Don’t Forget about Property Taxes!

Property Tax Time
Property Tax Time

Many first time buyers don’t take into account the cost of property tax on their new home and are surprised by their first tax bill. Make an informed decision when buying a home by understanding these property tax basics.

What are Property Taxes?

Property taxes vary from home to home, and are used to pay for various government programs like schools, libraries and emergency services. Property taxes are based on the market value of the home, not the price you paid for it.

How are the Taxes Assessed?

A home value assessment is usually conducted at the time of sale by a government tax assessor. You should ask the seller when the last assessment was done and what value the home was given. Be prepared for tax assessors to stop by throughout the year, especially if you’ve made improvements to your home.

Am I Eligible for Any Deductions?

There are several deductions applicable to property tax. There are deductions for military personnel, senior citizens and energy efficient homes. Deductions vary by location so the best thing to do is talk to a real estate agent to determine your options.

You can find the annual tax due for homes you are considering purchasing on the Mel Foster website. Just look under general features in the description of the home listing.

How to Create the Perfect Sunroom

Sunroom Elements
Creating a sunroom

The hours of daylight are starting to get shorter with the approach of fall. Soak up all the sun you can by creating a sunroom in your home with these elements.

  1. Comfortable Furniture

Your sunroom should be a second living room. Having a nice area rug or cushioned furniture is a great way to make the space more comfortable. Try to pick natural colors to go with the natural light in the room.

  1. Environmental Controls

Add a space heater or ceiling fan to your sunroom to create a comfortable temperate. And don’t forget you should run your ceiling fan in the winter to push the warm air down. Just reverse the fan’s direction for winter use. If you’re considering a larger investment, adding a fireplace will create a room you can use even when there’s snow on the ground.

  1. Privacy Shades

It’s nice to be able to see out and enjoy the view, but it’s even nicer to have an option for privacy if you want it. Shades or window treatments also keep the room cooler or warmer depending on the season and sunshine.

  1. Greenery

No sunroom is complete without plant life. Even low maintenance plants will make you feel like you’re out in nature. If you have more of a green thumb, you can put multiple types of plants with vibrant colors in your sunroom. As a transitional space between your home and the outdoors, the sunroom needs to have thriving plants.

Want more ideas for your sunroom? Check out this weekend’s open houses.

Mel Foster Co. is Local and Global

We're Local. We're Global.
We’re Local. We’re Global.

Mel Foster Co. is proud to be a member of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (Leading RE), an organization that pairs buyers with the top real estate agencies around the globe. If you’re moving to a new city, state, or even country, Mel Foster Co. can help you find your perfect home through the LeadingRE network of agents.

The biggest benefit to buyers is starting the process with Mel Foster Co., a local, familiar company to help you take the next step to find a home in a potentially unfamiliar place. Whether you’re planning on moving for a new job or just needing a fresh start some place new, Mel Foster Co.’s relocation specialists can help you expedite the home search process. Mel Foster Co. can help you with questions about currency exchange, required documentation and any other information you need to relocate internationally.

Mel Foster Co. relocation experts will connect you with an agent who is familiar with the area you’re moving to and put you in direct contact with them. By communicating with a LeadingRE member, you’ll be starting your home search on the right track. Through LeadingRE, you can view thousands of properties around to globe, and also see what life is like in different countries. LeadingRE partners offer firsthand knowledge of multiple cities around the world and can tell you what to expect when living there. If you’re thinking of moving out of the area, contact Mel Foster Co.’s relocation department for help getting connected to your new community.

Housing Shortage Benefits Sellers

Housing Shortage Benefits Sellers
Now is the time to sell

It’s currently a seller’s market, with housing supply down significantly in the local area. The shortage of inventory is the main reason why sellers are doing so well in the current market and getting higher offers for their property. Plenty of homebuyers are demanding homes, but don’t have as many options to choose from as they did in the past. Low demand simply means higher sales prices.

In the U.S. roughly 900,000 new homes are available for sale per year, but the demand is for approximately 1.5 million homes. This shortage in the supply of homes gives sellers the advantage when putting their home on the market. Combined with low interest rates, this shortage of housing supply is causing many homes to be sold quickly and competitively, often at a higher than market value price.

Housing experts speculate the shortage will continue for at least four more years even if home construction numbers increase. The supply can’t keep up with demand now that millennials are the largest home buying group in America. The large unmet demand for housing is continuing to grow with no signs of slowing down.

Curious what your home might be worth? Click here to connect with an agent and receive a competitive market analysis.

MEL FOSTER CO. AGENTS RANKED REAL Trends AMERICA’S BEST

Mel Foster Co. logoRT-AB-Badge-Lockup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 Agents, the ranking report produced by REAL Trends and sponsored by The Zillow Group.

REAL Trends America’s Best Real Estate Agents ranks over 12,600 residential real estate professionals solely based on their excellence in real estate sales during calendar year 2016. 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 agent represents less than 1 percent of all real estate practitioners in the United States,” says Steve Murray, publisher of REAL Trends America’s Best Real Estate Agents and president of REAL Trends.

