Discounts for Teachers, Military and First Responder

Growing up in a military family has given me deep respect for those who enlist and serve.  My Dad and one brother were in the Air Force, two other brothers in the Marines,  and my fourth brother in the Army.  I’ll never forget the first time one of my brothers was deployed, the feeling of anxiety, the rock in my stomach and so many prayers that they would return safely.

One of those brothers went on to become a police officer.  One day we received a call that he had been shot, and my world stopped while I tried hard not to let the tears fall, wanting to ask the questions no one could answer.  Looking  back, I’m incredibly grateful that he was able to recover from his injuries.

Several years ago, when I was in Human Resources, a group I was with witnessed a bad car accident and called 911.  When the paramedics arrived, I saw one of my employees hop out of the truck.  He was far too busy to notice I was there as he worked diligently to save the person’s life.  When he arrived early the next morning at our workplace, I realized that his wages for saving lives wasn’t enough to live on and required him to work a second job.

Over the years I’ve become friends with many nurses and teachers.  I admit to being surprised at how hard and long they work, using their own money to purchase class supplies for children whose parents couldn’t afford them.  All this while their own pay and benefits decreased and their workload increased.

This is a very small sampling of experiences, but they’ve burned into me a deep gratitude for those who give so much for so little in return.

As a REALTOR® I’ve found a way that I can say ‘thank you’ and give back to those who serve their country or community: First Responders; active, retired and veteran Military personnel; Teachers; Nurses; Police and Firefighters.  To show my appreciation, I gratefully give a 25% rebate from my commission to you at close of escrow.  This amount will often pay for closing costs, home warranties and more.  Typically, a $275,000 home will result in a rebate of over $2,000.

Thank you for serving our communities and nation!

 

 

 

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A Taste of Philly in Arizona

After an interesting chat this morning with someone about great Philly cheesesteaks, I’m now craving one.  For the sake of our impending summer and perfect swimming pool weather I won’t indulge, but I can write about them!

While I work all over the valley, I tend to dine closer to my office in the SE Valley.  I’ve found two places I find to be worthy of the calories.  They’re different, so the choice is really which flavor and location suits you.

If you want a “real” Philly cheese, then Philly’s Famous in Chandler is the place you want to go.  One of the partners is from Philly and their ingredients are flown in from Philadelphia, including the infamous Amoroso bread.

If you don’t know what Amoroso bread is, then you’ve missed out.  Amoroso bread has been a family business for over a century, baking and shipping their fresh bread around the world to those who demand absolute authenticity.  The bread is”Hearth-Baked”, meaning the bread and rolls are never put in a pan so they can “free form” the own shape and “personality”.  They are the authentic bread of a Philly cheesesteak.

This restaurant is small with no frills counter service, but the food is amazing.  It can get really loud at the grill while they cook the wafer thin steak or chicken and chop in your choice of ingredients – onions, peppers, mushrooms, sauce and your cheese of choice. If you want your Philly with whiz, then they have that too.  You’ll need to ask for it or they will probably give you cheddar instead.  Don’t forget to ask for the red sauce!  It’s not hot but it adds a great flavor to your sandwich.There are a couple places to eat outside or they will be happy to wrap it up for you to go.

Since our hot summer is on its way, they have great hoagies too, with all the fresh toppings you desire, such as pastrami, ham, tuna and turkey, each hoagie topped with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and a must on a hoagie, special oils and spices.

If you want something further west, or a little quieter, then Forefathers  in Tempe is the place to go!  While I don’t believe they are originally from Philly, they know how to make a darn good sandwich…and soup….and salads.

My husband always goes for the Philly cheesesteak loaded with onions and peppers.  Their fries are coated and go perfectly with their yummy fry sauce.  What they’don’t have is the red sauce, but the flavors and spices are good enough that you probably won’t miss it.

I enjoy their steak and chicken phillys, but it’s nice to try new things and have healthier options to choose from. Their tomato basil soup is seriously good and the combo with half salad is perfect, especially with their delish salad dressing options of Tomato Parmesan Vinaigrette, Adobo Chile Vinaigrette, Spicy Blue Cheese, Jalapeño Cilantro Ranch and even regular Ranch for the less adventurous. My personal favorite is the Jalapeño Ranch but it’s nice to switch it up from time to time.

