Understanding The Cost Of Homeownership

You’re thinking about becoming a homeowner for the first time. What steps do you take in preparation, and what are some homeownership costs? 

Start With A Plan

Start by creating a realistic budget. Jot down your current expenses like car loans, monthly credit card payments and grocery expenses. But what new costs will you need to account for? 

  • Property taxes – Search local tax records on like properties to get an idea of the cost.
  • Homeowner’s insurance – A Mel Foster insurance agent can provide an estimate.
  • Utilities – Credit counseling agencies claim that owners spend 5-10% of their annual income on utilities, including electric, water, gas, garbage, cable and streaming.

Prepare So You’ll Be Ready

Take steps that will simplify the buying process when the time is right to begin your search.

  • Find a Mel Foster Co. agent and communicate what you’re looking for.
  • Continue to set money aside, so you have a down payment.
  • Check your credit score and work to improve it. 
  • Get pre-approved for a mortgage so financing won’t hold up a sale down the road.

Financial Assistance Programs Are Available

First-time buyers often have access to state programs, tax breaks and federally backed loans that can be approved even if you don’t have the minimum down payment. For example, take time to search DPA (Down Payment Assistance) loan options that can help cover the upfront costs of a down payment. Government-sponsored and private programs can help you pay closing costs, which often represent 3-6% of the total loan amount.

Find more tips for homeowners.

Read This Before Remodeling your Kitchen

Thinking of kitchen remodel?

Small details can make or break your kitchen renovation. Avoid stress by going through this list before you start making purchases.

  1. Measure Everything

This extra step will save time, money and headaches in the long run. The last thing you want is the refrigerator or dishwasher not opening all the way because the island ended up being too close.

  1. Choose a Timeless Backsplash

It may be tempting to choose a trendy tile layout, but you may quickly become bored with your decision. You’ll also have difficulty selling later on if your kitchen looks outdated due to a very specific design choice. Stick to classic white coloring. White is always on trend.

  1. Decide if a Splurge is Worth it

Sometimes spending a little more now will save you in the long run. If an energy efficient appliance is a little more expensive, it might be worth it to upgrade so you have lower energy bills every month. It’s important to prioritize needs over wants, but sometimes a want is worth the happiness or convenience it will provide.

  1. Consider Open Shelving

A few rows of open shelving can help break up the “boxy” feel of some kitchens. Even an addition of a few shelves can help the kitchen feel more open and also offer you the opportunity to show off some photos or nice dining ware.

Not sure how much upgrading to make to your home before you become the most expensive house in the neighborhood? Ask a Mel Foster Co. agent for comparables in your neighborhood.

Fresh Spring Cleaning Tips

Think Spring!

Spring is finally here and that means it’s once again time to do a deep clean throughout your house. Here are some ways to freshen up your home in time for summer.

  1. Declutter Every Room

Take an empty laundry basket from room to room and gather items that are out of place and return them to their correct location. If there’s anything you no longer need, this is a great opportunity to get rid of it.

  1. Put a Recycle Basket Near the Front Door

Having a place you can immediately get rid of unwanted mail, fliers or packaging will prevent this clutter from entering your home. If you’re able to keep the bin by a frequently used side entrance to your home, it’s even better because guests won’t see it.

  1. Cleaning Ceiling Fans

One of the easiest and fastest ways to clean a ceiling fan is with an old pillowcase. You place the pillowcase over the blade and slide it off. The dust will collect inside the pillowcase and you can empty it outside.

  1. Open the Windows

One of the biggest perks of spring is the warm fresh air! Don’t forget to open your windows while doing all your cleaning to get some fresh air flowing through your house. It’ll keep you energized and make your home smell great.

Spring is also the season when homes are listed for sale. If you’re ready to list, or find an agent to sell your home, now’s the time to find a Mel Foster Co. agent.

Why You Should Buy During the Winter

Buy in the Winter.

House hunting during the colder months may not be the most popular time of year to look, but there are several upsides to consider.

  1. You Face Less Competition in the Winter

Approximately 50% of homes sold during the year are sold during summer months. If you purchase in the winter, you may avoid stressful bidding wars and sellers can be more eager to close quickly as they have fewer offers to choose from. They may also try to sweeten the deal with additional incentives when you buy during this time frame.

  1. Sellers are Motivated

A motivated seller is great news for the buyer. If they’re trying to sell quickly due to relocation or other time constraints, they’ll be more flexible when it comes to price. It’s also possible the house has been on the market for an extended period of time, maybe since last summer, meaning the seller is ready to close as quickly as possible.

  1. Interest Rates May Increase

Interest rates can have an impact on your budget when buying a house. The direction of interest rates is never certain, but many analysts think the rates will increase, maybe even multiple times in the year, due to a strong economy. Consider that the sooner you buy, the further your money will go.

  1. Housing Prices are Rising

Housing prices on average have steadily increased the past several years. This upward trend is expected to continue according to real estate analysts.

Find a Mel Foster Co. agent in your town.

Mel Foster REALTORS® Receive Honors

Mel Foster Co. agents were honored by the Quad Cities Area REALTOR® Association during their Annual Holiday Party and Installation of Officers held on December 5th. Congratulation to Dave Maubach of the Bettendorf office, Scott Kelling of the Davenport  I-74 office, and Herb Thompson of the Moline office.

Dave Maubach, REALTOR®

Dave Maubach was named REALTOR® of the Year Award for his exceptional real estate services.  Dave started his career in real estate with Mel Foster Co. almost 20 years ago in 1995.  He is licensed in Iowa & Illinois.  He is a Member of the Quad City Area REALTOR® Association, Iowa Association of REALTORS®, Illinois Association of REALTORS®, the National Association of REALTORS® and the Quad Cities Builders & Remodelers Association.  Dave is a current board member of the Quad City Area REALTOR® Association.   He is a past board member of the Neighborhood Housing Services, mentor at Big Brothers Big Sisters and volunteered his time for Davenport Youth Baseball for many years.

Scott Kelling
Scott Kelling, REALTOR®

Scott Kelling received the prominent REALTOR® Emeritus Status by the National Association of REALTORS®. The REALTOR® Emeritus Status is for a REALTOR® with a cumulative period of 40 years in one or more local Association of REALTORS®.

Scott is licensed in Iowa with 40 years of real estate experience and all of those with Mel Foster Co.  He received Mel Foster Co.’s Iowa REALTOR® of the Year in 2010. He is a Member of the Quad City REALTOR® Association, the Iowa Association of REALTORS®, the National Association of REALTORS®, Quad City Chamber of Commerce and American Political Science Association.

He earned his master Degree from Vanderbilt University and served on the City of Davenport Plan and Zoning Commission, was past Director of the Davenport Chamber of Commerce, past President of the Great Davenport Board of REALTORS®, and a veteran of the United States Army.

Herb Thompson
Herb Thompson, REALTOR®

Herb Thompson received the prominent REALTOR® Emeritus Status by the National Association of REALTORS®. The REALTOR® Emeritus Status is for a REALTOR® with a cumulative period of 40 years in one or more local Association of REALTORS®.

Herb has over 40 years of real estate experience, 26 years at Mel Foster Co., and is licensed in Illinois and Iowa.  He is a Member of the Quad City REALTOR® Association, Illinois Association of REALTORS®, and the National Association of REALTORS®.  Herb served as President of the Rock Island County Board of REALTORS® in 1986 and received REALTOR® of the Year award in 1987.

Since 1980, Herb has been a member of the Moline Rotary.  He is a past Board member and past president of the YMCA, Salvation Army Board Member, High School Teacher and Coach for 22 years, and a Veteran of United States Air Force.


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