Mel Foster Co. Celebrates 2017 Achievements

Mel Foster Co. held its annual awards reception last night at the Rhythm City Casino Resort in Davenport, Iowa. Rob Fick, president and CEO, Lynsey Engels, president real estate brokerage and Marc Engels, president of Mel Foster Insurance, honored and recognized 130 award winners within the organization for their 2017 achievements.

Fick congratulated sales associates and staff on a strong year and shared with them, “Our agents and staff are some of the best in the industry and the reason for our success. We’ve just finished a very successful year and indications show 2018 will follow many of the same market trends. The economy is still robust, low interest rates continue to make home buying very affordable by historical standards, and more people are employed and in a financial position to buy a home or business.”

The commercial division, led by Thad DenHartog, continued to dominate the market. Their sales volume continued to reach record-breaking levels with a five percent increase in 2017. Mel Foster Commercial Real Estate Services was ranked number one in the Quad Cities Commercial MLS with over 42 percent of the market share volume in 2017, up 16 percent from 2016.  The next competitor had 28 percent of the commercial sales volume. Three of the company’s commercial brokers ranked in the top 5 in the Quad Cities Commercial MLS.  “We are thrilled to see our commercial division continue to hold such a strong position in the Quad City market,” said Engels.

Mel Foster Insurance continued to grow its footprint in the region and acquired Frazier & Associates of LeClaire, Iowa in 2017. The insurance division increased both total premiums written and policy count over five percent from 2016 and client base increased by 14%.  Marc Engels, president of Mel Foster Insurance, said, “We are uniquely positioned in the market as a local full-service, independent agency with specialized professionals focused on serving our clients with business risk management, employee benefits, individual/group retirement planning, and personal insurance solutions. We are proud that we added 1,283 policies in 2017 exclusive of our acquisition of Frazier & Associates. We have a 95.4% client retention rate agency-wide, which is a testament to the exceptional service we provide to our personal and business clients. We expect our growth and retention to reach new heights in 2018 in part due to the strengthening economy.”

The residential real estate sales team gave another remarkable performance in 2017 with a nine percent increase company-wide in sales volume and number of transaction sides (either listings or selling) over the previous year. All nine office locations reported an increase in sales volume with the Galesburg office leading the way with a 34 percent increase from last year. Company-wide, residential agents averaged 17 transactions in 2017, an increase of at least one per agent. The average time to get homes sold was successfully lowered from 61 days to 55 days in 2017.  In the metro Quad Cities, sale prices rose five percent in 2017 for an average sales price of $191,349 per the Quad Cities Area Realtor Association.  Eleven residential agents were in the top 10 of their respective MLS compared to nine last year.

Construction of new homes surged in 2017 as Mel Foster Co., who is the largest land developer in the Quad Cities continued to develop neighborhoods on both sides of the river. The company developed more than 165 residential lots in six different subdivisions in both Iowa and Illinois in 2017 with plans to develop over 500 lots in future additions.  Lynsey Engels, president, real estate brokerage said, “The increased demand for new construction lots is a great indicator for a strong market in 2018.  We are pleased to be positioned to meet this higher demand with a wide range of neighborhoods offering lots in multiple price ranges.”

The high numbers across all the division are the result of the tireless efforts of a dedicated team of professionals and a focused strategy to provide the best real estate and insurance experience. “This is an exciting time for everybody within Mel Foster Co. We posted the best year since the housing bubble peaked in 2008. Our success would not be possible without the hard work of every single person within each of our divisions,” Fick concluded.

In addition to another impressive year of sales growth, Mel Foster Co. welcomed 26 new agents and staff into the company in 2017. Mel Foster Co. has residential offices in Bettendorf, Clinton and Davenport, Iowa and Galesburg, Geneseo, Kewanee, Moline and Savanna, Illinois.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

Avoid having to do this.

Increase precautions when the temperature drops

Temporary measures:

  1. During extended periods of sub-freezing temperatures, increase thermostat settings to at least 60 degrees F throughout the home to help ensure adequate temperatures are maintained in colder spots.
  2. Open bathroom or kitchen cabinet doors that run along outside walls so that warmer room air can circulate through them. If you have pets or children, be mindful of chemicals stored in the cabinets.
  3. To prevent exterior faucets from freezing, shut them off from inside the home and drain remaining water from pipes. Exterior irrigation systems should be winterized.
  4. Still water freezes faster than running water. During periods of low usage and on frigid nights, turn on a faucet at the highest point in the home.  Keep the water stream low, so that only a small amount can trickle through pipes running through cold spaces.
  5. If the water meter is operating but your water in not running, you may have a frozen pipe. Once the pipe thaws, it could burst.  If you discover a frozen pipe, close the main water shut-off valve and call a plumber immediately.
  6. If you’re away from home for extended periods of time, turn off the water. This may not prevent frozen pipes, but it can significantly reduce the damage.

