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Monday, February 10, 2014

Will 2014’s New Mortgage Rules Affect You?

Keller Williams’ Claudio & Robyn Petasne Emphasize The Importance
of Finding the Right Real Estate Partners

Changes to the home loan industry seem to be more the exception than the rule. But 2014’s new changes taking effect on January 10 are intended to protect the buyers, according to South Florida realtors Claudio and Robyn Petasne.
“The first major change is related to what the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau calls ‘qualified mortgages,’” Robyn says. “Qualified mortgages are intended to protect the buyer because they are ones the buyer can afford to repay.”
In 2014, qualified mortgages mean lender cannot take fees higher than 3 percent. Lenders also cannot grant loans that would exceed your debt-to-income ratio by 43 percent.
These new laws may protect homebuyers, but Claudio points out that he also views his and Robyn’s job as having a similar pathway.
“We want our buyers to be in their dream homes, but we also want to them to be in dream homes that means they don’t have to limit their lifestyle due to their mortgage payment,” Claudio says. “Our experience in South Florida real estate and our close partnerships with lenders means we can work with buyers to get the right house at the right price.”
One such partnership is with Priority Lending, where Dan Longman, President and CRMS, works with the Petasne’s buyers to obtain affordable mortgages.
“Our fees never exceeded this 3 percent mark and are typically around the 2.5 percent range,” Longman says. “However, as wholesale lenders, we are really able to offer a greater variety of loans in the first place. Even with these differences and changes in 2013, we’ve been able to navigate these waters with realtors like Claudio and Robyn and help their homebuyers move into homes.”
Buyers’ Outlook for 2014
As for the buyers’ outlook in South Florida for 2014, both the Petasnes and Longman are seeing more and more buyers qualify for loans in a timely fashion.
“One of the biggest challenges in 2013 is that the market seemed to be flooded at times with investors that were snapping up homes,” Longman says. “This meant well-qualified buyers were losing out to investors coming in and paying cash. But investment companies are backing off, which leaves more room for buyers.”
Having realtors that know the market well and always seem to know where the next best property for a homebuyer is can equal greater success, Robyn says.
“Our goals for 2014 are to help more buyers than ever to realize their dream of home ownership or to move into a home that’s a better fit for their needs,” she says. “We are prepared to help them navigate any changes to mortgage requirements and are proud to work with the right partners to help them get there.”
To find out more about how Robyn and Claudio can help you find or sell a home, call their office at (954) 770-6850 or by cell phone at (954) 260-5570. You can also visit:

Priority Lending is located at 9720 Stirling Rd. #207C in Cooper City. For more information on Priority Lending, visit or call (954) 438-3776 or call toll-free at (877) 838-3776. Clicking on "Forms" will direct clients to a free quote process or loan application.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Are You In "Mortgage Shape?"

