Why You Need An Agent

Choosing an agent when buying a home is more important now than ever. You want expert advice from a trusted Mel Foster Co. professional and will benefit significantly from their role as an advisor during the home purchasing process.

Market Value And Pricing

Agents help you understand the latest market trends that affect how a home is valued in your market. In today’s real estate environment, a fair but competitive offer is essential. A Mel Foster Co. agent will help you determine a fair offer price by pulling comparable recent home sales in your area. They know how to help you hit the mark.

Local and Industry Knowledge

Who better to have on your team than a local specialist who can help coach you through the ins and outs of the buying process? Especially since technology and data drive today’s buying success, knowing your agent is professionally trained and has local connections ensures you get the best advice. An agent is an unbiased advisor for a homebuyer and a great source when you have questions about local utilities, zoning rules and contractors.

Negotiation Experience

Most homebuyers believe it will be stressful to navigate the home-buying process without a real estate agent. An agent is not just a facilitator, but an advocate in negotiations. They have the expertise and experience to handle the details of offers, counteroffers and inspection, all the way to closing. They help you understand the fine print and regulations of the industry, ensuring you make informed decisions. Real estate agents are specialists, educators and negotiators. Each time you make a big life decision, especially a financial one, you need an expert on your side.

Connect with a local Mel Foster Co. agent today as you prepare to purchase your next home. Find more buying tips for homeowners.


Lynsey Engels, president of Real Estate Brokerage at Mel Foster Co. is pleased to announce that several of its agents have been named to the RealTrends Verified + Tom Ferry The Thousand as America’s Best real estate agents that continue to innovate and deliver outcomes for their clients and businesses.  RealTrends Verified is the world’s first dual-verified, fully transparent, and search-engine optimized real estate sales performance platform that brings historical relevance and benchmarking to professionals and consumers .

REALTrends Verified honors America’s finest real estate agents from each state and the country.  22,000 U.S. real estate sales associates from every state are featured in RealTrends Verified.  Those ranked are among the top 1.5% of the 1.5 million real estate professionals in the United States. 

The Mel Foster Co. real estate agents were ranked in these 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)

Top Individuals By Sides in Iowa

Geri Doyle, REALTOR® with Mel Foster Co.
Geri Doyle, #2 by Sides in Iowa
Lucky Lang II, REALTOR® with Mel Foster Co.
Lucky Lang II, #45 by Sides in Iowa
Lisa Carstens REALTOR with Mel Foster Co.
Lisa Carstens, #63 by Sides in Iowa
Candy Reaves, REALTOR with Mel Foster Co.
Candy Reaves, #71 by Sides in Iowa
Jill Sorrell, REALTOR®
Jill Sorrell, #77 by Sides in Iowa

Top Individual By Volume in Iowa

Geri Doyle, REALTOR® with Mel Foster Co.
Geri Doyle, #1 by Volume in Iowa

Top Individuals By Sides In Illinois

Dee Shepherd, REALTOR® with Mel Foster Co.
Dee Shepherd #25 by Sides In Illinois
Debbie Wright, REALTOR® with Mel Foster Co.
Debbie Wright, #94 by Sides in Illinois

Top Agents in the United States by Sides

Geri Doyle, REALTOR® with Mel Foster Co.
Geri Doyle, #124 out of 4,271 Nationwide

Top Agents in the United States by Volume

Geri Doyle, REALTOR® with Mel Foster Co.
Geri Doyle, #623 out of 9,420 Nationwide

Ms. Engels commented, “With this year’s release of the 2024 RealTrends Verified list + Tom Ferry The Thousand premier list, we are incredibly proud to have seven of our agents be recognized with other elite real estate agents across the country and continue to be in awe of these agent’s dedication, hard work and commitment to serving clients throughout the region. Not only did Geri Doyle earn the top agent in 2023 for our company, but she is being nationally recognized in the Tom Ferry The Thousand as #124 out of 4,271 agents in sides and #623 out of 9,420 agents in volume! What an accomplishment!”

To qualify for inclusion, an individual agent must have closed 40 residential transaction sides or $16 million in closed sales volume in 2023. The rankings are compiled based on surveys from virtually every national branded network, many state and local associations of Realtors®, multiple listing services, all applicants from past years’ rankings, and the 900 largest brokerage firms in the United States.  The Thousand represents the top 500 agents in the country and provides a national ranking to honorees. Verification from an independent source is required from all submissions.  In addition, REALTrends senior staff reviews every submission for completeness and accuracy.

To see the complete list go to RealTrends.com.

