The Tonya Loves NWFL


Those who know me know how much I love Northwest Florida. If I didn't, I wouldn't have lived here my entire life. I've done plenty of traveling, but there just isn't a place Florida's Gulf Coast and the surrounding areas. Check out my monthly newsletter highlighting real estate news, local recommendations and more. 

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Welcome to the December Newsletter

Happy Holidays!

Tonya Zimmern here, and welcome to my first monthly newsletter! Oh, and Happy Holidays! This special time of year certainly will be a theme in this month’s newsletter, but we won’t be limited to just that. Read on to learn about local Northwest Florida events, why to consider selling your home in December, some really neat home-tech, how to raise the value of your home (and by how much you should try to raise that value) and a whole lot more! 

I’ll also be sharing with you all about the heroes (without capes) from Capstone Adaptive Learning & Therapy Centers, as well as inviting you to join the holiday gift drive we here at Tonya Zimmern Team are putting on with the help of The Florida Institute of Ultrasound, Supreme Lending and Keller Williams Realty Gulf Coast. Thank you for reading!


Big News! Welcome to the Team Donald Cole, Rachel Smith & SarahGrace Lykins!

I had my Christmas come early this year, in the form of three new Buyer's Agents here on Tonya Zimmern Team. With complimentary skillsets and a love for Northwest Florida, these three individuals honor me by joining the team!

About Us

Rachel Smith


With a background in banking, mortgage, and insurance, I have a passion for people and providing the highest level of customer service. I value my clients’ needs and I am eager to help them every step of the way. My husband and I have 4 children and 4 dogs. We moved to sunny Florida from Central Illinois and absolutely love it here! We spend our spare time watching our children play sports and on the beach. The things you can count on me for are love, positivity, commitment, empathy, and honesty. I look forward to meeting you and helping in any way that I can!!

SarahGrace Lykins


 I have achieved a degree in business from PSC and accrued plenty of experience in the service and sales industries. Through my dedication and love of helping my clients, I have been at the top level of sales for the companies I’ve worked for. What I love most about the sales and service industries is the relationships I’ve gotten to build with my customers and clients. As a native, I am very passionate about Northwest Florida and am excited to share my love of this beautiful area by finding you and yours the perfect home here. 

Donald Cole


Donald is a Florida native and longtime resident of Gulf Breeze. With more than 13 years in the business, he knows how to navigate any market to ensure that his clients make informed real estate investments. He knows the ins and outs of waterfront homes and condo sales and his ability to effectively negotiate makes him the obvious choice. In his spare time, Donald is an avid water enthusiast. He enjoys golf, scuba diving, and when the gulf is calm you can find him on his boat soaking up the sun.

Your Home Sale Could be Your Christmas Miracle!

Keeping Your Home on the Market in December

December, the time of yuletide, Santa Claus, warm cider and house sales! Now, one of those things may not seem like the other at first glance, but let me assure you, December is one of the best times for people looking to sell their home. While it is true many people decide to wait until after the holidays to sell their home, and there are even those who take their home off  the market  during the holiday season. Sure, I understand the desire to not have an extra thing on you and your family’s plate so you all can focus on spending time with each other (and shopping for presents), but facts are facts, and December is just a good time to sell a home. 

Like I said earlier, many people either take their home off the market or won’t bother listing over the holidays because they are busy holiday shopping, spending time with loved ones and stress eating! These are things we all do throughout the holiday season, and they take up a lot of time! Think about this though: if someone is out searching for a home to purchase during the month of December, then they are one serious buyer. Nobody is taking on that level of responsibility unless they truly need to. In the comfort of summertime, spring and fall, buyers are relaxed and are taking their time. Nobody shops leisurely during December; people get in, find what they are looking for, and buy it as quick as they can.

Another advantage home sellers have during December is home sales are an exception to the rule. See, retailers overstock in December, anticipating high sales. If you’re looking to buy a television, you will have all the selection in the world available. But, if you are looking for a house, your choices are limited in the winter months. Serious buyers + not a lot on the market = a good deal for anyone wanting to sell their home. Don’t forget, while many people put their plans on hold through the holiday season, most businesses don’t. Buyers relocating due to their professional life exist 12 months out of the year, so you tell me if courting those who have no choice but to buy a home during a time period where there isn’t a lot on the market is a smart idea! 

