Home Buying and Financing

First-time homebuyers often feel at a financial disadvantage when considering buying a home. Homeownership can seem daunting, whether it’s not having the money for a down payment, student loans and other monetary limitations or securing a reasonable interest rate on a mortgage. The good news is historical data regarding interest rates provides a favorable outlook for borrowers, and first-time buyers can take advantage of several benefits when buying a first home.

Interest Rates Over Time

Interest rates go up and down over time. Data collected over time indicates that interest rates today are about the same as 20 years ago. And rates are less than half what they were 40 years ago. How does knowing this help? Buyers shouldn’t feel stuck with today’s interest rate for the life of a mortgage. Rates will change, and buyers can make changes then, too. 

Refinancing Options

Since interest rates fluctuate regularly, buyers can consider refinancing when the time is right. Buyers can swap the higher mortgage rate for something more favorable if interest rates go down. This may mean a monthly payment stays the same, but the years left on the mortgage could be dramatically reduced. 

First-Time Buyer Benefits

There are a variety of government and state-funded programs that can help pave the way for first-time buyers. According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the following qualify as first-time home buyers:

  • A person who has not owned their principal residence for at least three years
  • A single parent who previously co-owned a home while married
  • A homemaker who once owned with a spouse but no longer receives financial support from that spouse
  • A person who has only owned a residence not affixed to a permanent foundation, such as a mobile or trailer home

Several programs make homeownership more affordable for eligible buyers by including lower interest mortgage rates or lower down payment requirements.

  • First-time homebuyer programs for students – Available if you recently graduated from college.
  • Energy-efficient mortgages (EEM) – This type of mortgage allows you to tack the cost of energy-efficient upgrades (think new insulation, a more efficient HVAC system or double-pane windows) onto your primary loan without requiring a larger down payment.
  • First-time homebuyer programs by state – Each state operates a housing finance authority (HFA) that encourages homeownership, among other responsibilities. 
  • Habitat For Humanity – If your annual income is 60 percent or less of the median income in your area, you might qualify for Habitat for Humanity’s homeownership program. Along with not exceeding the income threshold, you’ll need to contribute sweat equity​​ to help build the home or a home for another applicant to qualify.

Find more tips for buyers.

First-Time Home Buyers

As interest rates are starting to come down, it’s a great time to be looking to purchase your first home. Consider these top ten reasons why being a first-time home buyer is great.

Build Equity

Building equity means investing in something you own rather than paying money each month on rent without owning the property. When you make monthly mortgage payments on the property you own, you own more and more each month. In the future when you sell your first home, you’ll have money left over after paying off the mortgage that can be used as a down payment for your next home. Your money works for you when you pay a mortgage rather than rent.

More Privacy

A home is more private than renting an apartment and sharing a bedroom wall with a neighbor you don’t know

Find A Smaller Starter Home

Begin small. A home with less square footage usually means a smaller mortgage and smaller utility bills. When it’s time to sell that first home, you can use the money you get from the sale to buy a larger or higher-priced home,

Establish Credit

Getting a mortgage loan at a young age can help you establish a solid credit history, which means a good credit score and ample financial opportunities down the road.

A First Home Is Not A Forever Home

According to the United States Census Bureau, the average person will move as many as 11.7 times. So don’t stress to find the perfect home the first time around. Look for a home that is best for now.

Remodel As You Go

Make your house a home. Freshen the landscape to add curb appeal. Swap out the windows for more energy-efficient versions. Add a deck to expand your outdoor living space. Projects like these will increase property value while personalizing your home.

The Yard

Imagine the possibilities. Space for the dog to run. Your own vegetable or flower garden. Naps outside in the hammock. Room for a firepit. A spot for the family snowman.

Tax Incentives

Homeownership has several potential tax benefits that might lower your tax burden and increase your annual refund.

Feeling Of Achievement

Homeownership is an accomplishment that is worth the time and energy required to plan and succeed.

You Can Refinance Later

Interest rates are constantly changing. If interest rates go down in the future, you can swap your higher rate for something more favorable. Sometimes, you can keep your monthly payment the same but dramatically reduce the years left on your mortgage. Don’t feel stuck with today’s interest rate for the next 30 years.

Find more tips for buyers.

Selling Your Home

It’s always a good idea to have a thorough list of what you can do to get your home ready to sell. Get prepared so you’re organized and can make the most of your free time now.

Find An Agent Right For You

Meet with a few different Mel Foster Co. agents to start. Grab a cup of coffee and do short interviews until you find an agent you click with. The agent will help ensure your home is priced right for sale and can promote your home through a variety of online marketing tools. They will guide you through the necessary paperwork and represent you during the negotiations for finalizing an accepted offer.

Navigate through the variety of Fake Patek watches to find the one that matches your taste and financial comfort.

Plan To Do The Work

Before you list your house, make sure it’s in the condition buyers expect. Investing some time and money before listing is a wise investment. Spend your energy on completing tasks like these to get the home ready:

  • Consider a pre-listing inspection to focus your to-do list
  • Have professional photos taken to use online
  • Do a deep clean, especially in the garage and main living areas
  • Hire someone to fix the leaky sink or uneven door if you can’t do it yourself
  • Apply a fresh coat of paint on walls in high-traffic areas

It’s All In The Presentation

First impressions matter when selling a home. The first few seconds of viewing a home set the tone for buyers. And since you get only one chance to make a first impression, make the most of your time boosting curb appeal. Tidy up your landscaping by trimming shrubbery and adding another layer of fresh mulch. Ensure your front walkway is clear of debris and peppered with seasonal accents or flowers so it’s welcoming. Take the time to clean the windows and replace the lightbulbs on your outdoor lighting so things sparkle and look fresh.

Find more tips for sellers.

Set The Stage For Top Dollar Returns

Set up your home for sales success. Staging your home can help buyers visualize how space can be used with furniture and make the house more attractive to potential buyers. Try these five staging tips when preparing to sell.

Eliminate Clutter

No one likes clutter, especially when looking at a home. The disorder could turn potential buyers away as they see the home as messy and in need of more storage. Instead, get rid of unnecessary items in storage areas, cabinets, on shelving, and table decorations. Depersonalize the area so buyers can visualize their belongings in the home.

Rethink Furniture Placement

When staging your home, the furniture placement makes a difference. Enable space for potential buyers to easily move throughout the home’s rooms and configure the furniture to make the area seem bigger and the most functional. Removing unnecessary furniture that makes the space seem more cluttered (as mentioned above) can allow for different furniture reconfigurations.

Add Funcational Office Space

Dedicated office space has become a necessity for many home buyers. Having an office space set up can help buyers visualize the use of the office space and check off a box on their must-have list. Or create an area in a guest bedroom or a corner of a room to stage an office.

Show Off Storage

Having ample storage is one thing that many home buyers search for when looking at a house for sale. People want space to store all their items, so showing how various areas can be utilized for maximum storage potential throughout the home is key. However, ensure these storage spaces are organized to appeal more to the buyers.

More Lighting

Great lighting is vital to making a home look warm and welcoming. When staging a house, ensure that the natural light from the outside can flow into the inside spaces. In every room of the home, a variety of lighting options should be turned on, such as lamps and overhead lights, to make the rooms as bright and inviting for buyers.

Find more selling tips.

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

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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.


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