What are Home Warranties?

Difference Between Home Warranty and Homeowner’s Insurance

You’re on the hunt for a new home. Know the difference between a home warranty and homeowner’s insurance and the steps you can take to ensure you’re covered when finalizing your purchase.

It’s important to note that a home warranty and home insurance are not interchangeable. A home warranty, typically a 12-month contract purchased from an accredited company, acts as a safety net against malfunctions due to normal wear and tear of the appliances and maintenance systems in the home. This includes major systems like HVAC, water heater, plumbing, electrical and major appliances. Our recommended local company, TMI Warranty, L.L.C., offers homebuyers a reassuring peace of mind that these systems will remain in working order after the homebuyer takes possession.

A homeowner’s insurance policy is a 12-month policy purchased from a reputable insurance company, like Mel Foster Insurance, that protects the home’s value and covers losses or damages caused by unexpected events like fire, flood, theft or storm damage. Most lenders require home insurance when you take out a mortgage. While you’re not legally required to purchase a homeowner’s policy when buying a home, you will likely still have to buy some policy to safeguard your belongings.

According to Consumer Affairs, home warranties are paid monthly at between $40 and $60, while the average cost of an annual home warranty is $450 to $600 per year, depending on the provider and level of coverage. This financial aspect is crucial to consider when planning your home purchase. If you’re purchasing a new construction home or one built recently, a home warranty may not be necessary since your major systems should be in good shape.

Shifts in the housing market have given homebuyers more power. Today, there is a better balance and opportunities for mutual concessions during home-buying. Buyers knowledgeable about home warranties may ask that a home warranty be included in the final sale. This can serve as powerful leverage during negotiations, empowering the buyer.

Find more buying tips for homeowners.

Preparing Your home for sale

7 Essential Steps to Prepare Your Home for a Successful Spring Sale

As the winter chill begins to wane, and signs of spring emerge in the Quad Cities and our surrounding areas, it’s the perfect time for homeowners to consider listing their properties. Selling a home involves strategic planning, and for those aiming to maximize their sales price, taking specific steps beforehand is crucial. Here are seven essential things you should do before listing your home for sale in the upcoming spring market:

Deep Clean and Declutter

A tidy and clutter-free home creates a positive first impression. Take the time to deep clean every room, decluttering spaces to make them appear more spacious and inviting. Consider organizing closets and storage areas to showcase the ample storage your home provides.

Curb Appeal Matters

Enhance your home’s curb appeal by investing in landscaping and outdoor maintenance. Spring is the perfect time to trim bushes, plant flowers, and ensure your lawn is lush and well-maintained. A welcoming exterior sets the stage for a positive viewing experience.

Fix Minor Repairs

Attend to any minor repairs or maintenance issues throughout your home. Fix leaky faucets, squeaky doors, and any other noticeable wear and tear. A well-maintained property assures potential buyers that your home has been cared for.

Consider a Pre-Listing Inspection

Hiring a home inspector before listing your property can identify potential issues that may arise during the buyer’s inspection. Addressing these concerns proactively can prevent them from becoming negotiation roadblocks later in the process.

Showcase Natural Light

Maximize the natural light in your home by opening curtains and blinds during showings. Bright, well-lit spaces create an inviting atmosphere and make rooms feel more spacious. Clean windows to ensure optimal light penetration.

Highlight Unique Features

Identify and showcase the unique features of your home. Whether it’s a stunning view, a recently renovated kitchen, or custom-built features, make sure potential buyers are aware of what sets your property apart from the rest.

Call For A Free Valuation Analysis

Before you officially list your home, it’s essential to understand its market value. We offer a free, no-obligation valuation analysis. This comprehensive assessment includes a detailed evaluation of your home’s worth and a personalized list of enhancements that can further increase its appeal and sales price.

Give us a call today, and let our agents work with you to ensure your home is primed for success in the competitive spring real estate market.

Time to Sell your Home

It’s Time To Sell

There are plenty of reasons to list your home for sale now. If you can relate to the most common reasons why people list their home for sale, it’s time to contact a Mel Foster Co. agent to begin the process.

Change Is Good

The only constant in life is change. Are you ready for a good change? Is it time to relocate for a new career or to be closer to family? You may work more from home and need a dedicated office. Ready to cash in, buy an RV and travel the country for retirement? Are you prepared to mix it up, live abroad or move somewhere warmer? This shortlist is why it’s a perfect time to sell. Spring and summer are the best times to get your home on the market.

