How to Pay Off Your Mortgage Early

Pay off your mortgage early

If you’ve decided you want to pay off your mortgage sooner than later, here are some ways to pay off your mortgage early.

Refinance with a Shorter-Term Mortgage
Pay off a mortgage faster by refinancing to a 15-year mortgage. Shorter-term mortgages typically have lower interest rates than longer-term mortgages. The sooner you can pay down on the principal of the home, the quicker the interest figures will drop.

Make an Extra Mortgage Payment
If you save a twelfth of a payment every month and then make an extra payment at the end of the year, you’ll be able to pay off a 30-year mortgage almost three years early. This method also gives you the flexibility to use the extra savings for any unexpected expenses that come up.

Pay Using any Bonus Money You Receive
If you receive an unexpected windfall of cash or a sizable tax return, consider applying that money toward your mortgage. This can be extremely cost efficient in the long run, as you will save by paying less interest over time. This can definitely help pay off your mortgage early.

Make Extra Principal Payments
Most mortgage lenders will allow you to make an extra payment and mark it “principal only.” Paying down on the principal can save you quite a bit in interest and will pay off the loan quicker as a result. Contact your lender to see if this is an option you can take advantage of.

Find more financial tools on our website.

4 Common Home Inspection Mistakes

A home inspection is an assessment of your home’s condition. Home inspectors not only identify problems with houses but also give sellers information to help them identify areas needing improvements. If you’re having a home inspection completed either as a buyer or a seller, here are four home inspection mistakes to avoid.

Not Researching the Inspector
Too many buyers and sellers hire whoever is recommended to them without doing any research. The inspection is only as good as the inspector doing it, so find a certified inspector with experience and good reviews.

Not Attending the Inspection
Being present for the inspection may not be mandatory, but it’s a smart idea. If you don’t see the inspection process, you may not understand it. Being present during the inspection gives you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have and clarify the basis for items on the review.

Passing on a Presale Inspection
Many sellers decide to leave the pre-sale inspection to the buyers, which may leave you unprepared if you need to make repairs prior to closing a deal. Save yourself a future headache by having an inspection done ahead of time before you list your home.

Failing to Prepare Your Home
Inspectors want homeowners to prepare for an inspection. They’re going to need access to the basement, attic and crawlspaces. Be sure to clear a path to these areas before the inspector arrives to ensure the process goes smoothly.

Find more tips to help you prepare to sell.

Planning a Party Checklist

Planning a partyPlanning a party for the upcoming Labor Day holiday shouldn’t be intimidating. By staying organized and starting early, you can plan, create and host a memorable gathering in your own backyard or indoor living space.  Follow this simple party planning checklist to help keep you on track for planning a party.

One Month Before Party

  • Set the date, time and place for the party.
  • Decide on a theme.
  • Determine your budget, then estimate the cost of each party element to be sure it’s realistic.
  • Think about ways to make the party special, like surprising entertainment, beautiful décor or delicious food.

Three Weeks Before Party

  • Mail or email invitations.
  • Order flowers from your local florist.
  • Rent extra chairs and linens from your local rental company if needed.
  • Check to be sure you have the necessary serving pieces, serving utensils and pitchers. Rent or buy to supplement as needed.
  • Source and order party favors.

Two Weeks Before Party

  • Plan your menu and create a shopping list.
  • Draft a timeline for preparing each dish.
  • Prepare any items that can be frozen now and brought out later.

One Week Before Party

  • Follow up with any guests who haven’t RSVP’d yet.
  • Stock up on your beverages of choice.
  • Create your music playlist.

Two Days Before Party

  • Buy groceries or additional bar items.
  • Write place cards and create a seating chart.
  • Wash glassware, serving pieces and silverware.

Day Before Party

  • Pick up and arrange flowers.
  • Prep and chop fruits and vegetables, wash salad greens, refrigerate.
  • Prepare any sauces or salad dressings that can be refrigerated.
  • Let neighbors know if cars will be parked in front of their homes.

Morning of Party

  • Chill wine.
  • Set tables.
  • Set up bar, slice lemons and other garnishes.
  • Marinate meat, if necessary.
  • Check guest bathroom: empty trash, set out clean guest towels, place great-smelling soap and a flower next to the sink.

Two Hours Before Party

  • Set out all serving pieces that will be used on the buffet.
  • Finish prepping all food that can be done before guests arrive.
  • Set aside space for dirty dishes and glasses.
  • Have trash cans and extra garbage bags ready.

One Hour Before Party

  • Light a scented candle in the bathroom.
  • Turn on your music playlist.
  • Set out party snacks.
  • Get dressed and party ready!

