Treasure Coast Insider

Helping you understand the real estate market, as well as how to best navigate it are our top priority. We'll share tips on every aspect of successful buying, selling, and investing. Learn 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 local resident for over 30 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.

If you're thinking of selling your home, your first step should be obtaining the current market value of your property. Click Property Valuation for an instant home valuation.


For a free, customized, in-depth, Comparative Market Analysis, call us at 772-530-6131.
Mona Leonard is your Treasure Coast Insider Blogger. 

Nov. 23, 2023

For Sale By Owner

For Sale By Owner Stuart Houses For Sale

For Sale By Owner

If you're considering going the For Sale By Owner route, consider these real estate facts. According to the National Association of Realtors, the assistance of a professional Realtor provides not only a higher selling price.  In the Stuart, FL area, it also may mean tens of thousands of dollars more for you. Although on it's surface, For Sale By Owner may seem the smart way to save on the commissions, but in reality, it can be a poor decision full of heartache if you're not versed in all aspects of real estate.

Let's see what it means to try to sell your home yourself. When selling a house, consider these factors. 

1. Negotiating is tough

The most difficult part, as a for-sale-by-owner (FSBO) seller, is having to negotiate your own sale price, especially if your not skilled in real estate valuation and negotiation. Relying on your own skill to finalize a contract, opens the door to potential legal problems and a smaller profit on closing day.

2. Online marketing looks easy... when professionals do it 

Without extensive knowledge in online marketing, your efforts as a FSBO may yield little in the way of results. Over 90% of buyers start their search online. To get the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and proper audiences, a skilled Realtor can blast your property to hundreds of sites exposing your home to the largest possible group of buyers. 

A yard sign, for example, will only draw the people who see it or are told about it. A DIY approach conveys an unprofessional, unknowledgeable seller... a buyer automatically thinks they're going to get a deal. In other words, buyers discount FSBOs.  

An agent will give you a wide exposure through marketing, multiple listing services, professional photography, and advertising to name a few. A good Realtor may have a database of thousands of buyers, directly showcasing your home. An agent also has the means to share with other agents, so they can share with their clients.

When you list your property with an agent in the Stuart, FL area, your getting over 40,000 agents helping you sell your house. FSBO sellers would have to shell out big bucks for these benefits and still might not reach the most important audience.

3. Determining the best asking price

Those who put their homes on the market as a FSBO typically set a price from online assessment tools or the opinion of a friend or neighbor making claims to high offers (boasting). These methods will likely put the listing price way off.

There’s no substitute for actual market knowledge and assessment. Your Realtor brings all that knowledge and experience to the process. Pricing strategies from a seasoned agent can earn you much more money upon sale.

Overpricing can cause a listing to go stale on the market, and buyers wonder why, even if you lower the price later. Buyers are likely to pay a lower price for a stigmatized property... a home that has been on the market a long time. 

A real estate agent provides an accurate home value, based on a comprehensive market analysis, to help you arrive at the right listing price. The goal is to make sure you’re pricing your home in the sweet spot—not too high so that you are turning off potential buyers, and not too low so you are leaving money on the table. 

The most bang your home will get is when it first comes on the market. Blasting it out everywhere through all means possible can get you multiple offers and a bidding war …  garnering a well-above-asking sale price!

4. Estimating how much money to spend prepping

Overestimate, and you waste money. Underestimate and you end up selling for less. Objective assessment by sellers can be difficult.  

Sometimes, it's the small things that count the most. An amateur paint job, broken light switch or an overgrown yard might be the one thing that causes buyers to walk away. Then again, spending money on items that don't improve the value of the property can mean tens of thousands of dollars or more wasted by over-improving.  

A professional Realtor has an eye for detail to advise on simple, budget-conscious improvements or repairs. Agents know how to spend the least amount of money to get the best outcome by creating the best home presentation possible. Properly staging the property to appeal to the largest audience is a big plus too.

5. Showings are a drag

FSBO sellers don’t realize how draining it can be to set up showings. In addition to potential buyers, you have to deal with both "looky-loos" (gawkers with no intention of buying the house) and “sharks” (investors looking to flip your house for a profit). These buyers may not be capable of buying and have not even spoken yet with a lender. 

