4th of July Fireworks in MD DE VA

4th of July



  • Snow Hill: Saturday, July 1, 5:30- 9:15 p.m.; Food and activities at Sturgis Memorial Park on River Street. Fireworks begin at dusk, which will be at around 9:15 p.m. Neon glow sticks, necklaces and bracelets will be sold. For more information call 410-632-2080.




  • Crisfield: Saturday, July 1, 5-10 p.m.; Somers Cove Marina. A family event with food, arts and crafts, a military veteran slideshow, patriotic music, kids activities, games on the beach, and finally, a fireworks display at 9:15 p.m. Admission is free, but it is recommended that you bring your own lawn chair. For more information call 410-968-2500.




  • St. Michaels: Saturday, July 1, 7-10 p.m.Fireworks and Big Band Night at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum. Admission: $10 for non-members and $6 for members and member guests. Admission falls to $2 after 8:45 p.m. Rain date: Sunday, July 2. For more information call 410-745-2916.




  • Centreville: Sunday, July 2, 9:15 p.m. at Queen Anne’s County High School bus loop




  • Berlin: Monday, July 3, 9:15-9:30 p.m.; Berlin Falls Park on Old Ocean City Boulevard. 




  • Oxford: Monday, July 3, Dusk; Tred Avon Yacht Club.




  • Rock Hall: Monday, July 3, 9 p.m. Rain date: Wednesday, July 5.




  • Cambridge: Tuesday, July 4, Dusk; Choptank River Waterfront. Best viewing spots include Great Marsh Park and Long Wharf Park.







  • Chestertown: Tuesday, July 4, Dusk; Chester River Waterfront. Wilmer Park is a good viewing spot for the event. In case of rain, fireworks are delayed until there is a break in the weather.  There is no rain date.




  • Easton: Tuesday, July 4, 4-10 p.m.; Easton Carnival & 4th of July Celebration. St. Michaels Road and Waterside Drive (behind Target). Fireworks show begins at dusk.




  • Hebron: Wednesday, July 5, 9:30 p.m..; Hebron Carnival Grounds.




  • Ocean City: Tuesday, July 4; Concert and Fireworks on the Beach. Concert at 8 p.m. followed by fireworks at 9:30 p.m.; Downtown on the beach at North Division Street AND uptown at Northside Park on 125th Street. For more information, call 1-800-626-2326 or the Ocean City Department of Recreation & Parks at 410-250-0125.




  • Ocean Pines: Tuesday, July 4, 9 p.m.; Showell Park, 11281 Racetrack Road. Recommended viewing locations are Showell Elementary School, the Community Church at Ocean Pines, Most Blessed Sacrament School and The Pavilions.  Rain date: Wednesday, July 5. For more information call 410-641-7717.




  • Salisbury: Tuesday, July 4, 9:15 p.m.Red, White and BOOM Fireworks Show at Wicomico County Stadium across from the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center.




  • Salisbury: Tuesday, July 4. Fireworks at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium following the 6:05 p.m. Delmarva Shorebirds game.




  • Millsboro: Saturday, July 1, 6-10 p.m.; Cupola Park. Fireworks at dusk.




  • Cape May-Lewes Ferry: Sunday, July 2Fireworks Cruise. Cruise departs Lewes at 7:15 p.m.. Fireworks will illuminate the skies over the Delaware Bay. Return to Lewes at 11 p.m. For more information go here. For reservations call 1-800-643-3779.




  • Rehoboth Beach: Sunday, July 2, 9:15 p.m. Fireworks will be launched from the beach and will be visible up and down the boardwalk and beach. Live entertainment before and after fireworks at the Bandstand. Depending on the weather, the fireworks may launch any time after 8 p.m.




  • Bethany Beach: Tuesday, July 4.  Fireworks at dusk and are best viewed from the beach or boardwalk.




  • Dewey Beach: Tuesday, July 4, 9 p.m. North beach Restaurant, McKinley Street on the Bay.




  • Dover: Tuesday, July 4, 9:20 p.m.; Legislative Hall. Tours, food and more from 9 a.m.- 10 p.m.. For a full list of activities, click here.




  • Laurel: Tuesday, July 4, 8 a.m.: Prayer breakfast at Abbott’s on Broad Creek; 5 p.m.: The Band Chain Break will perform in Market Square Park Bandstand; 6 p.m.: Little Miss Independence Pageant; 7 p.m.: Parade will begin. “Let Freedom Ring” is the theme this year; 8 p.m. until fireworks: Band Chain Break will continue to perform; 9:25 p.m.: fireworks will begin.




