Thursday, July 18, 2019

3% Down Payment Loan!

A HomeReady™ Mortgage is designed to help lenders confidently serve today’s market of credit-worthy, low- to moderate-income borrowers, with expanded eligibility for financing homes in designated low-income, minority, and disaster-impacted communities.


Help meet the diverse needs of today’s buyers with a HomeReady Mortgage, Fannie Mae’s enhanced affordable lending product.





Designed for credit-worthy, low- to moderate-income borrowers, with expanded eligibility for financing homes in designated low-income, minority, and disaster-impacted communities.


A HomeReady Mortgage lets you lend with confidence while expanding access to credit and supporting sustainable homeownership.


  • Simplicity and certainty for lenders

  • Improved pricing and execution

  • Product features designed to align with today’s buyer demographics and support sustainable Homeownership.





  • Accessible and Sustainable Financing

  • Low down payment. Up to 97% financing for home purchase with many borrowers flexibilities.

  • Flexible sources of funds can be used for the down payment and closing costs with no minimum contribution required from the borrower’s own funds (1-unit properties).

  • Conventional home financing with cancellable monthly MI (per Servicing Guide policy); reduced MI coverage requirement above 90% LTV supports competitive borrower payment.

  • Homeownership education helps buyers get ready to buy a home and be prepared for the responsibilities of homeownership. The required training offers an easy-to-use, online course provided by Framework.

  • Allows for nontraditional credit.

  • Gifts and grants are permitted as a source of funds for down payment and closing costs.

  • Supports manufactured housing up to 95% and HomeStyle® Renovation (approved lenders) to 95%.


Fannie Mae’s Economic and Strategic Research group reports a “demographic sea change” in the housing market, characterized by the rise of the Millennials, increased diversity, and a growing elderly population; and new household growth is being driven by traditionally underserved segments.



Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Crosstown Parkway Celebration Community Block Party

The end of the construction for the Crosstown Parkway Extension Project marks a new beginning for the City of Port St. Lucie, residents and visitors. With more than 195,000 residents, the City worked diligently since 1980 to make this project and corridor a reality for the community.

The Crosstown Parkway Extension will mark completion with a Community Celebration and Block Party on Saturday, September 28. The project provides a new bridge crossing over the North Fork of the St. Lucie River, connecting the existing Crosstown Parkway from Manth Lane to U.S. 1 Highway at Village Green Drive. The project is approximately two miles long with a 4,000 foot bridge. The six-lane divided highway and bridge will include accommodations for automobile, bicycle, pedestrian and public transit. The project will help alleviate traffic congestion, providing relief to the two existing crossings at Port St. Lucie and Prima Vista Boulevards. The project will improve public safety, emergency response times, help reduce travel times and enhance mobility.

Event Date/Time

  • Date: Saturday, September 28, 2019

  • Time: TBD

Friday, July 12, 2019

Chili Cook-Off, surf fest, glow party, family fun day with paddleboarding top this weekend

Here are the best things to do in Fort Pierce, Jensen Beach, Port Salerno and Vero Beach.

St. Lucie County

The 37th annual Chili Cook-Off is 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Havert L. Fenn Center, 2000 Virginia Ave., Fort Pierce. It has live entertainment, food and vendors. For $5, buy the chili sampler kit. This year’s theme is books. Admission is free. Proceeds benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Lucie County. For more information, call 772-460-9918 or go to


The seventh anniversary Beach N’ Buggies & Boards surf fest and car show is noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at Summer Crush Vineyard & Winery, 4200 Johnston Road, north of Fort Pierce. It includes live music and food trucks. The classic and collectible surfboard show is free to enter, but the car show is $10. Admission is free to spectators. Proceeds benefit the Surfing Florida Museum and the Surfrider Foundation Treasure Coast Chapter. For more information, call 772-460-0500 or go to


Martin County Parks and Recreation’s Family Fun Day is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Indian RiverSide Park, 1707 N.E. Indian River Drive, Jensen Beach. It includes a children’s fun zone, field games, an interactive DJ, face painting, educational demonstrations, vendors, food trucks and paddleboarding with Zeke’s Surf, Skate & Paddle Boarding Sports. Admission is free. For more information, go to


Indian River County

The Kids Glow Party is 10:30-11:30 a.m. Friday at Indian River County Main Library, 1600 21st St., Vero Beach. The glow-in-the-dark party includes games and crafts. For more information, call 772-770-5060 or go to


For more events go to the source.

Source: Chili Cook-Off, surf fest, glow party, family fun day with paddleboarding top this weekend

Thursday, July 11, 2019

America's Most Expensive Listing Slices $50 Million From Its Price

America’s most expensive listing cuts $50 million from its price.

After only eight months on the market Chartwell, the most expensive listing in the U.S., has come down in price by $50 million. This is down from its official on-market ask of $245 million, though it had been rumored to be asking as high as $350 million before it officially entered the listing service. Despite its $50 million price reduction, it appears to still be the priciest listing currently on the market. There is a home said to be coming on the market for $500 million, but as yet it has not been listed officially. There was a $250 million property on Bel Air Road, also in Los Angeles, that had most recently come down to $150 million but has since moved off the market without appearing to have sold. This $195 million sale would still beat the current Los Angeles record—a $110 million purchase by Hard Rock Cafe founder Pete Morton. The most expensive sale on record is, of course, billionaire Ken Griffin’s purchase of a New York condo for $238 million earlier this year.

The home dates back to the 1930s when architect Sumner Spaulding took on the task of designing the 25,000 square foot main house out of symmetrically cut limestone. It boasts a total of 11 bedrooms and 18 bathrooms across all the buildings, which includes at least one 5-bedroom guest house (designed by Wallace Neff) and a pool house near the 75-foot pool. The house has already had its time in the spotlight before rising to the upper echelons of U.S. real estate by being used in the opening credits of The Beverly Hillbillies television show.

Source: America’s Most Expensive Listing Slices $50 Million From Its Price

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Veteran Benefits That Survivors Should Know About

From health care to education and home loans, here are seven important benefits that veterans’ survivors should know about before it’s too late.

Felicia Mullaney remembers trying to help the widow of a veteran who had died at a young age of cancer.

The widow was attempting to claim a state property tax break that was designed to help veterans and their survivors, but there was a problem. To qualify, she needed proof that her husband had been totally disabled, but her husband had never applied to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for a total disability rating before he died.

As a result, the widow could not get the benefit.

“We’re seeing a lot of people not aware’’ of what they need to do to claim benefits, says Mullaney, deputy director of veteran benefits for Vietnam Veterans of America. “It’s a pretty common problem.’’

