Search the MLS Like REALTORS® Do

Are you tired of finding the perfect home on the internet only to discover it is no longer available?
Are you thinking of selling your home and want to know what the market is doing in your neighborhood?

Then Listing Book may be the answer for you.  This is an online property search (by invitation only) that is tied to your local MLS – which means it’s updated frequently! You can set up multiple searches – even in different cities and also see what is going on in your own backyard.

If you are interested in receiving an invitation – just send me an email at and I will get you hooked up!

Reneé Marquiss

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Insurance Tips for First Time Buyers

CHICAGO – July 16, 2012 – Property insurance is confusing. At a minimum, new buyers should understand the levels and types of coverage, and take a few additional steps to protect themselves.
1. Know the difference between replacement cost and market value. Rebuilding a home is usually cheaper than buying an existing structure, unless the property was a foreclosure. The key: Accurately determine the cost of rebuilding when finalizing the details on a homeowners insurance policy.
2. Take a home inventory to determine the proper amount of personal property protection. Generally, policies cover 50-75 percent of the replacement value of the house. However, this may not be enough to cover certain valuables, such as jewelry, fine art, collections, electronics and other expensive items. A separate rider may be needed and should be discussed with an insurance agent.
3. Have enough liability protection. Liability coverage protects a homeowner if they’re sued for an injury that takes place on their property. Many policies will even cover a policyholder if an incident happened away from the house. Depending on their assets, some homeowners might want an additional umbrella policy if they’re worried about being sued for more than the liability coverage offered in their basic policy.
4. Know what isn’t covered. Carefully study the exclusions section of a homeowners insurance policy. If anything raises a red flag, consider additional coverage. One example: Almost no insurance policy covers flooding. If a homeowner lives in an area prone to flooding, he or she might want to consider flood insurance too.
5. Consider additional living expenses if forced from the house. If a house becomes unlivable due to a flood, earthquake, fire or other disasters, a family will need to pay for living accommodations; and they may need additional money for food, transportation and other expenses. This coverage is “additional living expenses” (ALE) and a benefit that’s usually worth about 20 percent of a home’s replacement value. Be aware of the specific policy’s benefits, limitations and exclusion.
When shopping for home insurance quotes, find a company that is financially stable and has a high customer satisfaction rating. Two resources to check these qualities are A.M. Best for financial strength ratings and J.D. Power and Associates for their annual customer service rankings, according to, a website that connects homeowners with agents.
© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Any questions? Please feel free to call me at 941.807.5950.

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Filed under First Time Home Buyer, Insurance, Property Insurance

4th of July Activities in Sarasota, Florida

What are YOU doing to celebrate the holiday? Do you have family traditions? Please share in the comments below!

In case you are still up in the air about what to do – here a link to some ideas for you!

Whatever you do – stay safe and enjoy the day!

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New Listing: 3/1 Pool Home

This 3 bedroom 1 bath pool home IS NOT a short sale or foreclosure – quick closing is possible. Recent improvements include: new roof, new carpeting in the living room and one of the bedrooms, pool, spa and patio areas resurfaced; interior completely re-painted in neutral color ready for your style. This home is ready for you to move into NOW. The living room is light and bright with plenty of wall space for your furniture and big screen tv placement; the kitchen includes a glass top stove, (no dishwasher but room to have one installed) a spacious double door pantry closet for plenty of storage and a view out the window over the sink of the beautiful pool and spa. The master bedroom was created by a conversion of the garage and has windows on two sides to bring in plenty of light during the day. The existing indoor laundry (off the master) may be able to be renovated to include a master en suite. One of the extra bedrooms has carpet and the other laminate wood flooring. The backyard is spacious even with the pool and spa and the home sits on a corner lot. Did I mention this was not a short sale or foreclosure? Schedule your showing today!

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5 Mistakes Buyers Make

1. Trying to fix credit scores before buying a home. Homebuyers can do more harm than good if they don’t consult a financial expert first. “Even paying down credit card balances – which is a good thing as far as your credit scores and debt ratios are concerned – could be a problem if it leaves you short the cash you need to qualify to get the loan,” says Gerri Detweiler,’s personal finance expert.
2. Not considering the future enough in their selection. Buyers should consider what they want out of a house five or 10 years down the road. Do they plan to expand their family? If so, they may need a bigger home and want a different location. Also, how long do they plan on staying at the home? That can help determine the most sensible mortgage.
3. Failing to research financing enough. First comes the home and then the financing? Not in today’s market. Home shoppers should get prequalified for a mortgage before they start shopping so they know what they can afford. “The time to make decisions about your mortgage needs is not during this 10-day window” after you sign a contract, says Keith Gumbinger, vice president of “At most, this is time to shop for rates and fees and such. He says a credit evaluation, selection of mortgage type and a preferred lender should be completed “well in advance of even wandering through the market looking at houses.”
4. Assuming that the Good Faith Estimate is the amount paid at closing. The form lenders provide that estimates closing costs is not set in stone. Closing costs may actually be more, so buyers need to be prepared. Closing costs generally are about 3 percent to 5 percent of the loan amount. “Shop around and compare the Good Faith Estimate provided by the lender with that of two or three other lenders,” suggests Ryan Himmel, a CPA and founder of BIDaWIZ, a tax advice resource. “If there is a significant disparity in estimates, then request an explanation from the lender to determine if you would like to move forward.”
5. Failing to budget for home expenses. Budgeting to purchase a home isn’t enough. Prospective homeowners would be wise to not forget to budget for maintaining the home too. New homeowners should budget for an increase in utility bills as well as for future maintenance and repair costs, such as repairing a furnace or roof.
Source: “10 Mistakes New Homebuyers Make,” (2012)

