You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Green & Energy Saving’ tag.

girl doing school work via Pixabay
Source: Pixabay

 

Here on the cusp of fall, parents around the country are preparing for a new school year. To help out, we’ve rounded up a few of our favorite back-to-school supplies from certified Green Business Network (GBN) members that will make your star student the most sustainable kid in class.

 

1. Palila II Back Pack

backpack from Naturally PlayfukThe Palila II backpack from Naturally Playful ($34) is made from recycled bottles and is completely free of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and AZO dyes. The backpack’s also has plenty of convenient pockets and ergonomic shoulder straps for comfort.

 

2. Recycled Index Cards

 

recycled index cardsStock up on Naturally Playful’s recycled index cards ($1.50/pack), made in the USA with 40 percent post consumer paper.

 

3. Post Consumer 3 Ring Binder

 

RebinderThese post-consumer 3 ring binders (one-inch for $10 and two-inch for $12) from EcoPaper are recyclable, durable and resistant to spine tearing. Made with corrugated cardboard, these binders are perfect for keeping track of notes and assignments.

 

4. Safe Sporter Water Bottle 

Safe Sporter Water bottleThe pioneering Safe Sporter 16 oz. reusable water bottle ($15 on Lucky Vitamin) from Enviro Products by New Wave is lead and Bisphenol A (BPA) free and dishwasher safe. The bottles come in a variety of six colors and can reduce the use of plastic ones which don’t last nearly as long.

 

5. Tree Free Paper Notebooks

Eco Paper’s line of tree-free paper notebooks and journals ($6-$9, depending on size) are made with a mixture of post consumer and agricultural waste (bananas!) and free of toxins and bleaches. These notebooks are perfect for keeping your notes and ideas organized for the year. You can even toss your used notebook in the compost pile at the end of the year.

 

6. Beeswax Crayons 

crayons from Hazelnut Kids

These beeswax crayons from Hazelnut Kids ($22.50) are safe to use with 12 vibrant colors.

 

7. Eco-highlighters

highlighter from Greenline paper company

The ZEBRA ECO highlighter ($2) is a green way to put a spotlight on important notes.  Available from Greenline Paper Company they are made with 70 percent post-consumer recycled plastic, including from old CDs.

 

8. Wool Insulated Natural Lunch Bag 

 

lunch box from life without plasticThis wool insulated lunch bag ($40), also from Life Without Plastic proves that plastic-free lunch boxes are possible. The bag is made with 100 percent unbleached certified organic cotton and it’s wool insulated design guarantees that food will stay cool and fresh.

 

9. Hand Sanitizer

truce hand santizerFor little hands that are busy and prone to germ exposure, a non-toxic hand sanitizer may be good to have throughout the school day. The Peppermint & Rosemary hand sanitizer from Truce ($5) is made with rubbing alcohol, vegetable glycerine, aromatherapeutic oils and aloe vera and is gentle on kids and adults.

 

10. Bees Wrap

beeswrap

For an eco-friendly way to pack lunch, stock up on lunch wraps from Bees Wrap. You can bundle up your sandwich, snacks, and a cookie ($21). The wraps are made with beeswax-infused organic cotton and just need a quick wash to be ready the next day.

11. Stainless Steel Food Containers and Lunchbox

food container

Say goodbye to squished sandwiches in plastic baggies. New Wave EnviroProduct‘s stainless steel food containers and lunchboxes are free of Bisphenol-A (BPA) and other toxic chemicals commonly found in plastics. Plus, these containers are durable to last throughout many years of school and beyond.

 

 

More tips to go green at school:  

Even if your back-to-school prep doesn’t involve a lot of shopping, there are other actions you can take to promote sustainability in your school. Starting green student clubs, planting a Climate Victory Garden at your school (and then registering it on our map), taking field trips to learn about your school’s surrounding environment, carpooling with neighbors, and organizing community clean ups sure ways to motivate students and faculty to go green.

As an avid organic gardener for more than 40 years, I have been composting for almost that entire time. I have made them with chicken wire, old fence boards, recycled broken rain barrels, pallets, broken wine barrels, trash cans or whatever materials that I could find. I have also purchased compost bins from various farm supply stores and gardening supply companies. When I lived in Northern California 20 plus years ago, they already had a free composting program. So I am extremely happy that my city of these last 13 years is launching this program. They even have a downloadable composting guide.

