Induction the latest in a series of awards honoring Bliss’ civic and professional accomplishments

GILBERT, Ariz. (Nov. 1, 2018) — Few people embody the U.S. Air Force motto to “Aim High” as well as George Bliss, one of 28 Arizona veterans inducted into the Arizona Veterans Hall of Fame Class of 2018. Bliss, who served in the Air Force for 10 years, was chosen not only for honorably serving his country, but also continuing to serve and inspire his fellow American citizens with civic deeds and accomplishment outside his military service.

Earlier this year, Bliss received the 2018 Dr. Clifford Harris Oakwood Dignifies Award for his 10 years of support of Oakwood Creative Care, including serving on its board of directors. His service to Oakwood was one of many reasons Bliss was selected as the Mesa Chamber of Commerce 2014 Volunteer of the Year.

“George believes true success is about more than growing his real estate portfolio, and devotes countless hours each year to charitable causes that make Arizona a better place to live,” said Mara Benson, co-owner of Bliss Realty & Investments, which Bliss founded in 1995. “His involvement with the Mesa Chamber, Mesa Public Safety Foundation Board, Banner Baywood Foundation Board and Mesa HoHoKams inspires the entire Bliss team to be more actively engaged in the community.”

Likewise, Bliss sets a high bar for professional development and contributions to the real estate industry, including his past involvement in the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Commercial MLS Committee, Southeast Valley Regional Association of Realtors’ (SEVRAR) Board of Directors and Commercial Section Chair, Arizona Association of Realtors (ARA) and International Council of Shopping Centers.

“George has left an indelible mark on the Arizona real estate industry, as shown by his 2015 and 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year awards from the Women’s Council of Realtors,” said Joan Krueger, director of Bliss’ commercial real estate division. “Thanks to his example and encouragement, several Bliss agents, including me, have pursued leadership roles in ARA, NAR and SEVRAR.”

Bliss also led his company in earning Mesa Chamber of Commerce’s 2017 Small Business of the Year award.



Bliss’ local expertise and relationships assist Potato Barn in acquiring property for $7.4 million, 100,000-square foot headquarters

MESA, Ariz. (Sept. 24, 2018) — With East Valley Partnership estimating 17,000 new jobs coming to Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport by 2028, commercial real estate in the area is booming. Having helped several businesses acquire property in this burgeoning location, Bliss Realty & Investments has the expertise and relationships to broker optimal deals for businesses looking to build there.

Most recently, the Gilbert-based full-service real estate brokerage represented The Potato Barn-Unique Home Furnishings in acquiring 8.4 acres for its 100,000-square-foot headquarters and warehouse at 7316 E. Ray Rd. in Mesa. Additionally, the Bliss brokerage team currently represents two other buyers planning construction of new buildings on properties in the area in the near future.

“The team members at Bliss Realty & Investments assisted in every step of the Potato Barn acquisition process and made the transaction seamless,” said David Hrizak, president of Streamline Development, LLC. “The experience was so good that we have entered into a contract for another site that is being brokered by Bliss Realty.”

“Phoenix-Mesa Gateway is a strategic location for businesses wanting to capitalize on the growth coming its way,” said Joan Krueger, who leads the Bliss commercial division. “Because Bliss Realty & Investments has worked extensively with both Phoenix-Mesa Gateway and the City of Mesa, we’re primed to assist companies in finding the location that perfectly meets their needs.”

Krueger, who served as a member of the Gilbert Town Council for four years as well as on the Gilbert Planning Commission, frequently draws on her experience with the civic side of commercial real estate transactions when negotiating for Bliss clients. 

“The area around Gateway has become a destination location not only for citizens from around the region, but for businesses as well. Investment in the area has led to tremendous opportunities for businesses to grow and prosper, and Bliss’ extensive knowledge of local zoning ordinances and local issues proves invaluable in taking advantage of those opportunities,” says Kevin Thompson, Mesa City Councilmember representing District 6, which includes the Phoenix-Mesa Gateway area. “Joan’s background and knowledge proves invaluable as she anticipates and addresses challenges before they arise.”


Katie Gonzalez


Buying her own home was a turning point in Darae Walker’s life; by the time she closed she not only had a home, but also a new career path.

“When I was looking to purchase my own house, I wanted to get more information about how everything works,” Darae says. “I fell in love with the process and wanted to help others be better informed and enjoy the buying experience as much as I did.”

Darae, who obtained her real estate license while working as a dental assistant, works hard to ensure her clients have a fantastic buying experience. “My clients choose me because they know I always have their best interests in mind. I make sure they know I am there for them any time they need me,” she says. “I love the feeling of helping my clients fulfill their dreams of home ownership.”

Because the market is always changing, Darae stays on top of local and national trends to ensure her clients get exactly what they want. “It may take time to find the right home, and knowing your buying power before looking is also very important,” she says.

Her tenacity is only one reason she was named Bliss Realty’s Special Agent of the Month within six months after earning her license. “I have really enjoyed the buyer’s side and am looking forward to branching out into commercial real estate,” Darae says.

