Please join the Pinellas International Council for this unique seminar on
Friday, October 31, 2014 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Pinellas REALTOR Organization, 4590 Ulmerton Road, Clearwater, FL 33762
You must register to attend:
PRO Members are FREE, Non-PRO Members $5.

Foreign buyers of U S residential real estate surged 35% last year. Chinese buyers, searching for moderately priced, safe investments in a sea of economic and political uncertainty, are outspending the rest of the world.
Chinese buyers spent $22 billion on U S homes in the 12-month period ending in March, or about 24 percent of total foreign sales by dollar value, according to a study released in July by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). That’s up from $12.8 billion or 19%, on the previous year – Forbes Magazine July 2014.

Interested in expanding your niche? Join the Pinellas International Council for an interactive and informative seminar: manners, business etiquette and understanding the cultural differences in China and Taiwan. Speakers include Realtors® Sunny Duann* of RE/MAX Realtec (PIC member), Sue Xu* of People’s Choice Realty Services, LLC and attorney Caroline Wei-Berk*, 2014 President of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Tampa Bay.

Highlights of the event are:
Panel: the cultural differences between Taiwanese and Chinese buyers and sellers with Sunny Duann and (Yingyi) Sue Xu
Presentation: Business Etiquette and Manners – Attorney Caroline Wei-Berk
•Questions and Answers
Members from the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Tampa will be at the seminar. It’s a great way to meet and network!

*All speakers are members of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Tampa Bay
12:30 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.: Sign in and networking
1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.: Presentation

Well, we made it to Friday and TGIF to all! It has a very busy and productive week for me.
But now it’s time to take a break with a deep breath and spend a few minutes watching a little manatee video before getting back to work.

Enjoy and have a great weekend!

GoPro: Gentle Giants


This very question came up recently when an unknown to me attorney called me to find out why I didn’t have him doing the closing for his newly acquired clients. I explained that the title company had been chosen by my buyers long before he came into the picture. I very carefully screen the title companies that I present to my buyers or sellers to best suit their needs, personalities, depth of knowledge & how detailed the explanations at the closing might need to be, etc. Usually, there are 3-4 title companies on the list. I receive no referral fees or kickbacks. I just want the buyers or sellers to receive the best service catered to their specific needs. Some only want the bottom line, no fuss, no muss. Others want every line & figure explained as we go along. I want them to feel comfortable with such an important decision, even if we must sit there for 4 or 5 hours (which I have done).  Would love to hear your thoughts on this. Thanks-Annalisa

Sound Off:Why would a Realtor recommend a specific title company?   Published September 26, 2014

A: When a real estate transaction enters the escrow process, the efficiency and attention to detail of the title company and escrow officer are paramount to facilitating a smooth closing. Choosing the right company to handle this important final phase of the transaction can make the difference between a smooth and timely closing or a cumbersome one with obstacles.

Title companies play a key role in acting as the combined agent of the buyer, seller and any other parties related to a transaction, including any mortgage lenders. From the title search of the property to ensuring outstanding liens and encumbrances on the property are identified, the title company is an important component of a successful sale. The company also ensures all documents are properly signed and legally recorded — not a small matter in a substantial financial transaction.

It’s also not uncommon for one or more parties of the transaction to be out of state or out of the country, and the title company will arrange signings virtually anywhere with traveling notaries, attorneys or branch offices.

For the Realtor, the title company and escrow officer are key players in a transaction. Knowing you’re working with someone you can trust to communicate well throughout escrow, and ensure all documents are executed appropriately, is critically important.

Susan W. White,

Alain Pinel Realtors Sonoma,

(707) 537-1236,

A: Title and escrow officers play an integral role in real estate transactions. I find that many clients are not fully informed about what title companies do to protect their long-term interests.

Experienced agents can help clients choose a title company that has a high level of expertise and financial strength. My clients and I rely on our title officer during the transaction, and my clients can depend on the title company to provide insurance coverage during their ownership of the property.

I recommend my clients engage title officers that I have worked with previously. Given our collective professional expertise, we can anticipate and resolve issues that impact the property. Reputable title companies uncover a myriad of complicated issues, such as unrecorded liens or esoteric easements. The members of an effective transaction team, including the agents, loan officers and title/escrow officers, work diligently to guide their clients during the course of the transaction.

A successful transaction occurs when the buyer performs a complete due diligence, or investigation, of the property and can make an informed choice to proceed to closing. It is imperative that title/escrow officers be proactive to provide their clients with the level of service requisite to a successful closing.

Hillary O’Connell Marino,

Pacific Union and Christie’s International Real Estate,

(707) 225-3706,

A: Title companies play a vital role in ensuring that the transfer of title from the seller to the buyer goes smoothly.