Size Matters

Sell your current home when the topic of space keeps coming up, like when you feel there’s not enough room because you’re expecting a baby and need a larger home for your growing family. When you need more areas for entertaining, more garages for your retirement toys or more rooms for visiting guests. Sometimes, it’s as simple as wanting a home with a better layout, like when you’re ready for an open concept living area or a bigger backyard because you finally have a dog. Find the right-sized home and sell yours now.

Experience On Your Side

It’s always the right time to sell when you have an experienced and dedicated Mel Foster Co. agent on your side. Sometimes plans change and selling your home to adjust to new circumstances becomes a reality. New time commitments may no longer allow the opportunity to complete the DIY home upgrades. Financial struggles with unforeseen medical bills may create a new reality. Our Mel Foster Co. team has the local connections and savvy qualifications to help you find potential buyers quickly. We’re ready to get started helping you sell your home, whatever your reasons are.

Find more tips for selling.

Filing Your Taxes

Tips for Filing Taxes

It’s tax season, and we all can use some tips to make filing easier and that result in more money in our pockets. 

IRS Offers Free Tax Filing

New in 2024, eligible taxpayers can take advantage of a free online federal tax filing program provided by the IRS that uses guided tax preparation software. Taxpayers who have an annual gross income of $79,000 or less qualify for a free tax return.

Taxpayers whose annual gross income is greater than $79,000 can still use the Free File Fillable Forms program but also should know how to prepare their tax returns. This option is a public-private partnership between the IRS and many tax preparation companies providing free online tax preparation and filing. These are electronic federal tax forms, equivalent to a paper 1040 form. Both program options are safe and secure.

These tax providers are participating in IRS Free File in 2024:

  • 1040Now
  • Drake (1040.com)
  • ezTaxReturn.com
  • FileYourTaxes.com
  • Online Taxes
  • TaxAct
  • TaxHawk (FreeTaxUSA)
  • TaxSlayer

Deductions and Credits

Deductions are vital in reducing taxable income. While most taxpayers claim the standard deductions, which change yearly with inflation, some choose to itemize for a more significant reduction. Thorough documentation is essential when itemizing, and your tax consultant can advise which suits your circumstances. 

Consider strategies other than the straightforward methods when making the most of your deductions. Now is the time to rethink your filing status. Have you maximized your IRA and HSA contributions? 

For families with qualified dependents under 17, you may be eligible for a partial refund when filing in 2024 with the child tax credit. Use this reference list when determining your eligibility for other tax credits:

  • Out-of-pocket charitable donations
  • Last year’s state tax you paid
  • Self-employment social security tax
  • Child and dependent care credit
  • State sales tax deduction
  • Earned income tax deduction
  • Refinancing mortgage points deduction
  • American Opportunity credit
  • Student loan interest paid deduction
  • Moving expenses for your first job deductions

Find more tips for homeowners.

2024 Home Design Trends

Home Design Trends 2024

Need inspiration for home design ideas in 2024? Consider these popular trends as you make your redecorating plans.

Pretty As A Peach

The colors peach and apricot are in. Pantone Color Institute, globally recognized as a leading source of color expertise, declared “Peach Fuzz” the color of the year. Another trend forecasting agency, WGSN, selected “Apricot Crush” as its favorite. These softer versions of orange promote recharging and wellness, as colors “radiant with warmth and modern elegance.”

Paneled Walls

Paneled walls with a modern twist are back in style. And that doesn’t mean the 1970s versions covering every wall are back. The trend focuses on thin, natural wood slats and millwork used for accent walls in the bedroom, living room or kitchen to create a warm aesthetic.

Not Hip To Be Square

Homeowners are embracing furniture and décor with curvy lines that promote a welcoming space similar to the organic shapes in natural landscapes. Envision curved desks, sofas, tables and rounded barstools. Have fun with squiggly, wave-like accents in mirrors and art that infuse energy and charm into any space. 

Jewel Tones Are Back

Rediscover color with jewel tones, colors derived from gemstones like ruby, emerald, and sapphire. Incorporate richness into your décor with these tones as they tend to have a high level of color saturation and are, therefore, eye-catching and lively. Choose them as an accent or as the focal point for any room.

Romantic Ribbons

Romantic design is more than just Valentine’s Day hearts and flowers. Embrace ribbons, florals and lace to create a nostalgic feel in your favorite spaces at home. These delicate textures celebrate love and savoring life’s simple pleasures.

Find more tips for homeowners.