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Have Questions Regarding the Recent Settlement with the Large Banks?

Here is an article written by Sarasota attorney’s from the law firm of Berlin Patten:

On February 9, 2012, 49 state attorneys general announced a deal with 5 of the largest mortgage lenders to settle abusive and fraudulent foreclosure practices in recent years.  Under the deal, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, Citigroup and Ally Financial agreed to commit $25 billion for relief to homeowners whose homes were foreclosed between 2008-2011 and to current homeowners behind in mortgage payments or whose homes are worth less than the outstanding mortgage(s).

One major draw-back: loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are not included in the deal.

While the specific plans of the deal have not been fully released, the terms of the settlement include the following:

  • The participating lenders agreed to commit $17 billion to reduce principal balances for homeowners who (a) are delinquent in making payments and (b) owe more than the home is worth.  Analysts estimate that 1 million homeowners may qualify for a principal reduction under the program, with an average reduction of $17,000. That is only 10% of the estimated 10 million U.S. homes believed to be underwater, and many homeowners would need more than $17,000 in principal reduction to keep their homes.  Note: homeowners must be delinquent in payments to qualify for a principal reduction.
  • $3 billion of the settlement will be committed to refinancing mortgages at lower interest rates for homeowners current on payments.  This is the only relief provided for homeowners who are making their mortgage payments.
  • The lenders will pay $5 billion directly to state and federal governments which will be used to compensate foreclosed homeowners and to fund legal aid and consumer advocacy groups.  From this amount, homeowners who lost their homes to foreclosure in the years 2008 through 2011 may be eligible for a lump sum payment of up to $2,000.  Note that the payment is only to settle claims by the states and federal government.

As part of the deal, state attorneys general gave up their right to sue the participating lenders for fraud committed in prosecuting foreclosures, including the robo-signing scandal.  However, the states and federal government can still sue for any uncovered wrongs in the origination or securitization of loans.  Further, the agreement does not prevent homeowners from suing lenders.  Any homeowner who accepts funds or other relief under the deal does not waive any rights to sue the lender for mortgage or foreclosure fraud.

Homeowners have 3 years to take advantage of the program – however, to avoid possible tax implications for principal reduction or a payout, homeowners should take advantage of the program in 2012.  This is because the tax exemption for discharged debt on homestead properties passed in 2007 expires at the end of the year.  The IRS has declined to comment on whether the payouts of up to $2,000 are taxable.

In addition, the Justice Department announced a settlement with Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial to compensate military service members whose homes were wrongfully foreclosed by these lenders.  Under the settlement, these banks are required to pay a minimum of $116,785 to any service member who wrongfully lost his/her home in foreclosure to one of the 3 lenders.  The banks must also compensate service members for any lost equity, interest or any other damages suffered due to a wrongful foreclosure.

To determine if you qualify for relief under the settlement, contact your lender directly.


Berlin Patten, PLLC.

This communication is not intended to establish an attorney client relationship, and to the extent anything contained herein could be construed as legal advice or guidance, you are strongly encouraged to consult with your own attorney before relying upon any information contained herein.

All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

I hope this information helped.  If not, please feel free to contact me at 941.807.5950 or

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Filed under Foreclosure, Foreclosures, Robo Signing, Sarasota

How Can I Help You!

I read an interesting article today from RISMedia entitled DON’T SELL ME….HELP ME! and my first thought was “hmmm, they must have visited my office” as the message they imparted is the basic philosophy we practice here at Xena Vallone Realty.

First the facts they quoted:

  • It used to take 30 days to get a transaction closed, it now takes 120 or more;
  • It used to take 20 contacts to get someone to listen to you, it now takes 100 or more; and
  • If someone was inclined to do business with you before, they are now inclined to make sure they are getting the best deal regardless of their relationship with.

Now for their advice and my way of doing business:

  • Don’t sell, help
  • Don’t close, advise
  • Don’t push, encourage
  • Become completely indispensable

So, how can I help, advise and encourage YOU today?

Reneé Marquiss, REALTOR®
Xena Vallone Realty, Inc.

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