Treasure Coast Insider

You’ll find our blog Treasure Coast Insider to be a wealth of information. Get the latest info about what's happening on the Treasure Coast. You'll find everything from local real estate market statistics and home values, to community events, restaurants, beaches, golf, and much more. That’s because we care about our communities and want to help you find your place in it. As your Treasure Coast Insider blogger, and a resident for 40 years, you'll find an abundance of information for all age groups and interests. 

If you want to know where the best local dog-friendly parks are found, or the only-known-to-locals beaches hide, you'll find them here. The best golf courses, marinas, festivals, rodeos, playhouses, senior living activities and dancing are all shared here. If state and local parks interest you, learn what each offers in amenities and uniqueness to our beautiful area. Even restaurant discounts can be found on Treasure Coast Insider.

Area Real Estate News & Market Trends


Mona Leonard is blogger for Treasure Coast Insider. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you! 772-530-6131

April 20, 2021

Everything about property taxes in Broward County


Like most states in the US, Florida charges property taxes too. Irrespective of the fact you own a residential property or commercial, taxes are levied on both property types across all counties in Florida. It is important to understand property taxes as they are an important part of closing costs and appear in the ALTA statement as well.  

Broward County is one of the most happening counties in Florida when it comes to real estate transactions. Having key locations such as Fort Lauderdale and attractive beaches, it is the home to many high-value properties. Overall, Properties in Broward are highly sought after which also makes way for higher property taxes. 

Generally, property Tax payments become payable by November 1st and are due in full by March 31st of the following year for the county. Discounts are applied for early payment: 4% if paid in November. 3% if paid in December.

Property Tax rates across counties in Broward County

Property taxes are paid as a percentage of the total value of the property owned. Broward is one of the most expensive counties when it comes to property taxes. The median property tax value for the county stands at $2601 and a property tax rate at 1.07%. 

How to calculate property taxes for Broward?

Calculating the property tax for any county for Broward is easy. Simply use the following formula

Total property tax payable  =     (Property Value * rate of tax for the county)



Are there any exemptions for property tax in Broward County?

Yes. All exemptions that are applicable for Florida state are applicable to Broward as well. 

Homestead exemptions. Applies to permanent residents of Florida state who are entitled to exemptions for $50,000 value of their property. 

Exemption for US Veterans/surviving spouse of veterans. Military personals who were deployed overseas can receive exemptions for the time they served on the battlefield. Spouses of martyred veterans are also eligible for property tax emotions.

Surviving spouse of First Responders. If you were a spouse of a first responder who was killed in the line of duty, you are entitled to receive the property tax exemption.  

Physical Disability. Veterans who are fully or partially disabled due to action and other people who are permanently disabled are also entitled to receive property tax exemptions.  

How to find property tax records for Broward County?

You can search for property tex records for Broward County on this website

Posted in Title
April 18, 2021

Closing Costs in Broward County


Closing costs are an itemized list of expenses such as transfer taxes, title insurance costs, deed recording fees, and much more to prep the property for sale, approve the mortgage and transfer the ownership from the seller to the buyer. 

Both buyer and seller have their own share of closing costs that they incur to facilitate the transaction mutually. While closing costs are normatively divided between the seller and the buyer, a lot of times, parties can negotiate that can change the final amount or the net proceeds that the seller receives after the transaction. 

What is the average closing cost in Broward County?

On average, the closing cost in Broward County is around 1.8 % of the total sale price of the property. That means a $300,000 property will cost around $5500 in closing costs. 

What are the numerous closing costs in Broward County?

Closing costs represented as an itemized list of costs may have a total of 15-16 cost items. While a lot of them are paid by the buyer, the seller also contributes by paying a significant share. Here is the list of closing costs paid by the buyer. 

Closing costs paid by the Seller in Broward County


Following are the closing costs paid by the seller in Broward County

Commission for the agent. Commission for the agent is around 6% of the total value of the property. This is the most expensive closing cost component shared between both parties. Hence, the seller pays around 2.5% of the total commission.

Proration. Property taxes are paid as the prorated amount. The seller is supposed to pay the taxes till the time they own the property. For example, if the seller is going out on 30th October, they are going to pay taxes for the first 10 months. The buyer then pays taxes for the remaining two months. Hence, closing at the end of the year is going to cost more in the prorated tax amount.

HOA Fees. The HOA fee is the fee charged by the homeowners’ association for maintenance purposes. It is important for the seller to clear this before they leave the property. 

Outstanding Utility Bills. Before you can sell the property, you should make sure to clear all dues and outstanding utility bills. 