Sellers who advertise their FSBO will quickly be inundated with calls from real estate investors who are looking to save the same commission the seller hopes to save. Unfortunately, these offers are typically very low and could likely lead to no sale.

How an agent can help: Your agent will handle all the scheduling and staff the tours for you, so all you have to do is quickly tidy up and vacate. Buyers can get uncomfortable with a seller hanging around during the showing. If you're selling a second home, investment, or inherited property, showings can become very difficult to achieve long distance.

Agents also weed out unsuitable offers and collect feedback that potential buyers might be unwilling to share directly with the seller. This feedback can be invaluable to the transaction.

6. Preparing your own paperwork 

Leave the paperwork to the pros. The closing process can entail more than 20 pages of complicated paperwork, including the contract and addendums designed to cover all of the situations that could go wrong.

For example, houses built before 1978 require an addendum regarding lead-based paint. Having a background in law or contracts may be the only exception. A do-it-yourself approach may cost much more than money should the outcome result in litigation.

House selling has nuances that, if overlooked, can cost you at closing. Did you know some properties have difficulty getting flood insurance? When selling a house, be sure to know the age of appliances, A/C and hot water heater before you list. 

Your agent will take care of all property disclosures and corresponding documentation to avoid future liability. Realtors follow a strict Code of Ethics and compliance for federal, state, and local laws. All aspects of transaction coordination are handled by your agent.  

7. Knowledge of service providers

Realtors can refer you to their network of top-quality lenders, lawyers, inspectors, appraisers and repair people to make sure you get the best result in every stage of the selling process. 

8. Understanding commissions

Realize, if you go the FSBO route, most Realtors won't show your property to potential buyers because they think they won't get paid.  Decide up front if you're willing to cooperate with agents assisting buyers, and expect to pay a percentage of the sale in commission fees. If you're not willing to cooperate with buyer's agents, you'll lose the leverage of over 40,000 agents in south Florida assisting buyers. 

Additionally, buyers mentally shave off whatever commission they think you'd have paid to a Realtor. Is all of the hassle of selling you home yourself worth it? Will you negotiate a better sale price than a professional? Statistically speaking, no. According to the National Association of Realtors, you'll likely end up with less money for all your trouble.

House selling can be fun if you're informed, and a nightmare if you only think you know what you're doing. Don't risk thousands of dollars in a higher selling price because you think the commission is too high. It's well worth hiring an agent according to the National Association of Realtors. Statistically, you'll get more money at closing when you work with an agent. 

For more information about For Sale By Owner, contact our Treasure Coast Insider Blogger Mona Leonard at 772-530-6131 or email



Posted in Selling Tips
Nov. 23, 2023

Senior Fun and Activities

Senior Fun and Activities

Senior fun and activities abound on the Treasure Coast. Golf, boating, tennis, dancing and swimming are just a few examples. Charitable organizations, churches, clubs (from the Women's Club of Martin County to several VFW's, Elks, Moose) and more, add to the possibilities. For senior fun and activities all over the Treasure Coast, we've got a lot to offer!

Happiest Seaside Town

In a recent survey by US News, 9 of the top 25 best places to retire are in Florida. It's no wonder Florida's at the top of the list... with low taxes, housing affordability, and overall happiness and desirability. Stuart, voted the "Happiest Seaside Town" by Coastal Living Magazine for the entire US, has lots of activities and support for seniors.  I've lived in the Stuart area for many years and love the small town charm. So many great restaurants, playhouses, golf, beaches, and boating to consider. 

State of the art healthcare is available at Cleveland Clinic Martin Health which has 3 hospitals... Stuart, Stuart South and Tradition in Pt. St. Lucie. We have award winning long term care facilities as well. Palm Beach International Airport is only about 45 minutes to the south and Orlando Regional Airport (and Disney World), is less than two hours to the north. 

Stuart Area Golf Courses

There's plenty to choose from that are reasonably priced, conveniently located and tons of fun! These beautiful, affordable, year-round courses. give you miles of greens and lots of golf time. For details about specific course, check out my blog on golf courses.


Do you love to dance? Sing? Senior fun and activities include Friday nights at the Hobe Sound VFW with dancing and if you're so inclined, singing. Cowboy Bob's karaoke tunes bring out the performer in all of us. Terrific dance floor and a good sound system make the place light up with fun and friendship. Friday nights are open to all, membership not required. With very reasonable prices, enjoy their delicious menu from 4:30-7:00 pm. 

