ORLANDO, Fla., May 9, 2013 – Florida’s housing market gained strength in first quarter 2013 with increased closed sales, more pending sales, higher median prices and a reduced supply of homes for sale compared to the same quarter in 2012, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®.Read More »
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – Spend a few minutes with Tony Macaluso, president of Portside Properties in Palm Beach Gardens, and you’re ready to conquer the world. He’s that passionate about what he does and how he does it. It’s this positive energy that propelled Macaluso from part-time real estate investor to full-time business owner.
“After college I got into the resort restaurant business on the Jersey shore,” says Macaluso. “It was the 1970s and the work was seasonal, so after Labor Day I would pick up a handyman special (house), fix it up and resell it. My goal was to make enough money so that I could spend a couple months in Florida,” says Macaluso. That was his first entrance into real estate.
When he realized that the restaurant business lacked the income potential he wanted, Macaluso decided to move to Florida to pursue another career. “The only two areas of employment that appeared to be without a ceiling were real estate and car sales, and I didn’t see myself as a car salesman,” he says.
So, in 1976, Macaluso earned his real estate license and, “fell for the classic line, ‘We just happen to have a desk open,’” he laughs.
Macaluso says he was successful because he had a “very good mentor who took an active interest in my success. I didn’t know what I was doing but I sure was enthusiastic.”
Timing Isn’t Everything
In 1981, Macaluso decided to start his own brokerage. “Timing has never been my strong suit,” he says, who notes that when he opened his office, mortgage interest rates skyrocketed to 18 percent.
However, Macaluso was prepared to make it work for the long term.
“I realized a long time ago that it is a huge mistake to set goals too low and then reach them,” he says. “It’s not OK to do the minimum. Never be happy to accept average.”
But, he adds, it’s easy to set yourself apart in any business, as “there’s not much traffic on the extra mile.”
He also feels strongly about running an ethical business. “There are too many short cuts. We all saw that in the industry between 2002 and 2005.”
Not only does Macaluso run a successful business with his wife Nancy, but he also leads by example. He’s a certified instructor who has just about every real estate education designation out there.
“I tell people I’m a classic overachiever, but the truth is that it’s hard to have respect for someone who talks about a designation but doesn’t personally have it,” he says. “If you want to lead people to a better place, you have to lead by example. There’s no substitute for true experience.”
In addition to that, Macaluso says that he’s naturally curious and enthusiastic. That enthusiasm came in handy a few years back when a representative from the Florida Council of Real Estate Brokerage Managers (CRB) asked Macaluso to help rescue the struggling chapter. Macaluso was president of the state chapter in 1998 and didn’t want to see it disappear due to lack of membership.
“They had 37 members when I came on board. Within the first four months, we were up to 187 members,” he says. “I called people, I spread enthusiasm for the chapter. Now, we have a great leadership team, and we’re on track to bring it back.”
His enthusiasm and passion for the industry also earned him the Realtor® of the Year award three times—twice for his local association, the Realtors® Association of the Palm Beaches (20 years apart) and for Florida Realtors® in 2004.
“I had no idea my peers felt so strongly about me. It was a breathtaking moment when I won the state Realtor of the Year award,” he says.
On the Road
As an educator, Macaluso travels frequently. However, the travel bug bit him early in life when his grandfather got him interested in stamp collecting.
“My granddad would send me packets of stamps, mainly European ones. I had a stamp album and would figure out where the stamps came from. I got an incredible education in geography,” he says. When he was older, he was able to visit many of those countries and pick up additional coins and stamps from around the world.
He’s also a believer in giving back to the community. He’s dedicated to the Florida Keys Electric Cooperative, charitable trust. Macaluso serves the organization as its secretary and a trustee; he’s been a trustee for 15 years.
The foundation helps those in the community who “fall through the cracks of government services and need a boost to keep going,” he explains. “For example, a waitress who breaks her leg can’t go back to work but there are no support services for her, so she applies to us and we give her temporary assistance until she’s back on her feet.”
The truth is that Macaluso is the epitome of a renaissance man. He owned a scuba dive charter for three years in the late 70s and still dives when he gets the chance. He’s inspired by Nelson Mandela, who, he says, “Spent 27 years in jail and instead of being bitter, he stood up for his country asking everyone to get along so it could move forward.
He’s partial to the song “What a Wonderful World,” by Louis Armstrong and even was a Mercury recording artist in the 1960s. “I was on Merv Griffin,” says Macaluso, who plays drums and base. “As a musician, you’re never not a musician, but I don’t perform anymore,” he says.
