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From an early age, we are graded on academic performance, athletic ability, and so much more. But that doesn't stop as we get older. 

Upon entering the "real world," we would quickly receive a new kind of grade, one that ranks our financial capability, called the credit score. 

This grade would be reevaluated constantly and play a role in many of life's most important moments - including the home buying process. 

Let's take a deeper look at credit scores and why they matter for home buyers. 

What are they?

Credit scores were designed to answer questions like "How likely are you to repay debt?" and "How trustworthy are you with your finances?". They sit on a range of anywhere from 300-800, and the higher, the better. A higher score indicates that the consumer is less risky and can be trusted when borrowing money. 

What determines your score?

Your credit score is dependent on five core components. According to the JECD, they are…

1) Payment History measures how well you have repaid debt in the past.

2) Balances Owed measures how much debt you have in comparison to existing credit limits.

3) Length of Credit History measures how long you have been using credit.

4) New Accounts measure your use and pursuit of new credit.

5) Types of Credit measures your mix of credit and experience using different types of it.

Why does it matter for homebuyers?

The answer here is simple! A lender's decision to grant you a home loan is largely influenced by your credit score. In fact, when you apply, it's one of the first things they'll look at! The right score will not only increase your chances of scoring the loan but a better interest rate too. 

What score is needed to buy a home?

While credit score requirements vary depending on loan type, the minimum for mortgages generally sits in the 620 range. 

If your score is lower than that, you may want to look into an FHA Loan. This type of loan is insured by the Federal Housing Association and requires a score of 580. 

Veterans, qualified service members, and spouses can also apply for a VA Loan, which also tends to sit in the 580 region. 

What should be avoided when applying for a mortgage? 

In order to ensure the best possible outcome, there are a few things you should avoid during the application process.

1) Opening new credit cards

2) Closing credit cards

3) Applying for new loans

4) Cosigning on new loans

How can you improve your score?

Buying a home with a low credit score is possible, but just means you'll be paying more on your mortgage for the time you have that loan. Here are some rapid-fire tips for raising your score. 

1) Pay your bills on time.

2) Set up autopay, so you never miss a payment.

3) Don't spend over your credit limit. 

4) Work towards paying off your debt.

5) Diversify your credit mix.

There are plenty of things to think about when it comes to the home buying process, but we hope credit scores make a little more sense after reading this. 

The Masiello Group is a second-generation family company that has been a trailblazer in New England real estate since 1966. With now more than 35 offices throughout northern New England, we're the largest residential real estate firm north of Boston to offer a complete suite of home services, including buying, selling, mortgage, title, insurance, relocation, and more. 

Our agents are eager and excited to meet your real estate needs! 

For real estate insight, market trends, and more, check out our weekly blog at


There's a lot to consider when you're house-hunting, but one of the biggest questions might be this: Do you want a home that you could move into today, or do you want to fix up and customize your home to your liking? To help you make that decision, we've put together a guide outlining the advantages and disadvantages of purchasing a fixer-upper. 

What Is a Fixer-Upper?

Even if you couldn't define a fixer-upper off the top of your head, you likely know one when you see it. Fixer-upper homes are usually considered technically livable, but often need major maintenance work. Every fixer-upper is different, though. Some fixes might be relatively easy (like replacing outdated appliances or ripping up carpet) while others might require major work to address issues like structural damage or biohazards (like mold or asbestos). 

Pro: Better Value

Because someone hasn't already poured time and money into a fixer-upper, they're often available at lower prices than turnkey homes. You might be able to get a much bigger house for the same amount you'd pay for a smaller move-in-ready home. Fixer-uppers can also be your ticket into a neighborhood where a move-in-ready home would be outside of your budget. 

Con: Red Tape

Some lenders might see a fixer-upper as a risky investment, meaning that you could have a harder time finding someone to finance your dream, or that you could get stuck with a more expensive loan. On top of that, some types of renovations—like room additions and window installation—might require obtaining a permit from your local municipal office, which can drag out your reno timeline.