Here's a video of Elijah Fox's 100th birthday! He golfs 5 days a week and comes to dance at the VFW in Hobe Sound. It's more than just a place to go, it's family. 

Several dance studios are close by if you want some instruction and many Stuart area restaurants have live entertainment and dancing. There's plenty to choose from. 

Festivals and Art Shows

As a personal favorite, the Annual Downtown Stuart Art Festival offers a large variety of art and attracts artists from all over the country. This February event on East Ocean Blvd typically benefits from beautiful temperatures with lots of sunshine. With Memorial Park and it's lovely grounds as a backdrop, enjoy free admission and the opportunity to see (and perhaps buy) some amazing art.

Another personal favorite is Under The Oaks in Vero Beach. World-class artists with amazing, high quality pieces displayed among huge live oak trees in Riverside Park on Vero's barrier island. It's a stage set for success. For a complete list of Treasure Coast area art shows and festivals, check out Treasure Coast Insider's blog on these events.

Theatres and Playhouses

Stuart offers plenty of plays and entertainment at the Lyric Theatre located downtown. Drawing top performers and musicians, this historic theatre is loved by many Martin County residents. Great musicians, comedians, singers and entertainers are the consistent line up for the Lyric. The theatre also offers free movies in the summer. The Sunrise Theatre in Ft. Pierce, like the Lyric, has world class productions and entertainers. 

Nestled in an unsuspecting location on Weatherbee Rd in Ft. Pierce, the Pineapple Playhouse has ample parking, great plays and a more intimate experience than larger playhouses. The Barn Theatre on East Ocean in Stuart is also smaller. Another cozy theater is the Riverside Theatre in Vero Beach. 


Bingo anyone? The highly rated Elks Lodge near Kanner Hwy and US1 in Stuart boasts many Friday nights filled with Bingo and lots of senior fun and activities. Great Italian food on Thursdays with entertainment. Made-to-order meals 5-7 pm with bar service 4:30-8:30 pm. Join in the fun!

Bingo Madness and Arcade on US1 in Port St Lucie has great reviews too! With its recent transformation, it's sure to make your time worthwhile. If you're a serious player, check them out.

Bingo at Night's of Columbus  is a great spot for Stuart area senior fun and activities. One review says "this place exudes the warmth of brotherhood." The facility is also available for your events. Located in southwest Stuart. 

For more information about senior fun and activities on the Treasure Coast, contact Mona Leonard, your trusted Treasure Coast Insider blogger.



Nov. 23, 2023

Tips on Buying Foreclosed Homes

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. A foreclosed 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 

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.

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
Nov. 23, 2023

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.

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’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 Sewalls Point
Nov. 23, 2023

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 Sewall's 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 Wi-Fi 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 Sewall's 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.   


Contact Mona Leonard, Sewall's Point Living, Content Coordinator and Treasure Coast Living Blogger for more information.             

Posted in Sewalls Point
Nov. 23, 2023

Fresh Florida Oysters

Most Octobers, we head up to the panhandle to visit with friends and grab some fresh Florida oysters in the Apalachicola Bay area. On our last trip, we went to Panacea, Fl to buy frsh Florida oysters right from the waters edge. The owner of My Way Seafood, Debbie Logan, is a breast cancer survivor and is helped by her son and grandson, Jason and Jackson Thomas. Their store is the last in the area to offer fresh, never frozen seafood... for over 35 years.

They harvest, clean, and sell these delicious oysters annually. We put them on ice for the ride back to Stuart. We love inviting our neighbors over for a tail gate party. and shuck oysters with our favorite beverage. It's a great time to enjoy neighbors and friends before the busy hustle of the "season." Fresh oysters in Florida... It's a fall favorite for us. 

Oysters in Panacea Fl Mona Leonard Reviews


Fresh oysters in Florida are commonly eaten raw with a few drops of lemon juice squeezed on them. Their nutritional content is largely unaffected by any cooking or preparation methods.

