Key Real Estate Terms To Know When Buying And Selling

Buying or selling a home can sometimes feel complicated because of unfamiliar terminology being used by experts in the field. Learning a few keys terms before you get fully involved in the process will allow you to feel knowledgeable and capable of handling the task of buying and selling a home.


A property marketed in as-is condition usually means the seller is unwilling to perform most, if not all, repairs and often indicates that no warranty or certification is being provided. This term often implies that the property is in less than optimal condition.

Conventional sale

A conventional sale is when the property is owned outright (has no mortgage remaining) or the owner owes less on their mortgage than what the market indicates the owner could sell their property for. Conventional sales are often smoother transactions than non-conventional sales, such as foreclosures or short sales.

Days on market (DOM)

DOM is defined as the number of days from the date on which the property is listed for sale on the local real estate brokers’ multiple listing service (MLS) to the date when the seller has signed a contract for the sale of the property. A low average DOM indicates a market that favors sellers. A high average DOM signals a market that favors buyers.

Mortgage pre-approval letter

A mortgage pre-approval letter is issued by the lender and identifies the terms, loan type and loan amount the buyer qualifies for. Getting a mortgage pre-approval letter is important because it gives home buyers an idea of what they can afford.

Purchase and sale agreement (PSA)

A purchase and sale agreement is a written contract between the buyer and seller which outlines the terms to sell and purchase property. When a home is said to be under contract, it usually means that the buyer and seller have formalized their commitment to sell and purchase property.

Title search

A title search examines public records for the history of the home including sales, purchases, taxes and other types of liens. A title examiner will conduct a search using title plants and county records to see who is listed as the record owner of the property.

While these are just a few terms that you may come across during the process of buying or selling a home, working with a Mel Foster Co. agent will guarantee an expert is handling your business.

Find a Mel Foster Co. agent today.

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.

Military on the Move Benefits You

Qualify for a rebate?

Throughout the year and especially during the month of May, we recognize and honor the men and women who serve or have served in our military. A national program, U.S. Military on the Move®, is a free real estate rebate and information program developed by Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® to allow active duty and retired military personnel or wounded warriors to earn a rebate when they buy or sell a home. Mel Foster Co. of the Quad Cities also extends this opportunity to include active career police and firefighters. That’s something to write home about!

U.S. Military on the Move® (MOM) is offered by top independent real estate companies who are experts in their local markets. When you buy or sell a home through Military on the Move®, you’ll receive a rebate based on the actual sales price – not a fixed amount based on a range of values – and you’ll receive your rebate when you finalize your home sale.

Receiving a rebate is a great benefit, but choosing the right agent is even more important. When you work with an agent who lives and works in your community, you’ll know you’ve secured a professional in your area with who will deliver the best service. It’s just another way of saying thanks for your dedication to our country.

To be eligible, participants must register with U.S. Military on the Move® before contacting a Mel Foster Co. agent.

Click here for more information or to sign up.

Want more great benefits as a thank you for your service? Ask your mortgage lender if you qualify for a VA loan. Click to learn more about the pre-approval process

The Davenport Police Department’s New “Lock It Up Initiative”

Protect from theft

The Quad Cities area is experiencing an increase in vehicular theft. Follow these tips from the Davenport Police Department to help reduce the chances of becoming a victim of car theft.

  1. Always lock your vehicle when left unattended. Even on your driveway or in the garage.
  2. Never leave keys in your vehicle or in the ignition. Do not hide the keys or fob in your vehicle.
  3. Do not leave any valuables inside your vehicle, especially in plain view. Electronic devices, cell phones, laptop computers, cameras, GPS devices and eyeglasses/sunglasses are small and easily concealable items that are often left inside vehicles and stolen.
  4. Never leave firearms inside your vehicle.
  5. Do not leave vehicle titles, identification items or financial documents such as your driver’s license, social security card, checkbook or credit cards inside your vehicle.
  6. Never leave your garage door opener in the vehicle when parked outside your residence without locking your car doors. A thief can easily open your garage door and gain entry right into your home through an attached and unlocked door.
  7. If you are going to warm or cool your vehicle before getting into it, consider investing in a remote starter.

Additional Information:

  1. Most stolen vehicles have been easy targets, such as a car running unattended or a car with unlocked doors with keys in it.
  2. Vehicle thefts are occurring throughout our communities in ALL neighborhoods from driveways, unlocked garages, open garage doors, convenience stores and gas stations.
  3. The most prevalent age group for the suspects of stolen vehicles is 12-18 years of age. The youngest was 11.
  4. Once having possession of a stolen vehicle, suspects are driving recklessly, endangering lives and committing thefts and burglaries. Some have been involved in shootings, committing hit and run crashes and fleeing from police.
  5. When recovered, many stolen vehicles are found to have significant damage from crashes.

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.

Housing Buying Trends for 2017

2017 Trends
2017 Housing Trends

The real estate market is constantly changing, and this is especially true after an election year. Here are a few experts’ predictions about the 2017 market.

  1. More Millennials Will Become Home Owners

Over half of all homebuyers are under the age of 36. Adults born after 1980 are currently the largest adult generation and make up the largest percentage of the workforce.

  1. Mortgage Rates will be Volatile

A new president means mortgage rates will fluctuate more than usual. Political uncertainty is now replaced by policy uncertainty. Since the election, rates have risen above 4% for the first time in two years. Although historically, rates are still very low, it might be time to lock in a mortgage before rates increase more in 2017.

