Loan Originator, Jessica Bordner, with VanDyk Mortgage was not only informative but a great person to speak with about living in Florida. Being a true Floridian, Jessica was born in St Petersburg, but raised in a rural part of Pasco County. Now living in Pinellas County, she brings a great perspective of family life and “Salt Life.”
Her well rounded experience gives her a unique insight to qualify borrowers before issuing the “Preapproval Letter” which is required for 95% of all purchases today. “We have first time home buyer programs with Zero “0” down payment which hasn’t been around for a long time.” states Jessica. This is scheduled to launch sometime this month for those buyers who qualify. It’s a great step towards home ownership.
If you are just moving to Florida, Jessica recommends getting out and exploring all that Florida has to offer but "don’t forget the sunscreen."
This episode we talk with Jessica Watkins a Park Ranger for Ybor City Museum State Park. Ybor City is a small suburb of Tampa Florida, and is one of only two National Historic Landmark Districts in Florida, with some of the richest history you will surely want to learn about and visit. The name Ybor came from one of the founders Vicente Martinez-Ybor. He immigrated from Spain in 1887 to start a cigar company which eventually grew into one of the largest cigar manufactures in the world making Tampa Florida the cigar capital of the world. As you walk through Ybor City you will find many buildings with remnants of a cigar era and industry gone by. But don’t despair, there are many store fronts with master rollers on site showing their craftsmanship with hand rolled cigars for you to try.
The Museum and State Park is available for private parties, weddings or the just to sit and relax in a Mediterranean setting. “I would encourage those in the area to spend their lunch break here.” Jessica stated. “At night when the lights on the park are on, it’s simply beautiful.” Private Guided tours are available as well as self-paced for those who love to take their time.
Ybor City, with its diverse culture has many different restaurants to visit. One of the most famous is the Columbia established in 1905 making it one of the oldest in Tampa. Now going on its 5 generation of owners, the Columbia’s Spanish stylish cuisine is a must when you visit Ybor City.
So next time in Tampa Florida visit Ybor City Museum State Park, walk around town, dine at one of many great restaurants and if it’s to your taste, stop by one of the many cigar shops to watch a master in action.
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Leah Forhnerath is a Director and Trainer for Horses for the Handicap located in Seminole FL. This is a recreational riding program for those with many types of handicaps and It’s offered free of charge. Horses for Handicapped was founded by the late Gene Harris in 1981 as a Kiwanis project when he approached Girl Scout/4-H leader Mary Urquhart with his idea. Mary who is 83, is found daily at the stables doing any work that is necessary. I asked Leah why there is no charge to the riders, she stated “Mary feels that the family with handicapped children have enough financial burden to deal with and wanted to offer this for free.”
The horses come from many different resources, from rescue facilities, donated from former owners and some are leased to the foundation. All these horses are well treated and properly cared for. The health and wellbeing for each of them is a top concern for Leah and her staff. “The horses have the right temperament” states Leah. “We take special care in matching each rider with the right horse for their particular need.” Leah, related a story about her sister who has seizures and the horse she rides can sense an episode before it happens.
One main sponsor of the foundation is Kiwanis of Seminole FL, but like all nonprofits they do solicit funds from others. If you have a need for this type of service or if you would like to get involved either by donating funds or time, please contact Leah, I know you’ll be glad you did.
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Episode 7 we talk with Troy Hayes about the importance of Branding in today’s e-commerce. Troy has over thirty years of experience in marketing and branding and has influenced many of you with his advertisements. You drank Bud Light because “Spuds Mackenzie” and ate Wheaties because Michael Jordan said “You Better Eat Your Wheaties” and cruised on Carnival because it became the “Fun Ship.” Troy was the creator of these iconic slogans and has helped many companies launch their new product or service.
Troy defines Branding as “A relationship between the product and the consumer” and further defines Branding in three steps; who are you, what do you do and why should I care? Troy also states “make sure you know why you are better than the competition.” If you are having difficulty defining this, Troy can help you figure out what makes you better.
I asked Troy who should call him? “Anyone who has a tough marketing issue.” states Troy. So if your company is small, mid-size or a larger company launching a new product or service, call Troy Hayes and his company to put you on the right path. Who knows, you could be the next Spuds!
Troy’s tip for those who live here or moving here is this. Explore the history of Florida, “get off the main drag and hit the back roads” says Troy. Florida is steeped in history and many of these sites are fading fast.
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Mike, a native Floridian, grew up in Ybor City, where his Grandfather worked as a Master Cigar Roller. Then he worked in Alaska for a couple of years before moving back to Florida settling down in Pinellas County. Mike loves the “kickback” lifestyle that’s associated with Florida. “It’s the only place you can go to work in a casual shirt and flip-flops and that’s considered normal” Mike says. He recently made a trip to Cuba where his wife was born. “It’s like stepping back in time” stated Mike, “It’s a wonderful place full of rich culture.”
In lending for over 31 years he has seen many changes in the mortgage industry. Most recent is the new TRID regulations to help disclose fees to the borrower. “It has added about two weeks to all closings” stated Mike “But it’s not all bad.” Lending in Florida is much different than most states and Florida has different lending practices depending if you’re in the North, Central or Southern region. Mike is very knowledgeable about all aspects of Mortgage Financing from the simplest straight forward loan to the very complex, multiple income stream borrower.
Tip from Mike for Becoming Floridian is “Become an Explorer.” “Florida has a lot to do down here, don’t limit your experience just to Orlando and Disney because there’s many more sights to see and enjoy.”