Exterior home front with for sale sign in front

Home Buying and Financing

First-time homebuyers often feel at a financial disadvantage when considering buying a home. Homeownership can seem daunting, whether it’s not having the money for a down payment, student loans and other monetary limitations or securing a reasonable interest rate on a mortgage. The good news is historical data regarding interest rates provides a favorable outlook for borrowers, and first-time buyers can take advantage of several benefits when buying a first home.

Interest Rates Over Time

Interest rates go up and down over time. Data collected over time indicates that interest rates today are about the same as 20 years ago. And rates are less than half what they were 40 years ago. How does knowing this help? Buyers shouldn’t feel stuck with today’s interest rate for the life of a mortgage. Rates will change, and buyers can make changes then, too. 

Refinancing Options

Since interest rates fluctuate regularly, buyers can consider refinancing when the time is right. Buyers can swap the higher mortgage rate for something more favorable if interest rates go down. This may mean a monthly payment stays the same, but the years left on the mortgage could be dramatically reduced. 

First-Time Buyer Benefits

There are a variety of government and state-funded programs that can help pave the way for first-time buyers. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the following qualify as first-time home buyers:

  • A person who has not owned their principal residence for at least three years
  • A single parent who previously co-owned a home while married
  • A homemaker who once owned with a spouse but no longer receives financial support from that spouse
  • A person who has only owned a residence not affixed to a permanent foundation, such as a mobile or trailer home

Several programs make homeownership more affordable for eligible buyers by including lower interest mortgage rates or lower down payment requirements.

  • First-time homebuyer programs for students – Available if you recently graduated from college.
  • Energy-efficient mortgages (EEM) – This type of mortgage allows you to tack the cost of energy-efficient upgrades (think new insulation, a more efficient HVAC system or double-pane windows) onto your primary loan without requiring a larger down payment.
  • First-time homebuyer programs by state – Each state operates a housing finance authority (HFA) that encourages homeownership, among other responsibilities. 
  • Habitat For Humanity – If your annual income is 60 percent or less of the median income in your area, you might qualify for Habitat for Humanity’s homeownership program. Along with not exceeding the income threshold, you’ll need to contribute sweat equity​​ to help build the home or a home for another applicant to qualify.

Find more tips for buyers.

Exterior home with snow on ground

First-Time Home Buyers

As interest rates are starting to come down, it’s a great time to be looking to purchase your first home. Consider these top ten reasons why being a first-time home buyer is great.

Build Equity

Building equity means investing in something you own rather than paying money each month on rent without owning the property. When you make monthly mortgage payments on the property you own, you own more and more each month. In the future when you sell your first home, you’ll have money left over after paying off the mortgage that can be used as a down payment for your next home. Your money works for you when you pay a mortgage rather than rent.

More Privacy

A home is more private than renting an apartment and sharing a bedroom wall with a neighbor you don’t know

Find A Smaller Starter Home

Begin small. A home with less square footage usually means a smaller mortgage and smaller utility bills. When it’s time to sell that first home, you can use the money you get from the sale to buy a larger or higher-priced home,

Establish Credit

Getting a mortgage loan at a young age can help you establish a solid credit history, which means a good credit score and ample financial opportunities down the road.

A First Home Is Not A Forever Home

According to the United States Census Bureau, the average person will move as many as 11.7 times. So don’t stress to find the perfect home the first time around. Look for a home that is best for now.

Remodel As You Go

Make your house a home. Freshen the landscape to add curb appeal. Swap out the windows for more energy-efficient versions. Add a deck to expand your outdoor living space. Projects like these will increase property value while personalizing your home.

The Yard

Imagine the possibilities. Space for the dog to run. Your own vegetable or flower garden. Naps outside in the hammock. Room for a firepit. A spot for the family snowman.

Tax Incentives

Homeownership has several potential tax benefits that might lower your tax burden and increase your annual refund.

Feeling Of Achievement

Homeownership is an accomplishment that is worth the time and energy required to plan and succeed.

You Can Refinance Later

Interest rates are constantly changing. If interest rates go down in the future, you can swap your higher rate for something more favorable. Sometimes, you can keep your monthly payment the same but dramatically reduce the years left on your mortgage. Don’t feel stuck with today’s interest rate for the next 30 years.

Find more tips for buyers.

Leanna Trees, REALTOR® at Mel Foster Co.

