Corvette 2016

On my way to work this morning, I drove past so many beautiful vintage and new corvettes. Downtown is filled with people strolling, attending the farmer’s market, riding the trolley and admiring all of the highly polished Corvettes at the Pier show. What a nice way to start the day! I love the fact that I can see all of this from my office, too. Hope that you have a fantastic day!

Corvettes on the Pier 2016

Pinellas Realtor Organization












Florida Realtors® recently released the 2016 first quarter (January through March) real estate market statistics for the state. I wanted to be sure you had an overview of how our area is performing.

The single family homes real estate markets in Pinellas, Hillsborough and Pasco Counties are looking very strong for the first quarter of 2016. Higher median sales prices, more closed sales, and faster time to contract are all good news for sellers.

Decreasing inventory and lower Median Days to Contract mean fewer homes on the market and a likelihood of more competition for buyers.

As your local Realtor® and Neighborhood Advocate, I am your resource for data that affects our communities and your property value. Homeownership affordability and accessibility is a cornerstone of the Realtor® advocacy efforts at every level – local, state and national.

Here are some highlights from the Florida Realtors® Quarter 1 2016 Statistics Release for the Single Family Home Market Segment:

  • Closed Sales: Up for Pinellas County, Hillsborough County and Pasco County for Quarter 1 2016 from Quarter 1 2015. This statistic is a good indicator of the overall health of the market, and lots of closed sales mean both sellers and buyers are achieving success.
    • Pinellas County: 3,167 Closed Sales Q1 2016 vs. 3,021 Closed Sales Q1 2015, a 4.8% increase
    • Hillsborough County: 3,934 Closed Sales Q1 2016 vs. 3,773 Closed Sales Q1 2015, a 4.3% increase
    • Pasco County: 2,184 Closed Sales Q1 2016 vs. 2,082 Closed Sales Q1 2015, a 4.9% increase
  • Median Sale Price: Up for Pinellas County, Hillsborough County and Pasco County for Quarter 1 2016 from Quarter 1 2015. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half the homes sold for less.
    • Pinellas County: $195,000 Median Sale Price Q1 2016 vs. $163,319 Median Sale Price Q1 2015, a 19.4% increase
    • Hillsborough County: $200,000 Median Sale Price Q1 2016 vs. $178,000 Median Sale Price Q1 2015, a 12.4% increase
    • Pasco County: $157,025 Median Sale Price Q1 2016 vs. $137,525 Median Sale Price Q1 2015, a 14.2% increase
  • Inventory (Active Listings): Down for Pinellas County, Hillsborough County and Pasco County for Quarter 1 2016 from Quarter 1 2015. When inventory is low, there are fewer houses on the market and buyers are often competing for homes or have a tougher time finding a home that suits their exact needs. Flexibility and preparation are key to being able to make an offer on a home when you do find what you’re looking for.
    • Pinellas County: 4,015 Active Listings Q1 2016 vs. 4,470 Active Listings Q1 2015, down 10.2%
    • Hillsborough County: 5,098 Active Listings Q1 2016 vs. 5,454 Active Listings Q1 2015, down 6.5%
    • Pasco County: 2,759 Active Listings Q1 2016 vs. 3,344 Active Listings Q1 2015, down 17.5%
  • Median Days to Contract: Down for Pinellas County, Hillsborough County and Pasco County for Quarter 1 2016 from Quarter 1 2015. The midpoint of the number of days it took for a property to receive a sales contract during that time. The faster a home goes to contract, the less time it is on the market for sale. Another good indicator for sellers and a tool for buyers to understand how to thrive in a hot market.
    • Pinellas County: 36 Days Q1 2016 vs. 49 Days Q1 2015, a 26.5% decrease
    • Hillsborough County: 46 Days Q1 2016 vs. 58 Days Q1 2015, a 20.7% decrease
    • Pasco County: 44 Days Q1 2016 vs. 59 Days Q1 2015, a 25.4% decrease
If you would like to discuss the market statistics further, or would like me to keep you informed, I would welcome the opportunity to provide monthly stats for you. Please don’t hesitate to email me at or call me at 727-804-6566 if I can be of service. Thank you so much!

© 2016 Pinellas Realtor Organization

Tomorrow about 100 teams will be participating in the Coastal Charity Challenge Scavenger Hunt to raise money for local charities. Each team could win up to $10,000. for their charity. Each team is made up of 4 members. Our team, which consists of Denise Reilly, Karen Vogel, Dana Tenaglia and me, will be trying to raise money for Morning Star School-Pinellas Park . So please look for our posts tomorrow on Facebook #CCChallenge. This could be very entertaining for all while we perform tasks, collect poker chips and, hopefully, raise money for our charities!! Thank you to all of our generous sponsors!