A neat little psychological fact is that when potential buyers are visiting a home, the more of a warm feeling they get from your interior design and decorations, the easier it will be for them to imagine themselves there, with their own family and friends. So, if you’ve got stockings by the fireplace, a tree, and perhaps even the smell of hot cocoa filling the air, anyone viewing your home will be instantly imagine themselves and their loved ones celebrating the holidays in your home. It just makes selling in December even easier.

Lastly, if current trends continue, the amount of new construction will continue to rise, which will create further competition for your home sale in 2020. Why put off til tomorrow what you can do today is a great phrase for a reason. Also, don’t think that many of the advantages found in December for selling your home also don’t exist in January and February. Things in realty don’t really pick up again until the spring. The closer to the spring, the smaller your advantage, but it definitely exists for the entirety of winter.If you’d like to talk about selling your home through the holidays, you know who to call!


12 Days of Christmas (Movies)

It’s the time of year again where our cookies are shaped in man form, peppermint replaces pumpkin spice, and eggnog is actually something people drink! A time for family, friends, feasts, fun and (holiday) films! This list is full of movies that are perfect for the whole family, so no Die Hard’s or Bad Santa’s or Lethal Weapon’s, but every flick on this list is just as entertaining, exciting, and you won’t have to cover any young eyes or ears during the more risque scenes. Also, I’m leaving out A Christmas Story, because with as much as they play that non-stop on the Turner station, we’re all going to see it.

12 Days of Christmas (Movies)

12. A Charlie Brown Christmas


What is a holiday season with A Charlie Brown Christmas? This 1965 classic featuring Snoopy and his gang is a timeless family tradition for a reason. Plus that soundtrack! 

11. It’s a Wonderful Life


Often ranked as one of the greatest American cinematic achievements of all time, this 1946 masterpiece featuring James Stewart and Donna Reed is as quotable as it is charming. While I prefer Jimmy fighting killer birds and solving murders at dinner parties, this certainly is one of his most iconic performances. 

10. Home Alone


Few things say Christmas like Macaualy Culkin beating Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern silly with ingenious traps while defending his home from their burglarizing. Written by the ultra talented John Hughes, this movie features some of the best slapstick since The Three Stooges. 

9. Scrooged


This isn’t going to be the only adaptation of the timeless Charles Dickens story A Christmas Carol, but it certainly is one of the best versions, due in no small part to the comedy genius of Bill Murray. While it isn’t my absolute favorite take on the story, between Bill Murray, Richard Donner and Robert Goulet, who couldn’t love this hilarious holiday classic! This is definitely the most risque title on the list, and is probably more appropriate for older children, FYI to anyone who hasn’t seen old Bill Murray Christmas flick. I may be being overly cautious in saying that, as it is 2019 and some of the stuff I see on YouTube terrifies me greatly, but I’m saying it nonetheless!

8. Miracle on 34th Street


What if Santa was on an episode of Law & Order for being Santa? That’s sort of the premise of this 1947 film, which probably didn’t influence Dick Wolf’s eventual hit series. Definitely one to watch with your kids. 

7. The Muppet Christmas Carol


Whether you’re favorite is Kermit, Gonzo, Fozzy or Miss Piggy, this beloved Muppet movie never fails to cause roaring laughter amongst children and adults. Don’t knock me for suggesting this may be the best take on the Charles Dickens story around.

12 Days of Christmas (Movies)

6. The Santa Clause


As someone who has heard his stand-up comedy, sometimes I’m surprised by the fact Tim Allen is the star of so many famous family films. Then I see him on screen (or just hear him in Toy Story) and remember why, because he’s so funny! A great watch for you and your young ones.

5. Gremlins


Gremlins is a fun mix of genres. Part horror, part family and part Christmas movie, 1984 gave us one of the most fun and most bizarre holiday movies to date. Although, I guarantee you’ll never look at a microwave the same way again!

4. Frosty the Snowman/ Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer


4. Frosty the Snowman/ Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer: I am including these two classics together on the list because I just associate them with one another. Maybe it’s that they were both produced in the 60’s, but it’s hard for me to watch one of these without wanting to watch the other. Am I the only one who feels this way? 