Hope these tips for planning a party help you for your next gathering. Hosting at home can be such fun gathering with your favorite friends and family. Think that it is time to find that perfect home suited for entertaining? Contact your Mel Foster Co. agent today and begin your search now.

Biggest Outdoor Trends in 2018

What are some of the biggest outdoor trends in 2018?  Think outside is the new inside. This year it’s really about making your outdoor space function like an interior space for all things fun, relaxing, and entertaining. What does that mean for you? Browse these outdoor trends that may just provide the inspiration needed to spice up your patio this fall.

  1. Outdoor Rooms

Now more than ever homeowners want their indoor spaces to blend seamlessly with the great outdoors. The goal is to find ways to bring the inside out. Try framing sitting areas with water and mildew-resistant curtains. Anchor furniture with outdoor rugs. Fill tall planters with low-maintenance ornamental grasses to create the illusion of walled space. If you have a covered deck or patio, consider covering the ceiling in raw, untreated wood planks to warm things up.

Continue reading “Biggest Outdoor Trends in 2018”

Public Swimming Pools Offer Hours of Family Fun.

Jumping into swimming poolAs summer winds down, cool off with a trip to your local pool. Here’s some public swimming pool locations near you for hours of family fun.  Canonball!

Splash Landing Aquatic Center in Bettendorf

2220 23rd Street

Hours of operation

 

Annie Wittenmeyer Aquatic Center in Davenport

2816 Eastern Avenue

Hours of operation

 

Dohse Pool in Davenport

622 S. Concord Street

Hours of operation

Continue reading “Public Swimming Pools Offer Hours of Family Fun.”

Troubleshooting a Constantly Running Air Conditioner

Air conditioner troubleWhen your air conditioner constantly runs all day without shutting off, you likely have an issue with the unit.  This constant running can cause extra wear and tear and may be running up your electrical bills. Refer to the following list to troubleshoot possible causes for a constantly running air conditioner.

  1. Dirty or Frozen Evaporator Coil

Did you have your air conditioner serviced this spring before you turned it on for the summer? If not the evaporator coil may be covered with dirt and debris, which impedes the cooling process and makes the unit work harder to cool your space. If your unit is blowing warm air from the supply vents in addition to running constantly, it may have frozen up. Turn the air conditioner completely off and call a professional to diagnose the cause and prevent further damage to the system.

Continue reading “Troubleshooting a Constantly Running Air Conditioner”

Natural Ways to Keep Bugs Away

Mel Foster Co. blogDon’t let pesky bugs invade your outdoor living space and put a damper on your gathering at home.  Try starting with a few natural methods to keep the bugs at bay.

  1. Natural mint mouthwash spray

Insects do not like the smell of mint in any form. Transfer your favorite natural mint mouthwash into a spray container and spray it on yourself and the area around you while outdoors.

  1. Fill your garden with garlic, mint, and rosemary

Naturally ward away bugs by planting these three herbs on your windowsill or in your outdoor garden. They’ll keep the bugs away, plus you can use the spices in your cooking.

  1. Use a ceiling or oscillating fan

Install a ceiling fan on your patio or covered outdoor area and turn it on during the evening when bugs are most likely to strike. The wind from the fan will make it difficult for bugs to fly in and pester you and your guests. Plug-in an oscillating fan near non-covered outdoor areas for the same effect.

  1. Don’t wear heavy perfumes or scents

Stay away from wearing heavily-scented shampoos, body sprays, perfumes, or deodorants while outdoors. The fragrances can attract bugs and the stings and bites that follow.

  1. Stay hydrated

Bugs are attracted to sweaty, hot skin. Stay cool and hydrated by drinking plenty of water and fluids. Be sure to keep water handy and take sips as you start to perspire to keep the bugs away.

Does your home lack the outdoor space you’ve always wanted? Contact a Mel Foster Co. agent today to begin your search.

 

MEL FOSTER CO. AGENTS NAMED REAL TRENDS AMERICA’S BEST REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONALS

Real Trends America's Best logo

Mel Foster Co. is pleased to announce that several of their agents have been named as one of America’s most productive agents as a part of REAL Trends America’s Best Real Estate Professionals, the newly issued ranking report produced by REAL Trends and sponsored by Adwerx.

REAL Trends America’s Best Real Estate Agents ranks over 13,800 residential real estate professionals solely based on their excellence in real estate sales during calendar year 2017. All production numbers are independently verified by a third-party in order to ensure accuracy and report integrity.  “This group of highly successful real estate sales agents represents less than 1 percent of all real estate practitioners in the United States,” says Steve Murray, president of REAL Trends America’s Best Real Estate Professionals and president of REAL Trends.

