Few of us look back on our lives and remember the nights we went to bed early. It’s the time of year for outdoor entertaining! Consider these suggestions, so you’re ready to get your party started.
Tell Guests What To Expect
Keep the party expectations clear with an invitation that spells it all out. Include day, time, and the theme and required attire, like if swimsuits are recommended. This way, guests can dress accordingly. If your gathering will be held in the backyard, guests will appreciate knowing where to join the fun. Inform them If drinks are provided or if they should bring their favorites.
Keep It Simple
Everyone, including the host or hostess, will enjoy the festivities more if the party is simple. For example, if you’re hosting the entire menu, choose finger foods that don’t need to come straight out of the oven to be still delicious. Instead, serve snacks for a set time frame and then be done, so you’re not attending to the food table all night. Mix a big batch cocktail that guests can help themselves to and have self-serve water available.
Midwest weather can be unpredictable, so do your best to keep guests comfortable. Provide umbrellas or a tent for shade for those who prefer to stay out of the sun. On the flip side, have a basket of blankets or a space heater ready in the event cooler temps sneak in for the night. If you’re grilling, fill the propane tanks and clean the grates before the guests arrive. Mow your lawn at least a day before the party, so freshly cut grass clippings don’t cling to your friends’ shoes as they walk through the yard.
Have A Little Fun
While an entire schedule is not needed for party success, make plans for some entertainment during the bash. Pipe festive music through portable speakers to set the mood, but not so loud that you disturb the neighborhood. Or invite musically talented friends to bring their guitars and sing to offer some live music. Have a game of Twister out for your adventurous pals or a deck of cards for the competitive ones.
Boost your home’s curb appeal with affordable and classy improvements that don’t need to be expensive. Whether you’re getting your home ready to sell or refreshing your porch for spring, try a few small projects that will make a big difference.
First impressions of your yard and the path leading to the front door should offer a welcoming vibe. Start with washing the windows, so they sparkle. Providing symmetry to your landscaping and decorating is visually appealing, so flank the front door with matching pots or plants. Coordinate décor and exterior garden accessory colors. When in doubt, refer to the color wheel for guidance. Pick any color on the color wheel, then move your finger to the opposite color. Colors opposite on the wheel are complementary colors.
Borrow and Build
You don’t have to purchase new lawncare gadgets to complete curb appeal jobs. Instead, borrow your neighbor’s power washer and work to remove the spiderwebs in the corners and the grime on your gutters. Try your local hardware store to rent a stick edging machine that creates a root barrier and stops the grass from invading your landscape and garden beds. Build and install flower boxes and shutters to add dimension to the front of the house.
One of the most appealing ways to showcase your home’s entrance is creating a cozy seating area on your porch. Maximize the space and let your style present your version of charm and flair. Consider spending as much attention to detail on your porch as you might in the baby’s room or your home office. Tackle these projects to refresh the entryway:
Upgrade the light fixtures and door handles
Paint the front door and add a porch swing if possible
Add potted plants for a splash of color
Hang a wreath on the door and display seasonally festive pillows
Industry professionals recommend staging your home before putting it on the market. So, what exactly does staging the home mean, and what do you need to know to do it well?
Defining Home Staging
Home staging refers to the decorating method used when preparing a home for sale. The goal is to eliminate distractions while assembling the space. Staging is designed to showcase a home’s assets to attract and impress buyers.
Home Staging Dos And Don’ts
Highlight your outdoor living area not included in the home’s square footage.
Share adorable photos of your pet in the house. They get shared more on social media.
Show off your feature wall. It can grab attention, and most buyers repaint rooms anyway.
Overdecorate so your space looks crowded.
Leave patterned window treatments up. Replace them with neutral curtains.
Declutter so much that rooms feel empty or cold.
Virtual Tours Are Valuable
Once the home is staged, attract more buyers by providing a virtual tour. You’ll stand out from your competition and allow prospects to do the virtual walk-through of the property at their convenience. Statistics show that homes with a virtual tour option sell at up to a nine percent higher sales price.