  • Middletown: Tuesday, July 4, 6-9 p.m. Fireworks display at dusk/dark at Silver Lake Park. No personal fireworks, dogs, open flames, allowed in the park. Rain date July 5.




  • Milton: Tuesday, July 4, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Family-friendly patriotic celebration in Milton Memorial Park. A highlight of the festivities is the bike decorating contest and bike parade at 11 a.m. Grand prizes of two brand new bikes will be awarded to the winners – one each to the best boy and girl entries.   All decorated bike contestants must register by 10:45 a.m. at Irish Eyes Restaurant and Pub in Milton on the back patio. Other festivities include a dunk tank, a cake walk and free games and activities for children. Children will enjoy train rides, relay and sack races and a variety of competitions including the “Chess Tent” where children can develop their chess skills and play matches. The “Milton’s Best” Pie Baking Contest has three competitive categories – professional, amateur, and children 12 and under.  Bring your favorite Red, White or Blue themed pie to the Hospitality Tent between 9 and 10 a.m. All pies must be homemade, have a red, white or blue filling and not require refrigeration.  Prizes and certificates will be awarded to the winners. Musical entertainment at the gazebo will feature Milton’s own Walt Hetfield known for his Buddy Holly Tribute. His group will perform patriotic songs and Americana 1950’s rock and roll. DJ Jerry B, from Affordable Wedding Entertainment, will also keep the music flowing. Bring a picnic lunch or purchase food from on-site vendors.




  • Newark: Tuesday, July 4, 6-10 p.m. Live musical entertainment begins at 6 p.m. Fine arts and crafts booths are available to browse and games abound for the kids. Fireworks begin at dusk at University of Delaware’s David M. Nelson Athletic Complex on South College Avenue at Del. 896 (near Delaware Stadium). Rain date July 5, fireworks only.




  • Smyrna:  Tuesday, July 4.  Parade and fireworks. Parade will start at 9:30 a.m., on South Street and end at Smyrna Municipal Park. Park anywhere between there. Fireworks will be held at dusk at the Little League fields, with parking available at Smyrna High and Smyrna Middle schools.




  • Cape Charles: Tuesday, July 4, Festivities begin at 8 a.m. and will take place along Bay Avenue with a parade at 10 a.m. Fireworks after dark at the harbor/beach. Rate date July 5, fireworks only.




  • Chincoteague Island: Saturday, July 1; Chincoteague Carnival Grounds. Fireworks to begin at 10 p.m..Carnival open from 7-11 p.m. Click here for more information.



Home Renovatons – Do’s and Don’ts

Home Renovations That Can Hurt (and Help) Property Value

Posted on Feb 23 2017 by Housecall

By Brooke Nally

If you’re into renovation projects, then updating and revamping your home can be a lot of fun. But before you get too excited about knocking down walls and setting up a custom movie room, you might want to consider resale value. Flashy renovations don’t always yield the best returns, so you’ll need to take care when picking projects.

To make things easier for you, here are four remodels to avoid and four to invest in.

Remodels to Avoid

Luxury Rooms
An indoor basketball court, wine cellar, sauna, or even a movie theater won’t often recoup the high building costs. Luxury add-on rooms are hard to pitch to buyers unless you’re living in an upscale housing market—the average homebuyer won’t be willing to pay for them. Further, rooms that depend heavily on wired electronics, like home theaters, are hard to keep current because TVs and speakers are constantly advancing.

Swimming Pool
The average cost to build a pool is $39,084, a hefty price tag that is seldom recovered once the home is sold. It’s widely accepted throughout the industry that a homeowner will lose money by adding a swimming pool. Homebuyers don’t want to deal with the maintenance cost of a pool (which can cost as much as $2,000 a year), the added insurance premiums, and—if they have young kids—the safety issues.

Gaudy Accents
Though gold-plated crown molding or mosaic-tile backsplashes may feature prominently in your ideal vision for your home, they often turn out to be the average homebuyer’s worst nightmare. Passing fads or niche trends rarely stick around long, so if you miss the brief window when your remodeling choices are in, you’ll end up paying for it later.