I signed up for it immediately-about 2 weeks ago-even though I bought a very small one a while back. With all of my gardening & cooking, I filled it up very quickly. Just yesterday I received an email stating that “so many St Petersburg residents are interested in composting. Due to the demand for compost bins, it is taking some time to get them all delivered. Yours should be delivered before the end of next week. Thanks again for your interest (and patience), The St Pete Composting Team”.  I’ll gladly wait. I am so happy that SO many residents signed up!!

From the City of St Pete’s website:

Composting 7-2019

Did you know that kitchen and yard waste make up about 30% of what is thrown away? Composting helps divert these materials from landfills to deliver nutrients back into the soil.

Composting is the natural process of recycling organic material, like kitchen and yard waste, which breaks down to form a usable, nutrient-rich fertilizer.

Residential Composting Program

St. Petersburg’s residential composting program supports the sustainability initiatives of the City and empowers residents to minimize their environmental impact. Residents in single-family homes who are interested in composting are invited to sign up the free and voluntary program.

Participants in the composting program will receive a composting bin from the City to use in their backyard. The bin is approximately 33″ wide at the base and 33″ tall. There will be no collection service, but the resident will be responsible for feeding and maintaining the bin and will reap the benefits of the nutrient-rich compost by spreading it on their lawn or garden or even donating to a local community garden. For more information about composting, see our composting guide .

Next Steps

  1. Complete the form to request a composting bin.
  2. Start composting!
  3. Participate in periodic surveys to help improve the composting program.

http://www.stpete.org/sanitation/composting.php

Photo Courtesy of Bill Purcell Photography

Net-Zero Design Reshapes Senior Living

People rarely think of downsizing to any retirement facility as something that’s more. It’s almost always seen as less, whether that’s less space, less freedom, or less fulfillment.

Vassar Byrd is working to turn that thinking on its head with the redevelopment of Rose Villa, a 22-acre senior living community overlooking the Willamette River in Portland, OR.

The three-phase project started with a campus redevelopment that brought 75 new homes and a walkable environment, including a Main Street, green space, gardens, retail, and restaurants.

And with the recent addition of the Oaks at Rose Villa, Byrd, Rose Villa’s CEO, is cementing the idea that better options exist both for residents and for the environment.

What’s different, better?

The Oaks at Rose Villa is a 12-cottage pocket neighborhood that had its grand opening in February.

In developing the project, Byrd asked, “How do we rebuild our village with great infrastructure and modern amenities and reimagine it?”

She had a gut feeling about what “different” and “better” looked like. “For us, energy efficiency, health, and helping the environment were such important aspects,” she comments.

Given Portland residents’ deep concerns about and connections to the environment, she thought that incorporating green design principles would be natural.

Focus groups with locals confirmed her suspicions. “They totally got it and talked about feeling better and having healthier air,” says Byrd.

Lower costs, a lighter footprint

Byrd tapped Green Hammer Design, a Portland-based green design-build firm with a track record in designing buildings that adhere to standards like LEED®, Passive House, Net Zero Energy, and the Living Building ChallengeTM, to design the net-zero neighborhood.

“The idea that you could have such a light footprint and create as much energy as you use was a deeply resonant message,” says Byrd.

Features like a south-facing roof solar array, triple-pane windows, air-to-air mini-split heat pumps, and a heat recovery ventilator to supply continuous fresh filtered air, and native landscaping all helped Green Hammer to achieve its goals.

Thanks to the energy efficiency features, residents of the Oaks at Rose Villa pay 22% less in monthly utility costs than those living in similar homes elsewhere on the campus.

Modern residents, modern design

The architect took design cues from the surrounding community, creating the 1,200-sq.-ft. craftsman-style, two-bath cottages grouped around a courtyard, according to Erica Dunn, Green Hammer’s director of design.

“For us, it was really important that the architecture was in character with the neighborhood and community,” says Dunn.

And the design is a departure from what people associate with senior housing – no pastels, flowered wallpaper, or ornate furnishings. Instead, the cottages’ interiors are sleek, open, and modern, and they incorporate design principles that allow for aging in place.

