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Natural Lawn Maintenance Tips for Safe Summer Fun

A lawn in summer is a wonderful thing! It is the proper location for picnics, barbecues, slip-n-slides, and more. Forget chemical fertilizers and herbicides. You can still enjoy a healthy SAFE lawn by following natural lawn maintenance tips below.

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Boot’n & Shoot’n 2019 Recap: Benchmark Gives Back

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Boot'n & Shoot'n Highlight 2019
Boot’n & Shoot’n 2019 took place on April 18th, and we are pleased to announce that more than 1 million dollars was raised to help veterans this year! This is Boot’n & Shoot’n’s 8th year, and Benchmark has been behind every single one. Every year, this event is special, and this year’s was n

Boot’n & Shoot’n 2019 took place on April 18th, and we are pleased to announce that more than 1 million dollars was raised to help veterans this year!

This is Boot’n & Shoot’n’s 8th year, and Benchmark has been behind every single one. Every year, this event is special, and this year’s was no different. The night before the event, the Boot’n & Salute’n Dinner packed in at the Omni Frisco to rally around support for veterans. The keynote address was given by GySgt Brian Meyer. On March 14, 2011, GySgt Meyer lost his right leg above the knee, his right arm below the elbow, and sustained amputations of his thumb and two fingers on his left hand in an IED (improvised explosive device) blast in Sangin, Afghanistan. He spoke on never giving up, and resilience in the face of adversity.

The guests who joined us that night helped raise over $400,000 through the live auction! Jeff Crosby and the Refugees helped cap off one of the most successful dinners Boot’n & Shoot’n has ever seen. This was a positive start for the day that would follow, when we all gathered together for an amazing day of giving back and honoring our veterans at The Dallas Gun Club.

On the morning of April 18th, clay shooting commenced, and shooting teams of four were paired with a veteran to take the course. More than 90 shooting teams took aim, interrupted only by a brief, albeit heavy, rain shower, catching some off guard. While the rain fell, the sound of shooters calling for their clays still echoed from the course, their gunshots ringing under the sound of the falling water.

Lt. Col. Allen West delivered a speech on teaching our children history to foster a sense of patriotism and appreciation for the brave men and women who have served our nation at any cost.

Every year, Boot’n & Shoot’n honors a veteran and their family, and this year, we honored John “JT” Tumilson and those killed in action on Extortion 17. On August 6, 2017, insurgents shot down a Chinook transport helicopter in Afghanistan. All 30 service members were killed, including fifteen Navy SEALS from Tea Six’s Gold Squadron.

Fallen officer Corporal Garrett Hull of the Fort Worth Police Department was also honored. Corporal Hull dedicated his career to the Fort Worth Police Department, having served in specialized tactical units, including the Special Response Team, the Narcotics Division, and the Tactical Intelligence Division. He was also loaned to the DEA, and worked closely with the FBI. He served the FWPD for 17 years.

Both of these heroes were added to Boot’n & Shoot’n’s “Remembrance Row”, a stretch of road leading to the site, with banners proudly displaying those fallen heroes who have been remembered and honored at the Dallas Gun Club during the event.

Babe’s Chicken sponsored and served lunch, after having set up the event with us the day before. Everyone enjoyed the spread, dessert included. Then came the donations. Giant checks were presented to The Brain Treatment Foundation, 22Kill, and The Third Option. We are proud to have helped raise more than $1 million, hosting over 1,000 guests and 500 veterans through Boot’n & Shoot’n.

At Benchmark, we do more than bring you home. We give back.

New York Firefighter in fire station putting on equipment

May 4th is International Firefighters’ Day

New York Firefighter in fire station putting on equipment

Firefighters put their own lives at risk to save the lives of others. From fighting fires, to providing emergency medical attention, and rescuing people from physical danger, firefighters deserve more praise than they often receive. Below are some of the tasks firefighters perform for you and your community.

Responding To Fire Emergencies

Contain and Extinguish Fires

Firefighters work in a range of contexts, from urban settings to wild. Their objective to to save people from dangerous situations, and to protect property from fire damage when possible. They use a variety of tools for their job, which they use expertly.

Investigate Causes of Fire

They may return to the scene of a fire to investigate the cause. This is helpful in future prevention of wildfires, as well as proving a suspicion of arson.

