My First...

There is something special about a 'first'... your first date, a first kiss, a babies first steps. All an occasion for joy and celebration. As agents, we are lucky enough to be a part of a huge 'first' for several of our clients.. their first home! 

Each month we will sit down with someone near and dear to chat about a few of their 'firsts'. This month we chatted with our fearless leader MaryAnne!

What is your first memory of 'home' as a kid? 

My first memory of home as a kid was our sweet 2 bedroom, 1 bath bungalow in Muncie, Indiana just steps from the school + church we grew up going to every day. My brothers and I initially shared one bedroom until our mom had a wall built to make 2 "bedrooms." My younger brother and I had a bright red bunk bed and my oldest brother graduated to his own room that was the size of a walk-in closet. Our home was so special--we sat by the fireplace during the winter months, my brothers and I would fight over the dining room heater in the mornings, my brother Joey had a special spot he ate breakfast in the morning and read the newspaper every single day, our dining nook is where we shared thousands of meal-just the 4 of us. My brother Tommy and I built our own rope swing out back, and the one bathroom became a huge source of chaos, especially in the high school years. Don't forget the front porch where many break-ups took place and of course, the terrifying basement I would lock my brother in. Looking back, I realized how crazy my brothers and I were back then--putting our poor dog down the laundry chute. It was small, but it was ours and its the only home I knew growing up.

IMG_1926 (1).jpg

When was your first time moving out of your parents home?

I remember specifically when my mom and I packed up my room and headed to Greencastle, IN so I could attend DePauw University. It was so bittersweet and I remember my mom saying she would only stay to make my bed so that it wouldn't drag out our goodbye and make it any harder. I remember missing everything that was so familiar for so many years. I missed so many of my younger brother's sporting events, even though he was at every single one of mine. I loved my dorm room, my roommate Kate, and my new school, but the adjustment was hard and I looked so forward to coming home to my mom and brothers on breaks + holidays. 


When was your first big trip away from home? 

My first big trip away from home was in 7th grade. I saved up money ($1200) from babysitting, mowing yards, and cleaning houses so I could travel to Rome, Italy with a church group for a large, Catholic conference where we would get to see the Pope, tour the city, and enjoy food, culture, and sights in a foreign country. I remember drinking the sparking water and thinking it was terrible--and now, I love it! Ha! I was incredibly homesick but luckily, my best friend Clare was by my side the whole time and we made new friends, tried new foods, and had an incredible experience.

What is your DREAM first home?  

My dream home is not really a place or building. Its simply where my family is. My husband and I have moved 7 times in the 7 years we have been together and we have brought along our children 4 of those times. Its never been about where we live or what kind of home it is--its just that we are together. We have so many memories from each home and they continue to get better and better. Right now, we are beyond blessed to live right across the street from my mom, which has been so much fun for all of us. Our children walk across the street, hand in hand, to go borrow milk, bring her warm cookies, and just spend time with one another and its probably one of my favorite parts of my life.


Home Sweet Home


Sweet Home

Jacksonville, FL

“I love that I could feasibly see an alligator, manatee and dolphin in the same field of vision. I love that with each new person I meet the chances are very high that they will be from another state or another country and will offer a way in which I can learn and grow. I love that I can visit different parts of Jacksonville and its surrounding areas and feel like I'm in a whole new place. I love the Jacksonville of my childhood and I also love the new Jacksonville that is growing and revitalizing.”

“I was born and raised here and always thought I would move away because there seemed to be so much more world out there. Well, I finally did move away, and after 6 months, turned around and came back home to Jacksonville. I realized that while its fun to travel to other places, Jacksonville was and always will be home. And it took leaving to come back with fresh eyes and love this city even more!”

We love

…the ability to experience both the “small town” feel and the “city life” at the same time.

“I moved to Jacksonville from the NYC area in August of 2017. I needed a fresh start but I didn’t expect to fall in love with the city right away. Jacksonville has so many things to do and see: breweries, cafes, restaurants, sports teams, the beach, hiking, art museums, a zoo, the river, art festivals... it is a unique and vibrant city but it isn’t so big or crowded that you feel overwhelmed. I’ve recharged my soul here. I’ve cleared enough space mentally to start being creative again. There are what I call gems scattered through the city and I love visiting those places. I haven’t been home sick since I moved here. I found my home when I moved here. That is why less than a year after moving, I bought a house in Jacksonville. Now I truly have a place to call home.”