Whether you’re a buyer or a seller, finding a real estate agent to help you achieve your goals means you must ask good questions. So how do you find an agent right for you? Focus on the following categories when determining what to ask.
Experience matters, so find out what they know. Consider questions like these:
How many homes have you sold?
Do you work full or part-time?
In which neighborhoods do you primarily work?
Is your license in good standing?
If you must choose between two good candidates, compare sales results and how you relate to each other. Don’t forget to notice his or her level of professionalism to help you decide. A good agent knows the area and current market conditions to streamline your search.
Use an agent you connect with. Find a personality fit first, and then match your comfort using technology and their knowledge of the relevant neighborhoods for your search. It’s ok to ask how many other buyers or sellers the agent represents. Hint: the busiest agents are often the most efficient.
Look for an agent with a strong support team. It’s good to know if there is always reinforcement available at any time. Your agent will be in your corner from start to finish, and their experience will help connect you to qualified loan officers and real estate attorneys that will ultimately aid in the process until closing.
Real estate agents play an important role in the home selling process. For example, in 2021, 92% of homes sold in the U.S. used an agent to get the job done. But what exactly is an agent’s role, and what do they do for you?
What is a Real Estate Agent?
Real estate agents are professionals certified to oversee real estate transactions between sellers and buyers. Agents who represent sellers are called listing agents. Sometimes real estate agents are referred to as REALTORS®. Real estate agents and REALTORS® perform the same general functions, but REALTORS® are agents who are also members of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). As of October 2021, there were 1.56 million members of NAR.
How will a Mel Foster Co. agent help me sell my home?
Mel Foster Co. agents are liaisons between sellers and potential buyers. Some key benefits of working with an agent are:
Assists with and manages all the required paperwork, saving you time
Prepares a Competitive Market Analysis (CMA) to determine the listing price
Provides expert recommendations regarding local real estate availability
Negotiates on your behalf during offers and counteroffers
Supports the seller through the closing process
How does my Mel Foster Co. agent market my home for sale?
Your agent will develop a comprehensive marketing strategy to get the word out about your property. They also suggest inspections that enhance the home’s marketability. Over 93% of people looking for houses begin their search on the internet, and Mel Foster Co.’s website receives over one million page views each month. In addition, your listing will be shared on multiple social media platforms to attract the most potential buyers.
REALTOR® means member of the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics.
Mel Foster Co. Website Recognized For Excellence
Mel Foster Co. has been awarded the Website Quality Certification (WQC) from Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, a global community of 550 high quality independent real estate firms in 70 countries. The certification was presented in recognition of excellence in website design, content and functionality.
Mel Foster Co.’s website, melfosterco.com , received high marks in a variety of critical areas relating to website performance, including usability, design, content, interactivity, customer service and mobile responsiveness. The evaluation was conducted by Virtual Results, LLC, a real estate internet and social marketing firm selected by Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® to review the websites of participating members.
The specific measurements for the WQC are updated each year to reflect the most current online marketing strategies, as well as evolving consumer preferences. Companies must be re-certified every two years to maintain the certification.
“We are delighted to recognize the 102 companies that earned the WQC this year. These firms provide consumers with essenital resources relating to home buying and selling through thoughtfully-designed websites with up-to-the-minute housing information. As local leaders, they also provide a unique level of local market insights and first-hand community information,” said Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® President/CEO Paul Boomsma.
“Mel Foster Co. feels it is essential to invest heavily in digital marketing platforms and we are pleased that our efforts have been recognized with this international award,” said Lynsey Engels, Mel Foster Co. President Real Estate Brokerage. Ms. Engels added, “We want to continue to offer the best online tools in the market for our buyers and sellers to search for properties.”
Mel Foster Co. is the Quad Cities and surrounding areas representative of LeadingRE (LeadingRE.com). With a global membership that spans six continents, LeadingRE connects more than 550 firms and 150,000 sales associates who produce over 1.3 million real estate transactions each year. As a member of LeadingRE, Mel Foster Co. provides a quality real estate experience, global marketing reach and access to top real estate professionals in virtually any market worldwide.
