Residential Real Estate News, Reviews, Things To Do, Events, Neighborhood Information and Market Updates by Wes and Nicole Benwick

Jan. 14, 2019

Rent Vs Buy

We've often wondered... is it better to Rent OR Buy

Did you know that renting at $1,650 per month, compared with purchasing a similar home for $250,000 could cost you over $114,000!  Don't believe it?? The proof is right here:

Rent Vs Buy Slide

Posted in FAQ, Helpful Advice
Jan. 14, 2019

Cost of Waiting

We've all been there, it's decision time, should you move forward with your offer or sleep on it?  Is now the right time to buy, or is it better to wait things out.  The answer isn't always very clear, but we are always trying to help you find the best answer.  Our lending partners over at Future.Loans, have a great new way of putting some real numbers that may change the way you think.  Did you know that waiting just 1 year on a $250,000 home purchase could cost you nearly $8,000, and maybe more if you start to consider potential price increases!  Don't believe it, the proof is right here.  

Cost of Waiting Slide

Want to see it with your numbers?  Get it customized and personalize just for you.  We call it the Cost of Waiting Analysis, all you have to do is ask, compliments of our friends over at the fastest and smartest lender in the city, Future.Loans!  

Cost of Waiting Slide 2

Posted in FAQ, Helpful Advice
Jan. 8, 2019

iPhone Tricks

Who doesn't want to know how to optimize that expensive thing  we keep by our sides 24/7?  

Tricks for your iPhone:

  • Do you ever text or email and need to move the cursor? All you have to do is press down on the keyboard and when you see the keys disappear, you can slide your finger around in the space. 
  • Have photos you do not want others to see? In the photos app choose all of the photos you want to hide and hit the "share" icon. Then choose "hide". To see them again, simply go to your albums in the photo app.
  • Most of you may know but it bears reminding...while driving, use your "do not disturb while driving" button. Go to settings, control center, then customize controls.
  • Want to share something on your phone? Go to settings, control center, customize controls. Tap the screen record icon and it will turn red. Use as you wish then to stop it you can go to the icon in the control center and press the blue banner.
  • If you can't look at your phone a lot but need to know who's calling, simply make different ringtones for your contacts. Go to your contacts and find the person, choose edit and go to ringtone. Press the Default and enjoy customizing!
  • If you have to have one hand free and be able to type at the same time, open a text and find the emoji button, and from there choose the left or right handed keyboard option.
  • On the calculator an easy way to fix a mistyped number is to swipe either left or right at top where the number(s) is and it will erase your last number.
  • Who has a scanner? You do, on your phone! Go to your Notes, click the plus sign, choose 'scan documents'. Simply position the document and boom!



Enjoy! Use that phone to call us about a home for you! 904-477-7556 


Jan. 6, 2019

How to Homestead Your Home

If you bought a home last year, you should homestead the property you purchased.  What is that and how does it help me?

What does is it mean to homestead a home in Florida?

To declare your property a "homestead" in Florida means to reduce the taxable value of real property you own by up to $25,000 if you're single and up to $50,000 if you are married. The home must be your primary residence. The first $25,000 of the exemption applies to the property taxes and school taxes. The remaining $25,000 goes toward the assessed value between $50,000 and $75,000 and to other non-school taxes.

You must have the legal title to the residence as of January 1 for the year you want to homestead and again, it must be your primary home that you live in. Also, the most important thing to remember is you must apply for homestead between January 1 and March 1 of the year you want the homestead exemption. There is a late file option (if you miss the March deadline) of September 18, 2019. (But really... there is no reason to procrastinate here!)

What do I need to file?

In order to file for homestead exemption, you will need proof of ownership, so the deed on record or tax bill, as well as your Florida's driver's license (with the primary residence on it). You will also need your vehicle registration with the primary address on it. *Check with your county's website for the exact documentation to provide.

What do I do first?

Visit your property appraiser's website to get more information..

Duval County

St. Johns County

Clay County

How do I know it's been taken care of?

Within 45 days of filing you should receive a receipt by mail. If you do not, you can always check your county website.

What happens if I don't file?

If you forget to file, or just don't file for your homestead exemption, not only will you have an increased property tax liability without the automatic deduction, your property will not be subject to the annual "cap" on increase, currently set at 3% or less.  So let's assume you bought your home for $200,000.00 last year and the previous owner's assessed tax value was $185,000 before any deductions. The appraiser for your county automatically reassesses all properties as of January 1st each year, and its likely the taxable value will increase as a result.  This will continue annually, and at a modest growth rate of 3 - 5% per year, after just a few years, without any cap in place, your home could be valued up to $231,000.  Without having any deductions or limits on annual gains, your tax bill will continue to increase every year, at a rate of $18-$20 per $1000 of value depending on where you live.  Your tax bill of $3600 would have increased to nearly $4200 by now.    