Mel Foster Co. Agent Receives REALTOR® Honor

Lynsey Engels, President, Real Estate Brokerage at Mel Foster Co. Inc. is pleased to announce that Leanna Trees of their Bettendorf office was recognized by the Quad City Area REALTORS® during their Annual Holiday Party and Installation of Officers held on December 1st.  Congratulations to Leanna for receiving the Rookie of the Year Award, which is designed to bring credit and recognition to an individual during their first two years as a REALTOR® member and who takes an active role in the Quad City Area REALTORS®.

Leanna serves on the QCAR Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee and the Professionalism Committee.  She will also join the Board of Directors serving as a 2-year Director starting next month.  In addition to being a member of the Quad City Area REALTORS®, she is also a member of the Iowa Association of REALTOR® and the National Association of REALTORS®. 

Engels expresses, “Leanna’s dedication over the last 18 months has been commendable, making her truly worthy of this recognition.  We are delighted to have her as a valuable member of the Mel Foster Co. team and cannot wait to see her real estate career explode.  This award demonstrates that Mel Foster Co. is not only an excellent starting point in real estate but also an ideal place for long-term career growth.”

Exterior of blue two story home

Selling Your Home

It’s always a good idea to have a thorough list of what you can do to get your home ready to sell. Get prepared so you’re organized and can make the most of your free time now.

Find An Agent Right For You

Meet with a few different Mel Foster Co. agents to start. Grab a cup of coffee and do short interviews until you find an agent you click with. The agent will help ensure your home is priced right for sale and can promote your home through a variety of online marketing tools. They will guide you through the necessary paperwork and represent you during the negotiations for finalizing an accepted offer.

Navigate through the variety of Fake Patek watches to find the one that matches your taste and financial comfort.

Plan To Do The Work

Before you list your house, make sure it’s in the condition buyers expect. Investing some time and money before listing is a wise investment. Spend your energy on completing tasks like these to get the home ready:

  • Consider a pre-listing inspection to focus your to-do list
  • Have professional photos taken to use online
  • Do a deep clean, especially in the garage and main living areas
  • Hire someone to fix the leaky sink or uneven door if you can’t do it yourself
  • Apply a fresh coat of paint on walls in high-traffic areas

It’s All In The Presentation

First impressions matter when selling a home. The first few seconds of viewing a home set the tone for buyers. And since you get only one chance to make a first impression, make the most of your time boosting curb appeal. Tidy up your landscaping by trimming shrubbery and adding another layer of fresh mulch. Ensure your front walkway is clear of debris and peppered with seasonal accents or flowers so it’s welcoming. Take the time to clean the windows and replace the lightbulbs on your outdoor lighting so things sparkle and look fresh.

Find more tips for sellers.

2023 Fall Parade of Homes

2023 Fall Parade of Homes

Discover the latest trends in new home construction at the 2023 Fall Quad Cities Parade of Homes.
Free admission. Join us to explore the Parade of Homes hosted by Mel Foster Co agents:

SCHEDULE:
Saturday, September 16 and Sunday, September 17 from 1 PM – 4 PM
Wednesday, September 20 from 5 PM – 7 PM
Saturday, September 23 and Sunday, September 24 from 1 PM – 4 PM

Fall Parade of Homes located at 355 E. Donahue Street in Eldridge, Iowa
355 E. Donahue Street, Eldridge, IA
  • Ranch Villa
  • 2 Bedrooms and 2 Baths
  • Zero Entry from the Attached 2-Car Garage
  • Quartz Countertops
Fall Parade of Home located at 437 E. Donahure St, Eldridge, IA
437 E. Donahue St. Eldridge, IA
  • 3 Bedrooms and 2.5 Baths
  • 9′ Ceilings
  • 2-Story Townhome
  • Quartz Countertops
2023 Fall Parade of Home located at 4520 Lakeside Drive, Bettendorf, IA
4520 Lakeside Drive, Bettendorf, IA
  • 4 Bedrooms and 3.5 Baths
  • Floor to Ceiling Windows
  • 2,000 Square Feet of Living Space
  • Upgraded Appliance Package
2023 Parade of Home located at 3976 Orchard Drive, Bettendorf, IA
3976 Orchard Drive, Bettendorf, IA
  • 4 Bedrooms and 3.5 Baths
  • 9′ Ceilings
  • Eat-In Kitchen with Island Pantry and Breakfast Bar
  • Finished Lower Level
2023 Parade of Home located at 5660 Red Fox Road, Bettendorf, IA
5660 Red Fox Road, Bettendorf, IA
  • 3 Bedrooms and 3 Baths
  • Zero Entry Ranch Style Villa
  • 9′ Ceililngs
  • 4-Season Room or Covered Patios/Decks

To see all the homes in the parade, click here.


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