Pro: You're in Charge

Once the paperwork is signed and a fixer-upper is yours, you can tailor it to suit your needs and style. Don't like the master bath? Remodel it. Wish you had a customized deck in the backyard? Build one. With a move-in-ready home, you're subject to the last owner's (or the construction company's) interests. With a fixer-upper, you're the one who decides where to invest your funds, what materials to use, what contractors to hire, and everything in between.

Con: Unpleasant Surprises = Budget Challenges

What could possibly go wrong? A lot! Even with home inspections, you never truly know what you're getting into, and demolition may reveal significant issues (like structural problems or poorly done updates from previous owners), especially in an older house. And because the likelihood of a nasty surprise is so high, the "fixing" part of a fixer-upper can be difficult to budget for. You may have budgeted the exact right amount for replacing the kitchen floor, but if you find asbestos in the subfloor, you'll have to swallow the cost of removal and disposal, too. 

Pro: Lower Property Taxes

In some places, property taxes are calculated based on a property's most recent purchase price, so purchasing a less expensive fixer-upper could mean paying less in taxes, at least initially. There are many factors that can go into determining how your property tax is calculated, so be sure to do your research carefully.

Con: Construction Zone

Renovations—especially major renovations—take time. Sometimes months. And if you have to pause renovations for any reason (budget problems, permit issues, etc), it could even take years to finish a big project. During that time, you'll either have to secure temporary housing or learn to live in the middle of a construction zone.

Pro: Investment Opportunity 

If you do it right, a fixer-upper is an investment. Transforming a pumpkin into a property that's move-in ready can pay off if you decide to sell later. Even if you purchase your fixer-upper with the intent of making it your forever home, knowing you'll have a better chance at success if you do decide to sell can take a weight off your shoulders.

Making a Decision

When buying a home, everyone's situation is unique. A fixer-upper could be the perfect choice for one person, but a terrible choice for another. Always take your budget, preferences, and lifestyle needs into consideration, and don't be afraid to consult with your real estate agent. Agents from Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate The Masiello Group have the expertise to help you make the best decision for you and your future. 

The Masiello Group is a second-generation family company that has been a trailblazer in New England real estate since 1966. With now more than 35 offices throughout northern New England, we're the largest residential real estate firm north of Boston to offer a complete suite of home services, including buying, selling, mortgage, title, insurance, relocation, and more. 

Our agents are eager and excited to meet your real estate needs! 

You can find more information on today's market and other real estate trends by reading our blog weekly at


Tuscan Decor

In a recent survey, the most popular decorating trend for homes in Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, is Tuscan decor. The rustic, Italian look and Old World style can add a lot of charm to a space. If you've just bought a new home and are looking for a decor style that will make it seem homey and welcoming, Tuscan is a great option. Here are some Tuscan design elements you can incorporate into your space.

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If you've heard anything about the housing market over the past year, it might sound something like the gladiator games of ancient Rome—ruthless and not for the faint of heart. But times are changing, and as we move into fall 2022, we can expect some shifts in the market. Here are 6 things that you need to know about the new housing market.

After a long upward climb, prices start to moderate with slower appreciation

Well, a bit! According to, during August, one in five sellers dropped their asking price, which indicates that the annual appreciation rate is slowing. That's about 20%, which doesn't seem like a lot, but at this time a year ago, that same number was 11%—meaning that the number of sellers lowering their asking price has almost doubled. While not all economists agree on the rate at which appreciation will slow, this trend indicates an oncoming change.

Demographics continue to apply pressure

Part of what's made the market so competitive lately is the relatively low number of houses available for sale. This is an issue that's been years in the making and it's largely due to two demographic trends. The first is millennials—62 million of them—entering the housing market to shop for starter homes. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we also have 55 million baby boomers who are living longer, healthier lives than previous generations—and not leaving the housing market. Both groups competing for the same limited inventory has put unprecedented pressure on the market as a whole. This is in addition to home building dropping off by 40% in the last 10 years. 

