Ready to dive into a home remodel project? Aside from creating a realistic budget, schedule a meeting with your Mel Foster Insurance agent before selecting a contractor to determine how the upgrades will affect your homeowner’s insurance coverage. Consider a few questions to be sure you’re ready to proceed.
Who Should Do The Work?
Feel confident in your choice of contractor and team. Reliable, professional contractors often have reviews and references available through the Better Business Bureau. The contractors should provide you with proof of workers’ compensation and liability insurance before the work begins. Hiring a subcontractor or paying a friend to complete the job makes you an employer, which means you should purchase the worker’s compensation insurance yourself to cover liability in case of injury. Know who is doing the work and how this affects your insurance responsibility.
Will I Be Covered During Renovation?
Your home insurance company will typically insure the building materials you’ll need for renovation. But how much is covered? You may need to raise your coverage limits before beginning your project, and your Mel Foster agent can help settle this with you. Determine if your policy provides sufficient allowances for the unexpected, like if a fire struck and destroyed both your home and the building materials. Some insurance policies also have limitations on whether dwellings under construction or vacant for more than a set number of days are covered. Discuss all options to find the best insurance coverage so you’re protected
Does The Remodel Affect My Coverage Limit?
Most home insurance policies require you to insure your home for a minimum of 80 percent of its replacement value, while a Mel Foster home insurance policy covers 100 percent of your home replacement costs.
According to the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, one in four remodeling projects increases the home’s value by more than 25 percent. It’s essential that your insurance coverage reflects your remodel’s impact on the value of the house. Your agent can determine if your policy limits are adequate to cover potential rebuild costs, including the remodel, if damages were to occur.
Mel Foster Co. has partnered with MooveGuru, an automated moving concierge platform that sends perfectly-timed, move-related, money saving offers, via email and connects utilities and home services to buyers and sellers.
Your Mel Foster Co. REALTOR® will be supplying exclusive email offers and utility connections to home buyers and sellers. The average mover spends 5 hours connecting utilities, the Mel Foster Co. connections service simplifies this process. Emails are also delivered to the consumer with discounts on items relevant to a home purchase or selling experience. The mover program includes money-saving offers from companies like the Home Depot, PODS, Budget Truck Rental, and more.
“We are thrilled to partner with MooveGuru in a marketing benefit to offer our clients money saving opportunities with some local and national brands and assist them in organizing their move,” mentions Lynsey Engels, President Real Estate Brokerage of Mel Foster Co. Engels continued, “because it’s so important to support our local businesses when possible, this is another way to do that.” If businesses are interested in participating in the MooveGuru initiative, contact Mel Foster Co. at email@example.com.
A study by the University of Colorado found that movers spend, on average $10,000 on goods and services during their move. To help clients transition into their new home, Mel Foster Co. has partnered with MooveGuru to provide savings along the way.
“Consumers spend more money in a 180-day window during their move than they will in any other time in their lives,” says Scott Oakley, CEO of MooveGuru.
The Quad Cities looks very different than it did 100 years ago when Mel Foster Co. was founded. Davenport had about half as many residents as it does today, and Eldridge was about 40 years away from any significant population growth to name a few. Only three people have served as Mel Foster Co.’s president and CEO over the last 100 years, and each has left his mark on commercial and residential real estate in the Quad Cities.
Mel Foster, Sr. opened a one-person, one-room real estate operation in 1921. He built the company’s first house on Telegraph Road in Davenport in 1927. That home was the first of thousands that the company would build as it created new neighborhoods in both Iowa and Illinois.
By 1936, Mel Foster Co. real estate offices were in Davenport, Moline and Rock Island, and an insurance division was opened. Mel Foster, Sr. was the consummate city planner and believed that industry would locate where housing was readily available. To that end, Mel Foster Co. successfully negotiated major industrial site purchases in the Quad Cities, including International Harvester, Caterpillar, 3-M, Quad Cities Generating Station in Cordova and Alcoa (now Arconic). Mel Foster Co. developed subdivisions that offered affordable homes to the families who worked at these businesses.
Under the direction of Mel Foster, Jr., the company continued its tradition of family leadership and negotiated for major industrial sites including John Deere Davenport Works, developed prime office space, and created significant downtown and suburban developments.
Rob Fick became only the third president and CEO of Mel Foster Co. in 1991. Mel Foster, Jr. hired him in 1982 as vice president of Mel Foster Co. Properties. His first assignment was the development of a residential subdivision north of Crow Valley Golf Course. This was just the first of many subdivisions developed by Fick. Over the last 40 years, Fick and Mel Foster Jr have purchased 22 farms, and developed over 100 subdivisions with 2,100 lots.