If you need a lender in Florida, Mike Alea with FBC Mortgage is someone you need to contact. He can provide Pre-Approval Letters within 24 hours and the process is now online so no need to take time away from your vacation or make an extra trip down here, but now that I think about it, that’s not such a bad idea after all.
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This podcast with Louis LaMaccia general manager took place in the main dining area at SeaBreeze Island Grill & Raw Bar, the sound in the background is live from the patrons and staff. Moving from Wisconsin at an early age and graduating from St Pete High, he went into the restaurant business at the age of 18 and became a restaurant owner also at the age of 18. He definitely knows and understands what the customers in this area are looking for. After attempting to become an upscale five star dining establishment they quickly shifted focus to servicing more of the local patrons.
Outside at the 70’ dolphin watch bar you’ll find many customers enjoying live music from some of the local talent including a Hawaiian style luau hosted each 3rd Saturday of the month. Patrons are encouraged to join in and learn to hula dance with prizes for the dancers.
“We make every effort to have our customer’s satisfied.” Says Louis “I hand pick all the staff, from the cooks to the bartenders.” This shows as their customer satisfaction rating is a 4.8 out of 5 on the most popular rating sites.
With one of the earliest happy hours from 11AM until 6PM, a menu to accommodate those looking for a quick snack or a lobster dinner, and a view that overlooks the bay. SeaBreeze is a place you’ll quickly find yourself coming back again and again. I know I did!
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In this episode I talked with Jason Delacruz owner and operator of Don’s Dock located on world’s famous John’s Pass Boardwalk. Jason is a key figure in the commercial fishing industry. He also owns Wild Seafood Company a wholesaler of fresh fish in Madeira Beach Florida. Jason, a native Floridian shares with us how at a very early age he was introduced to fishing through the encouragement of his Aunt. “She was a first mate on a commercial fishing boat” Jason said. “I was able to do a fishing trip on a boat with her at the age of 9, and it was awesome.”
He shares his passion for recreational spearfishing and after receiving numerous awards plus winning the pinnacle for the St Pete Open, Jason was lead to pursue commercial spearfishing. He is completely immersed into the Salt Life, “You really don’t move here unless you want to be on the water” said Jason. “Close to 50% of the homes have waterfront views.”
If you’re looking to purchase fresh fish (mainly Red Grouper) at wholesale prices, then contact Wild Seafood Company for more information. If you live near John’s Pass or are wanting to purchase fish for a special occasion while visiting Madeira Beach, then head over to Don’s Dock located at the end of the John’s Pass Boardwalk. They provide great fresh fish straight off the boat and the deck hands will clean and fillet your fish for you.
Jason’s advice for those considering moving to Florida, “even though we have some of the best winters, make sure you like hot weather, we kind of corner the market on that.”
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Sonny Flynn, is one of the busiest ladies I have had the privilege to speak with. She is a three time cancer survivor who never lets her past interfere with her bright busy future. She’s involved with many events throughout Pinellas County, from small events like the Christmas fishing tournament for kids in Madeira Beach to the Seafood Festival at John’s Pass. Sonny is a Promoter of Tourism, Event Coordinator and an Alligator Wrestler. Each year she gives a demonstration with very large gators to raise money for the charities she supports.
Her goal this year is to have John’s Pass Seafood Festival become the largest Seafood event in North America. As you listen to Sonny’s so passionately speak about the festivals and events she chairs, you can’t help but want to become involved to help her reach this goal. “We have the best seafood in the United States, we need to be number one” says Sonny. “We are also the Grouper Capital of the world.”
A native Floridian who can’t help but promote the lifestyle of Florida. Her tip for those thinking about moving to Florida and for those who already call Florida home, is to remember “we live in a play State, be a tourist.”
Use the links below to get involved with the John’s Pass Seafood Festival.
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In this episode I visit with Greg Sweeney Sales Manager for Freedom Boat Club at his Treasure Island location. Greg talks about how at the age of 9 his father wanted to start a boat rental company in Indian Shores, prior to the creation of Freedom Boat Club. “I have always been involved in boating” Greg states, so it’s no wonder he speaks so passionately about the boating and the lifestyle.
Greg will share testimonies from members and some experiences that is only possible when you motor out on one the many boats to choose from. He shares about places to visit only accessible by boat, great places to fish as well as the overall freedom that comes from boating.
If you have ever thought about owning a boat but would like to test the waters first? This is a great and affordable way to get you and your family involved in boating.
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In this first episode, we spend just over 30 minutes talking about our experiences of moving to Florida. We share about some concerns we had prior to the move and what we did to prepare to make the move. It wasn't as easy as it could have been but well worth the trip and now we call Florida home.
The lifestyle of boating, fishing, walks on the beach and watching beautiful sunsets are but a few added benefits. We have much to learn and are willing to share our experiences with you. If Florida is your destination, this Podcast is dedicated to help you navigate through some of the issues and many decisions you’ll need to consider before making Florida your new home.
My wife Debbie and I are full time Real Estate Agents working with Century 21 Jim White & Associates, located in Treasure Island Fl. Yes, there is a Treasure Island in FL and it's a great location. We love to drive to the office traveling down Gulf Blvd overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. We meet lots of interesting people from all over the world in this business and many of them are willing to share their stories.
We'll speak with Business Owners, City Officials, and those who already call Florida home. We'll discover hidden treasures and insight known only by Floridians and share them with you.
So please join us on our journey as we, Become Floridians. It's going to be a blast!