Boston Real Estate News

Oct. 26, 2023

Boost Your Credit: How to Improve Your Credit Score for a Better Mortgage Rate

Boost Your Credit: How to Improve Your Credit Score for a Better Mortgage Rate


When it comes to securing a mortgage, your credit score plays a critical role in determining your eligibility and the interest rates you'll be offered. A higher credit score can save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. Read on to find out how you can give your credit a boost and potentially lower your mortgage rates.

What is a Credit Score?

A credit score is a numerical representation of your creditworthiness, which is essentially an estimate of how likely you are to repay borrowed money. Credit scores range from 300 to 850, and generally, a higher number is better.

Why Does Your Credit Score Matter?

Your credit score affects not only your mortgage rate but also your loan approval. With a better score, you'll be offered lower interest rates, which translates to lower monthly payments and less money spent over the life of the loan.

Steps to Boost Your Credit

Check Your Credit Reports

The first step is to check your credit reports for errors that might be dragging down your score. You can request a free report from each of the three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—once a year through

Pay Off Debt

High credit card balances relative to your credit limit can negatively affect your score. Try to keep your balances below 30% of your credit limit and focus on paying off high-interest debts first.

Pay Bills on Time

Your payment history accounts for 35% of your credit score, making it the most significant factor. Consistently paying bills on time will have a positive impact on your score.

Limit New Credit Inquiries

Every time you apply for new credit, a "hard inquiry" is made on your report, which can lower your score. Try to limit the number of hard inquiries by only applying for credit you genuinely need.

Diversify Your Credit Mix

Having a variety of credit types—credit cards, installment loans, retail accounts—can actually help improve your score. However, don't open accounts just for the sake of diversifying; only do so if it makes financial sense.

Final Thoughts

Improving your credit score isn't an overnight process, but taking steps like paying down debt and staying on top of your bills can have a significant impact. A better credit score can lead to better mortgage rates, saving you money in the long run.

For personalized guidance on improving your credit and navigating the mortgage process, feel free to reach out to us.

Posted in Resources
May 2, 2019

Why do I Have to Pay a Listing Fee?


A considerable amount of people turn to online assistance to try and sell their home on their own. Many of them inevitably end up turning to a Realtor to assist in these processes. If it’s so much easier to have a seasoned professional deal with your home needs, then why don’t people turn to them right off the bat? The short answer: the listing fee. 

Those who are selling their home want to do so on their own in order to save the ~6% listing fee that goes to the realtor should your house sell. The truth it that by not hiring a professional, you are not saving any money. Yes you avoid the listing fee, but those who try to sell on their own end up running into obstacles that end up costing them more overall. They also end up selling their house for significantly less than if they were to hire an agent, who is expert at driving the price of a home up and selling it for as much as possible. The best deal for selling your home is going to come through an agent because they know the ins and outs of the system better than anyone with access to Google could learn on their own. The complexities and intricacies of the current real estate environmental is mind boggling and certainly something you want hands-on assistance with. 

So what do the fees pay for? At 5%, real estate agents would take home about $15,000 on the sale of a $300,000 home. The total commission is split between both the listing and the buying agents, minus any fees the agents must pay to their brokerage. So let’s break down what you, the seller, get for that $15,000: 

Expertise is at the top of the list of what a real estate agent brings to that fee. This means they are able to help price your home competitively and in a manner that helps you reach your goals, whether that means you’re trying to sell your home as quickly as possible of if you’re looking for a big sale price. 

An agent’s marketing skills are a huge asset when trying to sell a home.  They have to make your home look great and to stir up interest in the property in order to get the price tag up. This involves taking and staging professional photos, posting online ads, using social media, hosting open houses, and anything else that peaks buyers interests. 

Agent’s are also in charge of screening buyers. If the people looking at your home are not qualified to purchase it for any reason, it just becomes a headache for all involved. A real estate agent should do all the footwork required to make sure anyone who’s interested in your house is preapproved for a home loan and has the credentials to back it up. 

Finally, a real estate agent is well-versed in the complicated art of closing a home sale. Their job is to get you the best price with the least hassle and walk you through all the steps you need to take to make sure your sale goes smoothly. This applies to showings, appraisals, inspections, and the final paperwork. 