Title Insurance. The title insurance protects the owners and the lenders with the help of the owner’s and lender’s policy respectively. Title insurance amounts to a significant closing amount in Broward County. You can use this Broward County title insurance rate calculator to calculate the price for your policy. 

Title Search. A title search is a process of searching through the records in the county office to establish the owner of the property and make sure that the property is free from liens or any disputes. 

Municipal Lien Search. This is to make sure that the property does have code violations, sewer or water balances, etc. 

Closing costs paid by the Buyer in Broward County

Following are the closing costs paid by the seller in Broward County

Home Inspection. The home inspection is initiated by the lender on the buyer’s behalf to make sure that the property is alright and won’t need hefty repairs after purchase. 

Home Appraisal. A home appraisal is done to ascertain the market value of the property for loan origination. The home appraisal fee is also paid by the buyer in Broward County. 

Survey Fee. Surveys could be ordered by the lender in order to make sure that the property does not have any encroachment that could lead to a dispute in the future with the neighbors. The buyer pays the survey fees in Broward County. 

Credit Report. The lender needs this report to grant a mortgage to the buyer. Generating the credit report costs in the amount that is paid by the buyer in Broward County. 

Underwriting fee. If the buyer is purchasing with a loan, the underwriting fees will apply. It is also called loan application fees or origination fees interchangeably. 

Transfer Taxes. It is the tax collected by the state when the property is transferred from the seller to the buyer. 

Recording Fee. After the deal is done and papers are signed, the new deed is made and recorded in the county records. This is called recording the deed and comes with a fee called recording fees.  

Hope you found our post insightful and helpful. Tuned in for more posts in the future. 

Posted in Title
April 18, 2021

Top Property Appraisers around Miami


A property appraisal is one of the crucial steps that determine the financial worth of the property. A property appraiser can unearth a number of things that can potentially change the financial value of the property to a great degree and hence the closing costs as well.

Obviously, appraisers are important but there are a lot of them out there. Even in Miami, there are many companies, who either appraise properties full-time or provide a mix of similar services. So the question is, how do you choose the right appraiser? This is what we are going to answer in this blog. 

In this post, we will give you a curated list of property appraisers around Miami. If you are stationed around Indy or hunting for a property in the nearby areas then this list is going to be useful for you. 

So, here is a list of the top property appraisers around Miami. 

Penser Appraisals

Penser Appraisals provides its services around Miami and areas nearby. It is quite a prominent name among realtors and underwriters when it comes to property valuation. 

Penser Appraisals also provides additional services such as divorce settlement and estate management apart and PMI management as well.

The website allows you to book appraisals online without much hassle. 

  • Free Resources and Quotes - No
  • Experience - 20 years
  • Breadth of Services - Yes
  • Phone - ((305) 388-0270 
  • Email -

Poussin Appraisals

Poussin is a popular name when it comes to appraising properties around Miami. Poussin appraisals specialize in appraising residential properties for lenders and individuals around Miami Dade and Broward counties. 

  • Free Resources and Quotes - no
  • Experience - NA
  • Breadth of Services - no
  • Phone -305 490 6012
  • Email -

Appraisal Links 

Appraisals Links has been appraising properties around Miami for quite some now. It is a well-known name that deals with both commercial and residential properties around the Miami area. 

  • Free Resources and Quotes - Yes
  • Experience - -
  • Breadth of Services - No
  • Phone - 877-334-6788
  • Email -

Metro Appraisals 

Metro appraisals is a home appraisal company that services is headquartered in Georgia and provides its services in 5 nearby states including Florida. The company specializes in appraisal review services, estate planning support, expert testimony, litigation and arbitration support, eminent domain Analysis divorce appraisals, and much more. 

  • Free Resources and Quotes - Yes
  • Experience - NA
  • Breadth of Services - Yes
  • Phone - 70-534-0384
  • Email - -

Hope you found the information useful. Keep an eye out for the latest listings on our website and stay updated.


Posted in Title
July 18, 2020

Sewalls Point Police Department


Sewalls Point Police Department

The video above is just one example of how the Sewalls Point Police Department watches out for its residents. These officers save lives! Chief Tina Ciechanowski is proud of her officers. So are the residents. With the caring of an outstanding department, our streets remain fairly free of crime. It's safety and security at its finest.  Keeping our Sewalls Point Town residents safe is apparent in all actions by the Sewalls Point Police Department.

On November 2nd, our Chief of Police, Tina Ciechanowski, gave a presentation to a full house at Town Hall informing residents about safety, both in and around our homes and online. Some of the topics discussed were data breaches, logins and password safety, and how to keep your credit information safe. Even your child or grandchild’s identity can be stolen and it’s important to be aware of steps to mitigate risk as well as what to do in the event of stolen identity.