They Live At the Fire Station

The on-duty firefighters in urban settings will often live at the fire station. Emergencies can happen at any time of day, and a firefighter is always at the ready to provide life-saving assistance. They perform regular training and drills, as well as maintain excellent fitness, so they can perform their jobs with speed and efficiency.

They Do More Than Put Out Fires

Did you know that firefighters are also trained Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s)?

Firefighters are sometimes referred to as “first responders” because they are often the first ones on the scene when medical attention may be required. In many cities, Fire and Ambulance are in the same department! If you are ever injured or sick in a vulnerable public situation, it can be a relief to see a firefighter arrive to help.

They Rescue You (hence, “Fire and Rescue”)

Beyond rescuing you from burning buildings, they are also the team called to rescue you if you are ever trapped, whether in a vehicle, boat, or tree. Their job is to help preserve the lives of those in their community!

They Check and Regulate Fire Safety

Buildings have occupancy standards set in place by your local fire marshal for safety in the event of a fire. This extends to regulations for the locations and number of exits, exit visibility, sprinklers, fire escapes, smoke detectors, and other variables like fire extinguishers. Some departments may even offer free smoke detectors!

They May (or may not) Install and Inspect Car Seats

Years ago, it was common for people to head to their local fire station to have their car seat installed, or to have their installation inspected. Today, not every fire department has a car seat technician, and even when they do, they are first responders first, and they may not be available. You CAN search for a local car seat tech near you by using this handy search tool from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):


Firefighters Serve Their Community

At Benchmark, we understand community. That’s why we take supporting community heroes seriously. If you are looking to buy or refinance, we would be honored to help.

Find your Benchmark branch and call or email today to get started.Give us a call or contact us today. At Benchmark, we’ve got your back.Give me a call, send me an email, or request a call today. My team and I will take good care of you.

Benchmark Brings You Home

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This Spring, Refresh Your Curb Appeal

This Spring, Enhance Your 🏠 Curb Appeal!

This Spring, Refresh Your Curb Appeal

Do you suffer from curb envy? Do you want bragging rights for the most inviting home on the block? Have you just moved in, and want to dress the entrance with your own personal style? Or, are you looking to sell, and want to make your home more appealing to potential buyers?

No matter your reason, improving the appearance of your home when viewed from the street level, also known as curb appeal, can be done without breaking the bank.

It can be tempting to look through home improvement websites or Better Homes and Gardens for ideas. However, before making big plans, start with the easy things. You may be surprised at how much difference it makes!

Before Upgrading, Restore

Before spending any money, focus on maintaining the features your home already has. Even a manicured front landscape can go a long way.

  • Be sure that your lawn is mowed, trimmed, and edged.
  • Make sure landscape bushes or trees have been properly pruned, and
  • Remove weeds from walkways and mulched areas. Even a manicured front landscape can go a long way.
  • If needed (and it probably is, even if you can’t tell right away), power wash the walkway, sidewalk, and front porch leading up to your home. If you do not own a power washer, paying to have this done is not very expensive, and is absolutely worth paying for.
  • How does your brick or siding look? Simply cleaning it can do a lot to improve its appearance.
  • A fresh coat of paint on the siding can go a long way towards updating a home’s exterior.
  • If your siding is in need of repair or replacement, It’s a good idea to consider getting it done.
  • If the roof is a dominant feature of your home’s facade, you might want to consider giving it some love, too. If you plan to sell, a replacement roof may be in order.

Inexpensive Home Updates

Once everything is in great shape again, it’s time to start making some striking visual changes!

  • You can really make a statement by painting the front door. Use a contrasting color to draw attention to the home’s entrance, making it feel more inviting.
  • Change your address numbers with a new updated font, or bold tones. Get creative!
  • Paint or replace your mailbox. This is the first thing visible from the road, so don’t leave it out!
  • Update the hardware on your front door. If you’re painting the front door, why not reward the attention it draws with an updated hardware set?
  • If your home has shutters, consider painting them, or adding hardware to increase interest. If your home does not have any, you can easily make your own, if cost is a concern. Shutters add character and increase visual interest.
  • Plant a tree! A tree in the front yard adds charm, a splash of color, and a sense of permanence. It makes a home feel more homey. Please avoid known invasive species in your region when selecting a tree to plant, and consider what is known to do well where you live. With larger trees, not only does this save you from the burden of excessive maintenance, a healthier tree is a safer tree.
  • Is the entry to your home feeling a little sterile, even with the painting door? Consider adding decorative outdoor furniture or planter boxes. These can help extend the “living space” to the outside of the front door, enhancing the welcoming warmth extended to visitors.
  • Last, but not least, your porch light fixture may be in need of an update. While you’re at it, consider adding lighting to the yard to enhanced safety and ambience from the road as twilight fades into starlight.