To qualify for inclusion, an individual agent must have closed at least 50 transaction sides or $20 million in closed sales volume in 2017.  “The average residential real estate agent in the United States closed 8.0 transactions in 2017 and had less than $1.3 million in sales,” said Murray.  The individuals ranked in America’s Best Real Estate Agents had an average of 73.88 transaction sides and an average sales volume of almost $38 million.  This ensures that only the best of the best are included on the prestigious list.

The rankings are compiled based on survey from virtually every national branded network, many state and local associations of Realtors®, multiple listing services, all applicants from past years’ rankings, and the 1,600 largest brokerage firms in the United States.

The real estate agents are ranked in two categories:

  • Individual agent – Sales volume
  • Individual agent – Transaction sides (in each real estate transaction there are two sides that can be represented by a real estate agent; the buy side and the selling side)

For Individuals by Volume, in Iowa, two Mel Foster Co. agents ranked in the top ten:

  • Geri Doyle, Davenport I-74 office, ranked #2
  • Brad Boeye, Kimberly Road office, ranked #3

For Individuals by Sides, in Iowa, eight Mel Foster agents ranked out of 101:

  • Lucky Lang II, Davenport I-74 office, ranked #6
  • Brad Boeye, Davenport Kimberly Road office, ranked #12
  • Geri Doyle, Davenport Kimberly Road office, ranked #39
  • Mary Leslie Douglas, Clinton office, ranked #43
  • Sara Smith, Davenport I-74 office, ranked #49
  • Dee Shepherd, Clinton office, ranked #54
  • Robert Allmandinger, Clinton office, ranked #71
  • Candy Reaves, Davenport I-74 office, ranked #85

For Individuals by Sides, in Illinois, five Mel Foster Co. agents ranked out of 254:

  • Diana Franks, Geneseo office, ranked #80
  • Peggy Tossell, Kewanee office, ranked #104
  • Sara Varner, Galesburg office, ranked #116
  • Ty Johnson, Galesburg office, ranked #182
  • Paula Nabb, Moline office, ranked #204

“Having our agents recognized on REAL Trends America’s Best Real Estate Agents list, shows Mel Foster Co. agents are dedicated to their industry, their business and their clients.  They are part of an elite group of real estate agents across the country.  Many of our agents have made the list for consecutive years,” said Lynsey Engels, Mel Foster Co.’s President Real Estate Brokerage.

Mel Foster Co. Supports First Day Project

Mel Foster Co. is supporting the First Day Project by becoming a drop off location and collecting school supplies for local students. Through the end of July, donation boxes are available at Mel Foster Co. metro Quad Cities offices including I-74 and Elmore Avenue in Davenport, Kimberly Road in Davenport, Cumberland Square in Bettendorf, 41st Street Moline and downtown Geneseo.

The First Day Project is a collaborative effort with schools, volunteers, businesses and the community working together to gather and distribute supplies to students whose families lack the financial resources to purchase school supplies.

Lynsey Engels, president real estate brokerage of Mel Foster Co., explains why the First Day Project is essential to our community. “Students need basic supplies like pencils and paper to succeed in school. But the big picture result of giving to ensure all students have an equal chance of succeeding goes beyond providing supplies. Students who are equipped with supplies are more confident and start the school year on par with their peers and ready to tackle a new grade. We can give kids that boost they need by doing something as simple as buying folders and dropping off that donation to a Mel Foster Co. office.”

More than 25,000 students in the Quad Cities schools are eligible for the free and reduced lunch program. Some Quad Cities school districts have as many as 90% of the total student population qualifying for free and reduced lunch. Supplies collected through the First Day Project help meet the needs of thousands of students and their families.

The First Day Project was established in 2006 to help increase school supply collections taking place in different Quad City communities.

For more information about Mel Foster Co., please visit www.melfosterco.com

 

How to Save for a Down Payment

Do you have enough for a down payment?

You’re ready to leave your rental behind but don’t have enough down payment yet. Here’s how to start saving today to get you closer to moving into a home of your own.

Begin Saving Early

The sooner you’re able to start saving the better, especially if you’re able to invest some of your savings. The more you have saved, the more options you’ll have when looking for a home.

Follow a Budget

If you’re disciplined and able to stick to a budget, you should be able to set aside a specific amount of your paycheck to savings every month. You may have to cut expenses or seek additional income, but you will save in the long run by having lower monthly mortgage payments.

Save Windfalls of Cash

Start saving any extra money you come across. Tax returns, gifts and bonuses are perfect sources for your down payment. If you’re able to grow this money through investments, it will get you that much closer to your long-term goals.

Use Interest to Grow Your Savings

If you’re able to utilize high interest savings accounts or certificates of deposits (CD’s) you’ll automatically be putting your money to work for you. Seek out the best resources for earning more for your money.

If you’re wondering how much you need to save for a down payment, use this easy mortgage calculator


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