Mel Foster Co. has announced it has earned the 2022 Top Workplaces USA award, issued by Energage, a purpose-driven organization that develops solutions to build and brand Top Workplaces. The Top Workplaces program has a 15-year history of surveying more than 20 million employees and recognizing the top organizations across 60 markets for regional Top Workplaces awards.” The list is based solely on employee feedback gathered through the third-party survey. The anonymous survey measures several aspects of workplace culture, including alignment, execution, and connection, just to name a few.
“During this very challenging time, Top Workplaces has proven to be a beacon of light for organizations, as well as a sign of resiliency and strong business performance,” said Eric Rubino, Energage CEO. “When you give your employees a voice, you come together to navigate challenges and shape your path forward. Top Workplaces draw on real-time insights into what works best for their organization, so they can make informed decisions that have a positive impact on their people and their business.”
Since its founding over 100 years ago, Mel Foster Co. has become a highly preferred real estate company by top-performing agents and staff dedicated to helping clients buy or sell a home. The company utilizes a team approach that reinforces the family atmosphere at the offices. A commitment to supporting fellow family-owned businesses that help build strong communities is one of the core values that agents and staff regularly state as a reason they continue working at Mel Foster Co.
Lynsey Engels, President Real Estate Brokerage commented on receiving this prestigious honor. “Recognition as a Top Workplace is a credit to our agents and staff who support and encourage each other. The people of Mel Foster Co. make the company a great place to work. It is an honor for the company to be recognized by our agents and staff during the unique challenges of the last two years.”
Founded in 1921, Mel Foster Co. is one of the real estate leaders in the Quad Cities region of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois. With Iowa offices in Bettendorf, Clinton, and Davenport and Illinois offices in Galesburg, Geneseo, Kewanee, Moline and Savanna, Mel Foster Co. serves customers in the bi-state area. The company specializes in residential and commercial real estate sales and offers a wide range of services including insurance, new construction, relocation, farm and land sales, land development, senior services, and career development. Mel Foster Co. is a multi-generational, family-owned business and is proud to continue this 100-year tradition in family leadership. For more information, visit www.melfosterco.com
About Energage Making the world a better place to work together.TM
Energage is a purpose-driven company that helps organizations turn employee feedback into useful business intelligence and credible employer recognition through Top Workplaces. Built on 15 years of culture research and the results from 23 million employees surveyed across more than 70, 000 organizations, Energage delivers the most accurate competitive benchmark available. With access to a unique combination of patented analytic tools and expert guidance, Energage customers lead the competition with an engaged workforce and an opportunity to gain recognition for their people-first approach to culture. For more information or to nominate your organization, visit Energage or Workplaces.
Mel Foster Co. celebrated 2021 at a virtual annual awards event on January 27, 2022. Lynsey Engels, president of real estate brokerage, Marc Engels, president of Mel Foster Insurance, and Rob Fick, president and CEO, collectively honored 118 award winners for their 2021 achievements and released the company’s year-end results via video presentation.
Mel Foster Insurance, a locally owned and operated independent insurance agency, continued to expand its footprint in the Quad Cities region with strategic investments and expansion in 2021. In April, the insurance division acquired Capstone Insurance Group in the Cedar Rapids area expanding its presence in Eastern Iowa. To accommodate continued growth, Mel Foster Insurance completed a major remodel to its Davenport headquarters which modernized the entire office and added an additional 2,000 square feet.
In a challenging post-derecho insurance market, the insurance division increased both total premiums written, up 7 percent, and policy count, up 3.9 percent. Mr. Engels said, “It was an extremely busy year with lots of market disruptions, but we are pleased to achieve 97 percent client retention rate agency-wide. Our entire team work diligently to provide a personalized insurance experience and we can’t thank our clients enough for their loyalty and continued business.”
“We are glad to get the major storms of 2020 that hit our local communities so hard in the rearview. It was unprecedented claim counts coupled with shortages in labor and materials and I am proud of how the team and our insurance partners rose to the occasion,” Engels stated. “Through our financial investments, growth, and market expansion we have made critical steps to position ourselves for the long term in this region as a trusted independent agency that can deliver a great insurance experience,” continued Mr. Engels.
