Treasure Coast Insider

Our top priorities are helping you understand the real estate market and how to navigate it best. We'll share tips on every successful buying, selling, and investing aspect. 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 more. We care about our communities and want to help you find your place. As your Treasure Coast Insider blogger and resident for over 30 years, you'll find abundant information for all age groups and interests. 

If you want to know where the best local dog-friendly parks 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 considering 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. 


April 2, 2024

Sewall's 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 care of an outstanding department, our streets remain relatively 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 packed house at Town Hall informing residents about safety in and around our homes and online. Some 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 and what to do in the event of a stolen identity.

Phone scams can range from the caller saying it's your grandchild and they 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 little business loan ploys to obtain your personal information. Chief Tina says, "Social security numbers are the biggest risk, and never give it out unless necessary. And don't carry your SS card in your wallet if it is stolen." If someone asks for your SS#, ask why they need it and how they will secure your information.

While we all feel protected by our police department and know they do a fantastic 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 and when they leave. Many doors are left unlocked, which invites criminals to walk right in. Any safes should be bolted down or placed within your home's foundation.  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. Ensure the camera's resolution is enough to see potential threats on your property. Often, 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, costing as little as $80 on Amazon.

Make sure to wipe clean computers, phones, and any electronics before discarding them. Be very careful about whose Wi-Fi you use and consider getting virus protection for your computers and your phones. Chief Tina has a warning regarding criminals saying," This is what these people do for a living, and they're very good at it." Be innovative, proactive, and diligent about keeping your family and possessions safe.

We should all be very proud of our nine officers in the Sewall's Point Police Department. They protect and serve our beautiful town; 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
April 2, 2024

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, and clubs (from the Women's Club of Martin County to several VFWs, Elks, and Moose) add to the possibilities. We have much to offer for senior fun and activities throughout the Treasure Coast!

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 many 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 three 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 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 courses, 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 singing if you're so inclined. Cowboy Bob's karaoke tunes bring out the performer in all of us. A terrific dance floor and an excellent sound system make the place light up with fun and friendship. Friday nights are open to all. Membership is 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 five days a week and comes to dance at the VFW in Hobe Sound. It's more than just a place to go, and it's family. 

Several dance studios are nearby 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 and sunshine. With Memorial Park and its lovely grounds as a backdrop, enjoy free admission and the opportunity to see (and perhaps buy) some fantastic art.

Another personal favorite is Under The Oaks in Vero Beach. World-class artists with amazing, high-quality pieces are 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 lineup for the Lyric. The theatre also offers free movies in the summer. Like the Lyric, the Sunrise Theatre in Ft. Pierce 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 have 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 an excellent 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. We are 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.


April 2, 2024

Tips on Buying Foreclosed Homes

These tips on buying foreclosed homes will make the process easier. Searching for a 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 the homeowner is unable to earn an income
  • Unemployed
  • Loss of income
  • Large debt and other bills overwhelm the homeowner
  • Divorce and other legal issues
  • Unable to pay HOA dues


A pre-foreclosure is still owned by the homeowner. They’re typically 90 days or more late on their mortgage and 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 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 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 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 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 they will give you an idea of the 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 for repairs so you don’t struggle in an emergent situation.

Search Comparable Home Prices 

A comparable house is one that has sold in the area, is about the same size, and is not listed as a foreclosure. Searching these closed listings gives your home a ballpark value, 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 the 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 foreclosed property with 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. The pre-approval letter is required to bid if you require a mortgage.

We hope these tips for buying foreclosed homes are helpful. As a 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
April 2, 2024

Robbie Fulks House Concert

There's always something new going on in town. Sewall's Point happenings are abundant. With many exciting 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 on January 26th at his home. Curt opened his lovely home 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 nationwide. Curt says, "Robbie's an excellent 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 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 "the hollowed-out small towns in the US." The poverty of the 1930s 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. Some of his music speaks to that.

"Alabama at Night" is another fantastic 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 understand 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 1990s.

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 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 he has a twinkle in his eye when he speaks of them. There's a deep love there.

Thank you, Curt Grimmer, for opening your home to many Sewall's Point residents. The evening was beautiful. 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


Posted in Sewalls Point
April 2, 2024

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.

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
April 2, 2024

Fresh Florida Oysters

Most of October, 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 fresh Florida oysters from the water's 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 tailgate 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 into them. Their nutritional content is mainly 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 an excellent source of vitamin B12, which research has indicated plays a significant 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 the wealthier population enjoyed oysters. Native American Indians also took advantage of this high-protein morsel.