Priority Lending Experts Outline the Three Best Steps You Can Take

Priority Lending’s Dan Longman, Presidentand CRMS, and Ken Zorovich, Vice-President and CRMS, have nearly 30 years of mortgage and lending experience combined. Through this experience, they have learned how to help prospective home buyers whip their finances in shape to qualify for homes they can both afford and love.
Step 1: Check Your Credit Score
While your credit score is not the sole determinant of your mortgage-worthiness, it is an important beginning. Many people have incorrect information on their credit report and don’t even know it.
“I’ve seen clients that have credit cards they’ve never applied for or late payments they were unaware of that appeared on their report,” Dan says. “While inaccurate information can often be removed, this takes time. If a person is hoping to take advantage of today’s low interest rates, this can really slow him or her down.”
Dan Longman, President
The Fair Credit Reporting Act states you can check your credit score for free from each bureau once a year. While there’s a lot of websites offering free credit checks, reporting companies only provide truly free scores through or by calling 1-877-322-8228. If you see something incorrect, contact the reporting agency or the credit bureau immediately. Priority Lending will also run a credit check for you when applying for any type of loan.
Step 2: Think About Down Payments
Securing a mortgage loan often means making a down payment. Traditional bank loans often require you to put down 20 percent of the purchase price. While this use to be a challenge chiefly for first-time home buyers, an affected housing market has meant current homeowners may have difficulty too. As a wholesale mortgage lender, Priority Lending is able to offer a greater variety of loans because they work with a variety of lenders. For example, Priority Lending can offer loans to qualifying applicants that represent 95 to 97 percent of the home purchase price.
“By offering a variety of loans, we can help clients evaluate what works for them given their finances and income,” Ken explains. “However, all clients should be prepared to pay some form of down payment.”
Ken Zorovich, Vice President
Think ahead and set aside funds—the mortgage process will be significantly easier.
Step 3: Start Getting Your Financial Documents In Order
Do you know where you can access your last two years of tax returns and two to three months’ worth of bank statements? If you answered “no”, then it’s time to focus on all the paperwork you’ll need to collect to turn into a mortgage lender.
Dan and Ken use their lending and real estate experience to help clients anticipate what kind of documentation they will need to gather in order to fully make a mortgage loan happen. 
“Our ability to problem solve and see issues up-front has been what separates us from the competition,” Dan says. “Our knowledge and expertise in the business allow us to ‘pre-underwrite’ a file and help clients collect the documentation they need to get a deal done.”
By keeping solid financial records, you can easily access the information you need to secure a mortgage loan.
Priority Lending is located at 9720 Stirling Rd. #207C in Cooper City. For more information on Priority Lending, visit or call (954) 438-3776 or call toll-free at (877) 838-3776. Clicking on "Forms" will direct clients to a free quote process or loan application. Click here to see the latest Priority Lending YouTube video!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Look Behind the Scenes of Amelia’s 25th

KMK Productions Film Hits Video Distribution Aug. 6
What do you do when you want Hollywood stars like Danny Trejo, Margaret Cho and Jennifer Tilly to act in roles you wrote just with them in mind? If you are KMK Productions, the answer is “You call them.”

That’s just what Karin Kelts, Mark Whittington and Kim St. Leon, the trio behind KMK Productions did when casting their film Amelia’s 25th, which hits video distribution on August 6. On January 21, 2013, the production company brokered a deal for distribution rights with Breaking Glass Pictures.
The film takes the viewer on a day in the life of Amelia, a struggling Hollywood actress on the verge of turning 25. While most people are excited for their birthdays, Amelia doesn’t feel the same, especially since 25 is pretty much over the hill in the actress world of Los Angeles. Electra Avellan plays the title role and Whittington and Kelts also have roles as Peter the narrator and Eve, respectively.
Karin Kelts
Creating the All-Star Cast
In addition to the interest in the movie’s part-romp, part-dark comedy storyline, what is most interesting is how the movie came to be. Mark, who co-wrote the film with Nicholes Cole, wrote parts such as the psychic, with certain stars in mind.
Mark Whittington
“When I was writing it, I said ‘this is a Jennifer Tilly role that needs a person that’s quirky, sexy and maybe even a little weird,” he says. “Then we just called Jennifer Tilly, and she took it.”
The story was similar to stars Danny Trejo, of Machete fame, and Margaret Cho, who plays a sex shop owner.
“Part of Margaret’s early comedy routine tells of how she grew up working in her parents’ bookstore, which had a pornography section,” Mark explains. “She was a perfect fit and said yes within 24 hours.”
Working Against Type
Trejo’s part was more interesting because it is a comedic role, where he typically plays more serious, often villainous action roles.
“Danny’s got an amazing sense of humor, and I can guarantee viewers have never seen him this funny,” Mark says.
Another interesting facet of this movie is the role of Emilio Cruz, the rich and powerful Hollywood director. Even KMK Productions producers were surprised when legendary director Robert Rodriguez agreed to play the role, marking his onscreen acting debut. Rodriguez and Trejo will work together once again on the sequel to the successful Machete, called Machete Kills that hits theaters in October 11 of this year.
These elements, plus top-notch storytelling equal a movie in the vein of 200 Cigarettes, Garden State and Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle.
“It’s the ‘little movie that could,’” Mark says. “We’re very fortunate we got our first choices on all the film’s roles.”
Click here to visit the IMDB page for Amelia’s 25th or purchase the film at the following retailers:
Find Amelia’s 25th at the following platforms on August 6: and
Barnes & Noble
Deep Discount DVD
DVD Empire
Best Buy
Newbury Comics
Fans can also “save” the movie to their Netflix lists for future release or purchase the film at the Breaking Glass Pictures website at
To view the IMDB page on Amelia’s 25th, visit or visit the movie’s website at For more information on KMK Productions, visit or  