Six medium sized oysters contain roughly:

Calories: 50

Protein: 6 grams

Fat: 1 gram

Carbohydrates: 5 grams

Fiber: 0 grams

Raw oysters are also an abundant source of several vitamins and minerals. They’re a particularly good source of vitamin B12, which research has indicated plays a big role in keeping your brain healthy. Other micronutrients include: Vitamin D, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Copper, Manganese and Selenium. 

These buttery, slippery, delicious pieces of heaven from the sea create a permanent briny memory your taste buds will never forget. For millennia, oysters have been a common theme for coastal locations. Roman history shows oysters were enjoyed by the wealthier population. Native American Indians also took advantage of this high protein morsel.

In fact, their dietary value has been recognized as far back as the dinosaurs. Over a decade ago, archeologists in South Africa discovered these bivalves were a source of high food value 164,000 years ago.

By the 1700's, New York became the center stage for oysters. Gaining more attention, New York was the largest producer of oysters in the world. The popularity for these shellfish has waxed and waned over the centuries. With improved harvesting techniques, they became less expensive and more available to everyone.

In late 2020, the Apalachicola Bay oyster harvesting was halted until 2025. This area produces 90% of fresh Florida oysters you might see on a menu. Now with the uncertain future of fresh Florida oysters, only time will tell if conservation can prevent the over-harvesting of these delicious shellfish. 

For more information about fresh Florida oysters and other Florida topics, contact Treasure Coast Insider Blogger Mona Leonard at 772-530-6131 or


Nov. 23, 2023

Buying Your First Home

Buying your first home is an exciting, daunting, emotional time. Home ownership has always made more sense and when interest rates are low, it's a smart time to buy. Over the long haul, real estate investments provide the greatest return on your money, even if it's your primary residence. Buying your first home means owning your own real estate and land ownership is the American dream. No matter what socioeconomic level you may currently find yourself. 

That's why the rich and famous focus so much of their attention on the own personal residences, Owning real estate is almost engrained in our psyche as humans at this point. 

Buying your first home provides many tax benefits, and equity over time, can make a huge difference in your overall wealth. Just a note... Those benefits alone shouldn't necessarily be the reason you buy. Starting a family, succeeding in your career, pets, an inheritance, outgrowing a space, downsizing, or a variety of other reasons will likely be a primary motivator for buying.

Being clear on your motive, is essential to understanding you true needs and wants. It helps to keep the essentials in check during the journey. Ones health, rest, diet, exercise and spiritual well-being are so important to staying in the best possible condition you can be.

This may easily be the biggest investment of your life, so treat it accordingly and give yourself permission to let the emotions go through you, because you're likely to feel many if you're a first time home buyer. So get pumped up because a few key points to know can mean the difference between a high negative stress situation, to a smooth transition with happiness through most of the journey. 

The key is preparation and expectation. Purchasing a home can be daunting. If you want the best chance of getting a home at a great price, you need to prepare in advance. Check out these 5 tips to prepare for buying your first home.

1. Know Your "Spend" - Buying your first home when your income is stable, and you have a high credit score can mean success vs. failure if you're borrowing money from a bank or private lender to purchase. The debt-to-income ration should be less than 45% and having enough cash in the bank to cover closing costs, the down payment, moving expenses, and other expenses the purchase may create (i.e. paint, repairs, inspections, surveys, appraisals). Having a great lender is critical to your success and knowing your numbers is the first thing on your list. 

2. Don't Rush - Create a timeline for your purchase to reduce the pressure this life change brings. If you're renting a home now, and you're nearing the end of your lease, see if you can rent month-to-month until you've been able to close on your new home. Firm deadlines often have to be shifted for a variety of reasons. If the appraisal comes in late, the sellers have to stay a bit longer, or repairs to the house need to be made, most likely your closing date will be extended. Be prepared for that possibility by planning ahead. This often occurs when buying a home.

3. Location and Lifestyle - Important considerations might be commute time, schools, golf, beaches, churches, healthcare, nightlife, proximity to family and friends, and more. Different counties have different tax rates. HOAs can mean less maintenance and if you're considering an HOA, factor the fees into your monthly expenses. 

4. What Are Your "Must-Haves" - Analyze neighborhoods and home types in advance. Your Realtor will help you determine what's a great buy through a Comparative Market Analysis. up front and be flexible. Remember, the value for your new home is determined by the most recent closed sales in the area, not active listings. An expert in valuation can save you thousands at closing. Be flexible on what is a "must have" when buying your first home. The less inventory on the market, the harder it will be to have an offer accepted. 