Cultural, emotional considerations

Byrd also wanted to create a culture and environment that would mitigate some of the challenges of aging, including loneliness, that sense of disconnectedness, and some social woes – cliques, for example — that can develop when 500 people are stacked in a high-rise building.

Green Hammer’s design addresses some of those issues. Though there’s personal, private space, residents walk out their doors and can find people in the courtyard, for example.

And the design of the garages forces people to go outside and not scurry directly into their homes.

An abundance of pedestrian paths encourages people to get outside on a regular basis and walk to take care of their daily business, which creates greater vibrancy on the streets and provides more opportunities for residents to meet others, find friends, and feel a sense of community. That all helps to stave off the loneliness that can be so prevalent as people age.

Residents already have gotten together to organize biking, hiking and cross-country skiing clubs, discovered Byrd.

Going viral

The Oaks at Rose Villa’s approach is a concept that could have legs, believes Byrd. “Lots of people think a senior living community is a place where they may have to give up on the way they want to live. Here, they can continue to live their values,” she says.

She’s been getting the word out about the how-to of building a similar community, and she speaks at industry conferences about the Oaks concept, the process, and its marketing.

She thinks baby boomers and seniors also can change the landscape by demanding better aging-in-place options. After all, she points out that people in that generation were the ones to reshape everything from childbirth and the workplace, to the environment.

They can reshape retirement housing too.

Article written by Elyse Umlauf-Garneau

In many places, spring got a late start this year. So it’s no surprise if you’re just now getting outside to look around at what Mother Nature left behind and decide on what you need to do to tune up your home for summer.
Here are a dozen to-dos to make certain that your home is in top shape – healthy, attractive, and performing well.
1. First impressions. Take a hard look at the impression your front entrance makes, especially if your house is on the market. Look at places like Pinterest and HGTV for ideas on how to make a better first impression. Some examples include adding a pop of color by repainting your front door, changing door hardware, adding lights, installing window boxes, and ensuring that your steps and railings are sturdy and look fresh. Learn about the value of doing outdoor upgrades and the projects that bring the greatest joy and ROI.
2. Winter damage. Do an exterior walk-around and check for winter damage. For example, be certain gutters aren’t clogged with leaves and debris. Inspect your foundation for cracks and openings that could allow bugs and vermin to get inside. Check decks and porches for loose boards, rot, and unstable railings.
3. Clean air. Tune up your air conditioner to keep it working at ideal capacity and save energy.
4. Leaks. Check your faucets, toilet flapper, and valves and fix any leaks. According to the EPA, a leaky faucet that drips at the rate of one drip per second can waste more than 3,000 gallons per year – the equivalent to 180 showers. Also, turn your shut-off valves on and off to be sure they don’t get frozen in place.
5. Keep cool air inside. Check your weather-stripping to be sure it’s not dried out or falling down. Though it’s thought of as a winter project, weather-stripping also helps you keep cool air in and hot air out during the summer.
6. Purge chemicals. Hunt through your garage, basement, and cabinets and round up all the toxic chemicals, paint strippers, weed killers, toxic cleaning products, and so forth. Find a local recycler.
7. Lawn alternatives. Letting go of the lawn eliminates the need for maintenance and mowing, which buys you more leisure time. By replacing a chemical hungry lawn with native plants, you can save water (and money spent on your water bill) and eliminate pesticides and fertilizers, which is better for your family’s health and the environment. Learn more here.
8. Plant trees. Strategically placed trees on your lot can provide shade that reduces your energy costs by up to 25%, according to U.S. Department of Energy’s computer modeling. Learn to pick, plan, and maintain trees here.
9. Compost. Build a compost center and to reduce your garbage output and create a free source of rich nutrients for your garden.
10. Harvest water. Reduce your water bill by installing a rain barrel to capture rainwater that can be used for watering plants and flowers. Buy rain barrels or take a DIY approach.
11.  Mold. Maintain your house in a way that prevents mold growth. According to the University of Georgia, mold sources include:
Plumbing pipe and fixture leaks
Roof leaks
Flooding
High humidity levels from:
        o clothes dryer that is not properly vented
        o non-working exhaust fans in kitchen and bathrooms
        o a large number of indoor houseplants
        o unvented kerosene or gas heaters
        o water collection in crawl spaces or basements
12.  Leave your shoes at the door. Look closely at the sidewalks you walk on. Do you want to track dust, pesticides, cigarette ash, and dog waste into your house and on the floors where pets and kids play? See the University of Arizona study to learn about the gross, unhealthy things that come inside on the bottoms of your shoes.
Article written by Elyse Umlauf-Garneau

