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:

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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! 

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 amazing Anna Savistky! 

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

My first memory of 'home' is my grandma's house on Buckingham Rd.  With 5 bedrooms, 4.5 floors, and 3.5 bathrooms, we somewhat-jokingly referred to it as Buckingham Palace.  My mother, sisters, and I moved frequently during my childhood - usually once a year from rental to rental, so my grandmother's house was our constant, our home base.  My favorite memories there are playing piano next to the massive picture window, cooking chili with her secret ingredient (Hershey's Kisses) in the forever-1950s kitchen, practicing swing dancing with my dad in the library, and playing pretend bartender/waitress behind the built-in bar in the downstairs rec-room.

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My grandmother in the 1950’s kitchen back when it was still on trend.

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

My first move out of the family home was when I found an off-campus apartment at 17.  The proximity to my university and the cheap rent made me look past my roommate's cat (I'm severely allergic) and questionable habits, and I furnished my bedroom with secondhand finds and hand-me-down linens.  We were thrilled to fill our 80s-style kitchen with corner-store snacks and spend late nights watching Chappelle's Show in the living room.

When was your first big trip away from home?

My first big trip away from home (and the first plane ride I can remember) was a summer camp excursion to California in middle school.  We went to Disneyland and an Angels game, and we got to appear as extras on "Kenan and Kel."  It was a lot of fun, and I came home with a sunburn and a new crush (Kenan or Kel, I'll never tell).

What is your dream First Home?

The first home I owned was my dream home at the time.  My husband and I wanted a home we could grow into and found exactly what we were looking for in an Intracoastal West open-concept ranch with marble floors, granite countertops, and a spacious corner lot.  We lived in that home for 6.5 years, which is still the longest I've ever lived in one house (other than the aforementioned Buckingham Palace), and it was not an easy decision to sell.  After those 6.5 years and some significant changes in what we wanted in life, we decided to downsize to a cozier, quirkier Fort Caroline home off the St. Johns River with 2-stories and butcher-block countertops (never going back to granite!).  Our current home is our dream second home, and I'll keep you posted on the third when that day comes. ;) 


New Jersey’s own Buckingham Palace

Home Staging Dos + Don'ts

You've decided to sell your home and your realtor recommended some light home staging.  What does that mean and where do you start?  Below are some helpful dos + don'ts.

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Simple Home Staging Tips


-Spruce up curb appeal:  This is the buyer's first impression of the home, so it's worth spending a little money or time to pull weeds, plant some flowers, and decorate your front porch. 

-Declutter: Less is more. Put away personal photos, remove extra items on your shelves, clear off kitchen counter tops, and organize any messy areas.  

-Remove large furniture: Bulky furniture can make the room feel small.  Open up your space by selling or storing any over-sized items.  

-Take down bulky window treatments: People love natural light.  Show off your view by removing overbearing draperies.  



-Leave broken items: If one thing is broken a buyer will wonder what else is broken too.  Fix ripped screens, animal scratches, broken doors, etc.  The house should be maintained for it to look its' best. 

-Don't overdo it:  "The goal is to showcase the space and features of the house, not the furnishings." -Liz Alterman, cafemom

-Invest in major renovations: Expensive renovations (think pool and building a garage) are not guaranteed to give you a good return on investment.  Click HERE to see what projects are the best bang for your buck.

-Take it personally: You probably love your home and your style, and you should! But remember, every buyer is different and have different tastes.  Keep it neutral and tidy to attract (almost) everyone.  

Drinks with Mike!

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.

This month we sat down with Mike Hall, owner of Residential Photography Solutions.


What are you drinking?

This is a home brew that I made for my daughter's first birthday called Harper's Hibiscus Hops.  It's a pale ale that starts with a hint of tartness and finishes a little more than a facepunch of hibiscus.


Man of many talents I see.  So, what is it that you do?

I am a real estate and architectural photographer.  I work with realtors and home owners in the surrounding areas to provide top-notch marketing photos that help homes sell quickly.  I also offer licensed drone operation, videography, and Matterport 3D scanning.

Do you do any other types of photography work?

Yes, I offer head shots and some lifestyle photography, which I also thoroughly enjoy.  