2024 Spring Preview of Homes

Discover the latest trends in new home construction at the 2024 Spring Preview of Homes. Free admission. Join us to explore the Spring Preview of Homes hosted by Mel Foster Co. agents.

Saturday, May 11 and Sunday, May 12 from 1 PM – 4 PM
Wednesday, May 15 from 5 PM – 7 PM
Saturday, May 18 and Sunday, May 19 from 1 PM – 4 PM

  • Ranch Style Villa
  • 9′ Ceilings
  • 2 Bedroom, 2 Bath
  • 4 Season Room
  • 2 Bedrooms, 2 Baths
  • Zero Entry
  • White Shaker Cabinets
  • 3′ Wide Doors
  • 3 Bedrooms and 2.5 Baths
  • 9′ Ceilings
  • Quartz Countertops
  • Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring
  • DRIVE BY ONLY for May 11-12
  • Student Built Home
  • Ranch Style
  • Zero Entry from the Attached 2-Car Garage
  • 3 Bedrooms, 3 Baths

To see all the homes in the parade, click here.

Downsizing When You Retire

As you approach retirement, it’s a perfect opportunity to consider downsizing. This decision can bring about a range of benefits, from financial savings to a more manageable lifestyle. To help you make an informed choice, here are some key questions to consider. 

How Has My Lifestyle Changed?

If you purchased a larger home when your family was growing, you might now find yourself an empty nester that no longer needs four bedrooms. Or maybe you wish you had a single-level home with no stairs and where the laundry room was closer to access. The upkeep, both inside and outside the house, is feeling cumbersome, and you can think of so many other things you’d rather be doing. If you find yourself agreeing with these statements, it’s time to consider downsizing.

Can A Mel Foster Co. Agent Help Me Prepare?

Connect with a Mel Foster Co. agent to discuss your moving goals. An agent can help you weigh your options, advise you on market trends and list your home on multiple listing services. Your agent can also provide you with a Competitive Market Analysis (CMA) to help you determine the most effective price for listing your home. Knowing your approximate sale proceeds will help create an accurate budget for buying your next home.

You can rely on your agent for advice on enhancing your home’s appeal to potential buyers and for finding a reputable staging source if needed. Agents can also connect you with reliable contractors if work needs to be done or photographers to capture images that best reflect your space. Agents can help you minimize your stress as you sell your home.

Why Could A Smaller Home Be Right For Me?

Downsizing can be a good way to cut down on expenses as you ease into retirement. Opting for a smaller home usually means a lower mortgage, less square footage to heat and cool, and may have lower maintenance costs. It means less yard to mow, leaves to bag, and weeds to pull. A smaller home often means fewer projects to complete giving you more time to spend doing things you really enjoy.

Plus, choosing to move on your terms has its merits. Move when you’re younger and healthier before life changes make it more difficult. Pass down family heirlooms you won’t need in a smaller home and enjoy watching the next generation appreciate these sentimental or functional items. Plan your next move now so you make the decisions and are able to choose your next home.

Find more selling tips for homeowners.

Kitchen Trends for 2024

Kitchen trends for 2024 support modern families needing convenience and versatility. Whether you’re updating an existing space or creating a design on a new construction home, consider the following options in your plans.

Open-Concept And Big Island

Homeowners want open-concept kitchens, meaning no wall separates the kitchen from an adjacent room. They also love the idea of a big island. Industry experts recommend 36 to 42 inches of walking space around your island for ideal flow. Kitchens serve as the home headquarters, where everyone gathers to socialize and meals are prepared and served. It’s time to make the space your favorite place in the home.

Green And Gold

There’s a shift from the all-white aesthetic to adding hues like green and blue, which are associated with colors found in nature and create a peaceful and refreshing atmosphere. Where silver dominated the kitchen accessory realm for many years, gold has risen in popularity for elevating the kitchen vibe and sophistication. 

Layered Lighting

Because the kitchen has become a multi-purpose space in the home, the lighting selections should be layered for variety. Bright bulbs in practical fixtures are ideal for meal preparation and large gatherings, but you can still layer in other styles of more ambient light from pendants over the island and sconces near your window for those quieter moments in the day.

Maximum Practical Storage

Built-in and hidden drawers for pull-out appliances are now very common in kitchen remodels. Homeowners want as much functional storage as possible so countertop space is clear. Storage features such as charging drawers, pet food and feeding stations, and even a toe-kick storage component are highly desired. 

Beverage Station

Coffee and beverage stations are trendy and lavish. But if you’re a fan of a homemade, French press cup of coffee or prefer a designated, fancy space to house your favorite varieties of tea, building a beverage station is just what you need to feel pampered daily. 