Jim Marszalek, national service director for Disabled American Veterans, is familiar with the problem. He says that even though the VA conducts classes for service members before they leave the military to acquaint them with benefits, many service members are focused on immediate concerns, not on benefits that might help them and their families in the future.

“When you get out, it’s stressful. You want to look for a job and move on,’’ he says.

Plus, Marszalek says, many benefits hinge on having a condition that the VA labels a disability, and “there’s a stigma associated with disability.’’

Such feelings, combined with the complicated rules involved in qualifying for benefit programs, often mean that survivors of veterans end up like the widow whom Mullaney was trying to help, missing out on benefits they deserve, experts say.

Some of the most important benefits that survivors should explore include:

Compensation for survivors

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) is one of the most valuable benefits available to veterans’ survivors. People who meet the criteria for DIC can get as much as tens of thousands of dollars a year in tax-free payments.

The program provides lifetime benefits ranging from about $1,280 a month to $2,940 a month to eligible surviving spouses, depending on the deceased veteran’s pay grade. Additional payments are available for dependent children. Some parents of deceased veterans also may get benefits if their income is low.

DIC payments are not automatic, and not everyone is eligible. Survivors must apply for the benefit, and the sooner they do it, the better. If they apply more than 12 months after the service member’s death, payments are retroactive only to the date they applied, not the date the veteran died.

The program is designed to compensate survivors when service members die during their service, or as a result of a service-connected disability. It also compensates survivors in cases where veterans die from a cause unrelated to their service but were rated by the VA as being totally disabled from a service-connected disability for a certain amount of time immediately before their death.

Experts cite the program as one of the reasons veterans should apply for total disability ratings as soon as they are eligible.

“If you don’t have permanent and total, try to get it,’’ says Mullaney. “Don’t wait until you think you are dying.”

Health care

Another valuable benefit available to eligible survivors is comprehensive health coverage from the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA). Under this program, the VA shares the cost of most health care services and medical supplies that it considers necessary for eligible surviving spouses and children. In most cases, eligibility for the coverage depends on the degree of a veteran’s service-connected disability.

Comprehensive health coverage is also available under the VA’s Spina Bifida Health Care Benefits Program to children of Vietnam veterans and certain Korean War veterans who have been diagnosed with spina bifida.

More limited health coverage is available in specific situations. For example, service members’ spouses and children who lived at Camp Lejeune between August 1953 and the end of 1987 can get reimbursement for certain out-of-pocket health care costs because of contaminated drinking water there. The benefit applies to treatment of 15 specific illnesses and medical conditions, including several forms of cancer, infertility and miscarriage.

Another targeted health benefit applies to children with certain birth defects other than spina bifida who were born to female Vietnam veterans. The Children of Women Vietnam Veterans (CWVV) Health Care Benefits Program covers services necessary for treatment of the covered birth defect and associated medical conditions.

“We’re seeing a lot of people not aware of what they need to do to claim benefits. It’s a pretty common problem.’’

— Felicia Mullaney, deputy director of veteran benefits for Vietnam Veterans of America

Education and training

Substantial financial help is available for survivors of service members interested in pursuing education or vocational training. The government in some cases will pay all or a large part of tuition costs for college and other educational programs.

Two key programs that eligible surviving spouses and children should explore are the Fry Scholarship and the Survivors’ and Dependents’ Educational Assistance (DEA) Program.

Under the Fry program, the government pays the full cost of in-state tuition at public institutions, or more than $20,000 a year toward the cost of tuition at private institutions, as well as a monthly housing allowance, and an annual stipend for books and supplies. This scholarship, paid directly to the school, was expanded to include surviving spouses in 2014.

Eligible survivors who choose the DEA program instead of the Fry scholarship can get a monthly check sent directly to them to pay educational costs. The maximum amount for full-time students currently is about $1,200 per month.

The DEA and Fry programs can be used for college, vocational and business technical programs, apprenticeship programs, certification tests and tutoring.

Recent legislation also has made it easier for survivors to transfer benefits under the GI Bill after the death of service members.

Eligibility for educational benefits depends on factors including the circumstances of veterans’ deaths, ages of the dependents and marital status of spouses.

Home loans

Surviving spouses who meet certain criteria can get a VA-guaranteed home loan to buy, build or improve a home or to refinance a mortgage.

VA loans have important advantages over other home loans. In most cases, the buyer does not have to make a down payment on the home. Home buyers using these loans also do not have to pay monthly mortgage insurance premiums.

For those who are refinancing, one option is a cash-out refinance loan, which enables homeowners to get cash from the equity in the home and use it, for example, to pay off debt, pay for education or make home improvements.


Survivors of veterans who served during wartime can apply to receive a tax-free pension, known as a Survivors Pension or Death Pension. The pension provides a monthly payment to surviving spouses with modest incomes who have not remarried. The benefit is also available to unmarried dependent children of wartime veterans.

The amount of the pension is set each year by Congress and eligibility is determined by a complex calculation that considers net worth as well as various kinds of income and expenses. What counts as income can be reduced, for example, by certain expenses, such as unreimbursed medical care. For surviving spouses without a dependent child, the maximum annual pension is currently about $9,000.

Those who are homebound or who require assistance for basic daily activities may qualify for an additional payment.

Burial benefits

Eligible veterans and their spouses and dependents can be buried in one of the 136 national cemeteries maintained by the VA. Burial benefits for veterans in these cemeteries include opening and closing of the grave, perpetual care, a Government headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a Presidential Memorial Certificate (PMC), at no cost to the family. Burial benefits available for spouses and dependents buried in a national cemetery include burial with the veteran, perpetual care of the gravesite, and the spouse or dependents’ names and dates of birth and death inscribed on the veteran’s headstone, at no cost to the family. Eligible spouses and dependents may be buried in a VA national cemetery even if the veteran is not buried there.

When veterans are buried at private cemeteries, the government provides a headstone or marker, a burial flag, and a PMC. The VA also may pay for some of the burial and funeral expenses. Many states have state veteran cemeteries, which may have residency requirements.

Life insurance

Veterans who receive a disability rating connected to their service can qualify for a Service-Disabled Veterans Insurance (S-DVI) life insurance policy, which provides up to $10,000 of coverage. Veterans who are totally disabled are eligible to have their premiums waived.

Totally disabled veterans who are approved for a premium waiver can apply for up to $30,000 in additional coverage, but premiums for the supplemental coverage cannot be waived.