Saturday, May 21st, 2016


  • 1st Place: $10,000 for your Charity

  • 2nd Place: $2,000 for your Charity

  • 3rd-5th Place: $1,000 for your Charity


  1. Meet at SEA DOG BREWING COMPANY– 26200 US Hwy 19 N, Clearwater, FL 33761 on Saturday, May 21st at 9:30am for registration.
  2. Hunt begins promptly at 10:00am. There is no time limit except that you must return to finish line by 2:00pm. 

  3. Each team will randomly be given a card as their starting point. They must drive to the location and will be asked to perform a task which will earn them a poker chip. Each chip is worth a different amount. The chip amounts are unknown and will be assigned during the Grand Prize Gathering. Each team will attempt to attain the maximum number of poker chips. Teams will be required to take a picture of their task and upload it to Facebook. #CCChallenge  All team members must be present in the photo. Teams must stay together thoroughout the challenge. 


Here’s a little information about our charity:

Morning Star School-Pinellas Park is dedicated to helping our students develop into educated, well-rounded, productive and successful members of society. We offer a caring, Christian learning environment where kids are able to succeed. The positive is accentuated to help our students recognize their potential.

Ours is a unique school that offers an individualized educational program designed specifically to meet the academic needs of each pupil.  Our teachers take pride in skillfully developing academic lessons with every student in mind.  The ungraded classrooms allow all to excel at their own pace.  Our intention is that each Morning Star student will have the opportunity to reach his or her maximum potential academically, socially, and spiritually.

We understand that children with special education requirements need more care and attention than is often offered in a traditional school setting. These students necessitate individualized instruction from caring professionals who are trained to understand and meet each student’s unique needs.×720.mp4– This is the link to the video.

This is the link to the website –

The sponsors for the challenge are: 

Exterminating Co. 

construction_banner-590- copy

Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Welcome Center. (Photo taken May 3, 2016.)

Some Stetson students returning to college life in August will find themselves enjoying the cottage life.

Other students will be welcomed by larger, cooler and “greener” residences, flood-free parking on the west side of campus, and the new Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Welcome Center.

All are part of construction and renovation projects scheduled to be completed before students return to campus on Aug. 19.

Here’s a look:

* WELCOME: The new Marshall and Vera Lea Rinker Welcome Center – a three-story, 28,000 square-foot complex in the middle of Stetson’s historic district – will welcome prospective students and alumni, and will centralize a number of services for current students. The facility will house the Office of Admissions, Career and Professional Services, Student Financial Planning and the Registrar and Bursar’s offices.

* THE COTTAGE LIFE: “This fall for the first time we have “cottages” available for student housing,” said Al Allen, associate vice president of Facilities Management. “We have been purchasing single-family homes adjacent to campus over a long period of time. We’ve mostly been leasing them to staff, but as our enrollment has increased, we need to use these properties for student housing.”

The university is calling them “cottages” to reflect their ambience, Allen said.

The four cottages include residences at 205 E. University Ave. (which will house four students), 220 E. University Ave. (seven students), 245 E. Michigan Ave. (five students) and 208 E. Pennsylvania Ave. (seven students).

One of the cottages will be used by the Lambda Chi fraternity.

“We will go through the houses and renovate and spruce them up as needed, as well as furnish them,” Allen said. Residency at the cottages is based on student seniority.

* LIVING LARGE: “Three years ago we purchased Stetson Cove apartments and renovated them, and those have met with great success with students,” Allen said. “We know students like living in those apartments because they’re large – large enough for families. This year we purchased two more apartment complexes adjacent to campus on the north side.”

Colonial Oaks, at 275 Stetson Ave., will house 48 students. Stetson House Apartments, at 285 Stetson Ave., will house 36 students.

“We completely refurbish our apartments when we buy them,” Allen said. Renovations include new roofs, air conditioning, plumbing, flooring, bathrooms and more.

More student housing will be available at Plymouth Apartments, which the university is leasing. Those apartments, at the corner of Plymouth and Amelia avenues, were fully renovated before being leased, Allen said.

* GOING GREEN: The new metal roofs going atop Flagler Hall, Sampson Hall and Conrad Hall will be “green” – as in environmentally green.