Waste not, want not. Homeowners are opting for cabinetry materials that have minimal environmental impact. Choose recycled wood and other renewable resources for their durability and carbon-friendly footprint. Selecting energy-efficient appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers that minimize energy consumption and reduce utility bills is a commitment to responsible living.

Find more tips for homeowners.

Difference Between Home Warranty and Homeowner’s Insurance

You’re on the hunt for a new home. Know the difference between a home warranty and homeowner’s insurance and the steps you can take to ensure you’re covered when finalizing your purchase.

It’s important to note that a home warranty and home insurance are not interchangeable. A home warranty, typically a 12-month contract purchased from an accredited company, acts as a safety net against malfunctions due to normal wear and tear of the appliances and maintenance systems in the home. This includes major systems like HVAC, water heater, plumbing, electrical and major appliances. Our recommended local company, TMI Warranty, L.L.C., offers homebuyers a reassuring peace of mind that these systems will remain in working order after the homebuyer takes possession.

A homeowner’s insurance policy is a 12-month policy purchased from a reputable insurance company, like Mel Foster Insurance, that protects the home’s value and covers losses or damages caused by unexpected events like fire, flood, theft or storm damage. Most lenders require home insurance when you take out a mortgage. While you’re not legally required to purchase a homeowner’s policy when buying a home, you will likely still have to buy some policy to safeguard your belongings.

According to Consumer Affairs, home warranties are paid monthly at between $40 and $60, while the average cost of an annual home warranty is $450 to $600 per year, depending on the provider and level of coverage. This financial aspect is crucial to consider when planning your home purchase. If you’re purchasing a new construction home or one built recently, a home warranty may not be necessary since your major systems should be in good shape.

Shifts in the housing market have given homebuyers more power. Today, there is a better balance and opportunities for mutual concessions during home-buying. Buyers knowledgeable about home warranties may ask that a home warranty be included in the final sale. This can serve as powerful leverage during negotiations, empowering the buyer.

Find more buying tips for homeowners.

7 Essential Steps to Prepare Your Home for a Successful Spring Sale

As the winter chill begins to wane, and signs of spring emerge in the Quad Cities and our surrounding areas, it’s the perfect time for homeowners to consider listing their properties. Selling a home involves strategic planning, and for those aiming to maximize their sales price, taking specific steps beforehand is crucial. Here are seven essential things you should do before listing your home for sale in the upcoming spring market:

Deep Clean and Declutter

A tidy and clutter-free home creates a positive first impression. Take the time to deep clean every room, decluttering spaces to make them appear more spacious and inviting. Consider organizing closets and storage areas to showcase the ample storage your home provides.

Curb Appeal Matters

Enhance your home’s curb appeal by investing in landscaping and outdoor maintenance. Spring is the perfect time to trim bushes, plant flowers, and ensure your lawn is lush and well-maintained. A welcoming exterior sets the stage for a positive viewing experience.

Fix Minor Repairs

Attend to any minor repairs or maintenance issues throughout your home. Fix leaky faucets, squeaky doors, and any other noticeable wear and tear. A well-maintained property assures potential buyers that your home has been cared for.

Consider a Pre-Listing Inspection

Hiring a home inspector before listing your property can identify potential issues that may arise during the buyer’s inspection. Addressing these concerns proactively can prevent them from becoming negotiation roadblocks later in the process.

Showcase Natural Light

Maximize the natural light in your home by opening curtains and blinds during showings. Bright, well-lit spaces create an inviting atmosphere and make rooms feel more spacious. Clean windows to ensure optimal light penetration.

Highlight Unique Features

Identify and showcase the unique features of your home. Whether it’s a stunning view, a recently renovated kitchen, or custom-built features, make sure potential buyers are aware of what sets your property apart from the rest.

Call For A Free Valuation Analysis

Before you officially list your home, it’s essential to understand its market value. We offer a free, no-obligation valuation analysis. This comprehensive assessment includes a detailed evaluation of your home’s worth and a personalized list of enhancements that can further increase its appeal and sales price.

Give us a call today, and let our agents work with you to ensure your home is primed for success in the competitive spring real estate market.

It’s Time To Sell

There are plenty of reasons to list your home for sale now. If you can relate to the most common reasons why people list their home for sale, it’s time to contact a Mel Foster Co. agent to begin the process.

Change Is Good

The only constant in life is change. Are you ready for a good change? Is it time to relocate for a new career or to be closer to family? You may work more from home and need a dedicated office. Ready to cash in, buy an RV and travel the country for retirement? Are you prepared to mix it up, live abroad or move somewhere warmer? This shortlist is why it’s a perfect time to sell. Spring and summer are the best times to get your home on the market.