Purchasing title insurance gives a buyer protection from other parties who may step up — either prior to the close of escrow or after — to claim that they have an interest in the property as well.

They also act as a neutral third party, handling all the paperwork necessary to close an escrow and holding the buyers’ purchase money until they have a deed signed by the seller conveying the property to its new owner.

Realtors often have an established personal relationship with an escrow officer at a particular title company, and may recommend that their buyers work with that company as a result.

Although all of the title companies perform the same function, and their fees are competitive, having a successful working history with an escrow officer is helpful when issues arise that require special attention in order to keep the transaction moving forward.

Karen Starr,

Grubb Co.,

(510) 339-0400, ext. 224,

8174 Eagles Park flyer 1








Whether you can attend in person or by Internet, this is a really cool event that you don’t want to miss.

Marvels of Illusion at the waterfront Dali Museum in St Petersburg, Florida, presents a sensational optical and intellectual experience while delving into the world of double images and illusions. This special exhibition showcases a variety of Dali paintings, prints and sculpture. It includes a very special work from the 16th Century from the School of Arcimboldo, on loan from the Ringling Museum. To help you experience this one of a kind exhibit, there is a great deal of explanatory material as well. A centerpiece of the Marvels of Illusion exhibit is an interactive installation titled “Gala Contemplating You” which places visitors inside one of Dali’s most famous paintings. The installation is inspired by Dali’s 1976 painting “Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea Which at Twenty Meters Becomes the Portrait of Abraham Lincoln (Homage to Rothko),” which proved that 121 pixels could identify a particular human face. A corresponding web application allows virtual visitors from around the globe to submit their photos and become part of the experience as well. The exhibit promises to entertain and fascinate people of all ages – visitors will not only come to the Museum, they will become part of it. I just love the Dali Museum!


At the Dali Museum, One Dali Blvd, downtown St Petersburg, Florida

- See more at:

Easy and cheap ways to make your water heater more energy efficient.  By: Joe Bousquin

In the saving energy fight, the hot water heater is a born loser. That’s because most of us have a conventional storage-type water heater.

That water storage tank works constantly to keep water hot and ready whenever you want it. But as the water sits, it naturally cools down, a process known as “standby heat loss.” When the water cools, the burner or heating element kicks on to warm it up again, in a constantly repeating cycle.

Water heating is the second largest energy hog in your home, accounting for 14% to 18% of your household’s total energy costs — between $400 and $600 per year. (Heating and cooling is the #1 energy hog.)

Here are 5 tips to trim your water heating costs:

#1 Turn Down the Tank’s Thermostat

For every 10 degrees you turn it down, you’ll save 3% to 5% on your bill. Most water heaters come preset at 140 degrees, which has the added risk of scalding. The Energy Department recommends most households lower it to 120 degrees. That’s high enough for your needs, and high enough to reduce mineral buildup in your tank and pipes.

Here’s how to ensure you get 120 degrees:

  • First measure to see what temperature your water is at now. Don’t trust the thermostat. They are often inaccurate. Instead, use a thermometer to measure the temperature of the hot water at the faucet farthest away from the heater.
  • To remember this setting, mark that temperature on your thermostat.
  • Now turn down the thermostat to what you think will be 120 degrees, based on your earlier measurement.
  • Wait at least 2 hours. Measure the water temperature again at the same far-away faucet. It may take a few attempts to get it right.
  • Once it’s right, mark that spot on your thermostat so you’ll remember it.

If the thermostat on your water heater doesn’t have a numbered gauge, put it midway between the “low” and “medium” marks. Wait a day, and then measure the tap temperature as described above. Keep adjusting until you hit your target temperature.

Keep in mind that some water heaters have two thermostats — one for the bottom heating element and one for the top.
#2: Use Less Hot Water

One sure way to cut hot water costs is to use less of it.

A family of four showering five minutes a day uses 700 gallons of water each week — a three-year supply of drinking water for one person!

Simply by installing low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators ($10 to $20 each), you’ll cut your hot water consumption by 25% to 60%. Plus, you’ll save on your water bill. That family of four using low-flow fixtures can save 14,000 gallons of water a year.

Also, make sure you use the “economy” setting on your dishwasher, and break the pre-washing habit. Modern dishwashers can handle a dirty dish. Scrape what’s left of dinner into the trash or compost bin and then load.

#3: Drain the Sediment

Tanks naturally build up sediment, which reduces efficiency and makes saving energy a challenge. 
Draining the tank will keep it running efficiently. And it’s really easy to do:

  • Turn off the water and power to the unit. On a gas unit, set the burner to “pilot.”
  • Connect a garden hose to the spigot at the base of the tank.
  • With the other end of the hose pointed at your floor drain, carefully lift the tank’s pressure-relief valve and turn on the tank’s spigot; water should begin to flow.