To qualify for inclusion, an individual agent must have closed at least 50 transaction sides, compared with the industry average of 8.6, or $20 million in closed sales volume in 2016. This ensures that only the best of the best are included on the prestigious list.

The rankings are complied 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:

  • Brad Boeye, Kimberly Road office, ranked #8
  • Geri Doyle, Davenport I-74 office, ranked #10

For Individuals by Sides, in Iowa, seven Mel Foster agents ranked out of 119:

  • Lucky Lang II, Davenport I-74 office, ranked #17
  • Brad Boeye, Davenport Kimberly Road office, ranked #27
  • Geri Doyle, Davenport Kimberly Road office, ranked #54
  • Mary Leslie Douglas, Clinton office, ranked #66
  • Sara Smith, Davenport I-74 office, ranked #67
  • Dan Schneckloth, Davenport I-74 office, ranked #104
  • Scott Kelling, Davenport I-74 office, ranked #115

For individuals by Sides, in Illinois, seven Mel Foster Co. agents ranked out of 267:

  • Diana Franks, Geneseo office, ranked #52
  • Paula Nabb, Moline office, ranked #155
  • Peggy Tossell, Kewanee office, ranked #170
  • Chuck Ross, Galesburg office, ranked #190
  • Sara Varner, Galesburg office, ranked #203
  • Jennifer Evans, Galesburg office, ranked #227
  • Rhianna Schroeder, Galesburg office, ranked #243

“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,” said Lynsey Engels, Mel Foster Co.’s President Real Estate Brokerage.

 

About Mel Foster Co. Real Estate

Founded in 1921, Mel Foster Co. is a real estate leader in Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois serving Davenport, Bettendorf, Moline, Rock Island and the surrounding Quad City area. It is one of Iowa’s largest independently owned real estate companies. Mel Foster Co. Real Estate specializes in residential and commercial sales and offers services for a broader spectrum of property transactions including farm and land, land development and management, relocation and new construction. Visit www.melfosterco.com for more information.

 

About REAL Trends

REAL Trends is a privately-held, Colorado-based publishing, consulting and communications company specializing in the residential brokerage and housing industries. Recognized as the leading source of trends in the industry, REAL Trends, The Trusted Source, also publishes the REAL Trends The Thousand, as advertised in The Wall Street Journal and the REAL Trends 500, which ranks the top brokerage firms in the United States. Visit REAL Trends at www.realtrends.com.

Zillow is a registered trademark of Zillow, Inc. Trulia is a registered trademark of Trulia, LLC. These marks are used with permission.

Cool Energy Saving Tips

Cool Energy Savings Tips
Cool Energy Savings Tips

With the weather heating up, it’s tempting to crank up the air conditioning. Unfortunately, this will also crank up your energy bill, so follow these tips to stay cool and save money.

  1. Clean or Replace Air Conditioner Filters

Be sure your cooling system is running at peak efficiency. If your filters are dirty and blocked, you’ll be using more energy and getting less cool air. Cleaning the filters won’t only result in cleaner air, but also a more efficient system. You’ll be breathing cooler and cleaner air for less money.

  1. Keep Windows and Blinds Opened and Closed at the Right Time

Keeping the blinds and windows closed when the sun is beating down is an extremely easy way to keep your home cooler. But if you like having fresh air, try to only open windows at night or in the early morning before the heat and humidity rise. Having the windows open rather than running the A/C a no cost way to keep your home a little cooler while still enjoying the summer weather.

  1. Only Use Air Conditioning if you are Home

It might be refreshing to always come home to nice cool house, but running air conditioning 24/7 can be very expensive. Turning off the air while you’re at work will end up saving you money each month. Many thermostats have scheduling features or smart phone connectivity so you can activate air conditioning at a specific time.

  1. Use Fans to Circulate Air

Using fans to keep air moving is one of the best ways to keep cool. You’ll save energy, and be able to control the speed of the air flow. This will help cool air disperse more evenly throughout your home, and keep energy costs down. Remember to switch your fan’s direction to counterclockwise in the summer to create cool downward airflow

Mel Foster Insurance and The Selective Insurance Group Foundation Provide Matching Grants

MF INSURANCE LOGOMel Foster Insurance and The Selective Insurance Group Foundation joined forces to support the positive efforts of Jordan’s Joy through a $500 grant. The Selective Insurance Group Foundation is a philanthropic affiliate of Selective Insurance Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: SIGI).

“Mel Foster Insurance wants to be a positive force in the communities we serve,” said Marc Engels, President, Mel Foster Insurance.  “Through combined efforts with partners like The Selective Insurance Group, we have an opportunity to make a difference in children and their families suffering from life threatening illnesses.”

The grant represents a $500 donation from Mel Foster Insurance, matched by a $500 grant from The Selective Insurance Group Foundation. The grant will help Jordan’s Joy’s efforts to help bring joy and comfort to families battling life threatening and rare diseases.

“At Selective, Response is everything®… and this includes responding to the communities where we live and work to give back and help those in need. Together with Mel Foster Insurance, we are proud to support Jordan’s Joy and its efforts to make a difference in the community,” said Chuck Musilli, Senior Vice President, Distribution Strategies, Selective.