“Jacksonville is my hometown. I was born and raised here. & though I have big dreams of moving to a small town one day, my heart will always belong to Jax. My husband moved to Jacksonville in 2005 and shortly after, he met me and that set the course of our future. We now have two beautiful daughters and just bought our first home (with the help of Root Realty!) This city holds many special memories for me and I am so excited for all the new local business that are popping up to help make Jacksonville a wonderful destination spot! We may be a big city but there are certainly areas of Jax that give you that small town feel (San Marco, Avondale, Ortega) while I may not be living in a mountain town just yet, I’m still so proud to call Jacksonville my hometown.”

“We love the restaurants, the beach, the ability to experience both the “small town” feel and the “city life” at the same time. Beyond that, we moved here having been married for just under a year. We’ve celebrated every wedding anniversary in Jacksonville, purchased our first home here, and welcomed our son here. We’ve also met so many friends who have become like family. Though all of our immediate family lives elsewhere, we are happy to call Jacksonville home and have built a life here beyond what we could have ever imagined.”


has so many things to do and see: breweries, cafes, restaurants, sports teams, the beach, hiking, art museums, a zoo, the river, art festivals... it is a unique and vibrant city…

“Every neighborhood in Jacksonville is unique. Our families are from North Florida and it’s amazing to see how much the community has rallied together to grow and revitalize the community. No matter how big Jacksonville is you can manage to run into people you know around every corner.”

“My family has always loved culture and the arts, as well as spending time at the beach. Jacksonville has the best of both worlds! There are so many hidden gems to take advantage of here, and we never fall short of finding something to do!”

“Jacksonville is extremely affordable! I love how we have the big city “feel” without the big city price! I also feel Jacksonville is a great city to raise a family! Lastly, Jacksonville is so spread out, that you can experience both the county and city all in the same city! These are just a few of the many reasons why I love Jacksonville!”

My First...

There is something special about a 'first'... your first date, a first kiss, a babies first steps. All an occasion for joy and celebration. As agents, we are lucky enough to be a part of a huge 'first' for several of our clients.. their first home! 

Each month we will sit down with someone near and dear to chat about a few of their 'firsts'. This month we chatted with the wonderful Amanda!

What is your first memory of 'home' as a kid? In San Antonio when my parents brought my little sister home after being born.

Steph and I in stationwagon.jpeg

When was your first time moving out of your parents home?  20, when I finished community college and moved to Gainesville to go to UF!

me HCC.jpeg

When was your first big trip away from home?  I spent my summers as a kid with my grandparents in their motor home travelling all over the US to state + national parks as well as amusement parks!

Me Disney for first time.jpeg

What is your DREAM first home? I am living in my 3rd home and have loved all the homes I have lived in!  I didn't necessarily have a dream first home… This is the first home that my husband Mark and I purchased!

house in maryland.jpeg


You did it! You bought a house! Congrats! Once you’ve popped the champagne and taken a moment to celebrate there are a few things to tend to as a new homeowner. Check out our list below to help with a flawless transition to your new crib.

20180927 1214 Dancy St005SMALL.jpg

11 To Do Items

once you close

1. Change the locks. Especially if your home was a remodel, you can never be sure of how many people had keys to your home.

2. Measure before buying appliances. Trust me.

3. Become comfortable with your breaker box and main water valve in case you would need to access them in an emergency.

4. Check each smoke detector one by one. Tedious, but worth it.

5. Hire a cleaner or do your own deep clean. It’s easier to get every nook and cranny dusted and wiped down while your belongings are still in boxes.

6. Clean out your gutters. This can help prevent any buildup that can cause roof leaks later down the road.

7. Schedule your must have providers immediately (internet, cable, alarm, etc). They tend to book up quickly so the earlier you can get them in the better. Or you can watch 6 weeks of Friends on DVD like me.

8. Confirm with the post office that your address is changed, set up, and ready to start receiving new mail.

9. Double check that all of the utilities have been moved into your name. You don't want your TV turning off in the middle of that big game.

10. Update your driver's license, car registration, and voter registration. 

11. Apply for homestead exemption in person or online. This will save you $ and who doesn’t want that?!

My First...

There is something special about a 'first'... your first date, a first kiss, a babies first steps. All an occasion for joy and celebration. As agents, we are lucky enough to be a part of a huge 'first' for several of our clients.. their first home! 

Each month we will sit down with someone near and dear to chat about a few of their 'firsts'. This month we chatted with the talented Danay Guenther!

What is your first memory of 'home' as a kid?