5. When you've chosen your Realtor and have been pre-approved for a loan, you're as ready as you'll ever be. Be diligent and look for good deals. Be ready to act quickly when that deal appears. It may be gone before you know it! Buying your first home can be fun and very rewarding. Prepare ahead and you're more likely to succeed. 

For more information about buying your first home, call Mona Leonard Realtor, your Treasure Coast Living Blogger at 772-530-6131 or


Posted in Buying Tools
Nov. 23, 2023

The Amazing Life Of Santiago Perez

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 50s during a very turmoil-filled time, with Batista seizing power in 1952. Santiago always had a fascination and admiration for the United States. When Fidel Castro's ideas and popularity rose as the people revolted, Santiago was hopeful that Cuba would become more like the United States.

As he puts it, Santiago was "inquisitive" in his teens. He began flying. It started 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 a 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 an aircraft 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 today, Santiago flew his Vultee over the beach during the annual boat races. Batista was still in power, and Castro's followers were making "plans" in the mountains. 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.

That event would take Santiago's life in a new direction. Fearing further retaliation by the Batista intelligence forces, Santiago's friends suggested he spend 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 instructed to do something dramatic to support Castro and his plans. Santiago hired a helicopter and pilot in New Jersey and dropped 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 smartphones 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.

To prevent confiscation at the airport, Santiago retrieved the canisters using his plane and subsequently took a bullet to his knee for his troubles. He was forced to land on the water and was rescued by a passing cargo ship, along with the canisters. 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, including two WWII Bombers (B25), AT 6, C 46, C 47, Cessna, and Piper. When he speaks of his planes, it's like hearing someone talk proudly of their children.

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 could never call him by his first name. Instead, Santiago referred to him as Mr. President. He has lived passionately, inquisitively, and proudly as a United States and Martin County resident 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 Sewalls Point
Nov. 23, 2023

Stuart Area Rodeos

Many people moving to the area might not even think Stuart area rodeos exist. They exist and thrive! With over 18,000 cattle ranches in the state of Florida, we're ranked 12th in the nation for beef production. So much of the Treasure Coast is rural and agricultural. The most popular Stuart area rodeos are in Indiantown and Okeechobee. 

The Okeechobee Cowtown Rodeo

The Okeechobee Cowtown Rodeo held in March each year, brings cowboys from all over the country, in search of prize money and glory. It includes bareback bronc riding, bull riding, calf roping and lots more. It's a well-attended Stuart area rodeo, usually filling the arena with spectators. For the full arena schedule, contact the Okeechobee Cattlemen's Association.


In addition to the adult events (roping, riding and busting to name a few), the Mutton Bustin' contest is loved by kids and adults alike. During this event, young cowboys and cowgirls try to hang on... and walk away with great pride after the competition. You've never seen anything cuter. It's serious stuff for these kids and they love it.

Indiantown Rodeo

Held in October, the Indiantown Rodeo is a favorite of Stuart area rodeos, for folks of all ages. Cowboys from all over the country come to compete in Indiantown's rodeo. It's set in lush Timer Powers Park on Citrus Blvd and the area has a long tradition for everything Western... appropriate for western Martin County. My mom grew up in this little town in the '50's. It's a great place to raise a family.

With all that nature can offer, Indiantown has it all. If you're considering this area of the Treasure Coast, you'll love the fresh water fishing in Lake Okeechobee near Port Mayaca to the west. My absolute favorite fish to eat is fresh water catfish. There's plenty to do living the country life. Ranches and wildlife areas are abundant. It's "Old Florida" beauty with all its flora and fauna. Cabbage palms, live oak hammocks, Cyprus stands, grasslands, White-tailed deer, wild turkey, bobcats, an occasional gator... and nice people.  

Mona Leonard Reviews Stuart Area Rodeos

Want to look the part?

Eli's Western Wear is the place to shop if you're in the mood for some western wear. A new cowboy hat, some great boots, shirts, jeans and belts, Eli's Western Wear is the place to shop in Okeechobee. The inventory is huge and if they don't have what you're looking for, they can likely order it for you.