Mel Foster Co. is the largest land developer in the region and continues to expand its existing subdivisions. In 2021, Mel Foster Co. sold 38 lots in four subdivisions. The company plans to release 70 new residential lots in 2022. Mel Foster Co. residential agents sold 75 new construction homes or condos last year. The average Mel Foster Co. new construction sales price was $452,734, up from $401,649 last year.
Mel Foster Commercial Real Estate Services led by Thad DenHartog had over $82 million in commercial real estate sales, up 15.89 percent from last year. Two of the company’s commercial brokers ranked in the top 10 of the Quad Cities Commercial MLS. “We saw another year of positive commercial real estate activity in our market,” commented Ms. Engels. “Despite what is being seen in other parts of the U.S., commercial real estate is very strong in the Quad Cities. Due to supply chain disruptions, the demand for land and industrial space was up in 2021. We expect to see this trend continue in 2022 as the market works to overcome labor and materials shortages.”
Residential real estate continued to experience a lack of inventory nationally and locally however Mel Foster Co. residential boasted a five percent increase in sales volume from 2020. The year was marked by unprecedented competition with many homes receiving multiple offers within days of listing at record high prices. The average sales price for the company was up 10.5 percent from 2020 at $194,933, and the number of days on the market was 37 compared to 58 in 2020. On average, Mel Foster Co.’s agents closed 15 transactions (buy or sell) in 2021, which is higher than the national average according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).
Ms. Engels stated, “Last year was a unique time in real estate. Buyers experienced skyrocketing home prices, limited inventory, and a fast-paced sales environment. Low mortgage rates worked in buyers’ favor, and our experienced agents were able to successfully close deals despite the high level of competition.”
Across the eight residential office locations within Mel Foster Co., the company had a combined nine agents in the top 10 of their respective MLS. Thirteen agents were named on RealTrends America’s Best Real Estate Professionals list that honors the finest real estate agents from across the country.
As part of its commitment to integrating technology with new services, Mel Foster Co. partnered with MooveGuru to provide buyers and sellers a free, value-added service. MooveGuru is an automated concierge platform that sends move-related, money-saving offers to new homeowners via emails. It helps them connect with utility providers and home services to make moving less stressful.
Melfosterco.com was awarded the Website Quality Certification from Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, one of 107 companies to earn the recognition of excellence for website design, content and functionality.
Fick welcomed 19 new agents/staff and congratulated 12 other agents/staff on their retirements during the virtual awards toast. Nineteen agents were recognized for volunteering on real estate association committees or boards at the local, state or national level. Forty-five agents and staff were thanked for their years of service with the company, totaling 680 years of service. Across all three divisions, the median number of years of service among staff/agents is 15.5 years. This number is nearly double what other companies experience, according to NAR. Fick continued, “We are proud of these milestones and appreciate the loyalty our agents and staff continue to show Mel Foster Co. Many agents have long-standing relationships with their clients, serving them or their families multiple times over the years. These valued relationships and the trusted guidance our agents and staff share with clients are key factors to the success of our 100-year-old company.”
Throughout its 100-year history, Mel Foster Co. has made it a priority to give back to the communities it serves. In honor of 100 years in business, the company donated $100,000 to local charities and organizations. Twenty of those charities/organizations were selected by the company’s agents and staff to receive monetary gifts in 2021 in honor of the centennial celebration.
Mel Foster Co. agents and staff pledged to donate 1,000 hours of volunteer service in 2021 to charities and organizations of their choice to complement the corporate financial gifts to the community. The agents and staff exceeded that goal by over 400 percent, with an average of 17.5 volunteer hours per person. Ms. Engels stated, “It’s heartwarming to see how much our agents and staff care and want to make a difference in the communities and with the organizations that they are passionate about.”