I have many wonderful memories of home both with my Mom and my Dad. I have to say, though, that "home is where the dog is." When I first got my childhood dog, my Mom and I lived in an apartment complex that didn't allow pets, so my little dog lived with my grandmother. When we moved into a garage apartment and were able to bring my dog with us, that really felt like home.


When was your first time moving out of your parents home?

My Mom and I were roomies until I got married. My husband worked at a Southside apartment complex at the time, so we moved into an apartment there. Free rent was fantastic and oh so helpful, and I worked close by so we were able to eat lunch together at home every day. I'll always cherish my initial memories of that apartment, eating leftover black pepper chicken from the best Wok N Roll in town (Parental Home Rd and Beach Blvd for life!) that we re-heated in our only pan, sitting on our only armchair (I sat on the cushioned arm). Times were simple and amazing. While I love our home now, there's something special about a place where a family begins their life together.

When was your first big trip away from home?

I had some fun adventures through childhood and early adulthood, but the first time travel felt like a really big trip away from home was when some friends and I traveled to Seattle and Vancouver. It's still the farthest distance from home I've ever been. I'm a Jacksonville native and up until that moment I'd only really traveled north or south. Traveling west was something brand new, and I loved it! We went at the perfect time, too, because the tulips were in bloom, and they were everywhere! The colors on the west coast seemed more vibrant, Seattleites on their way home from work carried the most beautiful flowers wrapped in brown paper, and there was a booth at Pike Place Market that sold every type of pasta imaginable. It was heaven! Also, there was a museum dedicated to music AND science fiction. I felt like I'd found a new home! Next, we took a day trip to Vancouver and scaled the Capilano suspension bridge, which was terrifying and awesome at the same time. There was a huge stuffed bear we lovingly named "Cappy" and we had a blast. One day soon I hope to return to the west coast and continue my adventures.


What is your DREAM first home? T

The house my husband and I bought last year really is my dream first home. I had only ever rented apartments before, so buying a house was a really big deal for me. Yes it needs some updates, no the kitchen doesn't have an island (nor room for one), no the garage doesn't exactly fit 2 cars, etc...but we love it so much! Our main thought for the biggest purchase of our lives was a yard for our dog (yes really, don't make fun of me) and she loves her yard, and we love sitting on the deck watching her explore her domain. Our house is absolutely perfect for us, and we wouldn't change a thing. Ok that's not true, we need to work on some landscaping, the garage's paint is peeling, and so on. But I love the prospect of my husband and I making our home our own, together (and not just wishing and hoping the landlord would do it). We are so happy and comfortable here in our first house, our dream home.

New house (1).jpg

The Kitchen is the Heart of the Home

Fall is here! Well, kind of. The pumpkins are out, the decorations are spooky, but in Florida we’re still spending our weekends at the beach. But, let’s pretend it’s not 104 degrees outside and that it’s finally time for sweater weather.

Our favorite things about fall are the food, football, and holidays surrounding food. This season is filled with lots of family time spent in what we think the best part of the house is — the kitchen. The kitchen is a place for gathering with friends + family, dance parties (that’s not just me, right?), and cooking together to create delicious meals to enjoy with each other.

chicken jalapeno popper chili-2.jpg

Jalapeno Popper Chili

Image + Recipe: ©Plain Chicken, Inc.

Jalapeno Popper Chili


  • 2 Tbsp butter

  • 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour

  • 3-1/2 cups chicken broth

  • 1 cup half-and-half

  • 1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed, meat pulled off bones and chopped

  • 1 pound bacon, cooked and chopped

  • 2 (15-oz) cans white kidney beans, rinsed and drained

  • 3 fresh jalapeños, seeds removed and diced

  • 2 Tbsp dried minced onion flakes

  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

  • 2 tsp cumin

  • 1 tsp chili powder

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

  • 1 (8-oz) block cream cheese


  1. In a Dutch oven melt butter and stir in flour. Cook for 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in chicken broth and half-and-half. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, until thickened.

  2. Add remaining ingredients and cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  3. Garnish with additional bacon, jalapeños and pepper jack cheese, if desired.

Emily Addition: Top with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, bacon, jalapenos, and tortilla chips!


Apple Cheddar Chicken Melts

Image: Lauren Volo Recipe: Sheela Prakash

Apple Cheddar Chicken Melts


  • 8 (1/2-inch-thick) slices sourdough bread (from a 9-inch round boule)

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

  • 4 teaspoons honey mustard

  • 2 1/2 cups shredded, cooked chicken

  • 1 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese

  • 1 small Gala apple, cored and cut into matchsticks

  • 4 ounces Brussels sprouts (about 5), finely shredded with a knife or food processor attachment

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper


Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven, place a baking sheet on the rack, and heat the oven to 450°F.