  1. Supply Will Improve, but it is Still Short

A defining feature of the 2016 housing market was the declining availability of houses. This caused price appreciation and homes to be sold very fast. Analysts expect the number of available homes to increase, but supply will still be limited. They suspect the market will be friendlier to sellers, as long as interest rates stay around 4%.

  1. Sellers Will Maintain an Edge Over Buyers

In 2016 the average home was on the market for only 52 days. Homes haven’t sold this quickly since 2009. Experts expect 2017 will yield even faster cycles as more people are looking for homes. With the number of buyers growing, sellers should expect an increase in interest for their home.

Time to think about listing your home for sale? Click here to find an agent.

Is Now the Time to Use Your Home’s Equity?

Home Equity blogThe best way to describe home equity is the amount you have paid toward your mortgage. Every month you pay, you begin to build more equity in your home. It’s possible to then use this equity to acquire a loan from your bank. But how do you know what to use the money for, or even if you should take out the loan?

The number one rule is to use a home equity loan for things you suspect will appreciate in value or generate revenue. For example, training or education makes you more effective in the workplace, and may increase your salary in the long run. Buying rental real estate to become a landlord may increase your income. Smart home improvements can increase the value of your home. These long term investments could potentially make you more money than you spent.

Unwise purchases include clothing, most vehicles, or any frivolous purchases. These aren’t investments which will help your financial situation in the long run. If you use equity for purchases that do not increase in value, you may put yourself in a tight spot. It might be best to hold off on a loan against your equity if you don’t have breathing room to take a potential loss.

Do I Need To Clean My Air Ducts?

Family Allergies?
Family Allergies?

If you’re wondering if you need to clean your ducts, the answer is often left to personal preference. Here are some facts to consider when determining if duct cleaning is something your home needs.

If your family is allergic to dust, or suffers from asthma, consider cleaning your ducts. Or if you see your ducts are filled with dust, dead bugs or mold, it might be worth having them cleaned. This will prevent large amounts of dust and debris being spread throughout your house. Often this may increase the efficiency of your home’s air system, up to 40%. Some people have ducts cleaned when first moving into a home to make sure everything is clean and functioning properly.

The argument for not cleaning is the health benefits aren’t proven through scientific testing. If you’re currently feeling fine and not experiencing allergies, you may not need a cleaning. There are also times where the furnace filter needs to be changed instead of having your ducts cleaned, so be sure to double check the filter.

If you have decided to have your ducts cleaned, it is usually done in one of three ways. Hand-held vacuuming is when a large portable vacuum is fed through the vents and sucks up any debris. Mechanical brushes rotate through the ducts scrubbing them clean while a vacuum gathers the particles left behind. Air sweeps use compressed air forced through the ducts toward a large vacuum. Air sweeps are usually the most effective form of cleaning ducts.

Keeping Your Garage Maintained

Is Your Garage Ready?
Is Your Garage Ready?

Garages are an often overlooked part of your home. You want to be sure potential buyers aren’t pushed away by a rundown garage. Follow this list to keep your garage clean and safe.

  1. Keep the Door Working

The most important feature of your garage is actually being able to access it. If you have an older door and motor, make sure you maintain the parts. Apply oil and clean out any dust or debris that may have gathered since the last cleaning. Don’t forget about the rubber lining on the bottom of the door. Make sure it isn’t tearing so your door avoids damage.

  1. Continue Cleaning

Continuous cleaning is the best way to maintain your floor and walls. Clear out any dust or cobwebs to keep your garage attractive to interested buyers. Rinse down your garage floor a few times per year or whenever spills occurs. If there are any large cracks in the cement, you can usually find do-it-yourself concrete kits to make repairs. This will keep the cement looking nice and fresh.

  1. Investigate for Pests

Keep an eye out for any insects in your garage. If you have an infestation from termites or carpenter ants, they can cause serious damage to the foundation. If you notice any sawdust or chewed wood, call an exterminator immediately. It’s not a bad idea to contact your local pest control services to see what options they have for spray to prevent an infestation in the first place.

Features For A Fabulous Bathroom.

Five Bathroom Remodel Tips
Five Bathroom Remodel Tips

Renovating your bathroom is a great way to add value to your home. Follow this list of features to get the most out of your bathroom renovation budget.

  1. Walk In Shower

Having a walk in shower with no curb is growing in popularity, for good reasons. They are both stylish and safe. As people age, ease of access is important. With no steps to stumble over, it’s a very attractive option with large resale potential.

  1. Heated Ceramic Floor

Ceramic tile is timeless, waterproof and good looking. Add radiant heating underneath your tiles to complete your flooring. It’s extremely easy to market a home with heated flooring, and it doesn’t add much to the energy bills.

  1. Exhaust Fan

The most requested feature in a bathroom is a simple exhaust fan. It beat out any other feature, and it makes sense. It prevents mold from growing and keeps hot air out of your house. Make sure the fan leads outside instead of into an attic to keep moisture out.

  1. High Efficiency Dual Flush Toilet

Saving water is one of the most sustainable ways to help the planet. By law, toilets can only use 1.6 gallons per flush, with some states enforcing even more strict requirements. Having a dual flush toilet can use even less water overall and save you more money in the long run.

  1. Calm Colors

Keep your bathroom colors calming to create a private sanctuary. This doesn’t mean you can’t personalize it with a few accent colors, but having a white or off white coloring will have a more relaxing feeling, which appeals to potential buyers.


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