Phone scams can range from the caller saying it’s your grandchild and the need bail money, to scammers asking for personal information over the phone such as your social security number or credit card information. Criminals use FEMA and small business loan ploys to obtain your personal information. Chief Tina says “social security numbers are the biggest risk and never give it out unless absolutely necessary. And don’t carry your SS card in your wallet in case it is stolen.” If someone asks for your SS#, ask why they need it and how they will be securing your information.

While we all feel protected by our police department and know they do an amazing job keeping us safe, we must do our part to prevent home intrusion and burglary. Our officers cannot be everywhere all the time. Chief Tina warned residents to keep doors locked when home as well as when we leave. Many doors are left unlocked which invites criminals to walk right in. Any safes should be bolted down or placed within the foundation of your home.  If you own a home here that you rent out, make sure you know the people well. Have a background check done on potential tenants.

Chief Tina recommended “anytime there is something suspicious and in progress (i.e. someone you don’t know walking in your yard, a neighbor’s yard, or a car loitering on your street, ALWAYS CALL 911!” Don’t worry about being overcautious because dispatch at Martin County Sheriff’s Office will determine the level of service needed. That’s what dispatchers are trained to do. If you call the police department office number, you may not reach someone immediately. Anytime you see anything amiss, call 911.

Having a monitored security system deters burglars…so do “nest cameras” that are relatively inexpensive. Make sure the resolution of the camera is enough to clearly see potential threats on your property. Oftentimes, security companies will bundle services together making them more affordable. Even the dollar stores have magnets that buzz when the door is opened. Doorbells with cameras are another great deterrent and cost as little as $80 on Amazon.

Make sure to wipe clean computers, phones and any electronics before discarding. Be very careful whose WiFi you use and consider getting virus protection not only for your computers, but also your phones. Chief Tina has a warning to consider regarding criminals saying, ”this is what these people do for a living and they’re very good at it.” Be smart, proactive and diligent about keeping your family and your possessions safe.

We should all be very proud of our 9 officers on the Sewalls Point Police Department. They protect and serve our beautiful town and we are very grateful for their presence. Show them how much you care! They make our town a better and safer place to live. Here are some of the statistics of our police department.   


Mona Leonard, Sewalls Point Living, Content Coordinator                

Posted in Sewall's Point
April 10, 2020

Stuart Area Restaurant Discounts

Stuart area restaurant discounts

Stuart Area Restaurant Discounts

The Stuart area restaurant discounts listed below will be sure to make your mouth water. Locals (and other smart people) have the inside scoop on great food and restaurant discounts. Check out these dollar-saving Stuart area restaurant discounts in person.

With the Treasure Coast's beautiful waterways, there's an abundance of waterfront restaurants with delicious food and atmosphere...not to mention the view. To make it even more appealing, here's a short list of waterfront eateries... and savings!

The Sailor's Return Happy Hour

Sailor's Return is where the north and south forks of the St. Lucie River converge. Enjoy riverfront sunsets and views of Sunset Bay Marina. The historic Old Roosevelt Bridge waits for its next "draw" within just a few feet of the canopied bandstand, dance floor and bar. 

With a formal dining area for more intimate dinners and the inside bar's ambiance, Sailor's Returns' amazing upbeat atmosphere is a great way to spend the evening... or a spectacular afternoon. Great live music Happy Hour at both bars from 3:30pm-7pm with $5 drink specials and delicious appetizers for under $8. My personal favorite is the gourmet flatbread of the day, with locally famous Mrs. Peter's Smokehouse fish dip! 

Conchy Joe's

Enjoy live music, waterfront bar and restaurant at Conchy Joe's Seafood in Jensen Beach. Located directly on the Indian River Lagoon, there's lots to love. Listen to the sounds of local musicians Thursday through Monday while enjoying homemade, delicious conch chowder, calamari, raw bar, or delicious fresh-caught (never frozen) fish. The full service menu also includes salads and burgers. The wood burning grill gives filet mignon, NY strip and chicken dishes that special flavor.

With "old Florida" charm, and atmosphere, enjoy the most exotic of island drinks too! Happy hour menu and drinks are available everyday from 3-6 pm for significant savings. With an extensive kid's menu, bring the entire family for a great time.

Dolphin Bar and Shrimp House - A Little Background - The Story Behind the Story 

The Dolphin Bar and Shrimp House has terrific happy hour discounts on drinks and hors d'oeuvres, and a view that's spectacular. It's also home to an amazing story. Many years ago, I had the good fortune of taking care of Ralph Evinrude (yes, that Evinrude). I was a Respiratory Therapist and he was charming and delightful. He taught me how to view life's shortcomings with acceptance and love. 