Great graphic showing how green we are in Pinellas County, Florida. Pinellas County includes the area between St Petersburg, St Pete Beach and Clearwater Beach. In this case, the green means primarily green parks for people and animals. Check out the graphic and then come to see for yourself.

No photo description available.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As a festival that brings nearly 200,000 people to St. Pete every year, St. Pete Pride‘s commitment to No Straws St. Pete means a great deal. It’s just the latest in a number of impressive commitments to the movement which is growing, not only in St. Pete, but across Tampa Bay.

https://ilovetheburg.com/st-pete-pride-commits-to-no-straws-movement/

“How can we call ourselves St. Pete Pride without having pride in St. Pete,?” said St. Pete Pride board member, J. Aller. “For us as a board, it just made sense to align ourselves and the event with ‘No Straws St. Pete.’ We love our beautiful waterfront city and have a responsibility to help keep it pristine for years to come. Each beverage and food vendor was asked and strongly persuaded to refrain from freely giving straws to parade and festival goers. If a vendor agrees, they will be given a plaque to display their participation.”

The news comes on the heels of recent commitments by the newly opened Lucky’s Market as well as all three Hooters locations in St. Pete and follows the support of other major events including Run Fest St. Pete. While we’ve aimed to keep tabs on all of our partners, we’re learning new ones daily that have simply committed to the idea of making straws available only on request.

At a recent committee hearing at City Hall, councilwoman Wheeler-Bowman cited the movement’s impact on businesses saying she didn’t get a straw with her drink at a recent trip to Joey Brooklyn’s Pizza.

Pete Boland, owner of The Galley, commended the movement’s impact on the consumer saying guests are specifically requesting “no straw please” with their drinks.

As we have said all long, our partners are capable of educating the public simply by making the commitment. With thousands of people descending upon St. Pete for Pride, the impact of their commitment will be felt immediately.

That’s great news for our planet and the Burg, indeed.

https://ilovetheburg.com/st-pete-pride-commits-to-no-straws-movement/

This is a great little chart to help both when buying or selling a Smart Home to ensure that everyone reaps the benefits. Sometimes information regarding the manuals or which items you have in the home can be lost in the complicated process of purchasing or selling a home. Easy to print or save to your computer. Thank you Florida Realtors for putting this together. Very much appreciated!

 

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PROFARM Neighborhood Advocates
Remodeling ROI (September 2017)

Whether you’re thinking about modernizing a room in your home or rehabbing an entire house, you’ll want to make sure the money you invest in the project has a positive effect on your home’s value. Before you start tearing up tile, ripping out old plaster or buying that “handyman’s special” you’ve had your eye on, consider consulting a professional real estate appraiser about the economics of your proposed project.

You may receive good advice on questions such as:

  • Is the improvement feasible and marketable?
  • Are neighborhood trends pointing to an upward cycle?
  • How to go about it

When it comes to improving your home, don’t count on a dollar-for-dollar return on every improvement. For example, real estate appraisers have found that remodeling a kitchen or bathroom or adding a room may bring the greatest return on a homeowner’s investment. Some custom installations can actually detract from value, which appraisers call “overimprovements.”

“The latest research shows that home improvements with a relatively low cost are most likely to generate a positive cost-to-value ratio,” says Appraisal Institute President Jim Amorin. “Spending big dollars on major renovations doesn’t necessarily equate to a dollar-for-dollar return. In short: cost doesn’t necessarily equal value.”

Amorin encouraged homeowners contemplating renovation projects to compare the planned improvement to what’s standard in the community. “Projects that move a home well beyond community norms are typically not worth the cost when the owner sells the property,” he says.