3. 3 Godfathers


This 1948 movie gets such a high ranking on the list due to just how unique it is.  3 outlaws on the run come across an ill woman in labor who gives birth as her last action on Earth before dying, in the middle of the desert. What follows is a touching tale of redemption which truly understands the true meaning of Christmas. Still not sold? It was directed by the legendary John Ford and stars American icon John Wayne! If you’ve never seen it, you should really do yourself a favor and check it out!

2. How the Grinch Stole Christmas


When you combine Dr. Suess, Jim Carrey, Molly Shannon, Clint Howard Jeffrey Tambor and Ron Howard, you know you’ve got something good. A truly terrific interpretation of a wonderful Christmas book. 

1. Jingle All The Way


I’m an Arnold fan, so sue me! This action packed, holiday laughfest features Sinbad and Arnold battling each other across town, desperately seeking an action figure to make some Christmas dreams come true. With names like Phil Hartman, Martin Mull, Jim Belushi, Robert Conrad and even Harvey Korman making appearances, you know you’re going to get a whole 12 days of Christmas worth of entertainment out of this film. 


High & Low: A Look At Expensive & Inexpensive Home-Techs

Smart Refrigerators & RGB Toilet Lights

On the high end of the spectrum, this month, I’ll be covering something which any high-tech kitchen can’t be without: the smart refrigerator. I think the first time I saw one was in the 2000 sci-fi Arnold movie The 6th Day, which was a fancy way to advertise the first commercially sold smart fridge. Dubbed the Digital Internet DIOS and created by LG, this commercial flop featured a LCD flat screen, LAN port, video messaging, could manage your schedule and had a webcam capable of scanning your food to keep track of the expiration dates of your items, as well as a few other niceties. With all this advanced tech, especially all the way back in 2000, you’d wonder how this device out of the Jetsons could fail, but with a $20,000 price tag, it isn’t a complete mystery. 

You can break down a smart fridge’s features into two categories: food based and convenience based. Like I mentioned earlier, a smart fridge scans your food, keeps track of when it goes bad or when certain items are running low. Depending on your model, you may even get recipe suggestions depending on what food you’ve got in stock. Newer models are often Alexa enabled, so ordering new groceries from your fridge like a boss from the future isn’t just possible, it’s simple and easy. I’ve even seen some which will pour you a cup of cold or hot water, to your exact temperature specifications, through voice command alone. The future is now. 

If all of this isn’t enough, try asking your fridge to make appointments for you, play music, or even send texts. My personal favorite feature I’ve seen is one readily available LG’s Smart InstaView, which allows the oversized LCD screen to go transparent so you can see what is in the fridge without even opening it. Samsung and LG are definitely the two top companies when it comes to smart fridge technology, although don’t count out Kenmore and GE either, as depending on your needs, those might be the best options for you and your household. 

While smart fridges are getting cheaper and cheaper, they still aren’t commonplace in many kitchens. While their features may be extravagant, there is no denying their usefulness. True, I am still waiting for my Roise the Robot Maid, smart refrigerators are definitely a sign that computers have become ingrained in every aspect of our lives, and I for one am excited to see what crazy contraptions we’ll have 20 years from now. 

Now, our inexpensive home-tech device also proves we live in an amazing time, or even an enlightening one. But rest assured, this next device is an incredibly useful one. An enlightening addition to the most important throne in your home in fact! A RGB toilet light is a small device you install underneath your toilet seat, lighting up the bowl in any color you can imagine. 

Besides from just the novelty of having your toilet emanate bright colors, this is actually a pretty useful device. We’ve all heard tales of people hurting themselves in the dead of night trying to use the bathroom.  Some of us may have even had an incident ourselves, although I’m sure we replaced the injured party with a friend or relative when telling the story. 

Costing anywhere from around three to fifteen dollars, this inexpensive gadget will be sure to light up not just your bathroom, but your whole life! Okay, that was a bad joke, but seriously, they make hilarious stocking stuffers. 

Ask Tonya!

How do I raise my home's value?

If you’ve got a question about real estate, your home,  or anything that my 21+ years experience as a Realtor may give insight on? E-mail me at and your question could be featured in a future newsletter!

Today’s question comes from Meghan, a charming young lady I met through one of my team members. 