Size Matters

Sell your current home when the topic of space keeps coming up, like when you feel there’s not enough room because you’re expecting a baby and need a larger home for your growing family. When you need more areas for entertaining, more garages for your retirement toys or more rooms for visiting guests. Sometimes, it’s as simple as wanting a home with a better layout, like when you’re ready for an open concept living area or a bigger backyard because you finally have a dog. Find the right-sized home and sell yours now.

Experience On Your Side

It’s always the right time to sell when you have an experienced and dedicated Mel Foster Co. agent on your side. Sometimes plans change and selling your home to adjust to new circumstances becomes a reality. New time commitments may no longer allow the opportunity to complete the DIY home upgrades. Financial struggles with unforeseen medical bills may create a new reality. Our Mel Foster Co. team has the local connections and savvy qualifications to help you find potential buyers quickly. We’re ready to get started helping you sell your home, whatever your reasons are.

Find more tips for selling.

Tips for Filing Taxes

It’s tax season, and we all can use some tips to make filing easier and that result in more money in our pockets. 

IRS Offers Free Tax Filing

New in 2024, eligible taxpayers can take advantage of a free online federal tax filing program provided by the IRS that uses guided tax preparation software. Taxpayers who have an annual gross income of $79,000 or less qualify for a free tax return.

Taxpayers whose annual gross income is greater than $79,000 can still use the Free File Fillable Forms program but also should know how to prepare their tax returns. This option is a public-private partnership between the IRS and many tax preparation companies providing free online tax preparation and filing. These are electronic federal tax forms, equivalent to a paper 1040 form. Both program options are safe and secure.

These tax providers are participating in IRS Free File in 2024:

  • 1040Now
  • Drake (1040.com)
  • ezTaxReturn.com
  • FileYourTaxes.com
  • Online Taxes
  • TaxAct
  • TaxHawk (FreeTaxUSA)
  • TaxSlayer

Deductions and Credits

Deductions are vital in reducing taxable income. While most taxpayers claim the standard deductions, which change yearly with inflation, some choose to itemize for a more significant reduction. Thorough documentation is essential when itemizing, and your tax consultant can advise which suits your circumstances. 

Consider strategies other than the straightforward methods when making the most of your deductions. Now is the time to rethink your filing status. Have you maximized your IRA and HSA contributions? 

For families with qualified dependents under 17, you may be eligible for a partial refund when filing in 2024 with the child tax credit. Use this reference list when determining your eligibility for other tax credits:

  • Out-of-pocket charitable donations
  • Last year’s state tax you paid
  • Self-employment social security tax
  • Child and dependent care credit
  • State sales tax deduction
  • Earned income tax deduction
  • Refinancing mortgage points deduction
  • American Opportunity credit
  • Student loan interest paid deduction
  • Moving expenses for your first job deductions

Find more tips for homeowners.

Home Design Trends 2024

Need inspiration for home design ideas in 2024? Consider these popular trends as you make your redecorating plans.

Pretty As A Peach

The colors peach and apricot are in. Pantone Color Institute, globally recognized as a leading source of color expertise, declared “Peach Fuzz” the color of the year. Another trend forecasting agency, WGSN, selected “Apricot Crush” as its favorite. These softer versions of orange promote recharging and wellness, as colors “radiant with warmth and modern elegance.”

Paneled Walls

Paneled walls with a modern twist are back in style. And that doesn’t mean the 1970s versions covering every wall are back. The trend focuses on thin, natural wood slats and millwork used for accent walls in the bedroom, living room or kitchen to create a warm aesthetic.

Not Hip To Be Square

Homeowners are embracing furniture and décor with curvy lines that promote a welcoming space similar to the organic shapes in natural landscapes. Envision curved desks, sofas, tables and rounded barstools. Have fun with squiggly, wave-like accents in mirrors and art that infuse energy and charm into any space. 

Jewel Tones Are Back

Rediscover color with jewel tones, colors derived from gemstones like ruby, emerald, and sapphire. Incorporate richness into your décor with these tones as they tend to have a high level of color saturation and are, therefore, eye-catching and lively. Choose them as an accent or as the focal point for any room.

Romantic Ribbons

Romantic design is more than just Valentine’s Day hearts and flowers. Embrace ribbons, florals and lace to create a nostalgic feel in your favorite spaces at home. These delicate textures celebrate love and savoring life’s simple pleasures.

Find more tips for homeowners.


© 2024