If you head out to either one, let me know your thoughts! Better yet, go to both and let me know which one you like the best. Hopefully you will enjoy it as much as we do.

 

 

Are you in the Halloween spirit but want to do something different? Here’s a few Halloween alternatives…

Some people love change, like myself.  I enjoy changing my look, my habits, even my foods.  My husband is mystified that he himself has escaped more or less unchanged after twenty-five years of marriage.  Well, if this Halloween is upon you and you’re looking for something different to do, here’s a couple options from the Queen of ‘Something New’.

If you haven’t bought treats for the kids but don’t want to fill them up with lots of candy then you might try some of these Trick or Treat alternatives.

If changing up your cauldron of treats isn’t what you’re looking for, then how about turning off the lights and stepping out yourself?  In or out of costume, the PoeFest is a delight for lovers of literature,  of Halloween, or just for those who have a heart for helping kids learn.  The presenters dramatically read a number of poems and short stories from that master of the macabre, Edgar Allen Poe.  This year marks the 7th year for Poefest. 100% of the funds earned at Poefest are used by Arizona Curriculum Theater to increase childrens’ learning with the power of the arts to promote literacy, engage students, and make education more fun and accessible.  They are a federally-recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit organization bringing classical literature, arts, history, sciences, and mathematics to life in classrooms and libraries across the Phoenix Metropolitan Area.  Not only that, they are wickedly talented.  My husband and I were enchanted and enthralled at the performance we went to, and want to continue to support their cause and talent.  On October 31st they will be returning to the Rosson House Museum to perform ‘The Raven’ every twenty minutes between 7:30 PM and 9:30 PM.

Nevermore

Still not what you  had in mind?  Check out a few of our other favorite Fall events…corn mazes and fall festivals.  There’s several in the Valley, but in the east valley specifically, there is Vertuccio Farms 7 acre maze as well as Schnepf Farms annual Pumpkin and Chili PartyMother Nature’s Farms pumpkin patch and a hay maze that’s perfect for the little kids.

Be it something for the young, or the young at heart, there is plenty of fun to be had on Halloween.  Wishing you and your family a very safe, memorable and happy Halloween night!

Why is REALTOR® in all capital letters?

My husband asks me about this because he doesn’t like the flow of having a capital word “yelling” at someone in the middle of a document. Don’t worry, in real life I’m not the yelling type. I’m more of a slow simmer, take deep breaths and logic it through type of person. It’s the gift of coming from a big family…either learn the art of patience, communication and logic or get upset a lot. Life is seriously too short for that.

The short answer to the question is REALTOR® is a registered trademark so yes, I have to put it in all caps. Technically speaking, it is pronounced as it is written and not the “Realator” that we often hear. A lot of agents get upset about pronunciation, but honestly, I don’t care how you pronounce it. It’s more important to understand there are subtle differences between a real estate agent and a REALTOR®.

REALTOR®

Both real estate agents and REALTORS® must be licensed by the state(s) they work in to sell real estate. The basic difference is that a REALTOR® is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and by being a member, we must follow a specific Code of Ethics.

But what does this mean to you?

The Code of Ethics contains 17 Articles and Standards of Practice. As a REALTOR®, I and my fellow REALTORS®, agree to abide by higher standards and rules. These standards are more restrictive and limits how we conduct ourselves…in a good way. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that all REALTORS® are morally or ethically superior to real estate agents, but it is an attempt by the industry to regulate conduct to the benefit of those who hire us.

Now, don’t be confused and think that Real Estate Agents are running about willy-nilly without oversite. Real Estate Agents and REALTORS® must be placed under a Real Estate Broker. The Broker allows the agent to act on behalf of the Brokerage. Meanwhile, the Broker oversees all of the work we do, verifies contracts are written correctly and helps resolve disputes, should they arise. When you sign a listing, you are actually hiring the brokerage who is allowing that specific agent to work on your behalf.

