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

Oct. 8, 2019

Is Fall a Good Time to Buy or Sell??

Is Fall a Good Time to Buy or Sell??



The leaves are falling and fall sports and schedules are now in full swing. We have all heard real estate transactions in spring are the best, maybe even summer, so should you wait or is the autumn a good time?

Ohhhh, you wanted a yes or no answer. Well, no one can give you that due to the many factors that go INTO real estate. Point being, people are looking to buy and sell of the year. So a better question would be "What can I do now that I want to buy or sell in the fall?"

Probably the best reason TO buy or sell in the fall is the competition is lower. The other great reason to buy or sell are the interest rates. We have been told they will go up next year so this really is a great time to buy or sell. Now, let's give you some advice whether you are selling or buying in the fall season.

The following tips certainly are not for JUST the fall season-they can and should be implemented no matter what the day. 

You need to find a Realtor who is very knowledgeable about the market at the moment. You may see ads for agents who can promise you the world, but if they do not have a solid base of the trends in the market, you best move on.

So, first things first. Get an evaluation of what your home is worth. Next, take a hard look at your home. What needs to be fixed, cleaned, and...(we all hate the word..) inspected.

Why is a pre-inspection important? Think about this, you are the buyer and you walk into a home and you really love's almost too good to be true. Then you think, I bet XYZ is wrong with it! But before your cynical mind can go any further, the listing agent hands you a pre-listing inspection. This is an inspection paid for by the seller that lists any and all defects in the home. From there you may see the issue and that it has been fixed, or not. That becomes a piece for negotiation if you decide to proceed. We like to call it a great "insurance" policy in that you already know what you are in for if you love the home and want to live in it!

What's next? Well, when I mentioned cleaning, I meant the interior as well as the dreaded EXterior. For some of you that may mean cleaning up the fallen leaves, the gutters, and for others it may mean weeding and touch-up painting! Regardless of what needs to be done....DO IT!  The interior will not be your buyers' first impression, it's the drive up to your home that will wow them!

Speaking of the exterior, it IS fall, so why not add some of those gorgeous fall colors with plants! Why not add some Halloween and/or Thanksgiving decor as well? Keep it simple and classic (and do I need to mention no morbid Halloween decorations?) My personal piece of "decor" isn't one you see.  Get some scented candles. The smell of a home makes a big impact on buyers!!!


Now, you are ready to sell or buy a home! If you want someone who has your back, knows the market, and is always looking out for you, call us at at 904-477-7556.


Happy Fall!

Aug. 26, 2019

Newsletter Opinions

We want to hear from you about our newsletter at We welcome your thoughts! As always, we appreciate you so please check out our website as well for all of your buying and selling needs. 


Aug. 26, 2019

Baked Pork Chops

Enjoy this easy recipe and pair it with your choice of sides for you and your family!


1 1/2 cups panko
5 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Four 3/4-inch bone-in pork chops (about 2 1/4 pounds)
Lemon wedges, for serving (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Combine the panko, oil, Parmesan, Italian seasoning and 3/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper in a large resealable plastic bag. Put the pork chops in a large bowl and toss to coat with 1 tablespoon water. Place the pork chops in the bag and shake well to coat, pressing the breadcrumb mixture firmly into the meat.
  2. Place the pork chops on a wire rack set on a baking sheet and top evenly with any breadcrumbs remaining in the bag. Bake until the breadcrumbs are dark golden and the internal temperature of the chops registers 165 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer (avoid touching bone), about 30 minutes. Serve immediately with lemon wedges, if using.
  3. *courtesy of Food Network
July 9, 2019

Watermelon Tequila Cocktails!

Well, it's hot. So try these watermelon tequila cocktails!


1/4 cup water

1/4 granulated sugar

8 cups diced seedless watermelon (1 pound)

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1 3/4 cups blueberries

3/4 cup lightly packed mint leaves plus 8 sprigs for garnish

1 1/4 cups tequila (*or however much you prefer!)



Step 1    

In a small saucepan, bring the water to a simmer with the sugar and stir over moderate heat until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute; let the sugar syrup cool.

Step 2    

In a blender, puree the watermelon until smooth. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl and strain the watermelon juice, pressing gently on the solids to extract as much juice as possible. Discard the pulp.

Step 3    

In a large pitcher, combine the sugar syrup with the lime juice, blueberries and mint leaves. Using a wooden spoon, lightly muddle the blueberries and mint. Add the watermelon juice and tequila. Refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.