Posted in Real Estate
April 17, 2019

How to Buy a Home With Student Loan Debt

There are more than 44 million borrowers who collectively owe $1.5 trillion in student loan debt, according to finance site Make Lemonade. So, clearly, if you have student loan debt, you’re not alone.

The same student loan debt report also found that:

- Nearly 2.2 million student loan borrowers have a student loan balance of at least $100,000;

- There is $31 billion of student loan debt that is 3 months or more overdue;

- There is nearly $850 billion of outstanding student loan debt for borrowers age 40 or younger.

With so many millennials having graduated college and trying to start their life, it’s no wonder that purchasing a home looks completely infeasible. However, this is not the case. It is completely within reach to be able to purchase a home without outstanding student loans. Here are some steps you can take to make it a reality:

1. Focus on improving your credit score, or keeping it high if it already is.

The best way to do this is to make your monthly loan payments on time, along with any other debt such as credit cards. Paying off loans in a timely manner is a huge help when trying to improve or maintain credit score, so be sure to set up autopay if at all possible!

2. Figure out a debt-to-income ratio.

A debt-to-income ratio is the thing that will most likely prevent you from getting a loan if they are significant (along with credit score). This is also a huge factor in determining your interest rate. Lenders will use it to determine if your income is enough to pay living expenses plus any outstanding loans you may have. The simple answer isn’t the easiest, but the best way to manage your debt-to-income is by focusing on the two factors: debt and income. Either consolidate your debt, ideally by paying off what you can,, or make more income, but the two usually go hand-in-hand.

3. Get pre-approved for a home loan.

Pre-approval is a great way to see what amount you are eligible for for a home loan. See our March 21, 2019 article that explains the difference between pre-approval and pre-qualified.

4. Look for down payment assistance.

Here are a few to look into for qualification:

FHA loans - federal loan through the Federal Housing Authority

USDA loans - zero down mortgages for rural and suburban homeowners

VA loans - if military service or military spouse

There are federal, state and local assistance programs as well not mentioned here, so research and see if you may qualify for any.

5. And, if need be, refinance your student loans.

This relates back to the debt-to-income ratio that lenders look at, as student loan debt is factored into this and can affect your ability to get a loan. So, the lower your monthly repayments, the more attractive your ratio will look. Refinancing your student loans means you’ll be paying back a smaller amount for a longer period of time, but it is a good option if you want to buy a home and your ratio isn’t looking too good.

There are student loan refinance lenders who offer interest rates as low as 2.50% which is significantly lower than both federal and private loan rates. They do have qualifications as well, so make sure it would be something that is viable.




Posted in Real Estate
April 4, 2019

1 Bed, 1 Bath, 0 Straight Lines

A house that screams “Austin weird” is located in one of the city’s most exclusive neighborhoods, not more than a 15 minute ride from downtown.


The “BloomHouse” at 0 Encinas Rojas St. — yes, the address is a zero — near a strip of broadcasting towers west of downtown is a 1 bed, 1 bath, 1,000 square-foot home sitting atop 2.7 acres of heavily wooded land. BloomHouse was designed by architect Charles Harker, a professor of architecture at Kent State University, who came across the land and wanted to create a memorable, unique home. An overarching theme of the design was connecting the space with the lush outdoor environment, and Harker wanted to make sure that there were no straight lines in the design of the home. In essence, he wanted to create a work of art that could double as a house. Construction of the home began in 1973 and was completed in 1984, with an award of merit from the Austin Chapter of the American Institute of Architects that same year.


But what’s this livable sculpture made of, you ask? – It’s sculpted out of a polyurethane foam covered with concrete stucco for energy efficiency. Because of the irregular curves and strong attention to detail, all the interior woodwork is hand-sculpted and the floor tiles hand-cast in varying sizes.

Because the living room didn’t have any structural lighting elements in the space, the eventual buyer of the home, Dave Claunch, opted to use some statement LED lighting pieces. He wanted to use pieces that were the perfect amount of adjustable light with a tone that creates a warm, inviting feel. This turned out to be a crowd-favorite element in the house, because it supposedly highlighted the unique structural elements in the house. He purchased the home in an effort to ensure its preservation as a piece of art. In his popular opinion, “There’s nothing like it in the world.”