Mel Foster Co. continued its Think.Buy.Be.Local campaign in 2021. In support of this initiative, the company raised money to sponsor over 40,000 meals for local families by participating in the River Bend Foodbank Community Hunger Drive. Mel Foster Co. provided over 300 coats to various non-profit organizations, adopted multiple families in need over the holidays, made and delivered baskets to seniors, partnered with WQAD for a school supply drive, held a blood drive with the ImpactLIfe, and collected toys and money for the annual Toys for Tots drive. Mel Foster Co. agents and staff supported over 100 local businesses during Small Business Week. The company is also the defending champion of the Bix 7 Brady Street Corporate Sponsor Challenge.
Fick closed the awards with a virtual toast thanking the agents and staff for their continued perseverance, loyalty and commitment to clients. “The success we enjoyed together as a company during our 100th year would not have been possible without our clients. We look forward to serving the community during the next 100 years.”
Founded in 1921, Mel Foster Co. is a recognized leader for real estate and insurance. 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.
Mel Foster Commercial Real Estate Services is a leading commercial brokerage firm specializing in office, industrial, retail, land and consulting services in Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois. Visit www.melfostercommercial.com for more information.
Mel Foster Insurance, a full-service, independent agency with dedicated professionals focused on serving clients with solutions for business risk management, employee benefits, individual/group retirement planning and personal insurance. It was founded in 1932 and represents over 25 of the region’s most financially stable insurance carriers and offers coverage for personal and business clients. Visit www.melfosterinsurance.com for more information.
Design trends in 2022 make room for individual style. After months of focusing inward, designers suggest that it’s time to let our unique personality influence our interior design in a very intentional way. For example, clean white fixtures offset by simple grey walls have shifted to color trends that provide warmth, whimsy and wow factor.
Moody And Memorable Matters
Where minimalism was a recent key design element, today’s trends indicate the desire for elaborate changes and lots of them.
Moody spaces will include colors like caramel, chocolate, hunter green or aubergine that feel expressive and still cozy and comfortable.
Homeowners want to make their home look and feel like they are either at their favorite vacation spot or in a place they long to go.
People want to have more fun at home, so they may experiment with wild patterns or color combinations, letting personal expression lead the decorating.
Something Old And Something New
Buyers looking for something new will find that almost every manufacturer, from budget-friendly to high-end companies, is showing furniture pieces with curved edges and softer lines. Homeowners look to multipurpose pieces as better financial investments. And mixing and matching old and new items is the way forward. Vintage furniture is in high demand because it does not have supply chain issues. Want to incorporate a modern sofa with a family heirloom roll-top desk? Now’s the time! Younger clients want an alternative to mass-produced items and prefer furnishings that reflect their character and can grow with them, even if it starts with Grandma Pearl’s marble-top side table.
Definitely In The Details
Making décor changes can be accomplished in big and small ways and is all in the details.
People are starting to value the idea of investing in higher-quality pieces that are well-made and long-lasting.
Buyers look to add soft accent items like pillows and linens if they aren’t ready to repaint a room or purchase a new sofa. Think rich palettes of color and specialty textures, like mohair.
Materials like leathered granite or quartz in kitchens offer a slightly bumpy texture that tends to hide messes and is excellent for those who struggle to find time to clean.
Custom furniture made by local makers is in demand, as clients find value in having a unique and exclusive piece.
How do you know how much house you can afford and how much cash you may need at closing and soon after moving? Mel Foster has a mortgage calculator to help you determine your monthly costs. This information is helpful when you apply for pre-qualification for your mortgage with a lender.
The mathematical formula for calculating monthly payments for a given mortgage loan amount is complicated. This is where a mortgage calculator comes in handy. It does the work for you by quickly calculating the monthly payment based on the amount of the loan, mortgage length and interest rate. Use these calculators.
Other Factors To Consider
The mortgage is not the only expense you’ll have when buying your home. Be sure to include these other costs as you prepare your budget:
Mortgage insurance (if applicable)
Homeowner’s Association fees (if applicable)
Attorney, title, inspections and closing fees
Utility service initial fees
Interest rates are still at historically low numbers, which has been great for locking in affordable mortgage rates. Recent decisions within the Federal Reserve Bank will affect borrowing power for homeowners, with indications that interest rates are likely to start climbing again in 2022. Ultimately, this means consumers will pay more to borrow. It’s time to act quickly and secure your mortgage before interest rates rise.