But options ARE increasing (a bit)

Because of that demographic pressure, demand has been higher than supply, creating an environment that's great for sellers but a challenge for buyers. While the current number of homes available isn't high per se, demand has been lowered by economic uncertainty—meaning that houses aren't getting snapped up as quickly, creating more options for buyers. 

Bidding wars slow down

The "bidding war" has been a major feature of the housing market for the past few years. But because demand has lowered recently, there isn't as much cause for multiple buyers to compete over the same property. While we are still in a seller's market overall, some equilibrium is returning to the market.

Mortgage rates

We probably don't have to tell you that mortgage rates are higher right now, what with the average rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage creeping towards 6%. What we can tell you is that some relief for buyers may be in sight. Experts from the Mortgage Bankers Association, the National Association of Realtors, and others have projected that mortgage rates will begin to stabilize in the coming months. By this time next year, average rates could even dip below 5%. In addition, Adjustable Rate Mortgages (ARMS) are making a return, and they will serve to lower rates as well—by offering lower start rates for 3-5-7 year adjustable rate loan options.

Rest easy—it's not 2008

You may have heard some speculation about whether the recent economic downturn (and in particular the issues with the housing market) will result in another housing bubble crisis à la 2008. It's a scary thought, but rest assured that the factors that created the 2008 housing bubble aren't present in today's market. Required credit scores for buyers are much higher, mortgage underwriting standards are much more stringent, and there's no oversupply of housing as there was in '08—among other things.   

The bottom line

Whether you're buying or selling, confident or uncertain, a local real estate agent is still your best bet for navigating a changing market. Agents from The Masiello Group can provide you with the expert insights that you need to come out on top, whether the market is stacked against you or not.

The Masiello Group is a second-generation family company that has been a trailblazer in New England real estate since 1966. With now more than 35 offices throughout northern New England, we're the largest residential real estate firm north of Boston to offer a complete suite of home services, including buying, selling, mortgage, title, insurance, relocation, and more. 

Our agents are eager and excited to meet your real estate needs! 

You can find more information on today's market and other real estate trends by reading our blog weekly at


Halloween Decorating

One way to make your new house feel like home is to decorate it for your favorite holiday - especially if that holiday is Halloween! You can put a carved pumpkin in the window or add a few cobwebs in the corners, but wouldn't it be more fun to go all out? Here are a few tips for decorating your home, inside and out, this Halloween.

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Cheese Trails

Once you get settled into your New Hampshire home, it might be nice to celebrate with a trip to explore the surrounding area. In particular, New Hampshire has some of the best wineries, dairies, and chocolatiers you can find in New England. Some of which you can find on wine, cheese and chocolate trails. Here are a few of our favorite places on each trail.

  • Seven Birches Winery - 22 S Mountain Dr, Lincoln, NH 03251
    Seven Birches Winery
    produces hand-crafted, European-style wines using locally sourced fruits. They offer several different tour options, including their "Meet the Winemakers" tour - an intimate experience that provides a close look into their winemaking process, including a Q&A. The winery can also be booked for private tours, birthday parties, and other events. Plus, they have three different tasting rooms and wine bars nearby.

  • Meadowstone Farm - 809 Brook Rd, Bethlehem, NH 03574
    Meadowstone Farm
    started out as a cow dairy but has since branched out to include fruits, vegetables, flowers, and more. However, what they're best known for is their goat cheese. They raise the goats themselves and lovingly craft the cheese, which they sell daily at the farm's produce stand. They also offer free, self-guided tours of the farm daily, except during the winter.

