onto the Seacoast, I had just begun my writing career and my company, MindStir Media, had not yet come to fruition. So I was working a 9-to-5 job in corporate America and not making much money at all. I wasn’t really able to save any money until later on when MindStir Media had taken off. My wife and I have a savings account that we grew over a couple year span. We used a decent percentage of our savings to buy the home.
When you purchased, were you thinking of it as an investment or as a place to start a family?Please elaborate.
I was thinking of it in terms of an investment, as I said earlier, but also from the mindset of a family man. We needed a house big enough to support a family, so we chose a house with four bedrooms and plenty of space.
What are 3 things you like most about your house?
It really starts with the neighborhood. We have a really cozy neighborhood with a lot of friendly people. As for the house itself, simple things like the fact that we have a two car garage is a huge plus for me. One of the things I always hated about renting was the fact that I didn’t have a garage. If you’ve ever been to New England and dealt with this weather you’ll know why it’s so crucial to have a garage. No more trips outside in the brutal cold to scrape off your windshield and un-bury your car… The other thing I love about our house is the movie theater. I spent a great deal of time refining that room. We spend time each week watching movies, sports, and TV shows. Go Celtics! My office is another great feature. Throughout the years, I have published many books for my clients through MindStir Media, and the office is a great place to showcase some of those books. It feels nice to be surrounded by books.
Was there anything you didn’t like about it?
Our house was about 10 years old when we bought it, so there were a few things we needed to fix because of the previous owner. A few of the rooms in the interior needed to be repainted with new color schemes, and that took a lot of work. We also had to upgrade our hot water heater which set us back quite a bit of money.
Did you make any improvements or major renovations to the house?
We haven’t made any major renovations to the house yet but we are planning on perhaps finishing the attic and making it into either a larger office space or a children’s playroom. We definitely made improvements, though: We went out and bought all new appliances, repainted the walls, installed a water filtration system, brand-new thermostats…
Please share 1-2 of your fondest/funniest memories from living there.
Our fondest memory was definitely the birth of our baby girl. We bought the house about a year before she was born, so we had the opportunity to get her bedroom situated and designed to perfection… The funniest memory would have to be when our Christmas tree fell over one Christmas season and woke up the whole house with a bang. It wasn’t funny at the time, but looking back now it was pretty funny. It actually ended up landing on the living room ottoman.
Do you still live there or did you sell it or renting it?
We still live there. One of the reasons we chose our house is because of the school district, so we definitely plan to be here for many years as we raise our daughter.
What advice would you give to other first time homebuyers?
Do your research and find a solid real estate agent in your area. Look for someone with a track record, sure, but also try to find someone who isn’t so swamped that she can’t give you personalized attention. We ended up choosing a younger aged real state agent who was hungry for the opportunity and she worked really hard for us and was happy to answer our many questions.