Monday, May 13, 2013

Grow Your Business and Your Relationships

Mike Sneiderman
Business Owners See Signs of Economic Growth

From increases in consumer spending to an increase in RV purchases (yes, it’s an economic indicator: click here to read more), many signs point to an economic upswing. But what about the experiences of individual business owners? According to Dan Varner and Mike Sneiderman, they are seeing their own signs the economy is rebounding.

Dan Varner, owner of Varner Claims Consulting, LLC, has seen an increase in employment in the industries he commonly works with, including the trucking, manufacturing and home and commercial construction industries (to learn more, visit their YouTube Playlist by clicking here).

“The economy is rebounding, and more shipments of goods leads to increased freight demands,” Varner says. “With the aging workforce and stricter workplace guidelines, I’m seeing the upper level of the workforce retiring, and companies hiring new workers.”

With exponentially more workers, another percentage comes up: the number of injured workers, which means a higher volume of insurance claims. Helping companies with injured workers create return-to-work solutions is Varner’s specialty. After more than 30 years experience working in claims insurance, Varner has taken this knowledge to help businesses achieve cost savings while placing injured workers in light/transitional-duty programs that keep them working during their medical recovery.

A Proactive Mindset

Because the risk for injured workers rises proportionally with an increased amount of workers hired, Varner encourages companies to take a proactive versus reactive approach.

“A proactive approach means business owners having a light duty program in place,” Varner says. “We can assist business owners in controlling claims costs and the injured worker is happy because he or she is making more money remaining at light/transitional positions compared to staying home collecting benefits.”

One of the reasons employers may not take the cost-saving approach to return-to-work solutions is simply a lack of knowledge in what is often a complicated insurance matter and manpower to support the program. Varner uses his considerable nationwide industry connections to make a light/transitional duty program easy to execute for a business owners.

Even during a tough economy, Varner has been able to carve out a niche and grow his business. He attributes his success to multiple factors that appeal to companies: flat-rate fees, a 100 percent placement rate for injured workers, an electronic time tracking program and perhaps most importantly, ease of accessibility to Varner himself.

“My company and employees react instantly to requests,” Varner says. “A company doesn’t have to go through hoops and five or eight people to reach me, which can make all the difference when a company needs immediate placement for an injured worker.”

Business Refresh

Mike Sneiderman, co-owner of SIGNARAMA USA, BOCA/DELRAY sees economic indicators of his own via his sign business that creates outdoor and indoor signs, banners, graphics, letters and displays. Sneiderman says more and more new businesses are coming in to work with the SIGNARAMA team to create distinctive signs that build brand recognition and attract customers.

“You can have the greatest products, but customers must be able to first find you,” Sneiderman says. “The right signage is welcoming and sets the tone for the new business.”

The SIGNARAMA team, which include Mike’s co-owner son Dave, uses its award-winning approach to help new businesses craft the message they want to send to customers via custom, eye-grabbing signs.

Another economic indicator Sneiderman is seeing more customers with existing businesses coming in for new signs, displays and banners.

“When the economy was at its lower points, updating signage and interiors was often a point that got overlooked,” Sneiderman says. “But now businesses are seeing its overall value in retaining and attracting new customers. Neglecting the appearance of your business can send the message you may neglect other aspects of the business transaction as well.”

Much like Varner, Sneiderman advises a proactive approach when it comes to maintaining business success. By regularly replacing faded, poorly lit or outdated signage, businesses appear more successful and inviting.

“First impressions are everything,” Sneiderman says. “My company will work tirelessly with a business to ensure a first impression is a strong one.”

Learn more about Varner Claims Consulting, LLC, visit, call (312) 450-3259 or e-mail Varner at You can also follow him on Twitter at @VarnerClaims.

Learn more about SIGNARAMA USA, BOCA/DELRAY, visit or call (561) 278-7446. You can also follow the business on Twitter at @SignaramaBocaDB or visit the welcoming sign professionals in person at SIGNARAMA located at 2905 S. Congress Avenue, Suite E in Delray Beach.