Spread the butter evenly on one side of each of the 8 slices of bread. Spread the honey mustard on the opposite side of 4 slices of the bread.

Using oven mitts, carefully remove the hot baking sheet from the oven. Place all the bread slices, butter-side down, on the baking sheet. Evenly distribute the shredded chicken among the mustard-spread bread slices, then distribute the cheese on the remaining 4 bread slices.

Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, make the slaw.

Combine the apple, Brussels sprouts, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the bread slices with the chicken to a cutting board. Evenly distribute the apple and Brussel sprouts slaw over the chicken. Place the remaining bread slices cheese-side down on top of the slaw to close each sandwich. Cut each sandwich in half and serve.

Pumpkin-Spice-White-Russian 9.JPG

Pumpkin Spice White Russian

Image + Recipe: A Tracey creation

Pumpkin Spice White Russian
Ingredients Per Serving

  • 4 T. Kahlua

  • 3 T. Coffee-mate Pumpkin Spice liquid creamer

  • 1 1/2 T. vanilla vodka

  • 2 to 3 tsp. canned pumpkin puree

  • Sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice


  1. Combine Kahlua, Pumpkin Spice creamer, vodka, and pumpkin puree in a small cocktail glass; stir until well combined. Add ice.

  2. Sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice.

We hope you enjoy cooking + creating these together in your kitchen, the heart of the home. Happy Fall!

My First...

There is something special about a 'first'... your first date, a first kiss, a babies first steps. All an occasion for joy and celebration. As agents, we are lucky enough to be a part of a huge 'first' for several of our clients.. their first home! 

Each month we will sit down with someone near and dear to chat about a few of their 'firsts'. This month we chatted with the wonderful Rachel Houck!

What is your first memory of 'home' as a kid?

My first memory of home would probably be when I was three years old and my family was moving to another town. On the day we were leaving, my neighbor friend came over to give me a toy horse. Though I couldn’t verbalize it, I knew that something big was happening. We had roots at that home and her gift was symbolic of a shift in seasons. Several years later my family moved back to that same house and my friend and I were able to pick up right where we left off, continuing a friendship that has extended into adulthood. From that first memory, I learned that home extends past a physical building to include your neighbors and community.

First Memory of Home.jpeg

When was your first time moving out of your parent's home?

When I was 19, my sister and two friends rented a house from my grandparents. The rent was cheap, with the caveat that we would try to fix the house up and leave it nicer than when we found it. Granted, we really didn’t know what we were doing, but we tried to keep that promise and had a ton of fun doing it! It was all of our first times living on our own, and we subsisted on frozen lasagna and bagged salad, but during our time there we all grew a ton and shared some of my favorite memories!

fixing up first house (1).JPG

When was your first big trip away from home?

During the second semester of my freshman year at college, I studied abroad in Spain. I grew up in a small town, went to an even smaller high school, and hadn’t experienced much outside of the bubble this created. So studying abroad was life changing for me! I loved the friends I was making, the places I was traveling to, and the new cultures I was encountering. But I was also in an environment where everything was different, and there were growing pains in that. It was the first time that I defined who I was by choice, not just by environment. But though I decided for myself who I wanted to be, I realized that each of my homes had undeniably shaped me - and I became thankful for that.

first trip 2.JPG

What is your dream First Home?

My dream home is one with a big front porch, character for days, some fruit trees, and plenty of space for family and friends. And one day if i’m very lucky...a refrigerator that makes ice. :)


ATTN Buyers: Lender Questions You Need To Ask!

A lender is one of your main points of contact during a real estate transaction, so it's essential to choose a loan officer that is a good fit for you.  We recommend talking to at least THREE lenders before deciding who to commit to-- after all, you are going to hear from them a lot!  Lenders also have different programs so it's of the utmost importance to see what they can offer so you can make the most informed financial decision for your largest investment. 

With the help of Florida Realtor Magazine we have 15 questions to share with you that you need to ask your lender.  The more educated you are the, the better choice you can make, so ask away!

