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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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:

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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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