Protecting Your Home While On Vacation

Protecting your home.
Protecting your home.

Vacation should be a time for relaxing, not worrying about your home. Mel Foster Co. has a few tips to help protect your home while you’re vacationing.

  1. Avoid Social Media

It may be tempting to share how excited you are about your trip, but it’s an obvious giveaway you are leaving your house soon. Try to avoid posting pictures while you’re on vacation, instead wait until after the vacation to share photos online.

  1. Stop the Mail

Having an overflowing mailbox is a clear indication someone hasn’t been home recently. Stopping mail from the USPS is easy and free for up to 30 days. You don’t even need to go to the post office after your vacation to retrieve your mail; a large bundle will be delivered once you’re home. And you can sign up online to have your mail held.

  1. Lock Everything

It seems like common sense, but it never hurts to double check to ensure everything is locked. Windows and back doors are all possible points of entry. Before you leave for vacation, be sure to double-check everything is locked, and if you have a spare key, leave it inside the house while you’re away. Many burglars look for hidden keys outside the home.

  1. Have Electronics on a Timer

A dark house is a sign no one is home. Set timers on devices in various rooms for different times. Some timers even allow you to control the lights through your smartphone allowing you to switch the timers on a daily basis.

  1. Have Someone Checking on Your Home

The most reliable way to keep your home safe is to have a family member or friend check on your house a few times while you’re away. If someone is coming and going from your house while you’re away, it’s much less likely that burglars will choose your house.

Clean It Up To Sell It Fast

Sell Your Home Quicker.
Sell Your Home Quicker.

The change of seasons presents the perfect time to deep clean up your home, and make it more appealing to buyers. Here are four ways a little elbow grease can add value to your home and help it appeal to more buyers.

  1. Focus on the Floors

Deep cleaning your floors is a great way to freshen up your home. Steam cleaning carpets, applying a new finish to hardwood floors or adding new rugs all make your home look more attractive to buyers. Consider hiring professional help to get out any stains you’ve been unable to remove.

  1. Apply Fresh Paint, Inside and Out

A new coat of paint dramatically improves the appearance of your home. Stick with neutral colors to appeal to a broader audience. Having a fresh coat of paint on the exterior will increase your curb appeal and raise interest in your home.

  1. Replace Popcorn Ceilings

Nothing screams dated more than popcorn ceilings. It was an extremely popular practice during the 80s and 90s, but most homebuyers today don’t like it. Removing or covering popcorn ceilings is a time intensive project, but increases the value of your home.

  1. Deep Clean the Kitchen and Bath

The kitchen and bathrooms often don’t receive deep cleanings as often as they should. Cleaning grout, replacing caulk, and scrubbing down cabinets and sinks takes time, but buyers notice. You need to show buyers your home is well cared for, and keeping heavily used areas clean is a great sign your home is properly maintained.

First Time Home Buyers Savings Program

First Time Home Buyers Savings Program in Iowa
First Time Home Buyers Savings Program in Iowa

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CONTACT: Iowa Association of REALTORS® 515-453-1064 info@iowarealtors.com, 5/25/17

Hard work pays off. The First Time Home Buyers Savings Program has been signed!

REALTORS® know that homeownership is the American dream. With the First Time Home Buyer Program, Iowans will be able to start saving and moving into a home of their own more quickly than in recent years.

Through a grant from the National Association of REALTORS®, we rallied Iowa REALTORS® and consumers to contact our legislature about the benefits of homeownership and the importance of the program. Ultimately, the First Time Home Buyer Program, Senate File 505, passed in the Senate with a vote of 49-11 and passed in the House with a vote of 87-11. Governor Branstad signed the bill Tuesday, May 9, 2017. It will go into effect January 1, 2018.

The Iowa Association of REALTORS® will be working with the Department of Revenue to implement the new program. A few key features of the program include:

● This bill allows individuals to open an interest-bearing savings account and designate the account as a first-time homebuyer savings account.

● The funds must be used to buy a property in Iowa.

● A first-time homebuyer is identified as an Iowa resident who has not owned a single-family residence for at least three years prior to the home purchase for which the account’s funds are applied.

● An individual may establish more than one account as long as each account has a different beneficiary.

● Parents and grandparents can start an account for a child or grandchild.

● There is no limit as to how much can be retained in each account.

● An account holder is allowed to deduct from the individual income tax the amount of contributions made during the year by the account holder to the account holder’s accounts, not to exceed $2,000 per year or $4,000 for married taxpayers with a joint account.

● The interest earned on the account is not taxable.

● The yearly tax deduction can be taken up to 10 times (a max of 10 years).

● This is a state tax deduction NOT a tax credit.

● It cannot be deducted on federal taxes.

● If the money is not used to buy an Iowa property, it may be subject to penalty.

The Iowa Association of Realtors® is the state’s largest real estate professional organization representing almost 7,000 members and affiliates. Anyone is eligible to become an IAR affiliate. For membership information, visit www.iowarealtors.com.


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