Source: Veteran Benefits That Survivors Should Know About

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Forbes: Port St. Lucie, FL #24 in Job Growth


Port St. Lucie is home to Indian River State College, which shares its campus with Florida Atlantic University, Barry University and Keiser University. There are an abundance of recreational activities available to residents and visitors within the area, due to the city’s climate, park facilities and proximity to the beaches nearby. Port St. Lucie is home to the Professional Golf Association (PGA) Learning Center, PGA Historical Center, the PGA Golf Professional Hall of Fame and the Probst Library, one of the world’s prominent collections of golf archives and collectibles. Cultural of points of interest within the city include the nearby Underwater Demolition Team – SEAL Museum at Fort Pierce, the A.E. Backus Gallery and Museum, Hallstrom Planetarium and St. Lucie County Historical Museum.

Source: Port St. Lucie, FL

Monday, July 8, 2019

7 Reasons to Keep Your Credit Good After You’ve Bought a House - Realty Times

You worked hard to save for a down payment and get your credit score to a place where you were able to qualify for a mortgage. Now that you’re in your home, you can relax a little, right? Who cares if your credit score drops; you’re a homeowner!

Not exactly. While you may have met the goal of homeownership, your credit remains vitally important. Keeping your scores up can benefit you in a number of ways. Here are 7 reasons you should keep your credit good even after you’ve bought a house.

To furnish your home

Now that you’ve got that new home, it’s time to furnish it. If you qualified for a mortgage, there’s a good chance you’ll also be a good candidate for new store cards. This can be an easy way to spread a large expense over a period of time, but, beware the pitfalls.

“Store cards or store 0 percent financing deals can enable you to make big-ticket purchases such as furniture, appliances and outdoor fixtures with no interest for several months,” said “However, many 0 percent deals charge interest on the original purchase amount—often 20 percent or more—if you don’t pay the entire balance by the end of the promotional period.

Todd Christensen, director of education at Debt Reduction Services, told them: “A lot of people will just make the minimum payment without thinking, and at the end of 18 months there’s still a $3,000 balance. If they don’t pay it all off, here comes 25 percent interest back-dated to day one.”

To save money

The best cards are typically reserved for those with the best credit. If you let your credit dip and you want a new credit card, you still might be able to get one—but you’re not going to get the best rates. You may also be limited to cards that have a hefty annual fee, which will cost you more money.

For the miles

Cards that offer miles, cash back, or some other perk aren’t offered to just anyone. If you keep your credit score high enough to snag one, you’ll love being able to rack up miles to use for travel or apply a cash back bonus to everyday expenses to keep costs down.

For a job

Many employers run your credit as part of the hiring process. Let your credit drop and it could keep you from getting a new job.

To take advantage of falling rates

You never know what’s going to happen to interest rates. Maintain your good credit and you may be able to refinance if rates drop.

To stay in your home

Defaulting on credit cards won’t affect your ability to stay in your home, but if your credit problems extend to your ability to pay your mortgage, you could be looking at foreclosure.

To buy another home

If you’ve already bought a home, you know that, in order to get the best loan and interest rate, you need to have a good credit score. You can qualify for some loans with a lower score, but it’ll cost you. “According to FICO, a homebuyer with a credit score of 760 or higher could pay nearly $2,500 less per year on a $210,000, 30-year home loan than someone with a score of 620,” said

Source: 7 Reasons to Keep Your Credit Good After You’ve Bought a House – Realty Times

Friday, July 5, 2019

Beer Olympics, bug celebration, bluegrass music top things to do this weekend

Here are the best events in Fort Pierce, Vero Beach, Sebastian, Port Salerno, Hobe Sound and Stuart.


St. Lucie County

The Islamorada Olympics is noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at Islamorada Beer Company, 3200 St. Lucie Blvd., north of Fort Pierce. The games are life-size beer pong, dizzy bat, flip cup, Frisbee golf, cornhole and sack races. The event also features live music and food for sale. Registration begins at 10:30 a.m. The cost, which includes unlimited draft pours during the games, for a team of four is $30 in advance and $45 at the event. Proceeds benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Lucie County. The event is family friendly, but players must be ages 21 and older. For more information, call 305-508-9093 or go to



Celebration of Insects is 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at Heathcote Botanical Gardens, 210 Savannah Road, Fort Pierce. Kids can explore, collect, observe and release bugs in the gardens as they learn about Heathcote’s most common insects. Admission is free for kids ages 6-12, $8 for adults and $6 for ages 65 and older. Kids must be accompanied by adults. Registration is required by calling 772-464-4672. For more information, go to

The second annual Family Community Fun Day with Restoring Hope Ministries is 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Percy Peak Gym, 2902 Avenue D, Fort Pierce. The event includes free food and drinks, a bounce house, face painting, arts and crafts, music, games and raffles. Admission is free. For more information, call 772-332-3132 or go to



The Red, White & Bluegrass Weekend is 1-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Summer Crush Vineyard & Winery, 4200 Johnston Road, north of Fort Pierce. Both days include live music and food trucks. Admission is free. Proceeds benefit Operation CatSnip of the Treasure Coast on Saturday and Little Birthday Angels on Sunday. For more information, call 772-460-0500 or go to

Homegrown: Summer Crush Vineyard & Winery in Fort Pierce turns native muscadine grapes into wine

Indian River County

The 4th of July Celebration is 1-6 p.m. Saturday at American Icon Brewery, 1133 19th Place, Vero Beach. The party features a children’s bounce house, games, live music and food and drinks for sale. Proceeds benefit the Vietnam Veterans of Indian River County. For more information, call 772-934-4266 or go to

Laurie’s Stories: Treasure Coast breweries win big at 2019 Best Florida Beer professional competition


Summer KidFest with “Shrek” starts at 10 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday at The Majestic 11, 940 14th Lane, Vero Beach. The movie, which is rated PG and lasts 1 hour and 40 minutes, continues Monday through Thursday. Admission for kids is free while adults pay $2 or make donations. For more information, go to

The Brews Cruise with Mash Monkeys Brewing Company is 5-6:30 p.m. Saturday at Capt Hiram’s Resort, 1580 U.S. 1, Sebastian. Sail on the Indian River Lagoon and head to Pelican Island just as the sun sets. Tickets are $35 each and includes the beer, the cruise and light snacks. Participants must be ages 21 and older. To RSVP, call 772-388-8588. For more information, go to

A weekly newsletter that will feature upcoming events, activities and fun exclusive to the Treasure Coast.