  • Bavarian Chocolat Haus - 2483 White Mountain Hwy, North Conway, NH 03860
    Bavarian Chocolate Haus offers a variety of chocolate products, all made by hand. Their shop looks just like a house you'd find in a quaint European village. And inside, you'll find truffles, fudge, and selections of milk, dark, and white chocolates, plus maple syrup, specialty items, and more. Open Mondays and Thursdays through Saturdays from 10 am to 5:30 pm, and Sundays from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm, they're closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

  • Gilmanton Winery & Restaurant - 528 Meadow Pond Rd, Gilmanton, NH 03237
    Gilmanton Winery & Restaurant is more than just great wine and great food. They also have beautiful grounds you can tour, with a vineyard and a variety of animals, including Nigerian dwarf goats and Muscovy ducks. Wine tastings are offered on weekends, and be sure to come for brunch on Sundays. They also host all sorts of fun events throughout the year, including a murder mystery dinner!

  • Stonewall Farm - 242 Chesterfield Rd, Keene, NH 03431
    With a herd of organic dairy cows, Stonewall Farm makes a variety of delicious cheeses, as well as ice cream and more. They also host community events, such as movie nights and farm-to-table dinners, and they can be booked for private events, such as weddings and birthday parties. Their on-site store sells organic cheese, milk, and eggs, along with farm fresh produce and free-range beef. 

  • Granite State Candy Shoppe - 13 Warren St, Concord, NH 03301
    Granite State Candy Shoppe
    sells a variety of gourmet chocolate products, from chocolate bars to chocolate-covered pretzels to chocolate letters - letters of the alphabet molded out of milk chocolate. They also have non-chocolate candies available, including brittles, gummies, maple sugar candies, and roasted nuts. Plus, they have an ice cream menu as well, with flavors like chocolate toffee crunch, fudge brownie avalanche, and Indian pudding. Get it in a cup, a cone, or a float, or make your own sundae!

  • Hermit Woods Winery - 72 Main St, Meredith, NH 03253
    A small boutique establishment, Hermit Woods Winery works closely with local farmers and vineyards to get the best quality fruits, and to make the best hand-crafted wines. In addition to traditional grape wines, they also produce kiwi, peach, blackberry, and elderberry wines, among others. Come for a drink at their wine and beer garden and stay for a bite at their eater, which serves sandwiches, soups, charcuterie, and more.

  • Boggy Meadow Farm - 13 Boggy Mdw Ln, Walpole, NH 03608
    Making cheese since 1812, it's safe to say Boggy Meadow Farm has perfected its craft. Their specialties include Baby Swiss, in both smoked and unsmoked varieties, and Fiddlehead Tomme, an aged, semi-hard cheese with a natural rind. They also grow peppers and beans on the farm and even make their own cider vodka!

  • Kellerhaus - 259 Endicott St N, Laconia, NH 03246
    Family-owned and operated, Kellerhaus has been making handmade chocolates since 1906. Using premium ingredients and their own special recipes, they have chocolates of all types, each of them irresistible. They also make handmade ice cream in flavors ranging from chocolate and strawberry to maple walnut and black raspberry. Bring some friends and try the Kellerhaus Colossus - a 10-scoop sundae loaded with hot fudge, butterscotch, homemade whipped cream, and other toppings. Closed on Tuesdays, they're open 10 am to 6 pm the rest of the week.

These are just a few of the stops on New Hampshire's wine, cheese and chocolate trails. And there's so much more that the area has to offer as well! Contact us if you're ready to make New Hampshire your new home. Our real estate agents will help you find the house that's right for you in a neighborhood you'll love.


fall hiking

There's a reason people flock from all over the country to enjoy the views a Northern New England fall has to offer. Experience the wonder and beauty for yourself when you view fall colors on these New England hiking trails recommended by our real estate agents

  • Pawtuckaway State Park - 7 Pawtuckaway Rd., Nottingham, NH 03290
    With 15 miles of trails crisscrossing the 5,500-acre grounds, Pawtuckaway State Park has something different to offer with every visit. Many visitors head to South Mountain, where a moderate 2.4-mile hike to the summit leads to a fire tower with spectacular panoramic views. Another favorite is Boulder Field, created when glaciers melted at the end of the Ice Age. The boulders are large enough for rock climbers to use them for practice. Animal lovers should check out Fundy Trail, bordering on Burnham's Marsh, where wildlife frequently makes an appearance. The pet-friendly park is open daily from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Entrance fees are $5 for adults and $2 for kids aged 6-11.