“All those buildings are in our historic district and each one exceeds 100 years old,” Allen said. Because of their location in Stetson’s historic district, the university received a grant for 50 percent of the funding from the state of Florida.

Also, the project “is fully supported by the city of DeLand’s Historic Preservation Commission,” Allen said.

The new metal roofs will replace the current shingle roofs.

“Shingle roofs last only about 15 years in Florida, and when you take them off they sit in landfills forever,” Allen said. “Metal roofs reflect heat better and, equally important, they last 50 years and then you recycle them. It’s a very green approach.”

* THE BIG CHILL: The air conditioning system that serves the bedrooms in Emily Hall is being replaced. Emily Hall houses 220 second- and third-year students.

The air conditioning in University Hall is being “enhanced,” Allen said. Also, the building’s bathrooms are being renovated and carpet will be replaced with hard flooring. Carpet also is being removed from Conrad Hall and Chaudoin Hall. The change will help in the fight against allergies, Allen said.

“By the end of this summer we will no longer have any carpet in any of our resident hall rooms,” he said.

* RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY: West side parking, which includes 100 spaces used by commuter students, faculty and staff, is going to lose its reputation as a flood zone. The parking area is behind what is now the HR Building as well as Allen Hall, Wesley House and Cummings Gym.

“Rain water just races across the parking lot and across Minnesota Avenue, floods Minnesota and then floods the other parking lot,” Allen said. “We’re going to create storm water retention ponds” to alleviate the problem.

The university will work on the project with Wesley House, a United Methodist campus ministry.

“They own some of that land – they gave us an easement essentially,” Allen said. “So we’re going to fund the improvements and provide long-term maintenance.”

The project will use concrete instead of pavement. “Concrete is much cooler,” Allen said. “Asphalt is essentially a petroleum by-product. Concrete is much more expensive but it also lasts 50 years.”

by Rick de Yampert

Certified International Property  Specialist courses help Realtors to become more knowledgeable when conducting business with International buyers and sellers, understand the cultures, make worldwide connections, obtain the designation, and ultimately make more money.These 5 National Association of Realtors courses are to be offered at Pinellas Realtors Organization over the next few months. They include Transactions Tools, Asia/Pacific, Europe and the Americas. In addition, At Home with Diversity will be offered. Please register at PRO’s website soon as the first course begins on MAY 19th.

Hope to see you there!!


Please join the Pinellas International Council for our monthly International Marketing and Networking Session. The event is free but we do need you to register on the PRO website in advance-Wine and small bites are provided by the PRO Affiliate Business Partners. Thank you!!

Hope to see you there!



You may also contact: Martha Vasquez




Villa Stargate, Grecia, Costa Rica



And yet another reason to move to Costa Rica!


By Jason Holland,

Since moving here I haven’t had arthritis in years,” says Robbie Felix of her healthy new life in Manuel Antonio, on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. “The clean air in the rainforest, the ocean…it’s like breathing medicine. I’m very healthy for someone with a chronic illness. I surf. I walk on the beach. I exercise.”

Robbie, in her early 60s, has the chronic illness lupus. But she found relief from her symptoms (including arthritis and skin allergies) after arriving in Costa Rica. And she’s not alone. Robbie is just one of the many expats who no longer needs a raft of medications since moving down here.

“My high blood pressure has come down almost completely.” says Nel Cameron, 68, who lives in Escazú, a suburb of Costa Rica’s capital, San José.

So what is it about Costa Rica that causes your blood pressure to plummet and your dependence on meds to go fade away?

There’s a phrase in Costa Rica, sort of the unofficial national motto: Pura Vida. It literally translates to “Pure Life,” but it’s more accurate to say “Life Is Good.”

It’s an attitude shared by most Ticos, as Costa Ricans call themselves. They value time with family and friends. They work hard, but you won’t find them sacrificing playing soccer with their kids at the park by staying late at the office. They know that a well-balanced life, where you spend time in your community or doing things you enjoy, is key to good health and wellness.

It makes for a low-stress lifestyle. And most expats find that, soon after arriving in Costa Rica, they adopt the Pura Vida way of life, too. They slow down. They get out of the habits they had for years when they were part of the daily grind. They enjoy coffee on their back porch, enjoying the scenic vistas of the Central Valley or Lake Arenal. Or breakfast with their toes in the sand with friends, after a long walk on the beach.