Stuart area restaurant discounts

He married movie star and entertainer, Frances Langford in 1955 and they settled on the St. Lucie River, just off Palmer St at the north end of Sewall's Point. It was close to his Evinrude motor testing facilities. On the Indian River Lagoon, they built the restaurant and called it Frances Langford's Outrigger Resort. For many years, it's been a local treasure with great food, a beautiful view, and a shrine to his bride.

The great works Frances Langford so dedicatedly gave to her country during WWII are apparent. Singing in Bob Hope's USO shows and starring in over 35 movies, she became an icon. She was just as sweet in real life as here.

Stuart area restaurant discounts Frances Langford

Although the name Frances Langford's Outrigger is now gone from the marquis, you'll see all the history of Ralph and Frances at the Dolphin. Come see their sweet love affair, or visit the exhibit of her works at the Elliott Museum on Hutchinson Island.

Frances continued her philanthropy locally by giving huge financial gifts to Martin Memorial Hospital (now Cleveland Clinic) where I worked for over 25 years. Her legacy continues today through the Frances Langford Heart Center in Stuart.

With an expansive restaurant, several bars, and great views of the Indian River Lagoon, happy hour drinks and appetizers are a local favorite. The Dolphin also provides delicious catering with a pleasant and professional wait staff.

The Twisted Tuna

Nestled in the Manatee Pocket, a protected cove in the fishing village of Port Salerno, The Twisted Tuna bustles with nightlife, live entertainment daily, and discounts. Happy hour is 2:30 pm to 6:30 pm that includes money off on mixed drinks, special house wine and beer discounts, and $5 "bar bites."

Twisted Tuna

If you're not in the mood for waterfront, try these great Stuart area restaurant discounts, for an amazing food experience. 


Stuart area restaurant discounts are all over the menu at Florentino's Italian Restaurant. With savory Italian aromas seeping into the dining area from the kitchen, my mouth starts watering when I walk through the door. The best chop steak and fries in the county or perhaps the best clams linguine (I get the angel hair) in white sauce you've ever had. Daily 2 for 1 specials abound. Tino (owner and chef) makes some of the best Italian comfort food on the Treasure Coast.

The Black Marlin

Stuart area restaurant discounts also includes The Black Marlin. With $5, $6, and $7 appetizers and two-for-one drinks from 4pm to 6pm Mon-Sat, it's a delicious decision to stop in. The menu includes Bam Bam shrimp, grilled portabella caprese and fried calamari. Enjoy a warm, inviting atmosphere with great food. Shop downtown or take in a performance at the Lyric Theatre, or perhaps a stroll down the boardwalk over the St. Lucie River. All are just steps away. 

For more information on these wonderful Stuart area restaurant discounts and others, contact Mona Leonard at, your Treasure Coast Insider blogger, or call 772-530-6131.








March 2, 2020

Stuart Area Dog-Friendly Parks

Stuart Area Dog Friendly Parks

Stuart Area Dog-Friendly Parks

Stuart area dog-friendly parks are all around if you know where to look. With lots of space to enjoy our beautiful area, these parks are close by with easy access. Whether you want to head to the beach, or stroll through our beautiful savannas, these Stuart area dog-friendly parks are enjoyable for the entire family.

Shepard Park, Stuart

Enjoy this family pet friendly park in downtown Stuart on the south fork of the St. Lucie River. With a boat launch, grills and fun for the whole family, it's an easy, convenient location for a few minutes of peace, or an afternoon on the water. Just a few blocks south of the Roosevelt Bridge on Federal Hwy, it's a favorite. Park typically closes at 10 pm.

Flagler Park, Stuart

Nearby Flagler Park is just a two minute walk from downtown Stuart, watering holes, marinas, great food and entertainment. This pretty green space expanse has a full schedule of activities and can accommodate hundreds of people (and dogs). Right at the north and south forks of the St. Lucie River, it's a beautiful downtown waterside park.

Flager Park

Haney Creek Dog Park, Stuart

Want a park you can get some exercise in while walking your best friend? To keep you both in shape, Haney Creek Dog Park is a great place to stretch it out. A beautiful green space with room to roam, the park is conveniently located just north of the Roosevelt Bridge along Green River Parkway and Baker Rd. This park is for all dogs that like to run.

