The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 16 No. 39 - July 27, 2016


Fresh fish, right off the boat

LaPensee Plumbing Pools Air


James "Wyre" Lee, manager, and "Roxy" are the
greeters at Cortez Fish Market.

There's something fishy on Cortez Road and believe me you can't miss it. Smack dab in the middle of the colorful strip of stores containing the Cortez Post Office is the new Cortez Fish Market, which isn't really new at all.

John Banyas has owned Cortez Bait & Seafood, a fixture in the Cortez Fishing Village, since 1996, in addition to the Swordfish Grill, Taylor Boatworks and other local businesses. Last year he purchased the small strip of stores along Cortez Road West near 121st Street and added yet another business to his portfolio. The Cortez Fish Market officially opened the week of July 18 on Cortez Road West next to the Post Office.

The large bright space is managed by James "Wyre" Lee who knows more about fish then the old man and the sea and has five more people to help him pull in the nets. The expansion is obvious with a very substantial display of fresh seafood including; royal red shrimp, snapper, cobia, swordfish, mahi mahi, tuna, hog fish, grouper and whatever else is caught fresh from the Gulf waters surrounding us. Most of the seafood at the Cortez Fish Market comes right off the boats from the Cortez Fishing Fleet.

In addition, there is a bank of coolers and freezers containing more shrimp, scallops, locally smoked salmon, clams, stone crabs, crab cakes, fish spreads, clam chowder and lobster bisque as well as the lemons and limes you forgot. The market also has an impressive display of seafood cooking garnishes like bread crumbs, seasonings, spices, sauces, rice and more. You can even find some snacks and Cortez T-shirts.

Another of John Banyas' creations is the "Killer Bait" brand, as he says ,"anything you need for offshore game." Some of the frozen choices are sardines, red herring, chum and squid. He also points out that the new Cortez Fish Market is the retail location but the original Cortez Bait & Seafood location is still in Cortez village and will now be primarily for wholesale. And when mullet season kicks in, much of the traffic created in the village will now be redirected to the Cortez Road location where they have a loading dock, ice and space for the mullet. This will allow for additional parking in the village to accommodate the restaurants during mullet season.

The grand opening of the Cortez Fish Market will be the weekend of Aug. 6-7. John Banyas and "Wyre" Lee are planning on throwing a real party with refreshments, snacks, fresh seafood, beer, music and possibly a big tent on their large grounds.

In 2008, when I first interviewed John Banyas, he described Cortez Village as "a little piece of land lost in time." He certainly should know, since his roots go deep in the community, coming from a fourth generation Cortez family who fished and built boats. What better place to get your seafood than from the people who know it best; nothing fishy about that.


12110 Cortez Road W.,



Monday - Saturday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Sunday: 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

MasterCard & Visa Accepted

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Reverse mortgages worth another look

Investment Corner

I have written about reverse mortgages over the years, at least twice here in the Sun. My advice was that reverse mortgages were expensive for the borrower, but in the case where a retired person or couple had run out of assets, using the equity in their home through a reverse mortgage wasn't the worst idea in the world.

I'm bringing the topic back one more time because some changes in federal guidelines have made the reverse mortgage a more attractive option for those who are over age 62, that own their home free and clear of another mortgage and who are concerned about the possibility of running low on retirement income during their lifetime

Space limitations don't' allow us to go into a full primer on reverse mortgages, but let's hit some of the highlights.

• Fees are down: The up front mortgage insurance premium applied to all reverse mortgages was reduced from 2.5 percent of the loan amount to 0.5 percent by the Reverse Mortgage Stabilization Act of 2013, as long as the borrower doesn't tap more than 60 percent of the available credit balance in the first year. Other fees have been standardized and are roughly in line with a traditional home mortgage, but often lenders will issue credits to offset some or all of these other expenses.

• Education: Borrowers are required to attend a consumer counseling session to make sure they understand the nature of the reverse mortgage. The cost of this session is $125

• Borrowing limit: The limit for reverse mortgage credit lines depends on the age of the youngest borrower, current interest rates and the lenders margin. Generally, you can access about half of the value of your principal resident, up to a current maximum value of $625,000.

• Payments: You don't need to make payment on a reverse mortgage. The money you borrow and accrued interest must be repaid when you no longer live in the home. This can be through a move to another location, or if you pass away. The home will then be sold, the reverse mortgage paid off and any excess above that can be left to heirs.

In the past, advice was generally to take out the reverse mortgage as a last resort when it was obvious additional funds may be needed. Under current guidelines, that advice is outdated. Reverse mortgage lines of credit actually grow over time, giving the borrower the ability to borrow more. So, the current advice in most situations is to establish the line of credit in your mid-60s, when eligible, and instead of borrowing, just let the line of credit rest with a zero balance.

A line of credit for about $125,000 will grow to about $190,000 in 10 years, 290,000 in 20 years and over $440,000 in 30 years. Establishing, but not accessing the line of credit until later in retirement gives the retiree a lot of flexibility. The exact loan characteristics are influenced by the age(s) of the borrowers as well as the current level of interest rates.

In summary, for those who may find themselves real estate rich and liquid asset challenged, a reverse mortgage may be a good option.

Tom Breiter is president of Breiter Capital Management, Inc., an Anna Maria based investment advisor. He can be reached at 778-1900. Some of the investment concepts highlighted in this column may carry the risk of loss of principal, and investors should determine appropriateness for their personal situation before investing. Visit


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