Tip: While most manufacturers recommend draining the tank once or twice a year, you don’t have to drain it completely; in fact, the Department of Energy recommends draining less water more often — just a quart every three months.
#4: Insulate Exposed Hot-Water Pipes

By insulating your hot water pipes, water will arrive at the faucet 2 to 4 degrees warmer, which means you won’t have to wait as long for it to heat up, thus saving energy, water, and money.

While this isn’t an expensive DIY job — 6-ft.-long, self-sealing sleeves ($2.50) easily slip over pipes — it could take effort, depending on where your hot water pipes are located. Exposed pipes in the basement are easy targets: Hard-to-reach pipes in crawl spaces or walls might not be worth the trouble.

#5 Insulate Your Hot Water Tank

If you have an older tank, and especially if it’s located in an unheated space, wrapping it with an insulating blanket is a cheap and easy way to reduce costs.

Manufacturers have figured this out, so most newer models already are insulated. It’s easy to find out which one you have. Look on its label to see if it has an R-value of at least 24. If not, you should insulate your tank.
With these older models, an insulating blanket can cut heat loss by 25% to 45% and save 4% to 9% on the average water-heating bill (source: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy).

Insulating blankets are easy to install and inexpensive ($20). When dressing your tank for saving energy, be careful not to block the thermostat on an electric water heater or the air inlet and exhaust on a gas unit.

If you have a newer model that’s already insulated, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can get additional savings by adding a layer of insulation. It can block critical components and become hazardous. Check with your manufacturer.
Read more:


To hear about what’s happening in the luxury development market, you might want to watch this video from Inman News:

With cranes soaring high above in major cities and demand stronger than ever, the luxury segment is back. Learn about the state of this lucrative part of the real estate economy from Nat Bosa, president, Bosa Development; Erin Kennelly, senior director of research, The Mark Company; and Arden Hearing, managing director, Trumark Urban. Jennifer Berman Holt, general manager, Hilton & Hyland, moderates.

This weekend I came across these 6 videos that I though might be useful for others to see too. There are great ideas for kitchens, backsplashes, front doors and outdoor rooms. Please let me know what you think or if you have other home ideas that you would like to share.

Get Retro Inspiration   Seaside Design: Beautiful Backsplash Ideas for Your Kitchen

Seaside Design: Paint Ideas for Kitchen Cabinets

Seaside Design: Create a Relaxing Outdoor Living Room

Seaside Design: Paint Color Ideas for Your Front Door   Entryway with aqua front door

Coastal Colors: Beachy Neutrals

Brightly decorated porch   Coastal Colors: Tropical Brights.  A bright, tropical palette brings vibrancy to any space.


A French-inspired estate home currently under construction in Hillsboro Beach, Florida called Le Palais Royal has just been listed for sale at $139 million, making it the most expensive palace in the continental U.S. currently on the market.

By Michael Gerrity | September 5, 2014 – See more at:

The 60,500-square-foot palatial estate sits on over 4 acres and 465-feet of beachfront on Millionaires Mile. Le Palais Royal boasts a 492-foot private dock that can accommodate up to a 185-foot mega yacht, and an underground garage with parking for over 30 cars. Currently under the final phase of construction and slated for completion before the end of 2015, the price tag includes the finishing.

Listing agent William P.D. Pierce of Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate tells World Property Channel, “Le Palais Royal is to be the most expensive listing on the market in America, and was designed to be fit for royalty and the upmost refined individual. It is a true extension of a life well-lived. This grand palace will be a landmark that rivals Europe’s greatest palaces. A true masterpiece, it is adorned with custom detailing exclusive to its design and incomparable finishes.”

A 13-foot, 22-carat gold-leaf gate and 26-foot entrance fountain transports visitors into a world of opulence and luxury. The magnificent fountain is just one of six waterfalls that adorn the exterior. The entryway features seamless double “day and night” custom-designed doors, one of bronze-encased glass and the other of solid mahogany inlayed with 22-carat gold leafing. The doors open beneath a $2 million marble staircase with steel-iron railing and gold leaf, which took craftsmen more than two years to construct. The grand entrance and lobby open up to the expansive Le Salon with mesmerizing panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean.


Le Palais Royal beach veiw (Hillsboro Beach, Fla)

This oceanfront palace features 11 bedrooms, 17 bathrooms and the first-ever IMAX Theater contracted for private use, featuring a 50 by 27-foot screen and seating for 18 with a bar and IMAX lounge. Other exceptional features include three master bedroom suites and one presidential master suite, each with a Jacuzzi overlooking the ocean or Intracoastal Waterway.  La Cuisine du chef will feature a La Cornue Grand Palais custom range and custom cabinetry made of solid mahogany accentuated with 22-carat gold leafing. The family room will feature a 1,300-gallon Living Color aquarium enclosed within custom cabinetry that will accommodate a high definition 3-D television.