Haney Creek Dog Park

Walton Rocks Beach Dog Park, Jensen Beach

Another Stuart area dog-friendly park is this off-leash dog park, on the Atlantic in Jensen Beach. It has 24 unspoiled acres of fun. With picnic tables, pavilions and bathrooms, it's a great getaway from the bustle of in town parks. For the Lab lover in all of us, it's a perfect spot for retrievers that love the water. Bring the family for a day of sunshine, swimming and lots of fun. Hours are subject to change. Closes at 6 pm.

Walton Rocks Beach Dog Park

Savannas Preserve State Park-Hawk's Bluff Trail, Jensen Beach

Just north of the Jensen Beach Causeway, this dog-friendly park is perfect for picnicking, fishing, trails, canoeing and lots more. The trail itself is a loop that's just under a mile and the scenery is unbeatable as you wander through the "old Florida" savannas. Where wildlife and water birds abound, Savannas Preserve State Park is another favorite. 

Savannas Preserve State Park

Peck Lake Park, Hobe Sound

Peck Lake Park is a little known secret nestled in Hobe Sound just off Gomez Ave. With a spectacular boardwalk to the Intracoastal Waterway, it's sure to appeal to the most curious of our canine buddies. For a more quiet approach to taking your dog to the park, this gem is peaceful and the views of the Intracoastal Waterway are beautiful. 

Peck Lake Park

Jupiter Off-Leash Dog Beach, Jupiter

Just north of Juno Beach, Jupiter Off-Leash Dog Beach is a great place to spend the day, or for some quick exercise. With beautiful blue-green Atlantic Ocean water, it's a place to unwind and let your pet have a blast. This dog beach is one of the prettiest beaches around. In northern Palm Beach County, there's lots to enjoy afterwards at some of the dog-friendly waterfront restaurants in the area. 

Lyngate Park and Dog Park, Port St. Lucie

For the best variety of dog areas, Lyngate Park and Dog Park offers three great choices, with mazes, water stations, and waste bags. Just off US1 in Port St. Lucie, there's plenty of places to sit while your dog explores. You'll leave smiling when your "best friend" is exhausted and ready to go home.

Lyngate Park And Dog park

For more information about Stuart area dog-friendly parks, contact Mona Leonard, your Treasure Coast Insider blogger at






Feb. 29, 2020

Robbie Fulks House Concert

Robbie Fulks House Concert

There's always something new going on in town. Sewall's Point happenings are abundant. With many interesting residents, Sewall's Point is a hotbed of amazing people and amazing things. Hope you enjoy getting to know the Town of Sewall's Point on a more personal level.

Sewall's Point News


Robbie Fulks, A House Concert

By Mona Leonard, Sewall’s Point Living Content Coordinator

What a pleasant surprise when Curt Grimmer invited me to a house concert taking place on January 26th at his home. Curt opened his lovely home up to friends and neighbors so we could all enjoy the beautiful country and bluegrass music of Robbie Fulks. Curt’s been following Robbie’s music for over 20 years and has seen him many times in concert across the country. Curt says, “Robbie’s a really good writer.”

Robbie’s lyricism, music, charm and humor made for a great evening. Playing acoustic guitar and accompanied by talented violinist Shad Cobb, we were all treated to some knee-slapping, foot-tapping fun! It happened because Robbie was in between gigs (Orlando, then Miami) and asked his Facebook friends if anyone wanted to host a house concert. That’s when Curt stepped up and created a great atmosphere in his home for all of us to enjoy.

Robbie’s songwriting speaks to many of our hearts. In, “Where I Fell,” he sings of what he calls, “the hollowed out small towns in the US.” The abject poverty of the 1930’s in the south seeps slowly into your mind as you realize the meaning of the lyrics in his music, and the truths they reveal. He’s fond of Hank Williams and his early works and some of his music speaks to that.

“Alabama at Night” is another amazing example of his writing skills. It’s about a sharecropper and his… education. He received two Grammy nominations for Folk Album and American Roots Song and his more recent Upland Stories, earned year’s-best recognition from NPR, Rolling Stone and many others. You’ll have to listen to them yourselves to gain an understanding of his unique way of bringing his words to life in music.

Robbie learned guitar from his dad and banjo from Earl Skruggs and John Hartford records. He attended Columbia for two years. Ronnie decided he’d rather be part of the Greenwich Village songwriting scene, and as he puts it, “other ill-advised pursuits.”

He began playing Blue Grass in 1983 and taught at Old Town School of Folk Music for over a decade. He became a songwriter on Music Row in Nashville and helped define the “alternative country” movement of the 1990’s.

His self-deprecating humor and earthy lyrics make for a delightful combination. He’s had many appearances on radio and TV including the Grand Ole Oprey, the Laura Ingraham Show, PBS’s Austin City Limits, NPR’s Fresh Air and many more.