Your Home’s Curb Appeal Is Its First Impression

Making a good first impression is important for forging new relationships, and for others taking you seriously. Your home’s curb appeal the the first impression for visitors, guests, neighbors, and potential buyers (if you’re selling). Your choices for dressing up your home’s curb appeal will ultimately reflect your own personality and outlook.

You don’t have to spend a lot to get a great look, so get started, be mindful of your choices, and have fun! Who knows, you may even make a few friends in the process.


Benchmark Brings You Home.

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bright new kitchen with high contrast counter and cabinets. Look closely before making an offer.

What Should You Check Before Making An Offer On Your Next House?

bright new kitchen with high contrast counter and cabinets. Look closely before making an offer.

So, you are home shopping, have found ‘The One,’ and you’re ready to make an offer. Are you sure you know what you’re doing? I mean, of course you know that you plan to make an offer, but do you know what comes with the house that you think you are ready to buy? The odds are good that you have not considered everything, and that you may be in for an unwelcome surprise. This is especially true if you are a first time home buyer.

At Benchmark, we want you to be confident in your decisions. It is part of our mission and dedication to helping our clients fulfill their piece of the American Dream of homeownership. Protect yourself by evaluating factors in these 4 categories before placing your offer.


You should already be pre-approved for a maximum loan amount. Make sure the asking price is fair, and make sure your offer fits well within your tolerances for your pre-approval amount. It’s also a good idea to check the expenses for the house, like utility bills, property tax, insurance, and HOA dues, if applicable. Make sure the monthly financial obligation fits within your range of affordability. Lastly, make sure you have easy/quick access to your funds for a down payment and earnest money. If your offer is accepted, be ready to pounce!


Be really sure you are as aware as you can be of what you’re buying. Take another walkthrough, and bring a bright flashlight, a level, a tape measure, or anything else you think you may need in order to go into a 30 year obligation with eyes wide open. Take a look at the seller’s disclosure, so you are in the loop about any upgrades or repairs that may have been done to the top candidate for your future home. This can help give you an idea of any work that you can avoid doing, or that you may need to get done after you’ve become the new fearless owner of the abode.


Get to know the neighborhood and the general location of the home you have your sights set on. Find the assigned school, its rank, distance from the home, and wether you think it’s a good fit for your family’s values. Check the distance and availability of business you rely on, like gas stations, grocery stores, as well as proximity and availability of entertainment, cafes, and restaurants. How far is it from your place of work? What would your new commute look like? It is important to weigh all of this considerations to prevent a future case of buyer’s remorse.


It can also be a good idea to visit the house at different times of the day, and on different days of the week. This can help give you a feel for the overall culture of the neighborhood, as well as what kinds of noises and activity to expect. Doing this may also give you a better idea of traffic congestion spots. You may also want to consider checking crime in the area, and registered sex offenders who may live nearby. Also be aware of neighborhood amenities provided by the HOA, or community cooperation. Last but not least, meet the neighbors! The best way to get a feel for the neighborhood is to talk to someone who has lived there for awhile already.

Now, Go Make Your Offer!

You have checked the financials, decided that you are prepared, and are aware of the total cost to live in the home you want to buy. You are going in with eyes wide open, fully aware of the school situation, access to resources, and the compatibility of your desired neighborhood. Most importantly, you are aware of any issues present in the house itself, and the work that was recently done.

If you are looking for a house right now, and are preparing ahead of time, great job! Researching the next step before you are there is a display of wisdom. Are you pre-approved? Without being pre-approved, any offer you make is unlikely to be accepted without an approved loan amount, unless you plan to buy in cash. (if so, why are you reading this on a mortgage site? You should be writing your own finance blog!)

If you are looking to get pre-approved, we make it easy. More than that, our expert loan officers will match your goals with the perfect loan for your unique situation. We often refer to ourselves as “The Benchmark Family”, and when you choose to work with us, you become part of it, too. Ready to get started?

Find your Benchmark branch and contact them today for a hassle-free experience.Give us a call or contact us today. At Benchmark, we’ve got your back.Give me a call, send me an email, or request a call today. My team and I will take good care of you.

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