“My husband and I are planning on selling our home in the next two to three years. Do you have a suggestion or two on how we can increase our home’s value in the meantime? Is there a limit on how much upgrading we should do? Is it possible to make a home’s value too high for its neighborhood?” 

Well Meghan, to cover your last question first, yes, you can add too much to a home, for sure. Now, let me stress, if you and your husband have the money, and the improvements are for your own personal comforts and happiness, don’t worry about that. While it is possible you may have to list your home at a slightly lower price than it deserves, I personally would rather lose money than pleasure and relaxation. Generally speaking, staying within 15% to 20% of the other homes in your house is the right sales tactic, especially if the additions/upgrades/etc are done with the sole purpose of raising the home’s value as opposed to offering yourself a luxury. 

As far as a suggestion or two, I instead offer a wide variety of tips, tricks and home valuation facts you should know on your quest to achieve top dollar for your home later on down the line. While some may not apply or appear to you specifically, this list is a great general guide to fall on for anyone looking to raise your home’s value. Now, no one person probably needs to do all of these, but it wouldn’t hurt to either! 

Always remember to use licensed professionals for any work you don’t know how to do yourself, and do yourself well. Unless you’re one of those types who can watch a YouTube video or two then build anything, then you’re probably fine on just relying on your own two hands. All you DIYers out there, do not, I repeat, do not go cheap on materials. By constructing anything with poor materials and/or craftsmanship, you can actually decrease the value of your home, and nobody wants that. Lastly for you builders out there, be honest with yourself about your abilities. You don’t have to build every addition to your house, and just because you can build half of what is on your list doesn’t mean you should attempt the other half. Consult with professionals whenever you need to. Just because you are a master of plumbing doesn’t mean you’re a good painter or understand electrical. 

Also, be aware that adding additions to your house may increase your taxes, so don’t say I didn’t warn you! On the flip side of that though, some improvements may decrease the amount you pay in taxes, so if you’ve got a list of improvements you’ve been thinking of, be sure to ask your taxman (or taxwoman) how these plans may effect you.

Garden ponds and above ground pools do almost nothing to decrease your home’s value. Truly, a garden pond may turn off some potential buyers, due to the possibility of mosquito infestations. Now, an in ground pool on the other hand will most certainly turn a normal home into something more lavish. As far as hot tubs go, make sure you have a minimum of four jets, otherwise you are probably just wasting your dough. While we’re talking water, a state of the art sprinkler system is another bonus prospective buyers rarely turn their nose down at. 


While a garden pond won’t do much to get you more money when you sell your home, a well kept garden itself will. More often than not, the price of keeping a well manicured lawn and growing an exquisite garden is returned by 100%-200% with the higher bids you’ll receive from buyers due to these features. Thriving plant-life isn’t just pretty, it shows a level of love and dedication that spreads to anyone who sees it firsthand. 


If there’s one thing that’s true about all human beings, is occasionally, we all like alone time. Therefore, it’s little surprise that homes with a two car or larger garage get increased bids from buyers. Have a workshop in your backyard? You just worked up higher bids, so congratulations. Building yourself a little private space won’t just pay off in the short term, but the long term as well. 

Unless you live in an overly flashy home to begin with, don’t go too over the top with any new design work. In fact, anything being added to your house needs to match the existing aesthetic. If your house is rustic, adding a modern addition is confusing. If your house is modern, adding a rustic addition just looks tacky. Consistency is key when it comes to home design, both exterior and interior. 


For anyone thinking of repurposing rooms, just know that a bedroom has more value than a bathroom, so if you were thinking of turning that spare bedroom of yours into another bathroom, you may want to think again. Don’t forget to keep up on your clean up, and things like baseboards or gutters don’t get too dirty. 


I hope that’s not too much for you to take in Meghan, and if you have any follow up questions, you know how to get in touch with me! If you’d like your question answered in a future newsletter, or even just over the phone, don’t be afraid to contact me anytime and let my 21+ years experience work for you. 


Grover’s: A Quick Restaurant Review

Perfection, battered and fried

With this being the holiday season, saving a buck here or two here and there definitely a concept most of us are craving. We’re spending enough on presents, wrapping paper, and big festive holiday meals, so if we can save a dime on lunches and dinners in between, our pocket books would consider it a Christmas miracle! So, if you’re needing to refuel in the midst of a shopping spree, consider stopping off over at Grover’s for some chicken, burgers, or my favorite, deep fried steak strips. 