Laurie’s Stories: They’re ‘just monkeys to the mash’ at newly opened Sebastian brewery

Martin County

The fifth annual Miss Twisted Bikini Contest is 2-8 p.m. Saturday at The Twisted Tuna, 4290 S.E. Salerno Road, Port Salerno. The first round begins at 3 p.m., and the final round starts at 6 p.m. A hot dog eating contest begins at 4 p.m. with registration from 1-3 p.m. The event also includes live music, live radio broadcasts, drink specials, giveaways and vendors. For more information, go to

The Nature Hike at Jonathan Dickinson State Park starts at 2 p.m. Friday at 16450 S.E. Federal Highway, Hobe Sound. Go for a leisurely stroll through scrubby flatwoods and river floodplain. Look for osprey, pileated woodpeckers and barred owls. The walk may go through muddy or wet terrain. The hike continues every Friday. For more information, call 561-745-5551 or go to

More: 24 hours isn’t enough time to see, do all that Jonathan Dickinson State Park has to offer



Rock’n’ Riverwalk with the Ladies of Soul singing rhythm and blues is 1-4 p.m. Sunday on the Riverwalk Stage at St. Lucie Avenue in downtown Stuart. The free event also includes vendors every Sunday. For more information, go to

Laurie K. Blandford is TCPalm’s entertainment reporter and columnist dedicated to finding the best things to do on the Treasure Coast. Read her weekly column, Laurie’s Stories, on Follow her on Twitter at @TCPalmLaurie or Facebook at



Source: Beer Olympics, bug celebration, bluegrass music top things to do this weekend

Wednesday, July 3, 2019


Freedomfest is how Port St. Lucie celebrates its pride in our nation and our community. The Freedomfest celebration begins at 4 p.m. with a live band, food and refreshments, games and activities for kids and families, arts & craft vendors and much more! Freedomfest culminates with one of the areas largest and most dramatic fireworks display beginning at 9 p.m. (weather permitting) at the Civic Center.

Source: FREEDOM FEST – Event

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

27 Home Projects & What You'll Pay

Chances are, you don’t have time to knock on every door in your zip code to see how much people paid for home projects. And when you need an immediate repair, there’s even less time to ask around! It might help to know what other people are spending. Check out the average national cost of these 27 popular projects.

To see the 27 click on the source.

Source: 27 Projects & What You’ll Pay

Friday, June 28, 2019

Burgers and Brews Festival, Snorkel Corn Summer Classic, patriotic events top this weekend

Here are the best things to do in Vero Beach, Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce, Stuart, Jensen Beach and Hobe Sound.

Indian River County

The Burgers and Brews Festival, an American Heritage Celebration, is 1-9 p.m. Saturday along 14th Avenue in downtown Vero Beach. The slider tasting and “Best Burger in Indian River County” competition is 1-4 p.m. Participating chefs come from The Tides, Post & Vine, Sean Ryan Pub, Cobalt, Southern Social, American Icon Brewery, Wilke’s 14 Bones, Vero Prime, BigShots Golf, The Source, American Grill and Ono Luau. The festival also includes live music, street vendors, food trucks, craft beer, a children’s zone and a celebrity dunk tank from 1-6 p.m. Admission is free. The slider tasting punch card, which includes five sliders and two brews or sodas, is $25 plus fees. The VIP section is sold out. Proceeds benefit United Against Poverty Indian River County. For more information, call 772-770-0740 or go to

The Space Coast Symphony Orchestra’s Sea to Shining Sea patriotic concert starts at 2 p.m. Saturday at The Emerson Center, 1590 27th Ave., Vero Beach. Admission is free, but reservations are required. To reserve tickets, go to




Family Fun Day for Summer is noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at The Majestic 11, 940 14th Lane, Vero Beach. Before or after paying for a movie, kids can enjoy a free bounce house, face painting and games. The event repeats July 27. For more information, go to

The third annual Vero Beach Pride themed “Studio 54” is this weekend. The sold-out Pride Party from 7-11 p.m. Saturday at the Vero Beach Heritage Center & Citrus Museum, 2140 14th Ave., includes drag queen performances and comedy, a DJ dance party, go-go dancers, an open liquor bar, New York-style street vendors, soda and juice, door prizes, games and a body glitter bar. The Pride After-Party from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. at the Kilted Mermaid, 1937 Old Dixie Highway, includes 15 percent off food and drinks with Pride wristbands. The free Pride Sunday Funday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Heaton’s Reef at the Vero Beach Hotel & Spa, 3500 Ocean Drive, includes beach games, DJ music and discounted food and drinks. For more information, go to

St. Lucie County



Tradition’s Independence Day Celebration is 5-9 p.m. Sunday at 10807 S.W. Tradition Square, Port St. Lucie. It includes old-fashioned games, bounce houses, slides, face painting, food and drinks for sale, craft vendors, DJ music and fireworks at 9 p.m. Admission is free. Parking is available in the lot at the corner of Southwest Meeting Street and Southwest Village Parkway. For more information, call 772-345-5101 or go to



The Snorkel Corn Summer Classic is noon to 7 p.m. Sunday at Sailfish Brewing Company, 130 N. Second St., Fort Pierce. The musical showcase and instrument drive features 14 live music acts. Plus, Sailfish is tapping six bourbon barrel-aged imperial stouts at noon Saturday in time for the event. Admission is a $5 donation. Proceeds benefit the BlueBird Educational Foundation. For more information, go to


The Howl at The Moon experience at The Tin Roof Bar & Grill is 8-11 p.m. Saturday at 5701 Orange Ave., Fort Pierce. Doors open at 7 p.m. The dueling pianos show is interactive and takes song requests from the crowd. Tickets are $15-$20 for seats and $10 for standing room. Buy tickets in advance. Ages 21 and older only. For more information, call 772-242-8939 or go to

Laurie’s Stories: BINGO! It’s not losing when you have fun helping nonprofit organizations



The Eat, Sip & Shop Festival is 4-9 p.m. Saturday at Tradition Square at 10301 S.W. Innovation Way, Port St. Lucie. It includes vendors, live music, entertainment and food and drinks for sale. Admission is free. For more information, go to




The Grand Opening of Makers Art Studio is noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at 1604 N.W. Courtyard Circle, Port St. Lucie. It includes food, refreshments, a bounce house, games, raffles and a free hands-on art project. For more information, call 772-237-5530 or go to

The Beach Cleanup at Pepper Park Beach is 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at 3302 N. State Road A1A, Fort Pierce. Bring sunscreen and drinking water. For more information, go to