Robbie Fulks A House Concert

Robbie’s played along with some of the greats and his theatrical credits include Woody Guthrie’s “American Song” and Harry Chapin’s “Cottonpatch Gospel.” He’s also juried guitar competitions and his current tour will be in California in late February.

Robbie says he’s fortunate he has a good relationship with all three of his grown children, the youngest of which is 20. He wrote, “Needed,” about kids growing up and when he speaks of them, he has a twinkle in his eye. It’s apparent there’s a deep love there.

Thank you Curt Grimmer, for opening your home to so many Sewall’s Point residents. The evening was wonderful. Meeting Robbie and Shad and lots of our great residents was a joy. We’re so fortunate to have neighbors like you.

You can visit Robbie’s Facebook page at


Mona Leonard, Sewall's Point Living, Content Coordinator 

Posted in Sewall's Point
Feb. 25, 2020

The Amazing Life Of Santiago Perez


Santiago Perez A A Young Pilot


The Amazing Life of Santiago Perez by Mona Leonard, Content Coordinator, Sewalls Point Living

One of our dearest Sewalls Point residents, Santiago Perez was born in Cuba and grew up in the 50's during a very turmoil-filled time, with Batista seizing power in 1952. Santiago always had a fascination and admiration for the United States and when Fidel Castro's ideas and popularity rose as the people revolted, Santiago was hopeful that Cuba would become more like the United States. 

Santiago, as he puts it, was "inquisitive," and in his teens, he began flying. It began with watching his friend’s father fly his 2-seater Piper and getting a few lessons. It was Santiago's idea to "borrow" the plane with his friend one day. He insisted he knew the plane "better" than his friend’s father. Unfortunately, that day didn't end as well as expected… a rough landing, a reprimand and ban from that airport by the friend’s father. 

That didn’t deter Santiago! His love of planes and flying continued and at 17, he was fortunate enough to be gifted with a plane owned by the former President of Cuba, Carlos Prio Socarras. Santiago gained popularity with his flying skills and ownership of the plane. 

Being his invincible self, which still shines through to this day, Santiago flew his Vultee over the beach during the annual boat races. Batista was still in power, and Castro's followers were in the mountains making "plans". Batista’s air force ordered Santiago to land the plane. He was held prisoner for four days, enduring unspeakable torture. They accused him of wanting to bomb the area. With no evidence, he was finally cleared. 

Cuban Air Force 1950's

That event would take Santiago's life in a new direction. Fearing possible further retaliation by the Batista intelligence forces, Santiago's friends suggested he spend some time in Miami to let things cool down. At that time many Cubans would gather in Miami to hear Castro speak. Santiago approached Castro after a speech and said, "I was almost killed because of you,” implying the beach incident and subsequent arrest. 

Santiago returned to Cuba and while in the Cuban air force, he was given instructions to do something dramatic to support Castro and his plans. Santiago proceeded with hiring a helicopter and pilot in New Jersey and dropping propaganda fliers all over Yankee Stadium during the World Series! 

Later, as Santiago became more involved with Castro's regime, he became more disillusioned. During that time, many movie companies were filming in Cuba. Actors including Lon Chaney, John Garfield, and Jane Mansfield filmed there and Santiago had the good fortune of meeting them.

Imagine no smart phones or Internet coverage of the changes taking place in Cuba. Filming of the revolution became a hot topic and was soon prohibited. One movie company hid film canisters in a cave on the Isle of Youth (known as Isle of Pines before 1978), the second largest, of the over 4000 Cuban islands. 

Cuban B25 Bombers Circa 1959

To prevent confiscation at the airport, Santiago retrieved the canisters using his own plane and subsequently took a bullet to his knee for his troubles. He was forced to land on the water and was rescued, along with the canisters, by a passing cargo ship. The canisters were saved, and the film was later released in the United States.

When Castro officially became Prime Minister, Santiago said, "He didn’t portray his true self until he was in power.” Once Castro nationalized everything, shortly after taking office, Santiago decided to defect in the early months of 1959 landing in Miami in a fighter jet.

Santiago purchased, restored and sold planes for many decades, owning over 17 different models over the years including two WWII Bombers (B25), AT 6, C 46, C 47, Cessna, and Piper to name a few. When he speaks of his planes it's like hearing someone speak proudly of their children. 

Santiago Perez And His Air Craft Registrations

As a pilot, he met many dignitaries including four US Presidents. George HW Bush insisted Santiago call him George. Out of respect for our president, he was never able to call him by his first name, rather, Santiago referred to him as Mr. President. 