Changes Contrary to Area Standards
If you aren’t watching the trends common to your area, you could end up losing a lot of money. A home that totals $600,000 after all the renovations won’t sell in a neighborhood where homes are netting half that price. Likewise, knocking down the walls of extra bedrooms for an open layout won’t be appealing in a family-oriented neighborhood.

Remodels that Pay

Steel Doors
You don’t want to go cheap on a standard front door. At roughly $1,000, steel doors are comparatively affordable, durable, low maintenance and burglar resistant. As an added bonus, the National Association of Realtors® reports that steel door upgrades show the highest return on investment of any home remodel, at over 100 percent of the cost.

Solar Panels
As the price of solar panels continues to drop, the energy payback on installing them is becoming greater and greater. The average rooftop solar system is now paid off in seven and a half years. After that, panels are a big money-saving asset. A study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory notes that homebuyers “consistently have been willing to pay more for a property” with solar panels—a premium of around $4 per installed watt, on average.

Related: Will Your Homeowners Insurance Cover Solar Panels?

New Siding
The exterior of your house is the first thing potential homebuyers see when they come to your home, and you want to make the best first impression. This is part of the reason redoing your siding is so profitable. New siding recoups around 80 percent of the initial cost, according to the National Association of Realtors®, thanks largely to the increased curb appeal and improved energy efficiency it provides.

Broadband Access
Access to broadband speeds is considered an essential utility for today’s connected homebuyer. Research shows that faster internet speeds increase your home value by as much as 3 percent. Homeowners can prepare their homes for higher broadband connectivity by working with area providers to install requisite equipment and wiring. Building out wall ports and cable-hiding baseboards is a good move to attract buyers, too.

Even if you’re not considering selling your home just yet, keep potential selling benefits in mind. Intrepid homeowners know that the best remodels will increase both quality of life and listing price, so take care to invest in projects that will net the biggest returns.




Resort’s New Parking System

Resort’s New Parking System Starts Sunday

OCEAN CITY — The holiday weekend will bring a first look at the sweeping changes in the resort’s parking system as the paid parking season gets underway on Sunday.

Earlier this year, the Mayor and Council approved a new state-of-the-art parking payment and enforcement system for the streets and municipal lots in the downtown area to the tune of nearly $600,000. The new system utilizes state-of-the-art license plate reader technology and will result in a switch from the current “pay and display” system to a “pay by plate” system.

The new solar-powered paid parking kiosks have been sprouting up along streets in the downtown area and at the various municipal lots throughout the resort in recent weeks, and the new system is ready to go operational on Sunday, April 1. At the Inlet lot, the new pay-by-plate system is in place, but enforcement will be manual for the first couple of weeks.

“With our paid parking season beginning on April 1, we are excited to offer a new parking system that will add convenience for our visitors as well as a system that should help us better manage parking occupancy,” said Ocean City Communications Director Jessica Waters. “Our goal is to ensure compliance with the parking regulations while providing our residents and visitors with an enjoyable time in Ocean City.”

Visitors and residents will still park wherever they find open spaces on the streets and municipal lots in the downtown area and visit a nearby kiosk to make payment arrangements for their desired time periods. However, instead of printing a receipt to be displayed on the dashboard of their vehicle, they will enter their license plate information. Enforcement officials will then be able to scan the vehicle’s license plate to see about payment.

The fine for an expired parking meter on the streets or in the municipal lots other than the Inlet lot was $15 if it is paid within 48 hours and $25 if paid after 48 hours. The $15 early fine and the $25 fine after 48 hours has been eliminated in favor of a flat $50 fine. However, a customer can arrive back at his or her vehicle, discover the meter has expired and a ticket has been issued. The customer can than pay for overage at a kiosk or by phone, thereby voiding the parking ticket.

Initially, the grace period for simply paying for the parking overage and voiding the ticket was set at four hours. However, the council voted to reduce the grace period to just one hour. The thinking is someone who went to the beach or out to dinner and overran his or her parking meter payment by an hour could benefit from the grace period and the good will that comes from avoiding a parking ticket.

Perhaps the biggest changes with the new system will come at the Inlet parking lot, where the traditional gated system is being replaced with a combination of license plate readers (LPRs) at the entrance and exit to the lot and the new kiosks where residents and visitors can pay for parking.

The council this winter raised the hourly fee at the Inlet lot to a flat $3 from April 1 to Oct. 31. Currently, rate is $2 per hour in the shoulder seasons and $3 per hour in the peak seasons from Memorial Day to Labor Day. With the new LPR system, the hourly rate at the Inlet lot will be $3 across the board.