Laurie’s Stories: Surf’s up this summer! Top 6 surfing spots for beginners on Treasure Coast

Martin County



The Beach Cleanup at the Nathaniel P. Reed Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge is 8-10 a.m. Saturday on the north end of Beach Road on Jupiter Island. Meet at the boardwalk pavilion. Parking is free for volunteers. Bring a reusable water bottle because drinking water is available. Wear hats and sunscreen. Gloves and trash bags are provided. For more information, go to



The Stuart Community Concert Band’s Independence Day Spectacular patriotic concert is 2-4 p.m. Sunday at the John F. & Rita M. Armstrong Wing at the Blake Library, 2351 S.E. Monterey Road, Stuart. Admission is free, but tickets are required. Tickets are limited to two per person. For more information, call 772-288-5702 or go to



Mardi Paws at Crawdaddy’s is 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at 1949 N.E. Jensen Beach Blvd. It includes live music, lunch specials and adoptable dogs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Also, 15 percent of each check is donated to the Humane Society of the Treasure Coast. Well-behaved dogs on leashes are welcome. For more information, go to

Laurie K. Blandford is TCPalm’s entertainment reporter and columnist dedicated to finding the best things to do on the Treasure Coast. Read her weekly column, Laurie’s Stories, on Follow her on Twitter at @TCPalmLaurie or Facebook at


Source: Burgers and Brews Festival, Snorkel Corn Summer Classic, patriotic events top this weekend

Thursday, June 27, 2019

5 Questions To Ask Before Hiring A Remodeling Contractor

These are the questions your remodeling contractor should be able to answer.

Tara Mastroeni


Real Estate

I break down real estate concepts for first-time homebuyers.


Choosing a remodeling contractor to hire is a big decision. After all, not only are you letting this person and their crew in your home, but you’ll also likely be giving them a lot of money. With that in mind, it’s best to do a little bit of research first so that you can make sure you’re picking the right person for the job. To that end, I’ve laid out five questions that you should ask before hiring a remodeling contractor. Read them over so that you ace the interview.

Can I see some past projects and references?

Any remodeling contractor worth their salt will have examples of their past work on hand. If you’re having exterior work done, ask to be given addresses so that you can drive by the homes and assess the contractor’s quality of work with your own eyes. However, if your project is indoors – like a kitchen or bathroom, for example – you may have to settle for pictures.

You should also see if the contractor can provide references. For some people, just the fact that a contractor is able to produce them is enough. However, others need to take the extra step and call. If you do call, ask the former client what they liked and didn’t like about working with the contractor, as well as how happy they are with their end product.

Are you licensed and insured?

The answer to these questions should always be a resounding yes. As the homeowner, you’re perfectly within your rights to ask for copies of any contractor’s license and insurance policies. If a contractor can’t provide them, that’s proof that you’re likely not doing business with a true professional so much as someone who does remodeling jobs on the side.

Remember, these documents ultimately protect you. On the one hand, someone who is licensed has proven to the state that they have a decent foundation of knowledge and skills. Additionally, by law, any contractor that is licensed must carry a current insurance policy. In the event that someone is injured on your job, your assets won’t be put at risk.

What’s your estimate and estimated timeframe this project?

Essentially, you’ll want to get a broad picture of how the project will go if you choose to work with this contractor. While they don’t have to give you a daily schedule, they should be able to give you a ballpark idea of how long they think that your project will take. Similarly, while they don’t have to provide a budget down to the penny, a good contractor should be able to give you a fairly solid idea of what your out-of-pocket costs will be.

That said, the more detail you in these documents, the better. Asking for an itemized estimate will help you get a more thorough picture of what your money will be going toward. That way, if you have any questions about how the money is being spent, you can point to specifics.

Who will be coming to my home every day and how do I contact them?

Like it or not, the person who comes to your home to deliver your estimate will not always be the one who will ultimately be overseeing the work on your home. Sometimes it will be another employee like a lead carpenter or project manager. However, regardless of who it ends up being, you should be given a definitive point of contact, someone you can go to with questions and concerns. You’ll also want to learn how to get in contact with them if need be.

What’s the process if a change needs to be made?

Unfortunately, even the most thoroughly thought out remodeling projects don’t always go according to plan. The construction team could stumble upon an unforeseen structural problem that needs to be addressed, products could be out of stock, or deliveries could go awry. If any of those things happen, changes need to be made to the construction, which could also affect the schedule and budget.

Ideally, you’ll want these changes to be run by you first and documented in a change order. A change order is a written extension to the original contract where the change to the scope of work and price is detailed. This document should also be signed off on by both you and the contractor.

Source: 5 Questions To Ask Before Hiring A Remodeling Contractor

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

2019's Housing Market Is Likely to Be Stronger Than We Thought—Here's Why

Despite the housing slowdown that’s gripped the nation, higher prices and more home sales than anticipated are on the way.

By Clare Trapasso | Apr 23, 2019



Despite a real estate slowdown gripping the nation, this year’s housing market is expected to be busier than® economists originally predicted late last year. That means more home sales—and higher prices—are on the way.

The anticipated uptick in activity is due to lower mortgage rates, which make homes more affordable for buyers. The economic team expected rates to climb to 5.5% in 2019, but instead they have hovered around 4%. (They were 4.17% on 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages as of April 18, according to Freddie Mac data.) Economists say rates are now likely to rise a little to 4.5%, still well below what buyers were dreading.

However, it’ll be nothing like the feeding frenzy of recent years.

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“It’s still going to be a lukewarm year for the housing market,” says Chief Economist Danielle Hale of “We’re going to see higher prices and slightly higher home sales than we expected. But home sales are still going to decline slightly as a result of the housing slowdown. There’s a gap between what sellers are looking for and buyers are hoping to pay.”

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While a single percentage point difference may not seem that significant, it can add more than $100 to the monthly loan payment on a median-priced home of $300,000. (This assumes buyers put 20% down.) That can translate into tens of thousands of dollars over the life of a 30-year loan.

The downside for buyers—and upside for sellers—is that prices are expected to rise more than Hale’s team originally forecast, going up 2.9% in 2019 instead of 2.2%. That’s because the swelling ranks of buyers motivated by those lower mortgage rates will increase demand—and therefore prices.


Watch: Here’s What Has Surprised Our Real-Estate Economist in 2019


Meanwhile,’s economists predict the number of home sales will almost hold steady, dipping just 0.3%. They originally believed the number of sales would fall by 2%.

The market has slowed down from previous years because sellers, seeing an end to the good days of high prices, rushed to put their homes on the market. But this happened at the same time that many buyers backed off because of those same high prices. The glut in supply led to lower price growth and fewer home sales.