Mona Leonard Reviews the Okeechobee Rodeo

The Adams Ranch

The Adams Ranch includes 65,000 acres just west of Ft. Pierce. I met Bud Adams on several occasions and road shotgun in his old pick-up to view some of the gorgeous landscape and cattle on his ranch. Four generations have raised cattle here (Bud is standing in the photo). Their cattle auctions are second to none and they create a top-notch hoedown for young and old alike.

From raising money for victims of human trafficking, to putting on a great shindig for the Cattleman's Ball to raise money for the Sunrise Theatre, this family owned and operated ranch (ranked in the top 50 seed stock ranches in the country) is part of the heritage of the Treasure Coast. 


Mona Leonard Reviews The Adams Ranch

For more information on other terrific Stuart area rodeos, contact Mona Leonard at or call 772.530.6131. As blogger for Treasure Coast Insider, feedback is always appreciated.



Nov. 23, 2023

Reasons To Work With A Realtor

There are many reasons to work with a Realtor when selling your home. Although it might be tempting to try and sell it yourself, consider the negative consequences because they may be numerous. The falsehood that you'll make more by selling a property yourself because you'll save commission expenses is a misconception many home sellers fall into. The reasons to work with a Realtor far outweigh the benefits you might think you'll gain by buying or selling yourself.

According to the National Association of Realtors, sellers sell for less when they try selling independently. That's because of their lack of knowledge in negotiation, law, property valuation, etc. These are legitimate reasons to work with a Realtor.

The same is true when buying. You need someone in your court to protect you from fraud, unscrupulous sellers, inspection issues, repair problems, and costs. Property valuation is an essential part of a buyer's agent's job. This is critical and prevents you from overpaying for a property, something every buyer wants to avoid. 

Here are many reasons to work with a Realtor you'll want to consider. Your Agent:

  • Negotiates terms of sale or purchase, including concessions or repairs 
  • Pre-qualifies prospects for safety and protects customers' time and personal property
  • Assists, coordinates, and delivers the contract to the seller/buyer
  • Completes a Comparative Market Analysis to price the home accurately
  • Lists your property in multiple MLS boards for maximum exposure
  • Conducts virtual and in-person open houses to get your home sold
  • Accompanies buyer to the final walk-through
  • Gives property preparation suggestions for the highest sale price
  • Lists your home in numerous listing portals and online publications
  • Markets your property through social media, video, networking, and pitch sessions with other Realtors
  • Offers information on local amenities, local market research, and HOA/Condo Association governance guidance
  • Provides and coordinates all access to homes with your favorite features 
  • Analyzes comparable home sales and assists you in making an offer on your new home
  • Provides support throughout the process and after closing. 
  • Creates a list of available homes and schedules viewing appointments (virtual and physical)
  • Coordinates all requested inspections and allows access to others as needed
  • Coordinates closing with a lender, title company, customer, and all parties in a transaction
  • Adheres to a strict code of ethics

According to the National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

For Sale By Owner (FSBO) Statistics

FSBOs accounted for 7% of home sales in 2020. The typical FSBO home sold for $260,000 compared to $318,000 for agent-assisted home sales.

FSBO methods used to market home: 

  • None: Did not actively market home: 34%
  • Yard sign: 26%
  • Friends, relatives, or neighbors: 23%
  • Multiple Listing Service (MLS) websites: 18%
  • Social networking websites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, etc.): 14%
  • Open house: 14%
  • Online classified advertisements: 5%
  • Video: 4%
  • Virtual Tours: 3%
  • For-sale-by-owner websites: 2%
  • Print newspaper advertisement: 1%
  • Direct mail (flyers, postcards, etc.): 1%
  • Television: 1%
  • Most difficult tasks for FSBO sellers:
  • Preparing/fixing up the home for sale: 17%
  • Getting the right price: 14%
  • Understanding and performing paperwork: 11%
  • Selling within the planned length of time: 5%
  • Having enough time to devote to all aspects of the sale: 5%
  • Attracting potential buyers: 3%
  • Helping buyers obtain financing: 3%

Source: 2021 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

For many more reasons to work with a Realtor, call your Treasure Coast Living Blogger, Mona Leonard, at 772-530-6131 or email her at



Posted in Selling Tips