Grover’s serves up classic comfort foods morning, day and night, seven days a week. Not a far drive from 9 Mile Road and University Mall, this classic Pensacola diner has an equally delicious breakfast, and my only complaint towards this restaurant is that they don’t serve it all day! Seriously, try the French Toast if you haven’t already, I’m picky when it comes to French Toast, but there’s is always top notch. 

Grover’s proves that frying food is nothing less than an art form. Never undercooked, never with batter too dark of a brown, the onion rings, french fries, and fried meats of Grover’s belong in the Smithsonian, or at least the Smithsonian’s kitchen. In the end, there isn’t a lot to say about Grover’s, although that may be that if you’re near the restaurant itself, you may have too much food in your mouth to discuss the place! It’s good food, expertly battered and fried to perfection. It’s proof that it is the little things in life which matter, and food doesn’t need to be made by five star chefs to be just as every bit as mouth wateringly delicious as the best anything New York, Paris or Beijing has to offer. Grover’s isn’t just a Pensacola staple, it is a perfect representation of Pensacola itself. Unpretentious and conscientiousness of the natural beauty of things. Maybe I’m getting a little too emotional about chicken strips and onion rings, but as cheesy as it sounds, it makes me proud to live in an area where people have pride in what they do. Pride makes for living in an amazing community, and I’ll tell you something else, pride tastes great!

Visit their site!

Go to their page, call your friends, and set a date for a delicious lunch of dinner. If you're part of the health conscious, go on your cheat day!

The 1st Annual Capstone Holiday Gift Drive

This holiday season, I have two goals very important to me that I’d like to share with you right now. First, I want to educate as many people as I can about Capstone Adaptive Learning & Therapy Centers, and secondly, I want to raise up toys and clothes for the children of their schools as I can before they enter their winter break. So, if you’ll please indulge me, I’d like to tell you about the many ways Capstone touches local lives in such deep, profound ways, it helps make Northwest Florida the beautiful place to live that it is as much as the beach or the weather. 

Since their inception in 1953, Capstone has been helping people of all ages, from infant to adult, by offering everything from pediatric therapies and specialized child care to residential group homes and pre-kindergarten programs. Specializing in the care of those with special needs such as cerebral palsy, developmental & speech delays, autism, down syndrome, spina bifda as well as the hearing and visually impaired, their volunteer board of directors helps lead Capstone to be an ever evolving entity, to meet with the ever evolving needs of its community. 

With a truly amazing team of physical and occupational therapists, all highly qualified and immensely talented, Capstone’s inclusion model educational programs allow children with and without special needs to interact, learn and grow from one another, creating smarter, more empathic, compassionate and understanding children in the process. 

That’s why what Capstone does is so close to my heart, because they teach their children not only to think and push their academic and creative abilities, but they teach their children to love not only one another, but themselves. To be proud of their own personal abilities, and that life isn’t about competing with anyone except yourself. By putting an emphasis on improving their students' social skills as well as fostering independence, Capstone Adaptive Learning & Therapy Centers do so much more than what I can put into words. Partly because I’m not a therapist and wouldn’t understand a lot of it! But knowing what I do know, and how they help this community, they deserve our help back.

So please, help me this holiday season in spreading some joy and cheer to these wonderful children at Capstone centers. I myself am going to be sponsoring one boy and one girl from their classes. Ziare, who will be five this month, is a huge fan of the PJ Masks as well as toy numbers and letters, while 6 month old Kaydn loves playing with bath toys and rattles. 

The drop off points are as follows: 

The Florida Institute of UltraSound: 8800 University Pkwy Suite A-4, Pensacola, FL 32514

Supreme Lending: 1115 E Gonzalez St, Pensacola, FL 32503

Keller Willams Gulf Coast Realty: 911 Gulf Breeze Pkwy, Gulf Breeze, FL 32561

To learn more about Capstone, please visit, and of course, a very special thank you to Supreme Lending, Keller Williams Gulf Coast Realty and The Florida Institute of Ultrasound! 


Teaming for the 1st Annual Capstone Holiday Gift Drive