But as always, local conditions will be the main factor for real estate in your market, Hale says.

“In some markets there’s still not enough housing available, so buyers are likely to find a competitive market,” she says. “But in some markets prices are so high that buyers are choosing to be patient and sit on the sidelines.”

Clare Trapasso is the senior news editor of and an adjunct journalism professor at St. John’s University. She previously wrote for a Financial Times publication, the New York Daily News, and the Associated Press. She is also a licensed real estate agent with R New York. Contact her at Follow @claretrap

Source: 2019’s Housing Market Is Likely to Be Stronger Than We Thought—Here’s Why

Monday, June 24, 2019

VA loans: Ridiculously good benefits for eligible VA buyers

VA loan service requirements are important when it comes time to get a VA mortgage. Depending on your service status it’s possible to avoid funding fees.

VA loan series: VA vs FHA vs USDA

Peter Miller

Peter Miller The Mortgage Reports Contributor

May 20, 2019 – 5 min read

Ridiculously good benefits for eligible VA buyers

VA-qualified borrowers can obtain mortgage financing with very advantageous terms. How advantageous? How about no money down? And no monthly mortgage insurance costs?

Purchasing a home with 100% financing means that if the property costs $300,000 you can get a $300,000 mortgage. You don’t have to save for a down payment. So how do the advantages (and eligibility requirements) of a VA loan stack up against USDA and FHA loans?

Ready to buy a home? Discover rates with today’s top lenders. (Jun 22nd, 2019)

VA mortgages versus USDA rural development loans program

Both VA and USDA borrowers can purchase with nothing down. However, the VA and USDA programs are not apples and apples.

The USDA program is for rural areas. However, USDA financing can be used in an estimated 97 percent of the country, at least as far as geographic land mass.

Population-wise, you may have a tough time qualifying for USDA if you want to buy within commuting distance of a major city.

A second restriction of USDA concerns income.

Under the USDA program, borrowers with incomes that exceed 115% of the median income for the county or area where the property is located.

Following are maximum household income limits for certain areas:

Boston, Massachusettes $116,600

Seattle, Washington: $125,950/yr

Amarillo County, Texas: $82,700

Chicago, Illinois: $97,300

If you have a high-paying job or a two-income family, you may not qualify for USDA.

The VA loan program has no income limitation. You can make $1 million per year and still qualify for VA.

USDA loans have an up-front guarantee fee equal to 1% of the loan amount and 0.35% annually. The up-front fee is cheaper in most cases that up-front fees for the VA and FHA programs. The annual fee is less than the FHA charge but more than borrowers pay with the VA program, a program which does not have an annual fee.

Lastly, and strangely, USDA financing depends on the federal budget. The program must be re-approved by Congress regularly, or lenders can’t do the program. In some cases – USDA loans are literally unavailable because of budgetary issues.

VA vs. FHA financing

The biggest advante of VA over FHA is that FHA requires 3.5% down.

In addition, FHA borrowers pay an upfront mortgage insurance premium equal to 1.75% of the mortgage amount. That’s more than $5,000 in the case of a $300,000 home.

The upfront MIP does not have to be paid in cash, FHA borrowers can add it to the mortgage amount. The amount owed goes up but the additional expense is paid out over a 30-year schedule. At 4.25%, adding $5,000 to a 30-year mortgage will increase the monthly cost by $25.

The is also an annual FHA mortgage insurance premium (the annual MIP). In the case of a $300,000 property, the premium will be $209 a month.

In the case of the $300,000 property, a VA borrower will save the up-front MIP ($5,000), and the annual MIP ($209). If the property is held for nine years the total cost for the annual MIP is $22,572 ($209 x 108 months). So far, our VA borrower is ahead by about $28,000

But, while VA borrowers do not need cash for a down payment or mortgage insurance, they do have a cost which is unique to the VA program. They must pay an upfront funding fee.

The funding fee & VA loan service requirements

In reality, there’s no difference between an FHA up-front insurance premium and a VA funding fee. They’re both costs. However, there is an important difference between the two charges. With the FHA one size fits all. Purchase a $300,000 home with 3.5% down and the up-front MIP is 1.75%. With the VA program the funding fee can vary. This is where VA loan service requirements really come into play.

The FHA program is an insurance plan. You pay premiums and if something goes wrong the FHA will pay off the lender. The VA program is essentially recognition for military service. It looks at the borrower and their service to the country. It’s a way of saying thank you, in part a moral obligation to those who have served. It’s not just a business deal.

The result is that some borrowers will not pay a funding fee. According to the VA, you do not have to pay the fee if you are a:

A veteran receiving VA compensation for a service-connected disability, OR

A veteran who would be entitled to receive compensation for a service-connected disability if you did not receive retirement or active duty pay, OR

A surviving spouse of a Veteran who died in service or from a service-connected disability

Regular Military of Reserve/National Guard

The VA program makes a distinction between service in the Regular Military and service in the Reserves and National Guard. How much you put down is important and the VA also considers first-time usage.

VA vs FHA vs USDA Chart 01

Cash-out refinancing

As home prices have appreciated in many markets VA-qualified borrowers – like other borrowers – have elected to get cash-out refinances. For example: the value of a $300,000 home goes up to $400,000 over a period of years. The VA borrower gets a replacement loan, one that pays off the balance of the original mortgage and pulls $50,000 in cash from the property.

Unfortunately, some cash-out refinancing transactions resulted in situations where VA borrowers paid excessive fees and were sold the idea of multiple refinancings which resulted in significantly higher loan origination costs. The VA – which takes the protection of VA borrowers very seriously – issued new rules to prevent cash-out abuses.

Seasoning. A cash-out refinance will not qualify for a VA loan guarantee unless it is originated at least 210 days after the first monthly payment has been made on the current financing and six monthly payments have been made on the loan. This rule prevents serial refinancing.

Required savings for VA cash-out loans

Recoupment. This is a fancy term which means loan savings must be enough to get back the expenses paid for a cash-out refinance within 36 months. Costs can include such expenses as fees, closing costs, expenses, and incurred costs. This rule is designed to prevent excess charges and fees.

Net benefit test. The VA will not approve a cash-out refinance unless the borrower can benefit from the new financing. At least one of the eight allowable benefits must be shown. The eight benefits include:

The new loan eliminates monthly mortgage insurance, whether public or private, or monthly guaranty insurance.

The term of the new loan is shorter than the term of the loan being refinanced.