The main difference, besides who carries the liability, is education. Brokers are required to do more education than agents and have been in the business longer. The standards of how long vary by state. As an example, I am a Broker in Washington state but have not chosen to go through the classes and testing to become a Broker in Arizona, even though I have the years of experience to qualify as a Broker. Mostly, because I love what I do and don’t want to be stuck in an office looking over contracts. I much prefer working with you, my buyers and sellers.

In larger organizations there is a Principal Broker, who oversees Brokers, who oversee the agents. Clear as mud, right? If you have further questions or want clarification on anything, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly.

About the Author

Before getting into a business relationship with someone, people learn as much as they can about that person. They research to see if they have similar goals, are reliable, have the financial means they need to follow through on their obligations and most important, can they be trusted.

Buying a home is a relationship that goes beyond merely “business”. This person is not only helping you negotiate what will probably be your most expensive purchase but help you find the place where you will make friends, raise your family or spend your retirement.  Hiring a real estate agent shouldn’t be a quick, easy decision or one made off the cuff.

So, before getting too involved in my blog, you should know more about who is writing this. First off, here’s my professional bio.

Raised in a real estate family Dana always had a passion for real estate.  In 2005 she made the jump from Human Resources Director to REALTOR®.  With her experience in contract negotiations and attention to detail, Dana gained a reputation for protecting her clients’ interests. Honesty, strong negotiations and clear and consistent communication join uncompromising integrity as the hallmarks of Dana’s service.

Dana is licensed in two states but keeps her focus on Arizona where she lives with her husband in the Phoenix valley.  Dana is known not only for her professionalism and high ethical standards but for being honest, friendly and hard-working.  She does absolutely everything in her power to ensure her clients satisfaction.  Dana’s father and brothers all served in the US military, giving her a unique understanding and empathy for those who have served.  Dana is a Certified Military Residential Specialist (CMRS designation) and proud member of the Heroes Home Advantage, a real estate rebate program for those that protect, serve and care for our country and community: military, law enforcement, firefighters, health care, emergency personnel and teachers.

In her personal time, Dana is committed to giving back and serving not only her community but also nationally and internationally. Locally she volunteers with children and seniors. Nationally Dana volunteers and raises funds to rescue victims of human trafficking. 

If that answers your questions, great. If you want to know more, read on…

I enjoy people and love learning about their life, passions, beliefs, and values even when they are diverse from mine.  I’m perpetually curious and enjoy watching historical documentaries, reading books and visiting museums.

You should be aware, it’s not unusual for me to try a new look from time to time, so don’t get too pent up on what my picture looks like. I may be blonde, brown, red or black, straight or curly, glasses or contacts etc. It really depends on my mood and what my Stylist will let me do. Currently she is opposed to letting me go black again. Darn it!

Dana Bentley Black Real Estate Gilbert Arizona in Cambodia                 Business Photo - Suit                     Dana Bentley Black Real Estate Gilbert Arizona in Cambodia (2)

All of that being said, I do care about people and believe deeply that we should not leave this world without having made positive differences during our time here. While I actively support various charities with my time and finances, I have a passion for the work in Cambodia through Water of Life Asia and the people they help. I try to visit them every 1 to 1.5 years, bringing a small group with me. Occasionally I have an opportunity to speak about their work.

Why am I writing this blog?   When I decided to relocate to the Valley of the Sun, we had a very hard time finding a real estate agent who could assist us.  Having grown up in a real estate family and being an agent for several years, I knew what to look for.  The problem is, I couldn’t find it.  I interviewed countless agents, hired and subsequently fired around half a dozen agents before I found one that I trusted enough to help us find the place we were going to begin our life in Arizona.

On top of that, I had a ton of questions about various areas, businesses, new construction, shopping districts etc.  I ended up doing a lot of research online, on yelp, at http://www.spotcrime.com etc.  Of course, I now have clients with similar questions so I decided to start this blog to help them find the right community to raise their family.

To sum it up: Your home is where your life happens.  Choosing where you live isn’t just a matter of a nice house, but what is around it.  Helping you find that place for you and your family, is why I started this blog.

Who am I?  A person that loves what I do and believes in working hard, playing hard, laughing often, loving deeply and doing the right thing.