Reducing stress and learning to enjoy life is only one way expats find themselves improving their mental and physical health. Just about every Costa Rican town of any size has a feria, or outdoor farmers’ market, at least once a week. Most expats adopt the local habit of doing the majority of their shopping there. The price is right. With pineapples for $1, heads of lettuce for 75 cents, tomatoes for 50 cents a pound, and other bargains, you can load up on a week’s fresh fruits and vegetables for about $35. You also have fresh fish like snapper, tuna, or dorado (mahi-mahi), straight off the boat, for $5 to $6 a pound.

With these prices—and the abundance of fresh, whole foods—you can’t help but have a healthier diet. It’s common for expats to eliminate the need for some prescriptions. And lose significant weight—20…30…40 pounds or more—in the process.

Harry and Barbara Jones, a 60-something couple, live in Grecia, in Costa Rica’s Central Valley. They’ve found that living like the locals—shopping at the local farmers’ market for fresh fruits and vegetables, for example—allows them to cut their monthly budget to well under $2,000. Another benefit of their newfound healthy eating habits: “I’ve lost 30 pounds since moving down,” says Harry.

Diet is just one part of the equation. You have no shortage of options for exercise in Costa Rica, thanks to the warm, tropical weather year-round. On land, you can take long walks on the beach, trek through jungle, or hike vigorous trails to mountaintops with panoramic vistas. Watersports like surfing, standup paddle boarding, and kayaking are hugely popular on the coasts, with plenty of schools and instructors to help beginners of any age.

“One of the things we like is that it is quiet and peaceful. Its country living at its finest,” says Ian Douglass, 46, from Manhattan Beach, California, of his life on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast. “Clean air, unprocessed food, good waves, natural beauty, and the beach. I think these are things we should be allowed to enjoy every day.”

In the beach areas, it can be hot and humid—too much for some, just right for others. But head to the Central Valley and you’ll enjoy cool mornings where you need a sweatshirt and afternoon highs in the mid-80s F, with little humidity.

Jeff and Allison Spencer, 60 and 58, respectively, were educators in Arizona before retiring early and moving to the Lake Arenal region, which features a consistent, spring-like climate.

“In general, I really enjoy the weather. The breeze keeps things cool and keeps the bugs away. Even on rainy days, it’s nice and cool. March to April it’s dry. But we do have a lot of rain during rainy season, usually a sunny morning and rainy afternoon—that’s typical. But I wouldn’t trade that for the heat and dust in Arizona,” says Jeff, who adds, “The great temperatures year-round allow us to enjoy kayaking, biking, and hiking whenever we want.”

Of course, just walking out your front door can provide a lot of exercise. Many communities in Costa Rica are also very walkable. If you live in a town in the Central Valley or in one of the many laidback beach towns, you can get around mainly on foot for trips to the grocery store, local restaurants, and the like. If you’re in more outlying areas, there is excellent bus service and cheap taxis, so there’s no need to depend on a car.

With all these factors, it’s no wonder that one of Costa Rica’s regions, the Nicoya Peninsula, was named one of the world’s Blue Zones by researchers. They discovered that locals live longer on average, thanks to a combination of diet, climate, and lifestyle. I can’t say you’ll live longer as an expat in Costa Rica. But you’ll certainly be healthier.

By Jason Holland,


100m N Miguel Arriba, Grecia, Costa Rica

When my youngest daughter was here visiting in January, I took her around to see all the cool murals that had arrived since her last visit. We were lucky to witness some of them being painted. I love them. How cool is this?!? A couple of years ago I started taking pictures of them but now there are so many new ones that I NEED to photograph. I told my daughter then that I wanted to write a post about the mural of St Pete as soon as I had time. Obviously, it was a good idea because someone has beaten me to the punch!! Read below & come see them in person.

St. Pete is slowly becoming known for its street art. The Huffington Post recently touted the Burg as one of the Top 15 Street Art Cities in AmericaLocal businesses, neighborhoods and members of the city council have recognized how imperative a thriving arts culture is to the growth and development of the city at large.

Whether exploring the alley behind the 600 Block or Baum Avenue in the EDGE District, literary, mythological and locally inspired designs burst from the brick walls of galleries and shops downtown. Designs have made their way to 4th Street, Uptown, the Grand Central District and Deuces Live. Bar like The Amsterdam have attracted appreciators with their ever rotating gallery of murals.

A few new designs have popped up recently that you need to see for yourself.

This mural by artist David Rothman can be found on the side of the Bay Food Mart between 6th and 7th Avenues North on 4th Street.