The interest rate on the new loan is lower than the interest rate on the loan being refinanced.

The payment on the new loan is lower than the payment on the loan being refinanced.

The new loan results in an increase in the borrower’s monthly residual income.

The new loan refinances an interim loan to construct, alter, or repair the home.

The new loan amount is equal to or less than 90% of the reasonable value of the home, or;

The new loan refinances an adjustable-rate loan to a fixed-rate loan.

Cash-out refinancing charges. Reduced funding fees can apply to purchase loans with a down payment of at least 5%.

VA vs FHA vs USDA Chart 02

Lower Fees

The VA also has reduced fees for certain types of refinancing, including an IRRRL. An “IRRRL” or Interest Rate Reduction Refinancing Loan, is essentially a rate-and-term refinance, a new loan for the same amount but with a lower rate.

VA vs FHA vs USDA Chart 03

Check your eligibility for VA

If you’ve served in the U.S. military, it’s worth checking your eligibility for a VA loan.

For details and specifics, speak with VA lenders. Shop around for the best rates, whether getting a VA loan to purchase or refinance a property.

Source: VA loan series: VA vs FHA vs USDA | Mortgage Rates, Mortgage News and Strategy : The Mortgage Reports

Friday, June 21, 2019

Summer solstice events, Tiny Home Expo, car show, beach cleanup, dog wash top this weekend

Here are the best things to do in Vero Beach, Sebastian, Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie, Stuart and Jensen Beach.

Indian River County

The Tiny Home Expo is 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at the Indian River Mall at 6200 20th St., west of Vero Beach. Take tours of tiny homes, home builders and skoolies, which are bus conversions. Plus, the event has food trucks, vendors inside and outside the mall, children’s activities and live music from 2-4 p.m. Admission is $5. For more information, call 561-929-0237 or go to

Nez Fest with live music from six bands is 5-11 p.m. Saturday at Walking Tree Brewery at 3209 Dodger Road in Vero Beach. The event honors the life of Jason Nesbit. Every pint sold contributes $1 to Kids Rock Cancer. For more information, go to or

The ninth annual Summertime Car Show is 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Indian River County Fairgrounds at 7955 58th Ave., north of Vero Beach. It includes raffles, food and awards. Car registration is $25 from 8-10 a.m. Proceeds benefit the Vietnam Veterans of Indian River County. For more information, call 772-299-6225 or go to

The Beast Feast fundraiser for the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida is 4-10 p.m. Saturday at the City of Vero Beach Recreation Department’s Riverhouse at 305 Acacia Road on the northeast side of the Barber Bridge. The event includes wild game, hot dogs and hamburgers, as well as live music from 6-9 p.m. Bring a side dish, salad or dessert to share. Bring your own drinks, including alcohol. Admission is free. Donations are accepted. For more information, go to or

The Sebastian Lionfish Fest is noon to 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Capt Hiram’s Resort at 1580 U.S. 1. The event features a two-day lionfish tournament, educational exhibits, live entertainment and a cook-off from 1-3:30 p.m. Teams of one to four anglers compete to harvest the most, the smallest and the largest lionfish on the Treasure Coast. Proceeds benefit Coastal Connections and its mission to protect coastal habitats. For more information, go to

The Sebastian Police Department’s Community Outreach Event is 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at Schumann Drive Park at 1096 Schumann Drive. Kids can enjoy a basketball game with police officers, as well as free hot dogs, popcorn, snow cones and drinks. For more information, go to

St. Lucie County

The Summer Solstice celebration is this weekend at the Fort Pierce Yacht Club at 700 N. Indian River Drive in Fort Pierce. The event, which recognizes the start of summer and the longest day of the year, kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday with a slideshow of boating activities, a tour of a renovated sailboat and local experts on hand to discuss programs and safety education. Then, join other boaters to create the longest raft starting at 1 p.m. Saturday by gathering behind Harbour Isle. For more information, go to

Meet and Greet with Albert Wilson of the Miami Dolphins is 7-11 p.m. Friday at PopStroke at 11070 S.W. Village Parkway in Port St. Lucie. Admission is free. Proceeds from sales benefit the Albert Wilson Foundation, which helps children in the foster care system. For more information, call 772-800-6001 or go to

Laurie’s Stories: New golf entertainment venue opens soon in Port St. Lucie


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A weekly newsletter that will feature upcoming events, activities and fun exclusive to the Treasure Coast.

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The Dog Wash at the Square Grouper Fort Pierce Inlet is 9-11 a.m. Saturday at 1920 Seaway Drive. Bring your dogs for a wash for a $10 donation, which also includes a beer or Tito’s cocktail, and listen to DJ music. Proceeds benefit HALO No-Kill Rescue Shelter. For more information, go to

The sixth annual Summer Solstice Drum Circle is 7-9 p.m. Sunday at Savannas Preserve State Park at 2541 S.E. Walton Road in Port St. Lucie. Beat drums, dance around a fire and experience an authentic Native American ceremony. Bring drums, shakers and tambourines. Admission is $5, but kids younger than 12 get in free. Minors must be accompanied by someone at least 21 years old. Bring your own non-alcoholic drinks. For more information, call 772-398-2779 or go to

Martin County

Movie Night at The Children’s Museum of the Treasure Coast is 6-9:30 p.m. Friday at 1707 N.E. Indian River Drive in Jensen Beach. Kids ages 5-12 years old can enjoy a night at the museum with a movie, dinner, popcorn and museum exploration. Bring pillows and blankets. The cost is $15 for museum members, $20 for non-members and $10 for siblings. It continues July 12, July 26, Aug. 2, Sept. 6, Oct. 4, Nov. 1, Dec. 6 and Dec. 20. To register, call 772-225-7575 ext. 208. For more information, go to

The Taste of the Tropics is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the University of Florida’s IFAS Extension Martin County at 2614 S.E. Dixie Highway in Stuart. It includes free tropical fruit tasting, information on growing tropical fruits in Martin County, fruits trees for sale and a lecture on tropical fruits at 10:30 a.m. For more information, go to

The Hobe Sound Beach Cleanup is 8-9:30 a.m. Saturday at the east end of Southeast Bridge Road on Jupiter Island. Raffles and free breakfast for volunteers start at 9 a.m. For more information, go to the Facebook event.