Fick developed Century Heights in Bettendorf, Townsend Farm in Eldridge and Maple Leaf Heights in Geneseo, just three of the many Mel Foster Co. neighborhoods that provide families with new housing. Under Fick’s leadership, the company continues to add more lots to existing subdivisions and explore new opportunities to bring housing to areas experiencing population growth.
Also, during this time, large sections of land along Davenport’s 53rd Street and Elmore Avenue corridor were developed by Mel Foster Co. and transformed into a bustling commercial hub. There is little doubt about Mel Foster Co.’s impact on the Quad Cities in the last 100 years.
The Foster family name is synonymous with real estate, and the company has always operated as a family business. Mel Foster III started his career in commercial real estate in 1981 when he joined his father in the family business. He served as vice-president of Mel Foster Co. Properties Inc. of Iowa and Illinois until his retirement in 2010. Today, Rob Fick is joined in the family business by his four children. Son Ryan is vice-president of Mel Foster Properties, Kristi is a residential Realtor®, and Julie works in corporate relations. Daughter Lynsey serves as president of the real estate brokerage division, which today has eight residential office locations and one commercial location.
The challenges the pandemic created in 2020 led Mel Foster Co. to develop new ways to advance the use of technology for open houses, marketing and closings. The new technology was well received by buyers and sellers and will likely remain as a standard practice long after the immediate threat from COVID-19 has passed.
Mel Foster Co. President Lynsey Engels said, “The year 2020 made our agents pivot and try new ways to communicate with buyers and sellers, market listings differently and complete closing paperwork virtually. Many of our agents were already using our virtual tools, and COVID-19 made it essential for conducting business. We are so fortunate that we had these tools in place and were ready to modify the way we do business so we could continue serving buyers and sellers.”
Mel Foster Co. typically hosts an event each January to recognize agents and staff and celebrate achievements. This year, the awards were held as a virtual toasting to the year 2020. “While the pandemic prevented the agents, staff and management from getting together in person, the company felt it was important to toast our 2020 successes and kick off our 100-year celebration,” Ms. Engels commented. Each agent and staff member received a customized box with items from local businesses that allowed Mel Foster Co. to support its fellow local businesses.
Lynsey Engels, president of real estate brokerage, Marc Engels, president of Mel Foster Insurance, and Rob Fick, president and CEO, released the company’s year-end results collectively via video presentation. The video also recognized the achievements of 109 agents who received awards for their performance in 2020.
Mel Foster Insurance continues to be a trusted independent insurance agency in the Quad Cities region with exceptional client retention rates and the continued growth of new personal/business client relationships. In 2020, Mel Foster Insurance associates added 725 new clients along with writing 1,600 new lines of coverage.
The insurance division increased both total premiums written, up 2.9 percent, and policy count, up 3.1 percent from 2020. Mr. Engels said, “We are pleased to have a 97.4% client retention rate agency-wide. We strive to provide a personalized insurance experience and we can’t thank our clients enough for their continued business.”
“Our entire team came together and delivered on our commitment to providing first class service to our personal and business insurance clients. That couldn’t have been more critical than in a year where we were handed a pandemic, major March hailstorm, and the August derecho,” Engels stated. “Our insurance partners and agency personnel all stepped up in a positive way to assist our clients in a year that saw unprecedented claim counts. I am so grateful to our team and the way we handled the challenges of 2020,” continued Mr. Engels.
Mel Foster Commercial Real Estate Services, led by Thad DenHartog, sold nearly $71 million in commercial real estate properties earning 33% of the market share in 2020. The division employs eight commercial brokers and two staff members. Three of the company’s commercial brokers ranked in the top 10 of the Quad Cities Commercial MLS. “We saw positive commercial real estate market activity this year,” commented Ms. Engels. “In a year when our clients faced many challenges, our commercial brokers helped them navigate their unique short-term and long-term needs so they could continue to be successful.”
Across the eight residential locations within Mel Foster Co. that serve Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois, the company had a combined 13 agents in the top 10 of their respective MLS. The average sales price for the company was $176,429 and the number of days on the market for 2020 was 58. Like many markets across the country, our region saw record-low inventories as sellers waited longer to list their homes. On average, Mel Foster Co.’s agents closed 15 transactions in 2020, higher than the national median of 12, according to statistics from the National Association of REALTORS®.