Step 4    

Pour the cocktail into tall ice-filled glasses. Garnish with the mint sprigs and serve.


courtesy of



June 4, 2019

Frustrated About Showing Your Home?

Help! I am selling my home and I am tired of NO SHOWS! Why does this happen? Why do I get an appointment for a showing at one time and they show up late or even worse-early!?

We know how stressful selling your home can be. You are trying to keep your house immaculate and maintain life at the same time.

So when you hear someone wants to see your home, you get excited! You race home, put last night's dinner dishes away, toss the toys under the sofa, run a quick vacuum, grab the kids and pets, and get out!

So, you come back buyer has come. GRR! I cleaned for NOTHING?!?! 

The next day you hear about another showing! It's for 5pm so again, the race starts. You time it out to the minute and just as you check your watch and see you have 15 more minutes to pull off a hear the doorbell. OH MY GOSH NOOOO!! Why are they here already?!?

Worse yet, you are meticulous about getting out by 5pm, you come back after the hour window, you see no one came. You curse a few choice words, everyone unpacks their bags, you get dinner started, way, the doorbell rings.

So, why does this happen? Are there just really rude real estate agents out there? Is it just my bad luck?


No, you are not alone at all, but we'd like to explain why these things happen and show you how you can help reduce the chances of it happening.

First off, for us, this is the last thing we want to happen when showing buyers around.

As you can imagine when a buyer wants to see homes, it takes a lot of planning to map it all out. We try to schedule in generous increments to allow for buyers who run late, who want to see one home for longer, or who walk into a home and decide in one minute they don't like it. There are so many factors that can play into a day of showing homes.

There can be traffic as well, and ...a buyer can decide at any moment to skip a house on the "tour" or add more! 

That being said, knowing there are so many variables in the timing of showings with buyers, HOW can I lessen the chance of this happening to me the seller?

The things that occur during a day of showings cannot be helped, however you, as a seller, can ask your real estate agent to give you some help.

Ask your agent to allow you to access to ShowingTime. This is an app most real estate agents use where buyers' agents can schedule showing appointments. We encourage our sellers to be updated the moment we are. You as a seller can approve or deny the showing. If you approve the showing yourself you don't have to wait for your agent to let you know a showing has been requested, saving you some time. Your agent may be busy at the time so you get up-to-the-minute notifications.

That is just one way to get some help on showings.

There are other ways to really narrow down WHO comes to see YOUR home.

1. A video tour. Yes it costs more than photos alone, but wow what a difference when a buyer can see a "movie" about your home.  This can then be put on your listing, on YouTube, your agent's website...anywhere! 

2. A virtual tour is another way to reduce the flow of buyers.  A virtual tour is like a 360 degree photo so a buyer can actually "walk" your home instead of relying on photos alone. 

3. Have your agent list the measurements of the rooms in your home. This also will help buyers get a better feel of how your space is in your home. 

4. Ask your agent to have all potential buyers' include a prequalification letter BEFORE a showing. This reduces what we call the "looky lous" and keeps the pool of buyers coming to see your home to those who can actually afford it.

Now, WHY are the above four ideas good....and...can they be a negative??

They can be positives if you really only want serious buyers. An informed buyer is a better buyer that comes to your home armed with information and still comes to see your home so you know they are more serious. This reduces useless showings and your life is a little less stressful.

Now that being said, what can be bad about doing those things to attract serious buyers?

Well, you could be losing a pool of buyers you may have had otherwise by not keeping your listing ..."general". Sometimes there are buyers who would not have looked at your home, but upon seeing your home changed their mind and now want your home. 

So, a buyer who did not know the sizes of the rooms, the true layout of the home, or perhaps wasn't originally in the market for that price may be.  All because they came to see it in person. 


We hope this helps you if you are a seller or perhaps even a buyer! Please call us anytime-we believe in education for our sellers and buyers!

May 24, 2019


Who doesn't love a refreshing drink in these hot summer days? Grab the tequila because this recipe could not be easier!!



ounce (1/4 cup) silver or blanco tequila

  • ounce (1/4 cup) pineapple juice
  • ounce (1/4 cup) cream of coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups Ice
  • **Small wedges of fresh pineapple and/or pineapple leaf (optional garnish)


  1. Place tequila, pineapple juice, cream of coconut and the ice in a blender. Cover and blend until smooth. Garnish with a small pineapple wedge or a pineapple leaf, if desired.