The Jump with Superheroes event at RUSH Jensen Beach Extreme Trampoline Park is 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday at 3245 N.W. Federal Highway. Visit with Spiderman, Batman and Deadpool and enjoy a photo booth, cupcakes and glitter tattoos. General admission is $16 for one hour, $23 for an hour and a half and $25 for two hours. Socks are $3. Ages 2 and younger are free with adult admission, but socks must be purchased for them. For more information, go to

More: Rush Trampoline Park in Jensen Beach a fun way to get exercise, be entertained

Laurie K. Blandford is TCPalm’s entertainment reporter and columnist dedicated to finding the best things to do on the Treasure Coast. Read her weekly column, Laurie’s Stories, on Follow her on Twitter at @TCPalmLaurie or Facebook at

Source: Summer solstice events, Tiny Home Expo, car show, beach cleanup, dog wash top this weekend

Thursday, June 20, 2019

5 Reasons to Sell Your House This Summer

Here are 5 compelling reasons listing your home for sale this summer makes sense.

1. Demand Is Strong

The latest Buyer Traffic Index from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that buyer demand remains strong throughout the vast majority of the country. These buyers are ready, willing, and able to purchase… and are in the market right now! More often than not, multiple buyers are competing with each other for the same home.

Take advantage of the buyer activity currently in the market.

2. There Is Less Competition Now

Housing inventory is still under the 6-month supply needed for a normal housing market. This means that, in most of the country, there are not enough homes for sale to satisfy the number of buyers.

Historically, the average number of years a homeowner stayed in his or her home was six, but that number has hovered between nine and ten years since 2011. Many homeowners have a pent-up desire to move, as they were unable to sell over the last few years due to a negative equity situation. As home values continue to appreciate, more and more homeowners are granted the freedom to move.

Many homeowners were reluctant to list their home over the last couple of years for fear that they would not find a home to move in to. That is all changing now as more homes come to market at the higher end. The choices buyers have will continue to increase. Don’t wait until additional inventory comes to market before you to decide to sell.

3. The Process Will Be Quicker

Today’s competitive environment has forced buyers to do all they can to stand out from the crowd, including getting pre-approved for their mortgage financing. Buyers know exactly what they can afford before home shopping. This makes the entire selling process much faster and simpler. According to Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insights Report, the time to close a loan has dropped to 43 days. (Last numbers available.)

4. There Will Never Be a Better Time to Move Up

If your next move will be into a premium or luxury home, now is the time to move up! The inventory of homes for sale at these higher price ranges has created a buyer’s market. This means that if you are planning on selling a starter or trade-up home, it will sell quickly, AND you’ll be able to find a premium home to call your own!

According to CoreLogic, prices are projected to appreciate by 4.8% over the next year. If you are moving to a higher-priced home, it will wind up costing you more in raw dollars (both in down payment and mortgage payment) if you wait.

5. It’s Time to Move on with Your Life

Look at the reason you decided to sell in the first place and determine whether it is worth waiting. Is money more important than being with family? Is money more important than having the freedom to go on with your life the way you think you should?

Only you know the answers to these questions. You have the power to take control of the situation by putting your home on the market. Perhaps the time has come for you and your family to start living the life you desire.

Source: 5 Reasons to Sell Your House This Summer – Keeping Current Matters

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Credit card utilization and credit scores.

How much of your available credit do you use each month? Lowering your credit card utilization rate could help boost your credit scores.

Before we dive into how using your credit card may affect your credit scores, let’s recap what we mean when we talk about “credit card utilization.”

Credit card utilization — or just credit utilization, for short — refers to how much of your available credit you use at any given time.

You can figure out your credit utilization rate by dividing your total credit card balances by your total credit card limits. The resulting percentage is a component used by most of the credit scoring models because it’s often correlated with lending risk.

Most experts recommend keeping your overall credit card utilization below 30%. Lower credit utilization rates suggest to creditors that you can use credit responsibly without relying too heavily on it, so a low credit utilization rate may be correlated with higher credit scores.

Now that we’ve defined our terms, let’s look more closely at how your credit utilization relates to your credit scores.

How’s your credit?

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Why does my credit card utilization impact my credit scores?

As we mentioned above, your credit utilization rate is an important indicator of lending risk. In the eyes of most lenders, a person who constantly charges all the money they can — hitting or going over their credit limit on a regular basis — is more likely to have difficulty repaying that money.

Conversely, someone who charges smaller amounts may be more likely to be able to pay off their balance in full each month, and thus represents a lower risk to the lender.

How does my credit card utilization impact my credit scores?

There are many different credit scoring models, so it’s difficult to calculate exactly how credit utilization will impact your credit scores.

With that said, there’s a strong correlation between a consumer’s credit card utilization rate and their credit scores. Though individual cases may vary, those who keep their utilization percentage low generally have higher scores than those who habitually max out their credit cards.

If you don’t want your credit utilization to negatively impact your credit scores, it’s important to consider your spending habits. Factors such as your credit history and the number of cards in your wallet matter, too.

Common Question

What factors determine my credit scores?

A number of credit-influencing factors are commonly used in calculating your credit scores. These include your credit card utilization, percentage of on-time payments and the average age of open credit lines.

High utilization on a single credit card could especially hurt your credit scores if you have a short credit history and only one card. On the other hand, you may feel the effects less if you have a long and excellent credit history and spread your utilization across multiple cards.

Although it’s an important factor in calculating your credit scores, try not to focus just on this one aspect. Keep the big picture in mind.

How can I lower my credit card utilization?

Here are three tips that may help you lower your credit utilization:

Make credit card payments more than once a month. This way, your balance never gets too high. Your credit card issuer will typically report your credit activity to the credit bureaus once a month. So, if you pay off a portion — or even all — of your credit card bill before that date, you can lower your credit utilization.

Spread your charges across multiple cards each month. Using multiple cards will result in multiple accounts of low credit utilization rather than one account with high utilization. Keep in mind, however, that certain credit scoring models will look at your overall credit utilization and/or the utilization on individual credit cards, so this technique may not always work.

Increase your available credit. If your income has increased, you’ve maintained an amazing credit history, or you have little debt, it doesn’t hurt to ask for a credit limit increase. Just remember that this can sometimes result in a hard inquiry on your credit. If you lack excellent credit, you may want to consider opening a secured credit card and adding to its security deposit over time.

Bottom line

You don’t have to carry a credit card balance or pay interest every month to show credit card utilization. Even if you pay your credit card balances in full every month, simply using your card is enough to show activity.

While experts recommend keeping your credit card utilization below 30%, it’s important to note that creditors also care about the total dollar amount of your available credit. This means that if you have a low credit limit, it’s not necessarily a huge deal if your credit card utilization rate is slightly higher than recommended.

Source: Credit card utilization | Credit Karma