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

In late 2020, the Apalachicola Bay oyster harvesting was halted until 2025. This area produces 90% of the fresh Florida oysters on the 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


April 2, 2024

Buying Your First Home

Buying your first home is an exciting, daunting, emotional time. Homeownership has always made more sense, and when interest rates are low, it's a wise 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 real estate. Land ownership is the American dream. No matter what socioeconomic level you may currently find yourself at. 

That's why the rich and famous focus so much on their residences. Owning real estate is almost engrained in our psyche as humans. 

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 why you buy. Starting a family, succeeding in your career, pets, an inheritance, outgrowing a space, downsizing, or various other reasons will likely be a primary motivator for buying.

Clarifying your motive is essential to understanding your actual needs and wants. It helps to keep the essentials in check during the journey. One's health, rest, diet, exercise, and spiritual well-being are so essential to stay in the best possible condition you can be.

This may be the most significant investment of your life, so treat it accordingly and permit yourself 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 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 five 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 borrow money from a bank or private lender to purchase. The debt-to-income ratio should be less than 45% and have 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. 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. Upfront and be flexible. Remember, the value of your new home is determined by the most recent closed sales in the area, not active listings. A valuation expert 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 pre-approved for a loan, you're as ready as ever. Be diligent and look for good deals. Be prepared 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
April 2, 2024

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 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), 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 '50s. 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 freshwater fishing in Lake Okeechobee near Port Mayaca to the west. My absolute favorite fish to eat is freshwater 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 friendly people.  

Mona Leonard Reviews Stuart Area Rodeos


Want to look the part?

Eli's Western Wear is the place to shop if you want 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 vast, and they can likely order it if they don't have what you're looking for.

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 several times and rode shotgun in his old pick-up to view some of his ranch's gorgeous landscape and cattle. Four generations have raised cattle here (Bud stands in the photo). Their cattle auctions are second to none, creating a top-notch hoedown for young and old alike.

From raising money for victims of human trafficking to putting on an excellent 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 a blogger for Treasure Coast Insider, feedback is always appreciated.


April 2, 2024

Remodeling Projects That Hold Value

Remodeling projects that hold value have the most significant return yield through improved living for you now, and when you sell, you'll get cash back for your trouble. Below are the estimated returns on investment (ROI) for home improvements. As the numbers decrease, so does the resale payoff. Remember, there are many different reasons for remodeling. Your sheer enjoyment is valuable. If you'll be happier by remodeling, that's priceless! Steer clear of expensive improvements showing no promise of a decent return and take on the remodeling projects that hold value. 

If you're thinking of selling soon, these remodeling projects with the greatest return can guide you in deciding whether or not you want to invest the time and money or sell without making changes. Selling a home for more may mean some updating. Here is the return on your investment if you decide on home improvement before selling.

  • Manufactured Stone Veneer 94%
  • Garage Door Replacement 93.8%
  • Siding Replacement (fiber-cement) 80.5%
  • Deck Addition (wood) 77%
  • Kitchen Remodel (minor) 76.3%
  • Siding Replacement (vinyl) 76%
  • Window Replacement (vinyl) 73.2%
  • Window Replacement (wood) 68.2%
  • Entry Door Replacement (steel) 67%
  • Deck Addition (composite) 66.6%
  • Roofing Replacement (asphalt shingle) 60.7%
  • Bath Remodel (midrange)60.1%
  • Kitchen Remodel (midrange) 58.7%
  • Roofing Replacement (metal) 56.1%
  • Bath Remodel (upscale) 54.8%
  • Master Suite Addition (midrange) 54.7%
  • Major Kitchen Remodel (upscale) 53.9%
  • Bathroom Addition (midrange) 53.1%
  • Bathroom Addition (upscale) 52.8%
  • Master Suite Addition (upscale) 47.7%

Once you're clear on whether or not your dream kitchen (or other remodel) is worth the investment, you'll be free to make an intelligent decision. Remember, home improvement is emotionally expensive too. When factoring expenses, design, materials, and more, including how much it will cost if you don't make the improvements. Your happiness and peace of mind are also valuable commodities. In many cases, putting a price on that isn't easy. 

Holding to remodeling projects with value makes you a more savvy real estate investor. and a more brilliant seller. That will pay off in dollars and cents when it's time to put the property on the market.

For additional information on remodeling projects that hold value, Contact Us or visit our website at


Posted in Selling Tips
April 2, 2024

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