Artist Chad Mize adds more than a splash to color to the Historic Uptown area of St. Pete. The neighborhoods new insignia can be found by the Laundromat at 499 7th Avenue North. The mural also features a hex block design inspired by the sidewalks in the neighborhood.

Want to see the process of creating an entirely new vibe in this neighborhood on the rise? Chad Mize created an excellent time lapse showcasing the work that went into the mural.


The 801 Conway has certainly left its mark on the EDGE District and the entire St. Pete community thanks to the skilled hands and minds of the Vitale Brothers. This mural can be found on the side of the former Cafe Adagio building at 1111 Central Avenue.


*Photo via @paintthatuglything on Instagram

PizzaBox has made its prescence felt since opening. With a wood-fired oven they built themselves and a striking mural the owners painted, this new restaurant has quickly become a part of the regular St. Pete diet. P.S. Their gluten-free pizza, made with BoBs Red Mill gluten free dough, is amazing. The mural is in the alley behind the restaurant. Their address is 923 Central Avenue.

A muralist by the name of Christy recently added a bit of magic to the 600 Block alley with an enchanted mural. Stephanie Byrne Photography was able to capture this magical design perpendicular to the famous Twiggy Mural by Chad Mize.


A new mural is currently in the works by Deplane Studios and Manmade Murals on the side of Urban Provisions in the Grand Central District. If it’s anything like Urban Brew and BBQ’s historical design, we’re sure it will be a magnificent site to behold. The project is in partnership with Small Town Brewery. Urban Provisions is located at 2410 Central Avenue.

*Photo via Carla Bristol

A new mural has been added to the Deuces District by painter/sculptor Patrick Noze. You can view his piece titled “Art Reflecting History” on the side of the Advantage Training Systems building at 833 22nd Street.  South.

Sarah Sheppard completed this gorgeous Alice in Wonderland mural back in February. We hadn’t gotten to see it in person until recently. Gazing at it is trully a transformative experience. You can check it out on the side of China Finders located at 2823 Central Avenue.

Sarah Sheppard isn’t done leaving her mark on the Burg. She also recently completed a mural on the exterior of the new St. Pete Makers facility. For those looking to take what’s brewing in their imagination and make it a reality, this spot is a must visit. St. Pete Makers is located at 429 22nd Street South.

– See more at:



Neighborhood Advocates Initiative Flood Insurance April 2016

I’m sure that you have heard that flood insurance rates increased starting April 1.

In 2012 Congress passed the Biggert-Waters Act, creating sharp rate increases for properties in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Those increases went into effect in the fall of 2013, and crisis ensued for many homeowners. Congress acted by passing the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act, which addressed many of the problems.

The sharp increases from Biggert-Waters were postponed, and a glide path was proposed instead of the immediate increases. On Friday, April 1, 2016 the glide path went into effect.

Here is what a property owner should know:

  • The type of property matters: Residential vs. Commercial, Pre-FIRM (Flood Insurance Rate Map), Severe Repetitive Loss, non-primary residential, etc. It is important for a property owner to understand that the property’s characteristics will dictate the maximum annual increase in premiums. A typical Pre-FIRM, primary residence will see a maximum annual increase of 18%, but on average will see a 9% increase.
  • High likelihood rates will continue to increase: Pinellas County, FL has the most NFIP policies of any county in the country, and Pasco and Hillsborough are close behind. This is based on several factors that will continue to drive risk and increased rates for years to come. Those risk factors are weather, building codes at the time of construction of Pre-FIRM homes, and proximity to bodies of water.
  • How do I know exactly what I will be paying? It is important to involve an insurance professional during this conversation. The many facets of flood insurance, or any other form of property insurance, make it a complex question to answer. An insurance professional can navigate the ins and outs, and properly advise you on how best to limit your cost. Keep in mind, you won’t see an immediate increase in costs until your next renewal period, you purchase a new property requiring flood insurance, or you have to re-initiate your flood insurance policy due to a lapse in coverage.


Because this issue has the potential to affect you and our local economy, I thought that you might want to know about it. If you have questions or comments, please email me at Thank you so much.

© 2016 Pinellas Realtor Organization

An associate of mine is offering this 3 bedroom 1940’s block home on 1/3 acre for sale in St Pete Beach. Please contact me if you are interested or you know someone who might be interested in owning this rare large lot home.




Annalisa Weller, Realtor®, Certified International Property Specialist

(727) 804-6566

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