  • Rattlesnake Mountain - Raymond, ME 04071
    Don't be frightened off by the name. Rattlesnake Mountain is actually known as a top family-friendly hiking spot. Thanks to its location in Maine's Lakes Region, you'll have wonderful views of Crescent Lake, Panther Pond, and Sebago Lake along the 2.5-mile trail. The Huntress family maintains the well-marked trail, named Bri-Mar in honor of Brian and Marlene Huntress. Stop at the nearby Good Life Market before or after your hike for some delicious grab-and-go sandwiches and salads. Hours are sunrise to sunset daily.

  • Little River Community Trail - 7 Perkins Rd., Belfast, ME 04915
    What's better than enjoying the fall foliage in Northern New England? Adding water views to this picturesque scene! The Little River Community Trail in Belfast is a moderate trail where you'll crisscross the forest while being near a lake and the Little River. With a total of 5 miles in distance, the trail is great for an intermediate hike and stunning views. Dogs are allowed to accompany you on your hike as well! 

  • Falling Waters Trail - White Mountain National Forest, Lincoln, NH 03251
    While it's considered a challenging hike, the natural wonders promised by the name make Falling Waters Trail well worth the effort. The 5.6-mile trail, which leads to the summit of Little Haystack Mountain, passes three waterfalls along the way. First is Stairs Falls, with the 60-foot drop of Swiftwater Falls a few hundred feet above. Then it's on to the main event, Cloudland Falls, an Instagram-worthy 80-foot cascade into a classic horsetail. Leashed dogs are welcome. 

  • Sterling Pond Trail - Smugglers' Notch State Park, 6443 Mountain Rd., Stowe, VT 05672
    The name of the park conjures up visions of Prohibition-era rumrunners, but hiking Sterling Pond Trail is a refreshingly wholesome activity. The 2.3-mile pet-friendly trail takes about 90 minutes to complete, making it a great choice for a relatively quick outing. Enjoy a delightful perspective on fall colors with the trees reflected in the waters of the placid mountain-top pond. If you want a longer hike, Long Trails North and South branch out just past the pond, both of which lead to stunning mountain views. Entrance fees are $5 for adults and $2 for kids aged 4-13.

  • Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park - Woodstock, VT 05091
    The name "Woodstock" is famously associated with another outdoor area in upstate New York, but Vermont's Woodstock is noteworthy in its own right. Referred to as the "quintessential New England village," Woodstock is one of the best places to view fall foliage, especially at Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. Nearly three dozen pet-friendly trails, ranging from easy to difficult, comprise part of the 30-mile Walk Woodstock network, which connects the park to the town center along with meadows, woodlands, and other scenic areas. Park hours are dawn to dusk, seven days a week. Admission is free.

  • Shelburne Farms - 1611 Harbor Rd., Shelburne, VT 05482
    At the turn of the 20th century, William Seward and Lila Vanderbilt Webb consolidated 32 farms into a massive agricultural estate called Shelburne Farms. In 1984, the Webb family donated the property to a non-profit organization that now runs it as a public facility to promote education and awareness of sustainable food practices. The site was named a National Historic Landmark in 2001, and the campus includes 10 miles of trails with splendid views of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks. Don't miss the Formal Gardens, a personal project created by Lila Webb that's situated on a bluff overlooking the lake. Hours are 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. daily. There is no admission fee, but donations are gratefully accepted. 

Find out why each season in New England has its own special delights. Contact us at The Masiello Group for experienced and dedicated help with all your real estate needs.

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