Try this Pina Pina Colada from MidwestLiving !!


April 5, 2019

How to Get Some Exercise In When You are Busy!

Let's face it, we are ALL busy and frankly, one of the last things some of us feel like doing if we find some time is ...exercise.

We also all know how good working out is for us but life hits us and we tend to make up excuses at one time or another (some of us always) on why we aren't making it a priority. But we have to face facts that exercise helps us in SO many ways.

 It boosts our metabolisms, we feel better overall, it helps to ward off health issues, and puts us in better moods so we sleep better!!!

This blog is not meant to lay the proverbial guilt trip, but to just lay out some simple things you can do to get some exercise in.  With our weather as beautiful as it is, we really should take advantage of it before the heat of summer comes, and there are exercises you can do that do not require you to be outside!

So, what can you do that is EASY and FAST?

1. You want easy? Ok then, wake up in the morning and STRETCH. Stretch your neck, shoulders, arms, mid-section, legs! Top to bottom get those body parts moving and throw in a few ab crunches! Squeeze your gluteus maximus too! Rise and shine to you!

2. Most of us are sedentary during the day, but there are things you can do at your desk to work out! Yep, more butt squeezes! Go ahead, squeeze it while you are sitting in your chair, or you can do one "cheek" at a time...but just DO IT! Your butt will be so sore and hey, who doesn't want a firmer rear?? Keep some small weights in your desk so you can hold one easily and PUMP! Talk on the phone with one hand, and lift with the other, then switch! One of my favorite easy exercises is at-your-seat calf raises. Sit with both legs at the 90 degree angle and lift off the backs of your feet to work those calves. 

3. Eventually you will get up from your desk, so ...take the longer route when you walk...even if it is to the bathroom. When you go to lunch, take the stairs. Park your car a little further away too, all of this helps!

4. You get home and are exhausted, but your pet is staring at you. Just make the decision to throw on your running or walking shoes before sitting down and get out there for a brisk 15 minute walk! I don't know about you, but once I get home and sit-it's all over. So try to leave your shoes at the door with the leash, and be ready so you can't walk into your home and not want to leave.

5. Maybe it's raining or cold outside and you are home. What better way to knock out two birds with one stone than to clean your home and exercise. MUSIC is key here so you feel like grooving to the beat! 

6. The TV, the box that pulls us all in to do NOTHING....wrong! You can easily do more butt squeezes, calf raises, even sit on the floor and do leg lifts or crunches!  Why not? You can get the best of both, watching tv and getting a small workout in. If you are able to of course afford a treadmill or stationary bike, that is a great time to get fit while watching the tube.

7. Ideally our family and friends keep us accountable, so if you can get with a friend who will make you feel awful if you don't work out with them. We all need to be held accountable and if you have a friend who is ready to exercise, you will be more likely to do it too.


ANYthing you do to increase movement is going to benefit you so just make the decision to get out there and do something!

As always, thank you for reading our blogs and if you need any help with anything home related, call us at 904-477-7556 and visit our site at


March 23, 2019

Best Al Fresco Dining in Jacksonville

Al fresco just sounds wonderful, but you need a few good weather and great scenery!!

Here in Jacksonville we have both!

Caps on the Water

Al fresco dining is dining outside, so....where are the best places to eat here?

Voted one of THE best outdoor dining places, Caps on the Water is probably the first spot we recommend if you want to dine and stare at gorgeous water while taking in all Northeast Florida has to offer. Enjoy losing time for a bit while gazing at the sunset slipping into the water. 

Black Sheep in Five Points in the Riverside area near downtown has an amazing rooftop view. Their food is incredible and they pride themselves on serving food from local home grown farmers. This place is a great gathering place for happy hours for people after work.

Moxie is located at the St. Johns Town Center and also boasts a great rooftop bar with contemporary cuisine! This is a truly unique dining experience so be sure to try their many vegan dishes.

The Pier Cantina and Sandbar in Jacksonville Beach is a great place to enjoy some Mexican cuisine right on the pier walkway and people watching at its finest. They also have a great nightlife too!

What are fish camps? We have three, Clark's Fish Camp, Julington Fish Camp, and North Beach Fish Camp. Clark's has a huge collection of taxidermy and is on a creek! Julington Creek is....right, on the banks of Julington Creek. It is the newest of the fish camps and also has an extensive menu. The North Beach Fish Camp  is located on Neptune Beach and although the outside is on a corner across from the beach, it is a great view to watch the beach life happening. At all three you just need to...try the fish!