Maesk Group Offers Weekend Couples Seminars

Communication, togetherness and awareness -- these are some of the hallmarks of a healthy relationship. If you feel yours could improve in one or several of these categories, Doug Maesk, M.A., Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), is offering weekend seminars for couples throughout the month of June.

Doug Maesk

“These seminars will be ideal for couples considering marriage or those who have been together for a while but are struggling,” says Maesk, a Fort Lauderdale-based counselor with more than 10 years experience. “These seminars will focus on fostering intimacy, removing barriers to healthy communication and increasing awareness of each partner’s role in the relationship.”

Maesk offers a unique approach to counseling and is trained in Gestalt Therapy, a therapy form that takes an integrated approach to healing.

“I feel I meet people where they are,” Maesk says. “If a patient is interested in more of a feelings approach, I will go there with them. If they want a more cognitive, intellectual approach, I will go there with them. In other words, my work is very person-centered.”

Maesk specializes in the treatment of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, adolescent psychology and couples counseling. He emphasizes that entering counseling is not a lifetime commitment. He often works with many clients over a three- to six-month time frame, helping them to ease worries and feel happier, two feelings they may have previously thought impossible.

‘What I want people to know is that I have helped thousands of people over the years to lead happier, more productive lives,” Maesk says.

Want to know more about Maesk’s services and weekend seminars, call (954) 353-4680 or e-mail Maesk’s offices are located at 2821 E. Commercial Blvd., Suite 210, in Fort Lauderdale.

April Dorsey of The D-Tales 
Shares Sassy Tips for Service Business Owners

April Dorsey of The D-Tales

With wedding season fast-approaching, April Dorsey, the wedding planner extraordinaire of The D-Tales, is working hard with brides and vendors to create picture-perfect and crazy-fun wedding events. April’s schedule is so busy because she knows her stuff when it comes to attracting clients—and here are some of her tips for how she does it:

You’ve Got to Go Mobile
The D-Tales offers a kick-a website, plus a mobile-optimized site. According to April, 67 percent of mobiles users say that when they visit a mobile-friendly site, they’re more likely to buy a site’s product or service. Personally, April says she has seen an increase in web traffic by 25 percent, especially from Apple products such as the iPhone and iPad.

Make Space for Reviews and Referrals
Customer reviews and referrals are a major revenue source for April.

“Brides want to hire someone who they have been referred to by a close friend,” April says.

Because April’s business is sometimes considered a “luxury” one, she says referrals provide a first-hand experience to explain why her business is needed to avoid issues and stress that can arise from planning a wedding. Another avenue similar to referrals is the “Reviews” section of her website. Opening her site to client reviews has resulted in an increase of visitors to the site by 25 percent.

Carve Out a Unique Space for Yourself
April’s mission is not to provide wedding planning services as usual for her brides. She’s a think-outside-the-box wedding planner that specializes in sassy brides with unique visions for their big days. Rock-and-roll-themed weddings? She’s planned those. Ethnic weddings? She’s planned those too. And she knows that each bride needs a varying level of guidance in advance of her big day. That’s why April created an expanded menu of services categorized by time, such as “Brainstorming Session,” “Month of Help,” “Help Me Finish” and “I Want It All.” April’s seen her revenue increase by 25 percent in four months after increasing her offerings.

For more information on The D-Tales, visit, call (407) 687-6552 or e-mail April at

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Quality Products, Male Boudoir, and Social Advertising

“When the customer comes first, the customer will last.”-Robert Half

It’s a not-so-well-kept secret that customer service is a key to keeping and maintaining lasting customer relationships. Without it, you may get a customer in the door, but you won’t guarantee you will ever see that customer again. Since Club Cabeza knows more than a few customer service artistes, we have polled several area businesses for their customer service tips and tricks.

Customer Service Tip #1: Quality Products
Romi DiRoberto, President and Design Consultant for Florida Design & Associates, Inc., has worked with her husband and his cousin at their family owned interior design business since 1993. The company’s “Shop At Home” services range from window and drapery design to home interior consulting. When customers call DiRoberto, they know they can count on a wide and high-quality product selection.
Romi DiRoberto

“One of the things that matters most is the quality of service and product,” DiRoberto says. “If my clients are not happy, then I am not happy. I think that is a direct reflection of my personality as well as the way that I think any and all businesses should be represented.”