Make sure essential repairs are completed before you start improving — a posh sauna won’t make up for a leaky roof. In fact, simple and relatively inexpensive repairs such as plastering and painting could earn a better return on your investment than some major improvement projects. Many buyers can’t overlook tacky paint colors, old or dirty carpet and ugly kitchen cabinets. Start with freshening up what you already have before adding new features to your home.

When deciding what to improve first, take a look around and find out what other homebuyers want. That way, you’ll select those improvements for which the market is willing to pay. Beware of overimproving.

If you do it yourself, do it right. Keep your improvements consistent with the quality of your home and the character of the neighborhood. If you decide that you can’t do the job yourself, be sure to contact a reputable contractor. Pay a fair price for improvements, not an inflated price.

Also be sure to consider energy-efficient improvements. While they may not save you a great deal of money now, as energy costs increase, so will your savings. Many buyers are looking for “green” and “smart” features in homes these days. Even something as simple as installing a smart thermostat can be an attractive bonus to buyers.

Most importantly, obtain any necessary permits to make sure your improvements are legal. Illegal improvements might not add value. In fact, work done without the necessary permits can create problems for you and the new buyer when it comes time to finalize a sales transaction.

I would be happy to discuss ideas and a strategy with you that would be appealing to buyers. Let me know how I can assist you! Thank you.

AnnalisaWeller1@gmail.com, 727-804-6566

 

Sources:

The Appraisal Institute, “Remodeling & Rehabbing: Some Valuable Hints for Homeowners,” © 2014 (http://www.appraisalinstitute.org/assets/1/7/remodeling_rehabbing_web.pdf)

Florida Realtors News, “Top return on investment? Smaller remodeling projects,” April 20, 2017 (http://www.floridarealtors.org/NewsAndEvents/article.cfm?id=351064)

REALTOR Magazine, “Ugly Home Features Buyers Can’t Overlook, “ August 3, 2017

(http://realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2017/08/03/ugly-home-features-buyers-cant-overlook)

© 2017 Pinellas Realtor® Organization

Window sill of a house in rural

Now that the weather is beginning to warm up, it’s time to start thinking about ways to save on utility bills and energy costs before you’re shocked by your first big bill this summer. Luckily, there are many steps you can take to prepare your home (and your wallet) for the summer heat without sacrificing comfort. So, before you crank up the AC, take a look at our top ways to save on utility bills this summer. Your budget will thank you!

1. Get Your HVAC System Ready

Is there anything worse than a broken HVAC system in the summer? The good news is you can avoid this nightmare by taking precautions and getting your HVAC ready for summer. First, you’ll want to clean or change the air filters as dirty or clogged filters force your air conditioning system to work much harder, which in turn causes more wear and tear in the long-run. You’ll also want to inspect your outdoor unit for any visible signs of damage such as warped panels, torn insulation or rust. In the colder months, small animals may nest inside the insulation so you’ll want to inspect the inside as well. Taking these steps to ensure your AC unit is working efficiently will help keep your energy bills low this summer.

2. Clean Air Filters and Vents

Many homeowners make the mistake of closing off vents in rooms that are not being used, but closing vents causes more pressure in the ducts causing your air conditioner to work much harder. Before you turn the AC on this summer, open all the vents and give them a nice cleaning.

3. Keep Blinds Closed

Did you know that keeping your blinds closed during the day can drastically reduce the heat in your home? Keeping them open causes a greenhouse like effect—sunlight and heat pour in all day and can’t get out, making your home much warmer and causing your air conditioning to work over-time, which in turn will spike up your power bill.

4. Lower Your Utility Rates

Do you live in a deregulated energy region? If so, you have the power to choose your energy provider and can shop around for the lowest energy rates. If you haven’t researched your options in a while, summer is the perfect time to reevaluate your current energy provider and find out if there is a cheaper rate out there. Many deregulated energy providers offer special promotions in the summer, like “free nights,” so you should definitely check out what else is out there. To see if you live in a deregulated area, just enter your address here.

5. Time Your Thermostat

If you want to be cost conscious this summer, you shouldn’t blast your air conditioning at all hours of the day. A lower temperature setting at night and a higher setting during the day is recommended for optimal cost savings. If you’re forgetful or aren’t always around to change it, we recommend installing a programmable thermostat that allows you to schedule your temperature changes even when you aren’t home.