He lives passionately, inquisitively, and proudly as a citizen of the United States and a resident of Martin County for many years. He loves Sewall’s Point and the people he calls friends and neighbors.

For Treasure Coast Insider info, call Mona Leonard, Blogger at 772-530-6131


Posted in Sewall's Point
Feb. 11, 2020

Tips on Buying Foreclosures

Mona Leonard Realtor reviews foreclosures

Tips on Buying Foreclosed Homes

These tips on buying foreclosed homes will make the process easier. Searching for any new home can be stressful. Buyers in the foreclosure market, expect to find a great deal on an amazing house. However, without knowledge of the process, buying (or attempting to buy) a foreclosed home can lead to far more heartache than happiness. A buyer must go into this process with a little extra knowledge, and a little more long-term vision. Here are tips on buying foreclosed homes.

What is a foreclosure? 

A foreclosure happens when a home buyer stops making their mortgage payments. Usually after a period of 3-4 months past due, a bank will file foreclosure paperwork. The homeowner is then forced to leave the property and the bank takes possession of the home. The property is then listed as an REO (real estate owner) property for sale directly by the bank. 

Reasons for Foreclosure 

Fired from a job

Medical conditions where homeowner is unable to earn an income


Loss of income

Large debt and other bills overwhelming the homeowner

Divorce and other legal issues

Unable to pay HOA dues


A pre-foreclosure is still owned by the homeowner. They’re typically late by 90 days or more on their mortgage, and they expect to be foreclosed on soon. A pre-foreclosure is not necessarily a short sale. 

Short sales

A short sale’s owner has asked their lender to accept less than what is owed on the mortgage in order to sell the house.  Short sales can be very different than other real estate transactions. If you submit an offer on a short sale, the owner then takes your offer to the bank to find out if they’re willing to accept the sale.

It can take many months to find out if your offer is accepted. This scares off many potential buyers because most people don’t have the luxury of waiting for approval.

5 Key considerations

Foreclosures are sold as-is 

A loan approval letter should be your first step 

Know your budget 

Find a trusted real estate agent to negotiate (as a buyer, you don’t pay the agent’s commission)

Know the neighborhood and what comparable homes have sold for recently

Loan approval comes first 

Foreclosed homes are also called REO, real estate owned. The bank owns the property. However, the same bank that’s selling the home will not finance the buyer’s purchase. You will need to have financing in place before making an offer to purchase. 

Find a lender and get a pre-approval letter before shopping for foreclosure properties. Having a pre-approval letter tells the bank that you’re a serious buyer. After all, most foreclosed properties do not sit on the market for long. 

Get pre-approved for a mortgage loan 

Pre-approval Letter Mona Leonard Realtor

Your Realtor is your best tool 

Bank-owned homes usually move fast. Your agent may have insight into deals not yet on the market too. Your agent should understand what you’re looking for and your budget. This gives you a greater chance of closing on the home you want and can afford.

Foreclosed homes are sold “as-is” 

Any foreclosed property is sold as-is. This is often forgotten in the buying process. Damage may not be obvious to you. A thorough, qualified inspector is essential and may prevent the purchase of a home that will cost far too much to repair to be worth the purchase. 

Check the landscaping 

Poor upkeep of landscaping can tell you about how long the house has been vacant. This may be far longer than the time the home has been on the market. Vacant homes break down and erode much quicker than ones being occupied.

Homes that sit vacant for long periods of time deteriorate quickly. Check all water pipes to be sure they're functional with no leaks. Leaks can cause mold to grow and cause major damage to the property. In cooler climates, a home that sits over the winter without being winterized can be a nightmare to repair. You’ll not be able to see the broken pipes until you have an inspection, or you turn on the water and find yourself in a flooded house.

Check out the neighborhood 

The area the home is in is just as important as the house itself. You must live with the people around you and they will affect the value of your home in the future. 

Pay attention to what is near the neighborhood, what businesses are around, and how many other homes are for sale. Do you want to live near the tracks if a train toots its horn at 3 a.m.? If the neighborhood isn’t where you want to be, the price of the house doesn’t matter.

Your budget is more than just a mortgage 

Almost all foreclosures will need some sort of repair to them. When figuring out a budget it is imperative that it includes a professional inspection (before buying the home), expected repairs, and some wiggle room for the unexpected issues. 

A home inspection is a must for anyone looking to purchase a foreclosed property. An inspector has technical expertise and can point out the deficiencies in the home. Many offer warranties on their work.

Buyers can take care of the little things themselves and on their own time. The issues may not change your mind on buying the house, but it will give you an idea of expenses that will come along with it in the future. 