In 2020, Mel Foster Co. sold 47 lots in five subdivisions. Mel Foster Co. is the largest land developer in the region and continues to expand its existing subdivisions. The company plans to release 65 new residential lots in 2021. Mel Foster Co. residential agents sold 101 new construction homes or condos in 2020. The average Mel Foster Co. new construction sales price was $401,649, up from $377,731 last year.
During the virtual awards toast, Fick welcomed 11 new agents/staff and congratulated 13 on their retirements. Twenty-six agents were recognized for volunteering on real estate association committees or boards at the local, state, or national level. Forty-nine agents and staff were thanked for their years of service with the company. Across all three divisions, the median number of years of service among staff/agents is 15.5 years. This number is three times the national average as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in September 2020.
Mel Foster Co. trademarked their think.buy.be.local logo and slogan in 2020. Even in a year with a pandemic, agents and staff participated in many projects to give back to the community. They kicked off 2020 with the River Bend Foodbank – Community Hunger Drive, provided over 300 coats to various non-profit organizations, adopted multiple families over the holidays, made and delivered baskets to seniors, created Valentine’s Day cards for seniors, partnered with WQAD for a school supply drive, held a blood drive with the Mississippi Valley Blood Center, and collected toys and money for Toys for Tots drive. They also supported local businesses by purchasing over 150 gift cards for client appreciation events. During Small Business week, gift cards were purchased for agent and staff raffles to encourage supporting local businesses and encouraging the community to do the same. All posts were shared and tagged on their Facebook page to raise awareness for supporting local businesses.
Fick closed the awards virtual toast by offering a hopeful look ahead at the year 2021. “This is our 100th year, and we want to thank the community for its support all of these years. We look forward to many exciting events and initiatives that we will be rolling out in the coming months.”
With nearly 40% more people working from home on a permanent basis as compared to one year ago, it’s more important than ever to make a relaxing yet productive home working environment a priority. Take these steps to create the workspace you’ll need this year.
Get The Space Right
Determine where the ideal home office space could be in your home. Then find a way to rearrange or organize to put the office together. Our surroundings can have a huge impact on how we feel and how effective we can be. You may need to repaint the walls a more soothing shade of green or yellow, which are colors that are easiest for our eyes to see and process. Select a comfortable chair that provides back support through proper ergonomic design when possible.
Let There Be Light
It’s extremely important to have proper lighting in a home office. Warm light is best for the eyes. This includes filtered natural light and light produced by incandescent and LED light bulbs. To reduce eye strain, have lighting installed over the reading or writing area and near the computer so there’s no reflection off the computer screen. In general, it’s best to have natural light in front of or next to work surfaces and computer screens to avoid glare. By reducing eye strain, you’ll be able to work longer and more safely.
When It’s Not Black And White
If you’re not able to make a dedicated workspace, and you have your computer on the dining room table, don’t fret. Sometimes your options are not as clear as black or white, and your choice ends up being a shade of grey instead. Consider being creative with your work expectations in conjunction with your family’s schedule. If there’s a time of day that is critical to focus on spreadsheets or work on copywriting, maybe this is when the kids have quiet time in their rooms. Trying to orchestrate zoom meetings alongside your spouse, who is also working nearby? You may need to alternate working at the nearby coffee shop on those days.
Out with the old and in with the new. The start of a new year often prompts us to consider this age-old saying and then do something about it. Having trouble getting motivated or not sure where to start when it comes to getting organized? Try a few suggestions below to begin putting your house in order.
Netflix Offers Motivation
Grab a comfy spot on your couch, your remote and browse these Netflix shows to help spur your imagination and transform your cluttered space into something more useable.
The Minimalist – Less Is Now, offering practical ways to find order without an outrageous process
Get Organized with The Home Edit, where professional organizers aid in straightening up any space
Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, where Marie’s ideas help you declutter your home and your lives
Store Sales On Storage Items
Take advantage of store promotions on storage solutions in January while you’re indoors and available to tackle organization projects. Check with your local hardware stores for their bargains of the month to help you get started. Many big box stores, like Home Depot or Menards, also offer savings up to 40% off of items to help organize your belongings. Take the time to search for sales to make the most of your dollar.
Selling and Donating
If you’re ready to part with the gently used couch or rocking chair that you aren’t using, consider donating the items through a local Facebook marketplace group. You can search these groups easily to find one nearby. If you list your item free with pick up, it becomes less hassle and you don’t need a truck if you have larger furniture pieces. If you no longer love it, need it or use it, there is likely someone else who would really benefit from it. Other local organizations like Bethany for Children and Families or Humility Homes and Services welcome most items for families in need.