By filing, assuming you are married, your taxable value will be $200,000 minus $50,000, with a cap of 3% or less on the growth, your tax bill would be around $2700 - $2950, nearly a $1000 difference annually, and growing!

If you have any questions please give us a call. 904-477-7556...


Jan. 2, 2019

New Years...What Are Your Resolutions?

Happy New Year!!  

  Happy 2019!! We all made it through the holidays and are ready to take on the new year!     

What is it about a new year that makes us want to change, be better, and turn the proverbial corner because we turned the calendar? Was New Years Day always celebrated on January 1? Did YOU make resolutions? Why do we do this tradition year after year??

  About 4,000 years ago the Babylons celebrated the new year by promising to pay debts and return objects borrowed from others....but it was not January 1st.  It was in mid March when the crops were planted and during the spring equinox. However, by 46 B.C. Julius Ceasar changed it to what it is today; on January 1st, to reflect the new calendar that was in sync with the sun not the moon.  Also said the change to January 1 was in order to honor the Roman god of beginnings, "Janus". Janus symbolically looked backwards into the previous year and looked ahead to the new year.  Some countries still follow a lunar calendar and thus celebrate New Years on different days.

The custom of making resolutions goes back about 2,000 years ago where Christians made resolutions to be better to others morally, as well as forgive past mistakes and promising to do better in the future. Nowadays, we tend to make resolutions to better ourselves such as losing weight, stopping a bad habit, etc.   

So, as much as we love the holidays, January 1st is here and the time to make those darn resolutions that we all hope to keep. We all want to turn that "corner" and make promises to ourselves to become a better person in many ways.  

Sadly only about 8% of those who make resolutions keep them, however 40-45% of us keep on making them!

Why not make a resolution to just be a better person one nice thing for someone else every costs you nothing!

May you and yours have a wonderful 2019 and best of luck with your New Year's resolutions!





Dec. 8, 2018

St. Johns County Schools Opens Spots

St. Johns County schools here in Jacksonville Florida boasts some of THE top schools in this country!

Even if you don't live in St. Johns County (which it is one heck of a county to live in!!) you can still apply for open enrollment!

If you want to apply you can do so January 24th-February 27th 2019.

The county will open up seats in three elementary schools and one middle school.

1. Ocean Palms Elementary School

2. The Webster School in St. Augustine

3. PVPV-Rawlings Elementary School

4. R.J. Murray Middle School in St. Augustine

Find out more at


Nov. 26, 2018

We Want YOUR Input!

We love traditions here at 

Simply put, we want to hear about your holiday traditions that you do now or used to do when you were a child. No matter the holiday we love to hear about different traditions. What you share may start someone else's new traditions!!

Drop us a note!! Happy Holidays!!!









Nov. 5, 2018

Ways to Avoid Cooking for Thanksgiving!

I fully admit it....I do not like to  So once Halloween is over, and everyone is ready for turkey day, I begin thinking where can we go that won't require me to be in a kitchen all day..

Full disclosure-I am also not a big fan of the "traditional" food served at Thanksgiving. (I feel the jaws dropping as you read that...)

SO, what can people like myself do if they don't want to cook? 

Back in the day NO place was open for Thanksgiving Day-you best be ready to cook at home or go to someone's home who was. Now there are a multitude of restaurants open on Thanksgiving. *Check your favorite because they will likely have shorter/different hours. 

Ok, so going out is a bit too "un-holidayish" ....what else can I do?

Why not order your entire dinner? You order it, pick it up, bring it home...VOILA! Dinner is served and you haven't spent a day in the kitchen!

Some good places to check for a tasty turkey meal are...

1. Matthews (this place ROCKS!) check out their menu here!

2. Whole Foods-who doesn't like Whole Foods? Check out their turkey menu!

3. Publix also offers a great meal to go! 

4. Cracker Barrel! Another gem where everyone likes the taste of home...

5. If you live in Jacksonville and haven't drooled when someone mentions Cinotti's     Bakery, you haven't lived. Check out their Thanksgiving menu!!!


Do you feel too guilty ordering the ENTIRE meal from a restaurant? I don't know why (haha) but if you are some other options...