What’s a day in the life of Mike/RPS like?

Usually I wake up, help get the kids ready for school, and then start my day.  I tend to do my shoots in the morning when the light is best then head back to the office to edit.  Once I wrap up work it's quality kids time - we like to spend time at the zoo, beach, or just hanging out at the house.  Once the kids are asleep, Chef Mike whips up a meal, enjoys a beer, and usually watches TV with his wife (that's me).  

How did you get started?

I've been interested in photography since I was a kid and my answer to "what do you want to be when you grow up?" was always a National Geographic Photographer.  But, reality set in and upon graduation from Florida State I found myself in the finance industry working as a mortgage originator and then a financial adviser.  Once my son was born I decided that A) I wanted to spend more time with my family and B) I wanted to pursue my passion of photography.  So, my company Residential Photography Solutions became a great fit for both.

When you're not out shooting beautiful homes, what do you like to do?  Any hobbies or favorite spots you like to hit up?

Well, I have lots of hobbies and lots of favorite spots.  I enjoy woodworking and general carpentry, cooking, brewing beer, and Disney World.  My favorite restaurant here in Jax would be Hawkers due to the fact that you can eat any type of Asian-infused meal, but a close second would be Fifth Element, the Indian restaurant on Baymeadows.  For beers, Main and Six brewery here in Springfield and Aardwolf in San Marco and Town Beer Co for.. and oh damn, Grape and Grain Exchange too.   


What do you love most about JAX?

I love that my favorite things are easily accessible here.  I love a good beer and great food.  And I love my neighborhood.  I've never lived somewhere quite like Springfield- the community is great, our block is filled with kids, and Main Street keeps getting better.


Root Listings

The newest Root listings are here!  Want to see more of these beauties?  Reach out at anytime to or 904-814-0022 to make an appointment or ask any questions!

Looking in Riverside or Avondale?

2680 College Street : $244,900, 3/2, 1,429 square feet // Don't miss your chance to own this sweet historic bungalow in the heart of Riverside! Just steps from all the shops, restaurants, art + cultural events, and entertainment you could ever need, this home will be sure to impress. You will love the detailed woodwork and architecture on the newly painted exterior and of course, the spacious front porch that is perfect for entertaining guests!



3567 Valencia Street: $269,900, 2/1, 958 square feet // Welcome home to this meticulously maintained historic bungalow in the heart of Avondale, with an additional income producing property out back! With vinyl siding, a one year old roof, and updated electric, all you need is your furniture to move right in.


Maybe Springfield is more your style?

1917 N Liberty Street: $299,999, 3/2.5, 2,188 square feet // Built in 2006 this beautiful home has all the modern upgrades with classic historic charm and character. Wood floors, gas fireplace, and historic style trim. Open floor plan with a separate formal dining room.


How about Cedar Hills?

6501 Mitford Road: $149,900, 3/2, 1,272 square feet //  This immaculate home has been fully renovated and is move in ready! You'll enjoy stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops in the brand new kitchen, new tile flooring and restored hardwoods throughout, and completely renovated bathrooms. This home features brand new windows, electrical and plumbing, as well as new interior and exterior paint. 


Or the always awesome Murray Hill area?

639 Melba Street: $169,900, 3/2.5, 1,450 square feet //  Welcome home to this beautifully renovated three bedroom, two and a half bath home in Murray Hill! As you enter, you are welcomed into a large living room perfect for gathering with friends and family. A few steps down the hallway you will find a spacious kitchen with granite counter tops and brand new appliances that flows openly into the dining room. The backyard with a large deck and fenced in yard has endless possibilities for entertaining. New siding, a/c, and water heater are among the numerous upgrades in this home.

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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'. Our second agent up- the wonderful Katie Williams.



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

My first memory of home was right here in Avondale on Hedricks street (my parents' first home). I remember playing with my sister in our playhouse in the backyard.

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

The first time I moved out was when I headed to Tallahassee for freshman year at FSU! GO NOLES!!! My friend Brittany and I were beyond excited to decorate our dorm room!

When was your first big trip away from home?

I started going to summer camps when I was 7 years old, and couldn't get enough. The first camp I went to was in North Carolina, and then I started going to a camp out in Missouri. I was never much of a homebody growing up, so I either went to camp for two weeks or a month all the way up through high school! 