To Step In or Not to Step In to New Construction

To build or not build??? That my friends, is only the first of many questions you need to consider before you walk in the door. Once you have decided to embark on the journey of new construction communities, the questions will just keep on coming. I am hoping I can answer a few for you here.
Location! Location!! Location!!!
One of the questions I often hear is where to find information on new communities being built. This can be tricky as some homes are listed in the MLS but most are not. There are hundreds of new home communities in the area and it seems like a new one pops up every day! Writing about every one would be daunting to say the least. I only write about neighborhoods I’ve personally visited and spoken to a sales representative about.
As time permits, I will be posting about various new build communities. In the interim, if there is a specific neighborhood you would like to know more about, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I have access to information and would be more than happy to assist you in finding the perfect community to fit your needs.
BEFORE walking into any office in a new build community, there’s a few things you should know.
• DO YOU HAVE A REAL ESTATE AGENT? Don’t let your curiosity kill your pocketbook. If you decide to stop by without your real estate agent present, then they will not allow any agent to help you negotiate your new home. Usually a phone call to your agent before walking inside will allow agents to register you to go in to communities with or without us, yet still allow your agent to help you navigate the process and negotiate for your best interests.

• New home prices show a base price. Much like car dealer… you see an advertisement on TV that looks amazing and a price flash on the screen with a little asterisk next to it with little tiny writing about that being the ‘base price’. Then you go to the dealership to drive the amazing car only to realize how much more all of those bells and whistles featured in the commercial are. Worse yet, you don’t even LIKE the base model of the car and don’t want to pay the asking price for all the whistles.

Remember when you are touring the model homes that they carry premium upgrades. It’s important to physically see a “base” house compared to the model. The upgrades you’re viewing in the model will cost tens of thousands more than the base model. It’s not unusual for someone to see the model and fall in love only to go into a “base” home and not even recognize it as the same plan.

Case in point: this weekend I showed clients through several model homes. The flooring that was in the great room and entry of the model cost $50,000. No, that is not a typo. Nor was that the flooring price for the whole house, just the entry and great room. We then looked at a base home of a different plan and they hated it. Later we went to another community from the same builder where they had the home they “hated” shown as a model. Guess, what? They LOVED it, only to suffer sticker shock when they saw how much upgrades were.

• Sticker shock doesn’t stop inside the house because you still need to pick out your lot. Each lot has a premium attached to it. Sometimes they have the lot price included in the base price, but more often they do not. If the builder has several lots available on which to build a plan, some may be more desirable than others based on N/S verses E/W exposure, lot size, location and other factors. The more desirable lots will have a larger “premium” to purchase them. The premium can be from a few thousand dollars to several hundred thousand dollars for a lot on a prime golf course, lake or with a view.

• The same “lot” premium also applies to what level floor you’re purchasing on in a condominium; the higher the floor or the better the view or exposure, the higher the premium. The penthouse unit may be exactly the same as one on the first floor, but will be much more expensive.

• Negotiating new builds has some intricacies. My recommendation is to have a clear understanding of what floor plan, lot and amenities you want before even thinking about writing an offer or discussing price with the sales people in the office. Offering too soon can leave you with a price tag much higher than originally intended. Before walking in the doors to negotiate, it’s important that you have a clear understanding of what you “need” vs. what you “want”. Make a list and shoot a copy to me. That gives us a starting and ensures you don’t later regret what is missing in your new home.

Put Your Boots on for Joe’s Real BBQ

Time to head back into “Old Town Gilbert” for another stroll down restaurant row to a place to fill a hankering for BBQ, Joe’s Real BBQ.  When Joe says “Real BBQ”, he’s not kidding.  So real that my brother from Texas likes it.  If you know Texans, you know that’s quite a compliment.  The barbecue is slow cooked over pecan wood and is tender, juicy and so so yummy!

Joe’s is located in a real 1929 brick building set in the time that Arizona was all about agriculture.  We’ve always received friendly service, which is saying something for a place that often has a line out the door just to order.  If you just can’t wait and need to take your food and run, they do have a walk up window that you can order from too.