This royal palace features a 4,500-square-foot infinity edge pool with a 12-foot cascading waterfall, double loop LED-lit waterslide, fire pit and swim-up bar for outdoor entertaining. The pool was designed with state-of-the-art technology including an automated temperature gauge sensor and triple sanitation system, which utilizes saline, chlorine and ultraviolet light. An outdoor Jacuzzi is positioned above a waterfall, and there is also a plunge pool off the master suite on the second floor of the exterior terrace. The courtyard also features an outdoor summer kitchen with a pizza oven, outdoor lounge for royal entertaining, and entrance to indoor spa massage rooms.

Designed and inspired by fashion dynast Joseph Leone and in-house architect Denio Madera Design, every detail, including the construction techniques and infrastructure, has been taken into account on this palatial project. A proprietary security system was custom-designed for the upmost protection of the property. Security guard accommodations have been built on property as well as an air-conditioned kennel for on-site guard dogs. Le Palais Royal also features complete and sophisticated soundproofing from the slab to marble, including all flooring, plumbing and air conditioning to ensure a quiet tranquility throughout. For seamless maintenance, the property utilizes unique software that digitally documents every step and every square inch of the construction through photography and video. – See more at:

Just a few of the many things to do and see this weekend in te St Petersburg-Tampa Bay area:


Saturday, September 13, 2014 1:00pm   Dali and Beyond Film Series

Dali Museum, 1 Dali Blvd. (Bayshore Drive SE and Fifth Avenue SE), St. Petersburg, FL


Brother Against Brother: The Spanish Civil War. The documentary  features archival film and location footage as well as eyewitness accounts. This surreal film series lets you see a film for free in the museum’s lobby theater.


Saturday, September 13, 2014 2:00pm   One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Freefall Theatre, 6099 Central Ave., St. Pete

When a man decides to serve his sentence in a mental institution thinking it will be a better alternative to prison, his plan doesn’t account for the nurse who rules the  hospital with an iron fist. Through Sept. 14.  $20-$44; package deals available.  (727) 498-5205


Saturday, September 13, 2014 4:00pm   Walking Mural Tour

Florida Craftsmen Galleries , 501 Central Ave., St. Petersburg

Hear the inside stories of the making of more than 20 murals found in a four block area of the Central Arts District. Reservations required at $19, $11 ages 6-18, 5 and younger free.


Saturday, September 13, 2014 5:00pm  Frank Bolock Art Reception

Art on First, 550 1st Ave. N, St. Pete

Works of realism, fantasy and surrealism, and will be on display during the month of September. wine and refreshments


Saturday, September 13, 2014 5:00pm   Second Saturday ArtWalk

Regions Bank, 510 Central Ave, St. Pete

Rollins Fine Art partnered with Regions Bank to organize two exhibits at the bank. The September show will feature glass artist, Susan Gott, mixed media artist, Rocky Bridges, painter David Williams and photographer Ken Rollins. All art is for sale.


Saturday, September 13, 2014 5:00pm   Spathalicious: A Retrospective

Station Number Three Art Gallery, 2701 Fifth Ave. S, St. Pete

George Medeiros and Scott Durfee, founders and creative minds behind the brand, Spathose, will host this event with cuisine from Maggie on the Move, Tropicool, raffles and more. Their evolution of wearable sculpture, made from Florida native organic palm tree spathe, items available for buying during their trunk sale. Proceeds will benefit The Warehouse Arts Enclave and Venture House.

Saturday, September 13, 2014 5:00pm   Eclectic Exhibit Opening

Michele Tuegel Contemporary, 320 Central Ave , St. Pete

Internationally-recognized for his 30 years of fine craftwork from alternative materials, artist John Garrett will open the season with a solo show of metal and mixed media constructs. Opening coincides with the Greenlight Pinellas Second Saturday ArtWalk.


Saturday, September 13, 2014 5:30pm   Glass Exhibit Opening

Duncan McClellan Gallery, 550 24th St. S, St. Pete

The opening for “The Texture of Glass,” an exhibit by glass artist David Royce, includes glass blowing demonstrations and refreshments. Also at Fine Arts Museum, 255 Beach Dr, on Sunday, Sept 14th at noon.


Sunday, September 14, 2014 7:00pm   Bow Down Tour

The Local 662, 662 Central Ave., St. Pete

Rappers Deniro Farrar and Denzel Curry $15, $30 meet and greet.



Annalisa Weller, Realtor®, Certified International Property Specialist

(727) 804-6566

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