Another change is how customers will pay for parking at the Inlet lot. With the fully-automated LPR system, if customers don’t pay to park using the kiosks or the app on their mobile phones, the LPRs will read their tags when they enter and when they exit.

Those customers will then be sent through the mail a bill for the number of hours in the lot times the new rate of $3 per hour plus a $25 administrative fee. If the customer does not pay the bill within a prescribed amount of time, it then becomes a parking ticket.

cyber fraud via our mobile devices

How to Prevent Fraud on Your Smartphone

While millennials may be viewed as the most smartphone-savvy generation out there, that may not always be the case when it comes to cyber security.

With mobile devices capable of holding an abundance of personal data, millennials are particularly vulnerable to fraud if they do not use simple, but critical measures to protect their devices. In fact, according to a recent TD Bank survey of millennials, 23 percent are not using the screen-lock password feature on their device, 67 percent will use the same password, or a slightly different version of a password, and one in five will keep a list of passwords stored on their device.

To help millennials—and all of us—from falling victim to cyber fraud via our mobile devices, TD suggests taking the following steps:

Use better password protection. Think of your password as a guard that stands between your personal information and potential online risks. Use different user ID/password combinations for different accounts and avoid writing them down. Make the passwords more complicated by combining letters, numbers, special characters (minimum 10 characters in total) and change them on a regular basis. When you create passwords with combinations of letters and numbers that are unique for every one of your online accounts, you’ll make it more difficult to unlock your identity—helping to keep your information safe and secure.

Mobile musts: Your mobile device is vulnerable to fraudsters if left unlocked, so be sure to set a screen-lock password, which will protect your personal information if your phone is ever lost or stolen. Enable auto-lock so your device locks after a short period of time when not in use. If you lose your device and it is unprotected, notify your financial institution immediately and change your banking passwords.

Avoid using WiFi in public places: Accessing WiFi in busy public places, such as malls and airports, makes you more vulnerable to cyber fraud. Use your data to go online if you must in such locations—or wait until you’re in a more secure WiFi area.

Set up fraud alerts: If your device was lost, but then recovered or replaced, be aware that your banking information may have been compromised. Cover all the bases by having your bank notify you of potential fraud. Such alerts will let you know of any suspicious activity on your accounts and allow you to block access to your bank card. Do the same with any credit cards you have associated with your mobile device.

Check your statements and online accounts: If you lose your device and it is unprotected, be sure to notify your financial institution and review your banking information online. This will alert you to any fraudulent transactions more quickly and ensure your financial institution can take action to protect your accounts.

Taking the above precautions will make you a lot smarter—and safer—when using your smartphone.

If you’d like more homeowner information, please contact me.

Copyright© 2018 RISMedia,

Buying New Construction Home Tips

5 Tips for Buying a New-Construction Home

Thanks to the shortage of available inventory in most markets, you can expect to start seeing more and more new construction. Buying a new-construction home is different than buying an existing home, however, so be ready to attack the process with a different mindset and specific strategies. Here are five important tips to keep in mind from U.S. News and World Report:

1. Choose an agent who works with builders. Start by selecting a real estate agent who has expertise working with builders and new-construction properties. He or she will be able to steer you toward a reputable firm whose designs suit what you’re looking for, in the location you desire.

2. Research the builder. Be sure to do your own research on the builder to determine the quality of their product and their overall credibility. Check online reviews, the state licensing board, local court records and even Google to find out if the builder has any pending lawsuits, complaints or disciplinary actions. Take it a step further and talk directly to past clients. A reputable builder will be happy to offer referrals.

3. Spend your money on size and location. When building from scratch, it’s tempting to spend your money on upgrades such as high-end countertops and bathroom fixtures, but that can quickly put you over budget. Instead, focus on choosing the right location and getting the square footage you need. Upgrades can always be made down the line.

4. Learn how to read a floorplan. Floorplans are foreign territory for many of us, so talk to your builder and real estate agent about how to accurately interpret them. Many builders offer virtual reality technology that turns the floorplan into a realistic 3D experience. Better still, visit a home that was designed with your floorplan so that you can get a firsthand feel of what you’re buying.