Dana Bentley Black Real Estate Gilbert Joe's Real BBQ Dana Bentley Black Real Estate Gilbert Joes BBQ To Go Window

Once inside, you order then choose where to sit.  The inside is quaint and full of old farm charm.  If my Dad was still with me today, the ability to sit inside a farm house that’s inside the restaurant next to a big tractor, would make his Iowan farmer’s heart very happy.

Dana Bentley Black Real Estate Gilbert Joes BBQ9Dana Bentley Black Real Estate Gilbert Joes BBQ1

If the weather is cooperative you can also sit outside on benches or in a covered veranda.  A sink to wash all the BBQ goodness off your hands is located outside near the restrooms. There’s plenty of seating, inside and out, which helps the long line to get in move fairly quickly.

Dana Bentley Black Real Estate Gilbert Joes BBQ7

Dana Bentley Black Real Estate Gilbert Joes BBQ8Dana Bentley Black Real Estate Gilbert Joes BBQ5

Have I mentioned before that I’m a carnivore?  I know, I know….we could start a debate on how animals are treated, farm raised vs organic etc. but that’s not what this post is about. (Although I do prefer organic and farm raised but I’m not as strict about it as I should be). If you are one who desires, wants or needs gluten free, they do have gluten free buns.

I’ve tried many of their meat options. I say “many” because I came across one I love so much that I just can’t find it in myself to order anything else.  Their meat choices are fairly extensive and include pulled pork, pork ribs, beef brisket, chopped brisket with BBQ sauce mixed in, chicken breast, bone-in chicken, turkey breast, hot link sausage, turkey jalapeno sausage and my very favorite, pit ham.  Seriously, it’s some of the best ham I’ve had.  They also have plenty of sides that harmonize with the country charm, such as coleslaw, applesauce, cheesy potatoes, mac and cheese and more. While I’ve heard favorable reports, I can’t go there without ordering their salad with the ham on top. The only downside is they only have BBQ Ranch dressing as an option. Personally, I use their variety of peppers that they offer as a side and skip the dressing for the most part. The meat and veggies are all so good that it’s more than I could possibly eat, even though I want to eat all of it.  My husband is a fan of the brisket options. The BBQ brisket on their massive stuffed potato is enough for one very hungry appetite or you can share, if you’re willing to give it up.

They also have dessert, cornbread and homemade root beer.  By now, you probably know I’m a water or iced tea kind of girl. Their iced tea is not fancy but it’s fresh and tasty.  FYI, Joe’s gives you a free meal (up to $10 off) on your birthday.  Celebrating your life with good food sounds wise to me.  I’m not saying I will always be here on my birthday, but I was this year!

Dana Bentley Black Real Estate Gilbert Joes BBQ4

What’s with the Blog?

As a REALTOR® I am often asked questions about where the best places are to live, eat, shop and play. The answers are all dependent on the type of neighborhood you want to live in, the food you enjoy and what you consider fun. To help my friends and clients with the answers, I decided to start this blog.
My husband and I regularly look for new places to explore, visit or dine at. While we spend a good amount of time in the SE area of Phoenix, I do work, sell and play around the valley so there will be reviews from a variety of locations, including weekend getaways. That being said, you should know my husband is a HUGE burger fan so there may be an abnormally large number of burger-related entries.
For the first few posts, the focus will be on Gilbert, the fastest growing community in Arizona and the 8th most thriving city in the US. Beginning in the Fall of 2015, Saint Xavier University (SXU) will be opening its doors in the Gilbert’s Heritage District. SXU will occupy an 87,000-square-foot space with state-of-the-art technology, smart classrooms and teaching laboratories, conveniently located in the heart of the Gilbert Heritage District.
In anticipation of this exciting new addition, there has been an abundance of new restaurants opening to accommodate all the hungry residents, tourists and students. I feel it’s my duty, as your blog writer, REALTOR® and friend to suffer and try each restaurant. I have to confess, we’ve already tried most but…I’ll suffer just for YOU, my reader and try a few more. On that note, stay tuned…your Gilbert dining extravaganza is about to begin!

Dana Bentley Black Real Estate Gilbert Water Tower4