When she isn’t assisting clients in finding their dream homes, Darae enjoys being outdoors with her boyfriend, their 10-year-old daughter, and their three dogs. “We love to find new adventures!”

The Arizona School of Real Estate & Business interviewed George Bliss and Joan Krueger about commercial investors.

Ashley LaFrancois


Real estate website Trulia’s inclusion of Phoenix as a hot housing market in 2019 demonstrates why it’s a good time to work in real estate in Phoenix. Knowing the brokerage makes a tremendous difference in an agent’s success, seven agents have recently chosen Bliss Realty & Investments.

“Bliss has really good synergy and vibe; people want to be part of something different and not just a number, which is how most brokerages treat their agents,” says Lisa Fischer, Bliss’ designated broker. “Co-owner Mara Benson does a lot of individual coaching, which is especially appealing to our agents who have just completed real estate school.”

Sean Brown came to Bliss from Chandler Real Estate Training Center, while Abby Friedrich, Corrie Gomez, Katie Gonzalez and Tarasa Haase left Homesmart. Linda Lim left Better Homes and Garden, and Sarinah Brooks came from Power Realty Group Model Home Center.

Andrea Marsolek


Valentine’s Day wasn’t the only day Bliss Realty felt loved in February; with three agents choosing to make Bliss their home, love was in the air all month long.

Jay Browne and Bryan Ngo joined the Bliss team straight out of the Chandler Real Estate Training Center, while commercial and residential agent Vicky Wang came from Berkshire Hathaway.

“Jay and Bryan are going to be amazing, successful agents,” says Mara Benson, Bliss co-owner. “Vicky is already a seasoned agent with an established client base. Bliss welcomes all three to the family, and looks forward to watching them flourish.”


Spring always brings new growth, and Bliss Realty is no exception. Four more agents have recently chosen to plant themselves at Bliss for the nurturing support and mentorship its leadership offers.

Scott Thompson previously ran his own brokerage, but was impressed with everything Bliss does to help its agents succeed.

“Bliss provides the feel and amenities of a large brokerage with the attention and support of a smaller one,” he says. “In the short time I have been here I can see Bliss is very accommodating to its agents to help them drive their business.”

Andrea Marsolek moved from North & Co., while Sean Weddle joined after leaving Homesmart and Ashley LaFrancois came straight from the Chandler Real Estate Training Center.


Southeast Valley Real Producers’ January 2019 cover story features Bliss Realty & Investments’ co-owner Mara Benson. Mara shares one of the big secrets behind her and Bliss’ success—community involvement and engagement, as well as advice for rising stars.


2018 was a milestone year for Bliss Realty & Investments’ Kimberly Samu—she sold more than $6 million of homes, topping her previous record of $5.2 million in 2016 and earning her Bliss’ Special Agent of the Year Award.

“Clients choose to work with me because I will go the extra mile for them,” she says. “Real estate agents are not created equally; I do light staging to vacant homes to make them look better for pictures, and always use professional photography. I also go through the entire home before listing to tell my sellers what needs to be changed or repaired to make their home most marketable.”

Whether representing a buyer or seller, she also ensures each client gets the best possible deal. “Pricing a home for sale is critical; everyone thinks their house is worth more, and I help provide the strategy needed to get the most offers,” Kimberly says. “I also counsel buyers to come in with their best offer when they love a house, because submitting a lowball offer and hoping for a counter offer usually results in losing out to someone else.  I love when they take my advice and I’m able to deliver news of an accepted offer!”

Although Kimberly’s wisdom makes her seem like an industry veteran, she is a relative newcomer. “I got into real estate later in my life; I turned 50 and decided to switch gears for a better life for myself and my family,” she says. “I like people, so a relationship business that allows me to meet new people and listen to their wants and needs while resolving their concerns about the market is a perfect fit for me.”

Besides going above and beyond for her clients, Kimberly enjoys horseback riding, snorkeling, attending music concerts and watching football. She is a member of the Southeast Valley Regional Association of Realtors and is working on her Graduate, Realtor® Institute (GRI) certification to obtain in-depth market knowledge and increased proficiency in a broad array of real estate subjects. She also participates in a Mastermind Group for peer-to-peer mentoring.

Vicky Wang


Although buying a home is one of the most important purchases people make in life, it can also be one of the most stressful. Whether they are buying their first home or are looking to downsize, buyers working with Bliss Realty & Investments’ Stephanie Bishop know she will guide them every step of the way.

“I love helping people reach their dreams of home ownership,” she says. “For some, it happens early in life and for others it happens much later, but regardless of where my clients are in their lives, giving them the keys to their dream home is one of the greatest feelings.”

A former teacher, Stephanie applies those skills to educating her clients about what is happening and why throughout every part of their transaction. “My passion to help people and my love of learning brought me to where I am now,” she says. “I understand what a big decision buying or selling a home can be, and I am always available to offer personal, one-on-one help. It is free to ask questions, and you will never bother me!”

Stephanie graduated from the Arizona School of Real Estate and Business and is a member of the National Association of Realtors® and the Southeast Valley Regional Association of Realtors. Her clients appreciate her extensive knowledge of the Southeast Valley, Phoenix area and Pinal County that comes from living in the area for 17 years.