6. Switch to LED Bulbs

While incandescent light bulbs are cheap, they use more energy and produce quite a bit of heat compared to LED bulbs. LED bulbs tend to be a little more expensive than incandescent lights, but they last longer, produce less heat and create great energy savings in the long run. So, consider making the switch the LED lights, at least in the rooms you use most, to help lower your utility bills this summer.

7. Buy a Water Cistern

If you don’t know, a water cistern is a device that captures rain water and stores it for you to use to water your garden or lawn, to wash your car, etc. Your water bill can get out of hand in the summer as you spend more time outdoors, so a water cistern is a great investment if you want to keep your garden and lawn green all summer long without paying for extra water use.

8. Use Your Ceiling Fan

In the warmer months, you should run your ceiling fans counter-clockwise. Since heat rises, the counter-clockwise motion will help pull the cold air up toward the ceiling. Running your ceiling fan efficiently will help cool your rooms, allowing you to set your thermostat to a higher temperature, ultimately reducing your power bill.

9. Invest in Smart Power Strips

Connecting multiple appliances to a smart power strip that can be turned off with only one flip of a switch at night when the devices aren’t being used is a quick and easy way to help reduce energy waste. When you don’t have to unplug all your devices individually, saving energy suddenly becomes much easier!

10. Don’t Use an Irrigation Schedule

Irrigation schedules or timers that you can set to schedule when your garden or lawn will be watered sound nice in theory, but they actually produce quite a bit of water waste. You can’t control when it rains, and you may not be home to stop your irrigation system from going off when it does. Watering manually may seem like a chore, but when you think about all the money you can save from reducing water waste, manual watering becomes more appealing.

Don’t let the first utility bills of summer sneak up on you. Be proactive and implement our tips, we promise they’ll help you save big on your utility bills this summer!

Rob Caiello is the Vice President of Marketing over at Allconnect. Since 1998, Allconnect has simplified and expedited the purchase and setup of home utilities and services (like internet, TV, and electricity) for millions of movers relocating across the United States.

http://blog.rismedia.com/2017/10-ways-save-utility-bills-summer/#.WSMTRZcpIU8.facebook

These are some of the best “Smart Home” devices that may help to sell your home or increase the selling price of your home. Some may even help to lower the cost of your homeowner’s insurance. Worth checking out. Let me know what you think or which ones you’ve utilized.

 

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Annalisa Weller, Realtor®, Certified International Property Specialist

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  • PRO/CPAR hosts Annual Meeting honors and recognizes members September 13, 2019
    The Annual Business Meeting & Installation was held on September 13, 2019. Go here to view photos of the event. We thank the following PRO/CPAR members for their unwavering commitment to our profession by investing in the REALTORS Political Action Committee. Double Hall of Fame ($50,000+ in their lifetime) Nancy Riley Hall of Fame ($25,000+ […]
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  • September is REALTOR® Safety Month September 4, 2019
    September is REALTOR® Safety Month. As you know, protecting yourself goes beyond vigilance in the field. You also need to be aware of the opportunities to improve your safety at the office and in the digital world. NAR has worked hard to provide resources and tips on the topic of safety. A few quick links […]
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  • Former member Dolores Wilson passed away July 2, 2019
    Dolores Wilson, age 77, of Pinellas Park, passed away on June 29, 2019 surrounded by family in her home. She was born to parents Kenneth and Mary Vigotty, and grew up in Long Island, New York with her two brothers, Michael and Kevin. She relocated to Pinellas County in 1974 with her husband, John Wilson, […]
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  • Association health plans – members opinions wanted June 12, 2019
    How do you feel about PRO/CPAR being able to offer association health insurance as part of your benefits package with us? Will you give us 3 minutes and take a survey about your current health insurance situation and your interest in PRO/CPAR offering you an association plan? If you take the survey, you’ll be entered […]
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  • 2019 Florida Legislature adjourns: Remote notaries, open permits & environment among victories May 6, 2019
    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — May 4, 2019 — 2:16 pm — Your world got a little bit easier thanks to new legislation that brings modern technology and common sense to transactions. The Florida Legislature, which ended its 60-day legislative session minutes ago, passed two bills many Florida Realtors’ members had requested. One allows the use of […]
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