Posted in Entertainment
March 21, 2019

Best Boston Neighborhoods for Students


Students aren’t always seeking an area that has them living amongst their peers. Those neighborhoods tends to be a little louder and a whole lot busier on weekends, which isn’t always ideal for everyone. Ranging from the typical, party-friendly atmosphere to the more quiet and quaint, there’s a community for all student types in the Boston area: 


Regarded as the “student haven,” these popular neighborhoods are a go-to for the majority of students. Housing is among the cheapest in the city ($900 for a studio) but the area is still safe, which is a major plus for the bargain-hunter student who needs to pay rent but still wants to go out on the weekends. Both areas are extremely similar, perhaps even interchangeable in the minds and opinions of many. With the overall student population coming out to about 3,000, in Allston alone, and 44% of them being undergrads. There are bars, bars, and more bars for the Thursday-Saturday night rush, and parking is plentiful in comparison with the rest of the city.

Back Bay

Though not necessarily convenient for the majority of students, this posh area of Boston is close to Northeastern and has a plethora of budget-friendly activities including historical buildings and the Berklee conservatory. Though definitely not the cheapest option for students, it is close to the most popular shopping areas in the city and definitely does not lack in some fun bars for the weekends.


 is often considered a suburb of Boston due to its tranquility and family-friendly atmosphere. It doesn’t give off the same vibes as any other student-friendly area of Boston, and has a significant amount of grad students rather than undergrads. Brookline has the best of both worlds: it is adjacent to the city and a quick T ride or drive away, but it provides a more zen, study-friendly ambience. 


The home of Harvard and MIT (just two of the top Universities in the world…), this intellectual city just outside of downtown Boston doesn’t run as cheap as other areas. Although it isn’t technically part of Boston, it is well connected to the city center through the red line which runs through the entirety of Cambridge, through downtown Boston, and eventually leads to well outside the city in Braintree. Though definitely not the best area for someone attending Northeastern or BU, which are closer to Allston, Cambridge is a pretty good one size fits all when it comes to commuting to most colleges and universities in Boston. 

Jamaica Plain

JP is very up-and-coming with regards to the rest of Boston. It is situated just south of Fenway/Kenmore, which makes it a great area for students going to Simmons, Emmanuel, MCPHS, and Wentworth, among others. The rent is very affordable, and JP offers a very artsy/multicultural feel because of its very ethnically diverse population. Some of the best hole in the wall bars and restaurants are located here, and you’re a short uber or T ride to the city center for a fun Friday night. 


Posted in Real Estate
March 21, 2019

Pre-Qualified vs. Pre-Approved


Getting pre-qualified is the first step in getting a loan. This lays out all of your financial basics for a bank or lender by providing your income, debt, and assets. The bank/lender can then give you an estimate of what amount you qualify for. This is usually a quick, costless procedure that can even be done over the phone or online. It’s important to remember that because this process is so quick and doesn’t look too deeply into your finances, the pre-qualified amount is not a guarantee. 

Pre- Approved

Step 2 is becoming pre-approved for a loan. This is a much more definitive step in the approval process, and therefore takes a bit longer to complete. To get pre-approved, you’ll fill out an official mortgage application and supply the necessary documentation for the lender to be able to assess your credit history and your financial background. Some banks and lenders will charge for the application to process, which usually runs at around $300-$400. After your application goes through, you’ll receive a conditional approved loan amount which will allow you to look at homes at or below that price level. This is a bonus to a seller, because it means you are one step closer to getting an actual mortgage. This allows you to move quickly in an ever-changing, competitive housing market and makes you look more serious to sellers about purchasing a home. 

Loan Commitment

Once you’ve found a home and made an offer, you’ll give your lender a copy of your purchase agreement and any other documentation they require. This underwriting process takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, and also includes a home appraisal to make sure that the home you’re buying is worth the price you’re spending and borrowing. The third and final step is going to be the loan commitment, which is issued by the bank when it approves you as the borrower and the house in question. Your income and credit will be checked once more to make sure you are still at the same place financially as you were when you got pre-approved. 