5. Get a warranty and an inspection. Most builders offer warranties, so be sure to ask if yours does and, if so, what exactly it covers. Certain companies, for example, offer a one-year warranty on workmanship, a two-year warranty on mechanical and electrical elements, five years on water leaks and 10 years on structure. Also, be sure to get an independent inspection before you move in. A home inspector will help identify any problems before the builder’s warranty expires.

The above guidelines will help make your new-construction buying experience a happy and successful one.

If you need more real estate information, feel free to contact me.

Copyright© 2018 RISMedia,

The 50s. Maybe it was an illusion…

Maybe it was a reminder that America changes in every instant and never changes at all. Our streets have always been filled with music and temptation; addiction has always been with us, long before “us” was even America, from the Lotus Eaters of The Odyssey to the opium dens of the Wild West to the crack epidemic and on to our own new opioid crisis.

via Teen Idol Frankie Lymon’s Tragic Rise and Fall Tells the Truth About 1950s America | History | Smithsonian

Brighten Your Home This Winter

5 Ways to Brighten Your Home This Winter

With fewer hours of daylight and an array of stormy weather to contend with, our homes can often feel dark and dreary during the winter months. With just a few magical touches, however, you can lighten things up instantly. Try these ideas from diynetwork.com:

  1. Remove the screens from your windows. Depending on where you live, you might not even open your windows in the winter. Removing the layer of mesh created by a screen will let unfiltered light right in, brightening up your home.
  2. Invest in light-colored slipcovers. Cover your furniture in shades of ivory, white or even a sunny yellow. This will not only make your whole room feel lighter, but will also help brighten your mood. Try lighter-colored bedspreads and tablecloths, too.
  3. Uncover your hardwood. Remove area rugs from your hardwood floors so that natural light can reflect off the warm tones of the wood and onto your walls.
  4. Swap out your lightbulbs. Take a close look at your home’s lighting. The difference between a warm white, a cool white, and daylight bulb can greatly change the feel of a room. Try different bulbs in different rooms to create bright enough light at the right temperature.
  5. Lighten up your window treatments. Ditch the heavy, dark drapes for light-colored and sheer curtains. Placing them at the far edges of the window will go a long way toward letting in plenty of light.

If you need more real estate information, feel free to contact me.

Copyright© 2017 RISMedia, The Leader in Real Estate Information Systems and Real Estate News.

Colors of 2018 – Is Yours a Top Pick

Painting Project in the Works? Consider the Colors of 2018

When it comes time to refreshing our walls with a new coat of color, we all have our favorite hues. But it’s always worth taking a look at the colors the experts choose as trending shades for the year ahead. The editors at remodeling.com compiled the 2018 picks from the top paint companies. So before you spread the drop cloth and don your coveralls, consider whether any of the following fashion-forward colors will work in your home:

The Green Hour: This blue-green with a healthy wash of gray from Dunn-Edwards can pass as a neutral shade, but also lends a moody or dramatic look to a room. If you’re looking for something light and airy, this isn’t it.

Black Magic: This choice from Olympic Paint is a shade of black that offers striking contrast when used for trim and accent furniture. You can also consider painting one or two walls in this color, depending on the size and purpose of the room in question.

In the Moment: Another blue-green hue, this one comes from Behr, and offers a softer, more pastel option. This versatile shade would work equally well in a bedroom, kitchen or living room—and is a nice gender-neutral option for a baby’s room.

Deep Onyx: This shade from Glidden is another twist on black, offering a classic, timeless approach, just like “a little black dress,” as the firm’s marketing department aptly describes it.

Caliente: Just like the name implies, this fiery red from Benjamin Moore will quickly heat up a room. It’s perfect for a large dining room or any room that can handle a bright pop of color.

Oceanside: Yet one more take on a blue-green, this color from Sherwin-Williams is very deep and intense, just like its namesake.

If you’d like more information about homeownership, please contact me.