When not making her clients’ dreams come true, Stephanie enjoys hiking, interior decorating and crafting as well as spending time with her family and dog.

Bryan Ngo

Tarasa Haase

Scott Thompson


When ABC15 ran a story about the outlook for the
residential real estate market in 2019, it turned to Bliss Realty & Investments for an interview. Co-owner Mara Benson offered insight into market conditions, as well as what areas of the Valley offer prospective homebuyers the most, while Bliss client Matt Esaena described the challenges he has encountered in his search for his first home.

Sarinah Brooks

Sean Brown

Jay Browne

Corrie Gomez

Sean Weddle

Perseverance during difficult year pays off

When the Southeast Valley Regional Association of Realtors honored the industry’s top young professionals at its recent 40 Under 40 awards event, Bliss Realty’s Samantha Nowicki was among the winners.

Samantha had a record year in terms of residential real estate sales volume, but that’s only half the story. She accomplished this milestone during a year in which her two-year-old daughter, Iris, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

“We almost lost her, but with the help of doctors, nurses and modern medicine, we were able to nurse her back to health. Although she often battles fevers and is still immune compromised, she is in remission and doing much better,” Samantha says. “With every transaction I close, I donate money to the Nuke the Luke Childhood Cancer Foundation. My clients know that when I help them find their dream homes, I am also able to help others.”

In addition to helping buyers and sellers, Samantha works on short sales, REOs, rentals and investment properties. “My clients choose me because I am passionate about what I do. I am eager to help people, and it earns me a strong referral-based business,” she says.

Samantha got into real estate after buying her first home. “I was so excited about the process and I loved looking at houses. I followed my passion and became a realtor,” she says. “I love being immersed in the process of helping people find the home where they wish to begin a new chapter in life.”

If they’re lucky, clients may get her to channel her inner Marie Kondo for them. “I feel empowered after I’ve dumped every item out of a closet and reorganized it to improve efficiency,” says Samantha.

When not organizing, working or taking care of her daughter, Samantha enjoys roller skating, interior decorating and spending time with her family. She is also going to nursing school so she can eventually spend a few days per week in pediatric oncology to help nurse babies like her daughter back to health. She hopes to eventually start her own nonprofit organization on Iris’ behalf.

Linda Lim

​​Bliss Realty & Investments   


Interested in gaining a deeper understanding of Arizona real estate while expanding his network, Bliss Realty & Investments agent Andrew Dumas is one of 12 people accepted into the SouthEast Valley Regional Association of REALTORS® (SEVRAR) 2019 Leadership Development Program.

Drew, along with his fellow Leadership Development Program candidates, is participating in an 11-week educational journey that emphasizes community involvement, leadership skills and spokesperson training in addition to providing information about local real estate issues.

“Seeing how much fellow Bliss agents have benefitted from serving on SEVRAR committees sparked my interest in the Leadership Development Program—they are among the best and brightest in the field, and I want to broaden my network to include others who likewise take the industry seriously,” Drew says. “I think it will make me a better agent, which will help Bliss and my clients.”

SEVRAR established the Leadership Development Program in 2004. After completing and submitting an application, applicants participate in a personal interview before candidates are selected.

Abby Friedrich


Many realtors prosper during good times, but only the best are able to do so during a downturn. June Corrado has done both, while developing a devoted following along the way.

June started in real estate during the boom of 2005 and stuck with it through the crash. “I learned so much in those first few years and am proud to not only still be in real estate, but also be licensed in two different states,” she says. “I have worked in a lot of different aspects of real estate during the last 14 years, including inside sales at a condo conversion and being part of a successful short sale team for a few years during the downturn. I have sold all over the Valley and even in Tucson, but definitely know the East Valley the best.”

A significant chunk of her business comes from repeat clients and referrals—a testament to the relationships she builds. “People see me as a professional who knows what she’s doing, but also someone who cares about them past the closing,” June says. “My clients become my friends, which is something I really love about this job!”

In many cases, her sellers become her buyers; in both instances, June works hard to negotiate the very best deal possible. “Phoenix is not as much of a seller’s market right now, but we are not necessarily a buyer’s market, either; we have more inventory but are moving back to a normal market,” she says. “This is good for buyers because hopefully there won’t be so many bidding wars with more homes for sale; it’s also good for sellers because they typically are looking to purchase a new home after selling.”

Although the market is slowing, she has been in the industry long enough to know how to help her clients capitalize on its advantages. “Having lived in the Phoenix area since 1999, I know people will always be moving here because of the climate. New jobs are being created, and snowbirds are always flocking here,” June says. “Additionally, owning property is the best way to make safe money over less stable investments like the stock market. Regardless of the reasons behind it, a home purchase is a big deal and I feel honored every time I get to be part of it.”

June, who gravitates to water sports like kayaking and wakeboarding, loves spending time on the lakes surrounding the Phoenix area; she also enjoys camping, hiking, kickball and softball. In addition to having her real estate license, she also has a bachelor’s degree in business marketing from Arizona State University.