Posted in Real Estate
Feb. 14, 2019

The Top 25 Public and Private Schools in the Boston Area



Public Elementary/Middle:

  1. Edward W. Brooke CharterSchool,East Boston
  2. Maria Hastings Elementary School, Lexington
  3. Mason Rice Elementary School, Newton
  4. Heath School, Brookline
  5. Boston Collegiate Charter School, Boston

Public Middle/High School:

  1. Boston Latin School, Boston
  2. Brookline High School, Brookline
  3. Wayland High School, Wayland
  4. (tie) Newton North High School, Newton South High School, Newton
  5. Belmont High School, Belmont

Private K-12:

  1. Milton Academy, Milton
  2. Buckingham, Brown, & Nichols School, Cambridge
  3. Maimonides School, Brookline
  4. Dexter Southfield School, Brookline
  5. Brimmer and May School, Chestnut Hill

Private Middle/High School (Girls):

  1. Winsor School, Boston
  2. Dana Hall, Wellesley
  3. Newton Country Day, Newton
  4. Montrose School, Medford
  5. Ursuline Academy, Dedham

Private Middle/High School (Boys):

  1. Roxbury Latin, West Roxbury
  2. Belmont Hill School, Belmont
  3. St. Sebastians School, Needham
  4. Boston College High School, Boston
  5. Xaverian Brothers High School, Westwood


By: Brigid Buckley


Posted in Real Estate
Feb. 14, 2019

The Millennial Market

Millennials are vastly different from previous generations, and it has changed society in a multitude of ways. Their impact on the housing market is no exception, with the growth rate of the housing market slowing down significantly. In 2019, Millennials are between 22-39 years old. Despite their young ages, Millennials highly associate buying a home with the white picket fence “American Dream” that most previous generations have also strived to attain. However, only about a third of Millennials between 25-34 own a home, whereas half of Baby Boomers and Generation Xers owned a home at the same age.

Why is this the case? Most Millennials do not get married until they are in their late 20’s to early 30’s, which is a substantial difference from their parent’s generation, the majority of whom were married with children by their mid to late 20’s. By not being a wedding-driven group, there are also less that are attempting to start families, a factor that heavily increases a person’s likelihood to purchase a home. Rather, Millennials are comfortable living with their parents in basements and bonus rooms, with nearly a third of them still living at home by age 34. Baby Boomers are less likely to kick their kids out post-college. If and when they do, the ever-social Millennials are moving in with several roommates to cut the cost of living.

Despite carrying significantly more debt than previous generations, the percentage of millenials that are purchasing homes are, surprisingly, more likely to spend more than the average on their first home. With most first-time buyers spending around $150k on a starter home, Millennials are spending roughly double that. This is likely due to the fact that they do not want “fixer-uppers,” but opt for more specific must-haves in a home to avoid dealing with renovations and other problems. They are also looking outside of the city and into more suburban areas, since cities have steadily become more expensive and are associated with renting rather than buying.

So they’re not buying as much as previous generations: Who cares? At the very least, Millennials are at risk for having less financial security later on in life by waiting to purchase a home. Homeownership is a touchstone of being prepared for retirement, so purchasing at age 50 and 60 is not going to make for a stable 30-year retirement fund. Despite all the differences between Millennials and older generations, the largest has to do with the fact that younger generations are graduating college with an average amount of $42k in student loan debt and an average starting income of about $35k. This forces them to give up a high percentage of their paycheck to paying off student loans, leaving little to be saved. Simply put: Millennials are gathering wealth more slowly than ever before.


By: Brigid Buckley


Posted in Real Estate
Feb. 11, 2019

The Importance of Using a Real Estate Agent

Buying a new home and moving can be a really exciting, yet very stressful process. Especially if that move is from one state to another. My husband and I made our move from Louisville, Kentucky to Boston last year, and through the process we had to make a lot of really important decisions. One of the most important decisions that we made, and are so thankful that we did, was hiring a real estate agent to help us work through the home buying process.


Here are my top 5 reasons that working with an agent is the best decision you can make when buying a house.