He may not perform musically anymore, but in the real estate industry, his performance hits all the right notes.
Tony Macaluso is as passionate about the real estate profession as he is about helping his community. As a certified instructor, he has taken numerous education courses to enhance his knowledge and expertise. Some of the many professional designations he has earned include Certified Residential Specialist (CRS); Graduate, Realtor Institute (GRI); and Certified International Property Specialist Instructor. In 2004, Macaluso was honored by his colleagues and Florida Realtors as Realtor of the Year for the state association. He also has been recognized as the Florida Educator of the Year for the industry. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has named him its Educator of the Year and International Advocate Member of the Year.Read More »
ORLANDO, Fla., April 30, 2013 – Don’t wait to enter Florida Realtors® annual Environmental Award program, or you may be green with ENVY when the winner is chosen. Popularly known as the “ENVY” award, the honor goes to a development that best preserves Florida’s natural quality of life. The award may be given in two categories: one for residential development and one for commercial development.Read More »
ORLANDO, Fla., April 22, 2013 – In March, Florida’s housing market reported increased closed sales, more pending sales, higher median prices and a reduced inventory of homes for sale, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®.Read More »
Army Sgt. Michael Burke & Family Receive Mortgage-Free Port St. Lucie Home
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – April 10, 2013 – Florida Realtors® surprised a historical turnout of Realtors from across Florida at its first-ever “Rally for Homeownership” today at the Florida Capitol with a home donation to a wounded Florida veteran and his family.Read More »
Florida Realtors President Dean Asher urges Realtors across the state to participate in Great American Realtor Days and the Rally for Homeownership, April 9-10, 2013, in Tallahassee to help “drive home” the importance of homeownership.Read More »
LONGWOOD, Fla. – By reaching out to elementary schools, this local Realtor® and his wife found a way to mentor and feed homeless, displaced and poverty-stricken children.
Several years ago, Mark Santolin and his wife Rhonda went on a spiritual journey. “We attended some of our church’s programs and classes, and it set our hearts on fire,” says Mark, a sales associate with EXIT Real Estate Results in Longwood. He says the couple realized that in order to make their spiritual journey mean anything, they had to take action and do something to help others.
So, when the time came to participate in a community-feeding project, the Santolins jumped at the opportunity.
“Our bible study took on an Easter project to feed the homeless. Over 150 people came out of nowhere to get fed. They were in the woods,” says Mark, who’s been in real estate for 14 years. “That’s when Rhonda and I decided to bring tents, water and non-perishable food to the woods. There would be no judgment, no forms to fill out, just necessities and someone to listen,” he says. “Our goal at that time was to bring 10 people back into society by helping them get back on their feet. We ended up getting six of them out of the woods.”
However, the Santolins felt like they were hitting a wall in terms of helping the homeless in the woods; so they looked for other ways to make a difference. “We realized that if we truly wanted to help this situation, we had to reach out to the children,” says Mark. So, he and Rhonda went to a few elementary schools and asked what they needed to help homeless and displaced kids. “To our surprise, several principals were willing to work with us,” says Mark.
The Santolins soon found out how great the need really was. “We heard stories of kids gathering food that the other children don’t want or don’t eat and packing it up to bring home over the weekend,” Mark says. “If they didn’t do that, they wouldn’t eat for two days.”
And, he adds, these kids aren’t just thinking of themselves, they’re gathering food for their siblings as well. “That’s when we created Bags of Hope Central Florida,” he says.
Bags of Hope Central Florida
Founded in 2009, Bags of Hope Central Florida (BOHCFL) is a program that offers homeless, displaced and poverty-stricken children bags of food to sustain them and their families over the weekend, books to keep them focused on school and, most of all, a consistent, friendly volunteer to help mentor them. The program has now evolved to serve three Central Florida schools and some 300 children.
Each school identifies the children in need and every Thursday or Friday, volunteers with BOHCFL come to the school and meet with the kids for an hour. “We call it the Bags of Hope Central Florida Kids Club,” says Mark. “It’s more than just a bag of food to sustain them over the weekend. That’s the immediate need. What makes the program work is the mentoring we do,” he says
Each volunteer is assigned specific children – each week he or she spends time with that child asking questions about school, their spelling tests and more.
“This one-on-one mentoring has been the difference in the program,” Mark explains. “These children need a person who they can consistently see—someone who encourages them to dream big.”
Each bag of food includes bread, fresh fruit, veggies and proteins such as peanut butter, canned meals, rice, beans, canned chicken and tuna, Vienna sausages and macaroni and cheese.