1. What are the most popular mortgages you offer?  Why are they so popular?

2. What fees are included in a loan and what fees will be due at closing?

3. Are your rates, terms, fees, and closing costs negotiable?

4. Do you offer discounts for inspections, homeownership classes, or setting up automatic payments?

5. Will I have to buy private mortgage insurance?  If so, how much will it cost and how long will it be required?

6. What are your escrow requirements?

7.  What bill pay options do you offer?

8. What would be included in my mortgage payment (homeowners insurance, property taxes, etc)?

9. Which type of mortgage plan would you recommend for my situation?

10. Who will service this loan - your bank or another company?

11. How long will the rate on this loan be locked-in?  Will I be able to obtain a lower rate if the market rate drops during the lock-in period?

12. How long will the loan approval process take?

13. How long will it take to close the loan?

14. Are there any charges or penalties for prepaying this loan?

15. How much in total will I be paying over the life of this loan?

Need a lender?  Ask Root:

mortgageapplication stockimage.jpg

Drinks with Brad!

Each month, Root Realty sits down with a mover-and-shaker, someone who is cool, captivating, and a consistent contributor to our Jacksonville community! We bring their favorite drink and a list of questions, and at the end we cheers to the city we love.


with Prime Lending


What's in your glass?

A sauvignon blanc on the rooftop of River & Post.

What is it that you do?

I'm a mortgage loan officer for Prime Lending here in Jacksonville, FL.  I offer home lending and financing services.  

What does a typical day look like for you?

Wake up.

Gym every day to keep my sanity. 

Morning meetings with Lee my best friend and business partner, work with clients to get them pre-approved. 

Check up on individuals in the process to make sure everything is going smoothly. 

Stop by and say hi to realtors and attend networking events. 

Football at night.  

What's your favorite part of your job?

My favorite part is honestly the excitement when someone gets pre-approved for a home, then when they get the purchase contract, and finally when they get the keys to the house.  It's personal; you feel like you get to experience that with them, especially with first time home buyers.  There's something special about it.

What else do you do in the community?

I grew up playing football my whole life.  When I look back at my younger years and think about everything going on I think about my coaches at that point in my life.  Looking back on those experiences,  when I was given the opportunity to start coaching it only felt right to pass that on to the next generation to establish their self esteem and self confidence as young men.  What age are you coaching? 11-12 year olds, the best age group to coach!

What's your favorite story from coaching?

That's hard, last year was emotional.  Last year for every practice and every game, I used to pick up a kid and have conversations about his future- his aspirations.  One day I asked him about college and no one had ever talked to him about college so I shared my experience at Florida State and I saw a light bulb go off in his head.  I got to talk to him about life after sports and if you do well in school you can go on to do great things.  

Favorite thing about Jacksonville?

Porchfest.  Definitely porchfest.  I live in Springfield so every year for Porchfest I have friends over.  We do brunch and mimosas in the morning, pack the cooler, then head out and listen to good music.  It's a great opportunity to kick back and relax with friends and listen to great musicians.

How can we get in touch with you?

You can go to and all my contact information is there.  Feel free to contact me directly or or apply online and I'll reach out to you. 


Wine and Wisdom with some of the ladies of Root Realty.

Wine and Wisdom with some of the ladies of Root Realty.

Root Listings

Are you looking for an investment property, your forever dream home, or a bit of both?  We've got you covered- all areas, all budgets.  Check out Root's latest listings by clicking on the links below.  Give us a shout ( if you want to view any of these amazing opportunities!

Be sure to view the pics at the end of the blog. 

Springfield + surrounding areas:

1320 Ionia St, 32206 $25,000- vacant lot

1324 Ionia St, 32206 $39,000 4 bed, 1 bath- reno needed

1724 N Pearl St, 32206 $369,900 4 bed, 4 bath- STUNNING woodwork inside

1743 Hiram St, 32209 $89,900 7 bed, 2 bath- DUPLEX


13002 Silver Oak Dr, 32223 $249,000 4 bed, 2 bath- POOL

12152 Mandarin Rd, 32223 $450,000 4 bed, 2 bath- farmhouse on 1.28 acres

Murray Hill:

639 Melba St, 32205 $169,900 3 bed, 2.5 bath- renovated + move in ready

Riverside + Avondale:

2835 Post St, 32205 $374,900 4 bed, 3 bath- move in ready + rental opportunity 

2260 Post St, 32204 $389,900 3 bed, 3 bath- a PINK front door, swoon!

4335 Marquette Ave, 32210 $449,000 4 bed, 3 bath- new construction

2345 Myra St, 32204 $550,000 6 bed, 5 bath- amazing renovation + 2 rental opportunities

3654 Valencia Rd, 32205 $599,000 4 bed, 3 bath- new construction

St. Augustine:

51 Ceja Way, 32095 $299,000 3 bed, 2 bath- ameneties galore!