They have market knowledge:

The market in Kentucky is much different than the market here in Boston. Our agent had knowledge of the local market and was able to help us come up with a realistic price for what we were wanting. Once we worked through that we were able to start the search. It was really helpful that our agent had access to new listings that hadn’t quite hit the market, which gave us a little bit of a head start when searching. When we found something that we were interested in he was able to help us understand trends over a long period of time so that we could understand what our resale value would be. His knowledge, experience and advice with this helped us to make a more informed decision on what we were buying.


Negotiating Skills:

This is probably one of the most stressful parts of home buying, as well as selling. We were so thankful to have our agent with us as we went through the process. It was such a relief knowing that we didn’t have to do much more than tell our agent what we wanted to offer. He took it from there. His knowledge of the market and experience in negotiating helped to get us the best price for our condo. From there he helped us negotiate through the inspection and repairs. While he was the one talking with the seller’s agent he made sure to keep in touch and talked us through step by step what was going on, which really put our minds at ease.



One of the most valuable parts of having an agent work with us was his resources. From having insights on properties that were new to the market to being able to give us a list of recommendations for mortgage brokers we never really had to do much for ourselves. Trying to find someone trustworthy online can take time and can be a little overwhelming. Again, because of our realtors experience, knowledge, and contacts he was able to give us find a reliable mortgage broker and lawyer. Since we were moving from a different state we were on a little bit of a time crunch, since he already had relationships with these people we were able to make a quick transition. This made the process of deciding who we would trust with this process so much easier.


Paperwork Guidance:

Buying a home comes with signing a lot of papers. Trying to understand what we are signing would have taken us forever. It was so nice having our agent go through each document with us, so that we could better and more quickly understand what we were signing. This really helped to put our minds at rest knowing that he was paying just as much attention as we were. There were points in our home buying experience where things on the seller’s end weren’t being taken care of, and I can’t express enough how nice it was knowing that our agent had our backs and was taking care of it before we even knew about it.


After Closing:

Once we closed on our condo we really didn’t think that we would speak to our agent much. So it was a nice surprise when he reached out to us a little bit later asking how things were going. Since then he has helped us contact the seller’s lawyer when we need something, like a repair to the condo. He didn’t just leave us at the closing table. He has been just as helpful as he was when we were looking. Again, putting our mind at ease knowing that we have someone looking out for us even after we’ve bought our home.

All in all, I don’t think that we could have made this move without the help of our agent. It was a stressful process, but I don’t think that we would have made it without all of his advice, knowledge, and experience. It really made the process a million times easier, and our transition much more positive than it would have been.


By: Aleisha Hutchens

Posted in Real Estate
Feb. 3, 2019

The Dream Team and Your Dream Apartment

The early bird gets the worm and especially in real estate! It’s the beginning of February, and in T-minus four hours the New England Patriots are getting ready to verse the Los Angeles Rams in the 53rd Super Bowl. Beers will be cracked, bellies will be full and swooning over “The Goat” will ensue soon enough. For many of us Pats fans, we’re getting ready to head to a friend’s place to get the winning party started. I know we all have that friend though, you know the one whose apartment is perfect for entertaining? Now I know it’s the beginning of February, but if you didn’t already know it’s that most current tenants have already received their lease renewal letters from their landlord. Now you may be thinking, “Isn’t it too soon to start looking for a new apartment? Most properties haven’t even turned over yet…” and the answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT. If you’re unhappy with your current living situation then you need to start the planning process now.

New England PatriotsThe listings you find on Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, etc. are not the only places to shop around for your next apartment. Ivy Realty Group has its own exclusive properties from years of relationships built with property owners in Somerville, Cambridge, and greater Boston in general.  Maybe you’ve always wanted to live in Somerville, but feel like you always miss out on the “good” places come April, May or June? That’s why working with a licensed real estate agent is the best thing you can do to help you #liveyourbestlife. With access to industry knowledge you can’t Google on the Internet, Ivy Realty’s licensed real estate agents got your back. Unsure if you’re getting the most out of your monthly rent? Interested in knowing more about a specific neighborhood?

Whatever your real estate goals are, whether it’s to find the perfect apartment for entertaining friends and family for the next Superbowl party in 2020 then give Ivy Realty Group a call to crush your real estate goals in 2019! GO PATS! 


Marlena Roffi