Now is the Best Time to Sell Your Home

6 Reasons Why You Should List Your Home During the Holidays

Traditional real estate wisdom may be telling you to hold off selling your home until after the holidays, but there are plenty of good reasons to list your home right now. Consider the following:

  • People who are looking for a home during the holiday season are most likely pretty serious about making a move. In fact, they may be in a bit of hurry. Putting your home on the market now might result in a faster sale at a higher price point.
  • Between family gatherings and holiday parties, you’ve probably got your home in bright and shiny, tip-top shape for entertaining. What better time to show off your home to prospective buyers, too?
  • In most areas of the country, yard maintenance decreases during the wintry holiday months. While you may have to blow a few leaves and clear away some snow from walkways, you won’t have to worry about keeping the lawn mowed, the garden beds weeded and the flowers blooming as you would if listing your home in the spring and summer.
  • The end of the year is usually a slower time for real estate professionals, so you will get lots of attention from your agent if you decide to list your home during the holiday season.
  • You will also have less competition in terms of other homes on the market, allowing your home to stand out more to prospective buyers.
  • You can stage your home to make an emotional connection to the holidays. Work with your real estate agent to tastefully decorate so that prospective buyers envision themselves hosting loving family celebrations in your home during the holidays. Stay away from overtly religious decorations and stick with decorations like small white lights, natural evergreens and a few shimmering metallics. An evergreen- or cranberry-scented candle will also emphasize that home-for-the-holidays feel.

If you need more real estate information, feel free to contact me.

Copyright© 2017 RISMedia, T

Get Ready NOW if You Are Thinking of Buying a Home in the Near Future

By Novelda L. Sommers, Marketing Content Manager, The Long & Foster Companies.

home dream

If you’re already looking ahead to 2018 and planning to make it the year you buy a home, now is the time to start getting your financial house in order.

By giving yourself plenty of time to address any factors that could be dragging down your credit score, you can save thousands of dollars in interest over the life of your mortgage. Having stellar credit also gives you a better chance at sailing through the loan process and getting your offer accepted in a housing market that’s expected to continue to favor sellers.

Prosperity Home Mortgage offers tips for prospective homebuyers who are beginning the process of applying for a home loan. The company also makes mortgage consultants available, who will walk clients through the sometimes-complicated process of getting a mortgage.

At the outset, these are some measures you can take to make sure your credit is in good shape as you embark on the journey to homeownership:

See what’s in your credit files. Three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion, maintain detailed reports on our financial lives, and we’re entitled by law to see each one of those for free once every 12 months. You can access them through AnnualCreditReport.com. Don’t be fooled by look-alike sites. You can also get to the site through links on the government’s Federal Trade Commission or Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) websites. Your credit report has a lot of information about you, such as previous addresses, loans you hold or have paid off, open lines of credit, bankruptcies, liens and judgements. It’s important to make sure all of that information is correct. One in five credit reports contain errors, and correcting them takes time, so don’t wait to check.

Dispute any erroneous information with the credit reporting company and the creditor who made the report to them. Find out more about what to include in your dispute documents at the CFPB’s site. The site has instructions, template letters and guides for how to go about this.

Find out your credit score. Check your bank and any credit card companies you use to see whether they offer a free FICO score or other credit score. You might need to pay for a one-time score from one of the credit bureaus or myFICO.com, just steel yourself for sales pitches for monthly credit monitoring you might not want or need. Scores usually range from 300-850, and the higher the score, the easier it is to qualify for a loan and get a lower interest rate. A great place to be is in the high 700s and up, but a lower score won’t necessarily keep you from getting a mortgage. You just might have to pay more for it, because a lower score places you in a category of borrower that’s at higher risk of defaulting.

What goes into a credit score? Commonly, it’s:

  • 35 percent your history of paying accounts on time.
  • 30 percent debt-to-credit ratio (how maxed out you are).
  • 15 percent length of credit history.
  • 10 percent credit mix.
  • 10 percent whether you have opened accounts recently.

If you’re trying to bring your score up, it’s vitally important to pay all your accounts on time and make sure they stay current. You might be tempted to consolidate debt and close credit accounts, but that’s not always a good idea, because doing so can cause your debt-to-credit ratio to skyrocket, which makes you look maxed out.

For example, if you have two credit cards each with a limit of $10,000, and you are carrying a balance of $5,000 on one of them, then you close one of the cards, you suddenly go from using 25 percent of your available credit to 50 percent. A credit utilization rate below 30 percent is usually considered good.

You shouldn’t open new accounts if you’re about to apply for a loan. Especially avoid making any major purchases on credit. Don’t move a lot of money around between accounts, co-sign on another person’s loan, or change your job, name or address. Stability is key.

As long as your financial habits are healthy, your Prosperity mortgage consultant will recommend you continue using credit just as you normally would, because deviations can raise red flags.

Once your credit is optimal and you’ve gotten a mortgage preliminary approval from your lender so you know your exact price range, contact a Long & Foster real estate agent who can help you get the best deal on your ideal home.