Seven Bridges Grille and Brewery has outdoor dining on the southside of Jax that is expansive and relaxing. They have incredible food such as the steakhouse salad or the Bacon Chicken Mac N Cheese! After, catch a movie right next door at Tinseltown.

Back to the Five Points area is the unique restaurant called Bread & Board. They call themselves "fast pace casual", and the sandwiches are truly masterpieces in themselves. If you like charcuterie boards, this is the place to go! They have outdoor seating that most of the people who work downtown love to get a taste of our wonderful weather!

Sticking around the downtown and Riverside area is a wonderful restaurant called River & Post. If you love seeing our city views and the St. Johns River, this is the place to go. The restaurant is located downstairs but head up to the roof for the views and some wonderful drinks! (see photo)                                                                            

Sitting on top of the old Cowford Chophouse building, is another incredible place to wine and dine on a downtown Jacksonville rooftop. This restaurant is known for their steaks and wine.

If you like sports and beer, go to Intuition Ale Works! This place is a craft brewery with great bar snacks and burgers, then head to one of our many sporting events!

Corner Bistro Martini and Piano Bar is located on the southside in a cute area called Tapestry Park. It offers outdoor dining with a personal touch. The chef is marvelous, the food amazing, and if you stick around and come back inside, you will hear the music of their piano man Matt! Try an espresso martini and sing the night away to your favorite hits!

In Tapestry Park as well is THE steakhouse with outdoor dining called III Forks. They have a GREAT happy hour (with food items like $5 martinis and wine), but order one of those prime steaks with some sides for the best experience for your palate. They have an area to sit outside and if it's cool out, there is a nice fire in glass to stare at while sipping that special drink.

Near Tapestry Park is the St. Johns Town Center. If you enjoy shopping and fine dining, head to Brio Tuscan Grille. They have a wonderful al fresco dining and great food.  Sit outside during the day or night and sip on some fruity rose sangria!! 

Let's head to Mayport where the fish is the freshest! Safe Harbor Seafood Market & Restaurant catches fish daily for your enjoyment. Sit outside in the harbor and feel the true Florida experience while enjoying the catch of the day with a cold beer. 

Heading over to Fleming Island you should check out The Sunset TIki Bar for some great views of sunsets too! Hey, they have $2 beers at sunset so get on over there and enjoy it!

Leaving you with one of the other bests here in Northeast Florida is the infamous Conch House in St. Augustine. Dine with their Caribbean cuisine and drinks on the deck, OR....(the best place in our opinion) is in a grass hut overlooking the water! If you "over-indulge" in the drinking they have a resort as well! 

Florida as a whole is just the perfect place to live. We love our water and our food. If you want to move to Jacksonville, give us a call or visit


Feb. 13, 2019

What to Know About Staging...

The word "staging" often brings sellers to their knees because they usually think of one thing when they hear that word...MONEY. 

Why do you need to stage?  Isn't your home good enough with your own furniture or an even better an empty house? Will your home sell faster if it is staged?


Before we get into staging, here are a few things to know. When you sell your home, there are 3 factors that go into selling, TWO of them are out of your control...

1. Price-- this factor is controlled by the market, what a buyer is willing to pay for your home with the current market in place.

2. Location-- another factor you cannot change. 

3. Appearance-- THIS is the factor you can change! So be in control of displaying your home to look its best.

Knowing appearance is the one thing you can control, remember this-when potential buyers and Realtors search for homes, what do you think is the first and most important feature they see? THE PHOTOS! Photos are the most important feature on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) and on other home websites. You want your home to show well to bring those buyers in.

Let's break down the facts about staging:  


1. What is staging?

Staging is the act of preparing and showcasing property for sale.

Staging means to have a professional come to your home and advise you about what looks best in your home. If you have zero furniture in it then he or she would be able to suggest the best staging pieces to put into your home. There is quite a science to it from a certain number of colors (main and accent), the placement (size and shape) of "knick-knacks", and what makes a room look its best. If your home already has furniture you may really be wondering why then would you need staging? Your furniture is not only a personal reflection of your taste (and that may be wonderful!) but it is good to have a stager come by to be sure each room looks its best. You may have a room that you use for a different purpose but buyers will want to see it as it is supposed to be (for example, a dining room some use as a playroom). You may have a large armoire that is a family heirloom but that big piece makes your room look smaller and may turn buyers off. Remember, these are professionals and knowing what pieces go where and how much to have in a room is their job. A stager may suggest you only take out a few of the bigger pieces in a room, simply move a few things around, or add some things. The point to this is simple; you want your home to be at its best to entice all buyers to want to live in your home. 