On foreclosures, expect to have some minor plumbing issues, heating and air conditioning systems will need to be serviced or repaired, watch closely for roof leaks. The key to a successful budget is allotting enough money to repairs so you don’t find yourself struggling in an emergent situation.

Search comparable home prices 

A comparable house is one that has sold in the area, about the same size, and not listed as a foreclosure. Searching these closed listings gives a ballpark value of your home, not just what the bank is asking. There is not much room to negotiate on the price of a house listed on the foreclosed market, and not all of them are a good value.

The list price is close to the bank’s bottom line for the property. They aren’t going to deduct price for repairs, the neighborhood, or much of anything else. Doing research on comparable homes tells the buyer if they are getting a good deal based on condition and location, or if they should take a pass. 

Home buying doesn’t have to be stressful, buying a foreclosed home should not be a regret. Doing a little bit of research, combined with a good Realtor, and inspector can make all the difference in the world. 

Foreclosed listings are bought because they are a great less expensive option for home buyers. Doing it the right way, with the right long-term vision, makes for a happy home. 

Buy a HUD home 

A HUD home is a property that was foreclosed and had a Government backed mortgage, such as an FHA loan. HUD homes are listed on the HUD home store website. You can search the site and find all available properties in your area. 

Your Realtor will place your bids on the site just as they make an offer on any home. There are some great deals to be found on HUD homes, but you need to act quickly as these properties move fast. Pre-approval letter is required to bid if you require a mortgage.

Speak with a lender and apply

We hope these tips for buying foreclosed homes is helpful. As Blogger for Treasure Coast Insider, Mona Leonard's local expertise keeps buyers informed about the real estate market. Please call her with any questions at 772.530.6131

Posted in Buying Tools
Feb. 8, 2020

Why Hire A Realtor?


Why Hire A Realtor?

Selling a home takes a lot of hard work, and to save money, some homeowners go about it all on their own. There are pros and cons to selling a home without a professional real estate agent, and ultimately only you can weigh those options and decide which is best for you, your family, and your circumstances. Take a look at the top ten reasons why choosing a real estate agent is important.

1. We have Exclusive Access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), along with actual property valuation data tools for building comparable properties, a comprehensive market outreach network, and customized Search Criteria engines that you won't find on Zillow, Trulia, or 

2. For Sale By Owner (FSBO) pitfalls begin with assumptions. Did you know when buyers see a FSBO sign, they assume they'll be able to get a great deal? Many buyers believe a property not listed with a Realtor, to be inferior, distressed, and a bargain. A seller lacks the ability to confirm a buyer's ability to purchase too. So, anyone and everyone gets to traipse through your home, even people unable to purchase. It's stressful, time consuming, and typically results in a poor negotiating position. 

3. A Proven Track Record of dedicated specialists who get maximum exposure for your property, 3D Video Walk-throughs, Drone Photography, and Social Media Marketing Integration set us apart.

4. You hire a Network of Professionals when you seek the advice of a Keller Williams agent. KW is the fastest growing and highest grossing Brokerage in the country. Our outreach extends worldwide with over 180,000 agents and over 1,000 offices!

5. Peace of Mind comes with having a professional that knows the market and how to negotiate the best value for you. Every aspect from the contract to the closing table is under control. We manage all file preparation, ensure your complete understanding of the process and oversee all legal and compliance matters within the transaction.

6. Expect High-Touch and Constant Communication between not only the agents associated with the transaction but the title company, escrow, attorneys, inspectors, vendors, lenders, HOA Communities, and state, county, and local governments.

7. The Power of Negotiation is critical to getting you the best financial outcome whether you're buying or selling. We know the ins-and-outs of the market and the property's market value when negotiating on your behalf. This strengthens your position and results.

8. We Have Top-Notch Marketing and Advertising to maximize your exposure through targeted marketing. contains a massive database, of buyers and sellers. Our website has a vast reach, with the ability to reach more than 5,000 buyers on any given day. Professionally designed ads that make your property stand out from the local competition.

9. Inspired By Our Community Outreach Efforts, we take part in a program called "Paint the Town Red," which advertises your property to multiple communities across the Treasure Coast. It encourages individuals to get involved in Keller Williams' open houses, bringing a massive flow of possible buyers to your property. We network from all avenues, and our priority is always to bring additional traffic to your property.

10. Progress Reports are how we keep you informed. We bring a new state of the art portal, providing an up to the minute on-line "Snapshot" illustrating what we're doing to sell your property — instant information on potential buyers, feedback on the property, upcoming showings, advertisements, and open houses.


Schedule an appointment so we can show you why choosing our team makes sense. 772-530-6131

Posted in Selling Tips