What is your dream First Home? 

Bradley and I bought our first home in 2014 right before we got married! We weren't even looking to buy a home, but when I saw the cutest white bungalow in Avondale for sale, I fell in love! We found the house online Thursday and had an accepted offer by Monday. It was meant to be!

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Five Reasons You Need a Home Inspection

This might not be the most glamorous of topics, but it is an important one, so read on home buyer!  Buying a home is most likely the largest investment you will make in your lifetime, which is why it's so important to make sure you are making the right choice.  One of the best ways to ensure this is a good purchase is to get a home inspection during your inspection period.  Your inspection period is negotiated when you submit your offer -- for more information, just ask us!

Here are 5 Reasons You NEED a Home Inspection:

1.  Get To Know Your Home

A home inspector covers your house from top to bottom to ensure the safety and function of all items.  Whether your home is historic or brand new, it's important to get to know your home inside and out.  An inspection report can help you become familiar with any quirks or perks your future home holds.  

2. Request Repairs

Did you know you can ask the seller to make repairs based on the inspection report?  Once you receive and review the report with your inspector and agent, you will decide which repairs are the most important for you to ask the seller to address.  These items should be focused on function + safety, and not cosmetic.  We will help you prioritize and walk you through this portion of the home buying process.  These items will be repaired prior to closing so you can move in to your new home worry free! 

*Repairs may not be requested for an "as-is" sale, but it is still important to do the inspection to see what repairs you may need to make once you close.

3. Saves You Money

A home inspection typically costs between $400-600 dollars (amount may vary) and is an upfront cost to you, the buyer.  Although this may feel like a large chunk of money, it can save you in the long run. 

Let's look at a scenario: You are under contract on a home for $250,000.  You receive the inspection report and the home needs a new roof, has live termites, and serious foundation issues (all expensive repairs).  You are unable to come to an agreement with the seller on repairs and decide this home is not for you.  You cancel the contract, receive your binder deposit back, and find another, even more wonderful home!

Now, let's pretend you didn't get an inspection and closed on the home. A few months in you discover your home needs to be tented, the roof is leaking, and there's a new slope in the living room-- yikes! 

But you didn't do that and thanks to your inspection you just saved yourself a whole lot of $$$ post closing!

4. Plan For The Future

It is unlikely a seller will repair every single item on the inspection report.  No home is perfect and simple repairs can typically be handled by the new home owner post closing.  For future repairs, the inspection report can help you plan and prioritize what you need to do post closing.  Perhaps the shower needs some caulk, that's a quick weekend project.  Maybe the a/c is on the older side, good to know so you can prepare for that when the time comes.  

5. Peace of Mind

The place where you wake up and go to sleep every day should not come with question marks.  It's important to understand your inspection report and move in knowing what needs to be done immediately, what can wait, and that you made the right choice.



Happy home buying! 

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'. First up, Erica Baker, one of our own agents here in the Root office. 

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

I remember the day that my baby brother came home from the hospital. We had just moved out of base housing into a home in Riverside. I was four years old... all the sudden I had a new room, then all of the sudden there was a crib in it. But the moment he came home, I was hooked. My parents would let me sleep in the crib with him.


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

I was 21, and a girlfriend and I found a rental literally one street over from my parent's house. It was a cute little two bedroom, one bathroom in Riverside - we would hit up yard sales and resale shops to decorate it. We had a lot of fun making it our own. 

When was your first big trip away from home? 

When I was 17 I went to California and spent a week in LA with a group of friends. We did all of the typical and quintessential tourist stuff. It was great, but what I realized was that I tend to get homesick when I am not around things or people that are familiar. I wasn't necessarily homesick for a place, but homesick for that feeling of comfort and belonging. I've traveled countless times since that first trip, and it really depends on who I am with and the energy we have together, whether or not I get homesick.

What is your dream First Home? 

I would have a hard time picking between Riverside or a place at the Beach! I know I would never want a lot of land, just a small yard for the dog. Pretty much anything by Joanna Gains, honestly, would be a dream come true.

Thanks for sharing a few of your firsts, Erica!