2. How much is it to stage a home?

I know you want a hard number, but there are so many factors that go into quoting prices with staging. One thing to remember is this, find a professional. Just because someone says they are a "decorator" does not mean they have the training to stage! Ask them a few questions too. How many homes have you staged? Do you have photos? Are you licensed and insured? Do you offer "pay at close"? 

3. Ok, ok, let's get to the cold hard facts.

  • Staged homes spend 90% LESS time on the market than unstaged homes
  • Staging a home is LESS THAN a price reduction. Time is money so this doubles in importance. 
  • According to the Real Estate Staging Association national stats, you will sell your home 78% faster when it is staged
  • You will get 6-10% more money. If your home is $300k you stand to gain $18-$30K (vs. losing on markdowns!)
  • 81% of buyers' agents felt home staging has an effect on a buyers' view of the home
  • 95% of buyers look online to decide which homes to go see. Great photos are a must..
  • According to Zillow your home will lose a minimum of 1% a month while on the market
  • If your home is not selling after about 30-45 days, your Realtor will likely suggest a price reduction. Home staging services for a home that is occupied costs approximately 1/4% to 1/2% of the home value-on a $300k home that is $750 spent that can save $9k to $15k on the first markdown! 
  • On a vacant home you are still paying the mortgage, lawn care, HOA, utilities, etc. Think about that each month vs staging! 

I recently attended a course on staging that the company Sell or Dwell offered. These photos are from one of our listings when we used this amazing company to sell this home. If you have any questions about staging call:

Adrienne Lord                                                                                                                                                                        Owner, Lead Stager                                                                                                                                                          President, Jacksonville Real Estate Staging Association

Selling is stressful. That is obvious. If you want to sell and have your home look its absolute best, consider staging. It is an investment you will not regret.  It's like anything else you want to sell, if you are selling clothes you want them washed and ironed before listing them, so why not do this for what is probably your largest investment?









Jan. 21, 2019

What is a Listing Presentation?

We are selling!

Ok you want to sell your home, so you start spreading the news to your friends. Next, you start hearing from Realtors (hopefully us!) telling you they want the chance to do a "listing presentation" at your home.

What is a listing presentation?

 A listing presentation is basically an interview for a Realtor to come to your home loaded with lots of information about your property.  OK, great, sounds good...they want to get my what?

What do I have to do?

You are already mentally packing & thinking about all you have to do, so know this is one part of the process you don't have to do too much when the Realtor comes to your home.

However, you should have your house free of clutter and clean so the Realtor can get a good image of your home. Also, be able to tell them about any upgrades you have done to the home, and any other changes that could affect the valuation of your home. Let them know about liens to the property or any other mortgages. Free of clutter can mean picking up toys to really taking down personal photos and tidying up all areas of your home. Cleaning can mean just what it implies all the way to painting and fixing up damaged items around the home. Obviously the better it looks, the faster it should sell for the most money. First impressions are KEY.

What Should I be Looking For The Realtor To Say To Me?

The Realtor you choose should know the market in your area. They should know the comps (comparables) of homes sold, currently active on the market, pending listings (those waiting to close), and expired listings as well (homes that were on the market but for one reason or another did not sell). They should provide this information because it shows they know the market and what is selling around you and for how much. They can tell you how many days the homes are (or were) on the market. This is just one of the factors that goes into determining the sale price your home should be priced at. 

Make sure you have a good rapport with whomever you choose to represent is probably your largest investment. They should be able to answer your questions and concerns at any time and you should never feel like you are a "number" or a bother.

I feel like my home is worth....

Yes, we as professionals can show you what your home is worth based on facts. We also are well aware you have an emotional connection to your home. We love that. You may feel like your home is worth more than the Realtor says it is. You own the home, so you can ask your Realtor to price your home at any price you want. We have heard sellers say "Well, I picked xyz because they said they would price my house at $300,000 when another agent said they would price it at $260,000.".  At that point you need to worry about one thing...CAN they sell your home at $300k when it is really worth $260k? Check out the facts that a solid and reputable Realtor should give.

Spring is coming up fast so read this if you plan on getting ready to sell this spring in order to have your home looking its best!