Reading is fun-damental
In addition to supplying the bags of food, the organization has a reading program. The children get to bring a new book home each week.
“We have a book team,” says Rhonda. “This team helps match up kids with a book on their reading levels, and they get to keep that book,” she says. “If they have a sibling, we encourage them to bring a book to him or her too.
“Children living in poverty tend to put the whole family before themselves,” says Rhonda. “We give them the book to keep so they have something to own. It’s a symbol and helps with the insecurity they may have. After all, these children are bouncing place-to-place, motel-to-motel.”
And, if the children want to, they can complete a book report on the book. Bags of Hope Central Florida volunteers, generally retired teachers, will talk to them about the book and their report; then the child gets to select a prize from the treasure chest.
Children will stay in the Bags of Hope Central Florida Kids Club until there is no longer a need or they move on to middle school, according to the Santolins.
“We targeted elementary school children because they’re easy to identify,” Rhonda explains.
Adds Mark, “We just want to plant the seed to help them cope and prosper in school. The bandage is the food; the program is the solution. We want to teach them to focus on education. That’s how they can fix their futures.”
Keeping kids in school
For Mark, being with the kids energizes him.
“I started mentoring one young fourth grader,” he says. “He was very destructive and had behavior issues at school. He’s in fifth grade now and his behavior has improved dramatically. These kids just need a consistent face each week.”
Both Santolins say that being able to provide this program is a blessing. “Our goal has always been to turn the word ‘faith’ into a verb,” says Mark. “We’ve driven to trailer parks and had starving children take food and desperately eat it immediately. How can you see that and not do something about it?”Read More »
ORLANDO, Fla., March 21, 2013 – Florida’s housing market reported more closed sales, rising median prices, increased pending sales, more new listings and a reduced inventory of homes for sale in February, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®.Read More »
ORLANDO, Fla. – March 13, 2013 — What do Florida Realtors®, the U.S. Olympic Committee, PBS, the United Nations Foundation and the Nature Conservancy have in common? All received national awards for outstanding public relations efforts from PR News in a ceremony held earlier this week at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.Read More »
ORLANDO, Fla. — When prospective buyers tour a home, they like to look at all the details and “test drive” the features. Of course, if there’s one faucet that doesn’t work, that’s the one they’ll turn. If there’s one torn screen, that’s the one they’ll notice.
“Perception is reality. If someone sees a crooked chandelier or a light bulb that’s out, they may think it’s broken and cannot be repaired. This can taint the overall image of the property,” says Realtor® Mark Palace, founder and CEO of Palace Properties International Inc. in Satellite Beach, Fla.
Making a checklist is the easiest way to make sure your home is in top condition and ready to be inspected by buyers. Here is a list of 40 things that Palace and other Florida real estate experts suggest you review and fix before putting your home on the market.
- Keys work easily in locks
- Dead-bolt locks are aligned correctly so they are easy to open and close
- Home security system
- Security pad
- Garage door openers operate, both handhelds and built-ins
- Screens and window frames are clean
- Windows open easily
- Interior and exterior doors open and close quietly, without squeaking
- Pocket doors and sliding doors move easily in their tracks
- All interior light bulbs, switches and fixtures
- Porch lights, carriage lights, security lights
- Pool, spa and patio lights
- Oven light and timer
- Oven clock shows correct time
- Built-in microwave shows correct time and operates
- Garbage disposal operates and smells fresh
- Trash compactor
- Range hood light and exhaust fan
- Bottom of oven is clean
- Oven racks are clean and broiler works
- Dishwasher operates, silverware basket in place
- Refrigerator door light
- Gaskets on refrigerator and freezer
- Smoke detectors
- Air-conditioner/furnace/heater/heater thermostat, operation, coolant leakage, condensation, duct leaks
- Ceiling fans operate smoothly and quietly
- Bathroom vent fans
- All faucets operate easily
- Leaking faucets (an inexpensive washer could fix a leak)
- Toilets flush smoothly, fully
- Drainage in sinks, showers and tubs
- Pool pump and filter
- Pool vacuum
- Underwater jets in pool/spa
- Outdoor faucets/hose connections
- Indoor intercoms
- Patio/outdoor intercoms, speakers
- Carpet and flooring is clean and crack-free
Your Realtor® can help you prepare this checklist and make suggestions for any repairs. Some fixes are easy and you can do them yourself. Others may require a professional. Either way, that attention to detail can make a real difference in the sale of your home.