DiRoberto says a strong knowledge base of the construction and design industries allows her to find the right products to show clients. She is always looking for new offerings, including the Coulisse product line of pleated shades, roller shades and gliding panel systems.

“They have a sleek design and when they are fully raised, the head rail almost disappears,” DiRoberto says. “The roller shades have many options as well and will fit any window in any room in any style of home or office.”

DiRoberto has taken this business knowledge to her Pompano Beach-based doggy-grooming salon called “Doggy Stylin’.” The same values in providing quality services carry over into the business where dog groomers Jeannie and Mary have more than 30 years’ experience in the industry.

Customer Service Tip #2: Find Your Niche
Photographer Noël de Christian found a niche in the photography business, and has made a life’s work out of it.

“My services are rather niche-oriented since I don’t photograph everything under the sun,” de Christian says. “I basically photograph adults with a strong focus on men. Us men are usually neglected from professional photography — though it’s getting better — with a much stronger emphasis on women, children and families.”

When de Christian found his niche in the photography world, the results were life-changing for him and his clients.
Noel de Christian Photography

“I believe that today’s men are starting to realize that they can be photographed professionally for personal reasons and still enjoy the session and its outcome,” he says. “I have client who mentioned to me how their new pictures have changed their lives for the better and how others see them.”

Offering a vast array of services that include portraits, headshots, male physique and fashion and what de Christian terms “Dudoir” or male boudoir shots, de Christian’s prestige and reputation as a photographer have grown as he continues to cultivate his business. One of the latest industry trends he has observed is producing high-end coffee table books from his photographs. He works with high-end book production companies to produce books options that include images printed on metallic paper to binding in rich leathers. de Christian says his clients utilize the books as a gift to a significant other or as an elegant way to display and capture a moment for a lifetime. 

“Everyone has a story to tell, and it’s my job to tell that story through images,” de Christian says.

For more information about Florida Design & Associates, Inc., visit or follow them at To find out more about Doggy Stylin’ grooming salon, visit or call toll-free at (888) 482-2399.

For more information on Noël de Christian photography, visit or follow de Christian on Twitter at You can also call (954) 777-3000 for more information.

Identifying Marketing Trends: Social Advertising
With more than 1.06 billion monthly active users, it’s hard to deny the promotional capabilities of Facebook from a marketing perspective. In October, Facebook rolled out a “Sponsored Posts” option that allows you to promote friends and business’ posts for a fee. According to Facebook, the “Promote Post” function is especially beneficial to those making charity fundraising efforts, accomplishments, sales and personal announcements, such as an engagement. This option joins a growing marketing approach known as “social advertising.”
Marnie Goldberg, Amplification, Inc. Social Medium

“Sponsored posts are extremely effective at increasing your reach and helping you target specific demographics,” says Marnie Goldberg, Social Medium at Amplification, Inc., a South Florida-based social media company. “We have been very successful with fan acquisition campaigns for a number of clients and with promoting a specific event."

Goldberg cited several examples from her social media clients, including a recent sponsored campaign of a YouTube video for Polo Trace Golf Club that increased video views by a factor of five within a few days (Click here to view the video "Ladies League at Polo Trace Golf Club"). An awesome side effect was an increase in fans, too. Meaning by sponsoring the video, Polo Trace’s fan page on Facebook also acquired new fans as a result.

Goldberg calls this the “halo effect.”

“When you are trying to acquire fans for a Facebook page, having some sort of messaging is essential,” Goldberg says. “Combining video and sponsored posts has given us great success.”
Thanks to Facebook’s tracking metrics, social media reach and effectiveness is more than anecdotal. Goldberg says Facebook provides a wealth of information, including impressions and unique visitors.

“As marketers, we can then use this information to calibrate our efforts and adjust messaging whenever necessary,” Goldberg says.

