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

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Who’s Involved in the Buying and Selling of a Home?

From inspectors to appraisers, realtors to closing agents, find out who does what and when in the home buying process.

Table 7-1: Who’s Involved in Home Buying and Selling?

Loan officerA financial professional who will determine approximately how much money you’ll be able to borrow for a mortgage loan.
Mortgage lenderThe business person or financial institution that provides the money you’ll use to purchase your new home.
Mortgage brokerAn individual or organization that brings together mortgage lenders and borrowers.
Loan servicerAn organization that handles the day-to-day management (i.e., collecting, billing, and record keeping) of your loan.
Real estate agents, brokers & RealtorsTrained professionals who are licensed to negotiate the sale and purchase of real estate.
Home sellerThe property owner who puts a home up for sale.
Home inspectorAn individual who provides a trained, professional opinion of the physical condition of a home and its components and systems.
Home appraiserAn individual who provides a trained, professional opinion of the market value of a home.
Insurance agentA financial professional who provides protection against the risk of monetary loss.
Title companyA company that examines public records to determine that rights to a property can legally be transferred from one owner to another.

Please note that in some of the different legal documents that are part of the purchasing process, you may be referred to as the Grantee, or the Mortgagor. The home seller may be referred to as the Grantor, and your mortgage lender may be called the Mortgagee. Although the names may be different, the roles remain the same in each case.

Source: Who’s Involved in the Buying and Selling of a Home?

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Emergency Financial Preparedness Toolkit

Floridians are no strangers to hurricane preparedness.

In the face of an emergency, we know to secure our property, and stock up on nonperishable food and water. But another important aspect of emergency preparedness is often forgotten: financial preparedness.

In the aftermath of a hurricane or other emergency, you shouldn’t have to worry about searching for account information or retroactively trying to remember the details about all of your possessions.

Luckily, emergency financial documents are among the easiest things to prepare, ensuring you have everything you need readily available during and after an emergency. This toolkit is designed to help you organize your financial information before and after an emergency. Keep several copies in safe places that you can access easily.  In the face of an emergency, keep a copy of this toolkit with you at all times.

Click below to get your Emergency Financial Preparedness Toolkit today.

6-8-19 EmergencyFinancialPreparednessToolkit


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Monday, June 10, 2019

Friday, June 7, 2019

PSL Property Values Increase For Third Year In A Row

Property values countywide are up 7% from last year, with Port St. Lucie leading the way with a double-digit increase, according to the Property Appraiser’s Office.

“For the seventh consecutive year, St. Lucie County is benefiting from a positive increase in real estate values due to a thriving economy and growth in our population,” Property Appraiser Michelle Franklin said in a news release announcing the 2019 estimated taxable value of real estate and personal property.

Taxable values in Port St. Lucie jumped by 10.5%, from $9.7 billion last year to $10.6 billion, this year, the largest increase in the county.

In Fort Pierce, property values are expected to increase by 6%, from $2.3 billion last year to about $2.5 billion this year.

St. Lucie Village will see an overall taxable-value increase of 5.5%, from $63 million last year to about $66.8 million this year.

Property appraisers, by law, are required to release the estimates by June 1. Local governments use the figures to calculate their budget for the coming year.

If property is appraised at a higher value, owners could see their tax bills increase even if their tax rates remain unchanged.

Final numbers are released July 1, and the property values are certified and used to create tax bills, which are sent to property owners in the fall.

Home is where our heart is –

#mortgagemastersgroup, #mmg2019, #rockitwithmmg,

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Thursday, June 6, 2019

The move toward a buyer’s market continues!

Is a buyer’s market on the horizon? According to a new analysis, the housing market is “gradually shifting in favor of buyers” — especially on the high-priced West Coast.

Shifting from sellers to buyers

Would-be homebuyers can be cautiously optimistic. According to a new analysis, the housing market is “gradually shifting in favor of buyers” — especially on the high-priced West Coast.

Verify your new rate (May 25th, 2019)

High-priced areas see the biggest benefit

According to a new report from Trulia, the nation’s housing market is shifting toward the buyer. The news is particularly good if you’re looking in a high-priced area.

“This national shift from a sellers’ market toward a buyers’ market is also playing out locally in the most expensive neighborhoods within a metro area,” reported Trulia economists Felipe Chacon and Elliott Deal. “On average, in ZIP codes where home values are highest, more homes are being sold further below their asking prices and selling more slowly than they would otherwise.”

Even expensive neighborhoods located in low-cost markets are seeing a major cooling-off period. Homes in these areas are taking longer to sell and selling for less than the same time a year ago.

First-time homebuyers: The central U.S. makes it easier to buy a house

Sellers still win out

To be fair, sellers still have the upper hand, according to the report. But conditions in 50 of the 100 largest metros “are now shifting in favor of buyers, a tenfold increase from just five metros a year ago.”

San Francisco has seen one of the biggest shifts toward buyers, but homes in the city still see the fewest days on market and price reductions are rare.

2019 real estate market forecast: Power shifts to buyers

Other cities where the shift is most visible include San Jose, San Diego and Stockton, California; Seattle; Denver; Raleigh, North Carolina; Austin, Texas; and Nashville, Tennessee.

But Vegas buyers win out the most. According to the report, “Las Vegas shifted the most away from sellers and toward buyers over the past year, from the third-worst market for buyers a year ago to the fifth-best today — a 93-spot swing.”

Source: New report: The move toward a buyer’s market continues | Mortgage Rates, Mortgage News and Strategy : The Mortgage Reports

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Incoming wave of millennial homebuyers is a major opportunity for US housing market!

Nearly 45 million Americans will reach the general age of first-time homebuyers in the next 10 years, 3.1 million more than in the 10 years prior, according to a recent analysis by Zillow.

Source: Incoming wave of millennial homebuyers is a major opportunity for US housing market, says Taylor Morrison CEO