If you are in between wanting to order a whole meal or just order the food and do some of the prep work, Williams-Sonoma is an excellent choice....

Everyone's go to for meat would definitely be Honeybaked Ham! If you are in charge of the main dish and want it ready to roll, click here!

At Copelands you can pre-order a CAJUN turkey and pick it up when you want to!


I know just that....but it's now ok to get some help if you don't like to cook or don't have the time to prepare a full meal for your family.  

This is the season to be thankful, so if you want to help others who may not be able to give their family a dinner for Thanksgiving, please click here to donate to the Salvation Army.

From our home to yours...Happy Thanksgiving!!!










Oct. 24, 2018

What Can Adults Do for Halloween?

Halloween is not all about the kids--check out the many things adults can do to celebrate Halloween!!

Here are some things to do during this Halloween Season!!

1. Whiskey Jax Beaches --I mention this first because Wes will be the DJ that night! Come see us and have some fun!! Costumes are a must! 70s 80s and 90s music! (Isn't that the best decades for music??) *Halloween night 10/31


2. Whiskey Jax Baymeadows-This location is having a COUNTRY music Halloween Party and costume contest!! 8p-12m *Halloween night 10/31


3. Laugh Lounge is a comedy club that is going to have a show from 8p-10p then an after party till 2am!  *This one is on Sunday 10/28.


4. Myth is holding a Purge Halloween Party with a $1000 costume contest!!! 10p-2a *Halloween night 10/31


5. CALLING ALL LADIES! How bout an All Male Review? (not sure how it relates to Halloween but...) Magic Mike style at Cuba Libre! *Friday Oct. 26  Now on Saturday night there WILL be a costume and Halloween party...;)


6. Also at Myth, check out another Halloween Bash! This one is *Saturday 10/27. THE place to be after the big game. $500 costume contest!!


7. Fright Night Bar Crawl!! Free drinks and drink specials as you hit a few of the bars!! *Saturday 10/27


8. The Haunted Brewery at Anheuser Busch! (This one is fun for all but it is somewhere to go if you are an adult! See if YOU can kill all of the zombies in the zombie hunt!! Take a group of friends! *Friday 10/26


9. If partying for a purpose is more your style, head to Costumes & Cocktails Fundraiser at The Ritz Theatre. DJ & Karaoke! Proceeds benefit youth summer programs and after school programs. *Friday 10/26 7p


10. Have you been to XO?? They are having a costume party too! Live music 8p-10p and a DJ 10p-2a! *Halloween night 10/31 at 8p.


JACKSONVILLE! There is SO much to do in this city for Halloween no matter how you like to celebrate! Enjoy and be safe! Always take an UBER or LYFT if you plan to drink!!!!

Oct. 15, 2018 the Movies??

Who knew Jacksonville Florida was a movie mecca?? Ok, well it's not exactly Hollywood, but did you know there have been a number of movies (& a few television series!) that have been filmed here?

Here are the movies that were shot here and the number after the description is not the amount the movie brought in at the box office, but the local economic impact in millions these all had to our wonderful city.

Recount  this 2008 movie is about the 2000 presidential election between Bush and Gore starring Kevin Spacey and Denis Leary  $3.3M

The Year of Getting to Know Us  the 2008 comedy drama film starringTom Arnold, Sharon Stone, Jimmy Fallon, and Lucy Liu $1.4M

Lonely Hearts    this 2006 film was based on the Lonely Hearts Killers of the 1940s. It stars John Travolta, Selma Hayek, James Gandolfini, & Jared Leto.  $1.8M

Sunshine State  this movie was made here in 2002 and was a comedy with Angela Basset and Edie Falco about a Florida island taken over by country club developers. $3.5M 

Basic  made in 2003 this movie is about a special ops mission in Panama with John Travolta and Samuel L Jackson. $7.1M

Manchurian Candidate this 2004 film with Denzel Washington and Liev Schreiber is a story about the Gulf War and is a political thriller. $1.2M

GI Jane the Demi Moore movie about a navy woman and  the integration of women into the services. $8.3M

Tigerland  back in 2000, this movie came out about the year 1971 and the Vietnam War starring Colin Farrell. $3.2M

Pointman this TV series this came out in 1994 and was about an investment banker who was being framed for fraud. $3.4M

Safe Harbor in 1999 this series came out about a sheriff trying to raise his three sons after his wife dies. $4.1M


Jacksonville is such a large and wonderful city we are almost surprised with our gorgeous beaches and cityscape more movies haven't been filmed here; so we look forward to more!