Party in the Park will be held on May 5.
Sponsored Facebook efforts are best centered around a fan acquisition or messaging agenda. Another way to employ it is by pushing a specific event. How many times a week or month do you get event invitations from these same friends who work as a club promoter or DJ? The new Facebook capability circumvents that consumer numbness or apathy. Goldberg utilized Facebook metrics to fine-tune the audience, selecting age groups, specific demographics and Facebook users who liked certain music types, outdoor concerts and communities for an upcoming music event to benefit the Parks Foundation of Miami-Dade County. After one week, the number of RSVPs had increased by almost 80 percent—an eye-catching jump from previous event-related marketing efforts. (Click here to view the Parks Foundation's event invite for "Love-In Party in the Park").

“When we help clients target their efforts, they see better results,” Goldberg says. “Making the cyclical connection among video, sponsored posts and fan acquisitions is a natural fit.”

For more information on Goldberg and Amplification, Inc., please visit and follow them at @We_Amplify_You.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Original American Picker

The History Channel’s American Pickers show chronicles the traveling exploits of Mike Wolfe and Frank Fritz of Antique Archaeology on their quest to find highly collectible antiques for resale.
While the concept has revitalized an interest in antiques, the concept is not a new one to Stephen “Steve” Gano and the Randolph Rose family. That’s because Gano has been traveling the world for more than 50 years, amassing one of the largest Asian art and antiques collections in the country for Far Eastern Antiques, a business whose holdings include Manhattan and Florida showrooms and a Yonkers-based warehouse.
Making Their Start
The story of Far Eastern Antiques begins with Steve’s military service in Thailand. He would purchase antiques in the Thai villages where he was stationed, sending them back to his aunt’s Greenwich Village-based antiques store. When he returned to America, he began selling the antiques in a Manhattan-based shop and in the Yonkers-based home he converted into an art gallery.
In an early 1970s summer, Steve asked his cousin Randolph Rose, a teacher at the time, to watch his showrooms as he went on a buying trip. Rose saw the potential for the business. When Steve returned, they partnered together with Steve as the buyer and Randolph as the salesman.
The Rose Family proudly runs Far Eastern Antiques
The partners were the perfect personality complements for each other, according to Austin Rose, Randolph’s son, who now helps to run the business alongside his family. Randolph is the outgoing salesman who’s always wearing a smile while Steve is the quiet, mild-mannered procurer of items.
“Steve has a great eye for everything to do with Asian antiques,” Austin Rose says. “He has an almost photograph-like memory for items and the ability to recognize high-quality, historic pieces.”
As the business grew, Steve continued to travel to China, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia and India. Adopting the “freestyle” techniques of the American Pickers, he would build relationships with vendors and residents of smaller towns, going into villages to purchase the rarest of items, including antiques from burial digs.
Taking History Home
The Yonkers-based warehouse houses thousands of antiques.
While Far Eastern Antiques started as a small business, it has outgrown nearly every building it occupied. The store was initially open only to those in the “trade” or design business, outfitting homes with beautiful and rare Asian art. Today, the Manhattan showroom exists along with the real showstopper that is the Yonkers warehouse, which features more than 70,000 square feet of merchandise spread across several floors. The warehouse is just a short, 20-minute train ride from Manhattan.
“When you walk in, it’s hard not to feel like a kid in a candy store,” Austin says. “When designers come in, they are almost in shock at the beauty and volume of antiques collected over the years.”
Far Eastern Antiques offers a variety of art and furniture.
With almost 50 years in the Asian art and antiques business, Far Eastern Antiques now has quite the history itself. The warehouse and showrooms are now open to the public. Collections include every imaginable decorative and furnishing item, including cabinets, chests, tables, screens, sculptures, trunks, tables, seating and ceramics. Even if you can’t make it to one of the destinations, you can shop the company’s online collections.
“We are the ultimate destination for those with a love of Far Eastern antiques,” Austin says. “It’s like our own Antiques Roadshow, filled with the most amazing antiques and furnishings imaginable.”
Visit to view the collections and for more information. Far Eastern Arts & Antiques’ New York City Showroom is located at 799 Broadway at 11th Street, New York, NY. Call (212) 460-5030 to reach this location. The Yonkers Warehouse is located at 500 Nepperhan Avenue, and you can call (914) 423-2047 or (800) 462-5851 to reach this location.