Permanent measures:

  1. Install an automatic shut-off system designed to stop water flow when a leak occurs. Contact your independent insurance advisor for additional information and a list of approved devices.
  2. Add several low temperature sensors to your central station alarm system. Place them in remote areas of your home.

If damage occurs:

In the event of water damage, take the following steps immediately to minimize the impact:

  1. Locate the main water shut-off valve and close it.
  2. Call an emergency service restoration company to facilitate repairs and stare the dry-out process.
  3. Move undamaged items away from affected area.
  4. Contact your insurance agent, or the emergency contact number.

Source:  AIG Private Client Group

 

 

Mel Foster Insurance and The Selective Insurance Group Foundation Provide Matching Grants

MF INSURANCE LOGOMel Foster Insurance and The Selective Insurance Group Foundation joined forces to support the positive efforts of Jordan’s Joy through a $500 grant. The Selective Insurance Group Foundation is a philanthropic affiliate of Selective Insurance Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: SIGI).

“Mel Foster Insurance wants to be a positive force in the communities we serve,” said Marc Engels, President, Mel Foster Insurance.  “Through combined efforts with partners like The Selective Insurance Group, we have an opportunity to make a difference in children and their families suffering from life threatening illnesses.”

The grant represents a $500 donation from Mel Foster Insurance, matched by a $500 grant from The Selective Insurance Group Foundation. The grant will help Jordan’s Joy’s efforts to help bring joy and comfort to families battling life threatening and rare diseases.

“At Selective, Response is everything®… and this includes responding to the communities where we live and work to give back and help those in need. Together with Mel Foster Insurance, we are proud to support Jordan’s Joy and its efforts to make a difference in the community,” said Chuck Musilli, Senior Vice President, Distribution Strategies, Selective.

Mel Foster Insurance Earns Leadership Circle Status

MF INSURANCE LOGOMel Foster Co. Inc. is proud to announce its insurance division, Mel Foster Insurance, has earned a spot in the 2017 Leadership Circle for Integrity Insurance, a property and casualty carrier.  This recognition honors the top-tier of agencies for their work in 2016. To achieve Leadership Circle status, Mel Foster Insurance met specific criteria based on premium, profitability and growth.

Integrity President Jill Wagner Kelly stated, “Mel Foster Insurance is among the best of the best. They are a strong partner who is committed to providing top-notch service and expertise to policyholders. It’s a pleasure to see them thrive and write profitable business with Integrity.”

“This recognition is truly an honor. While the criteria for receiving this leadership status include reaching milestones for premium, profitability, growth and loss ratio, it’s the staff we have at Mel Foster Insurance, that earns and keeps business from local clients, that really helps set us apart,” said Mel Foster Insurance President Marc Engels.

Mel Foster Insurance is located at 3218 E 35th St C, Davenport, IA. For more information on their services, visit melfosterinsurance.com.

MEL FOSTER INSURANCE EARNS LEADERSHIP CIRCLE WITH INTEGRITY INSURANCE

MF INSURANCE LOGO Integrity Insurance, a property and casualty carrier, is proud to announce Mel Foster Insurance has earned a spot in the 2016 Leadership Circle, which honors the top-tier of agencies for their work in 2015. To achieve Leadership Circle status, Mel Foster Insurance met specific criteria based on premium, profitability, growth and loss ratio.

“We’re honored to work with the incredible team at Mel Foster Insurance and happy to welcome them to Integrity’s 2016 Leadership Circle” said Integrity Insurance President Jill Wagner. “Mel Foster is a major contributor to our success providing top-notch service and expertise to policyholders. We’re grateful for their commitment and partnership.”

“This recognition is a testament to our entire team’s commitment to making our clients insurance experience first class,” said Mel Foster Insurance President Marc Engels. “We feel fortunate to live and work in such a great community and can’t express how appreciative we are to our clients for putting their confidence in us.”

Mel Foster Insurance is located at 3218 E 35th St C, Davenport, IA. For more information on their services, visit melfosterinsurance.com.

Insurance Basics For First Time Buyers.

Insurance Basics
Insurance Basics

You’ve compared the costs of renting vs. owning, and home ownership is in your future. As you budget for new household expenses, be sure to include homeowners insurance, which is usually more expensive than what you are paying for renters insurance.

Having enough coverage with your homeowners insurance will give you peace of mind knowing that your home is protected. There are a few things that you should consider when choosing a homeowners insurance policy.

You need to be sure that you understand what most standard policies cover. It usually includes exterior and interior damage from vandalism, fire and weather incidents. It also may cover out of pocket expenses, damage to outside structures and even medical costs if someone is injured on your property. It also covers personal property, which is why it’s so important to have photos and to keep purchase receipts of your most expensive assets.

Also keep in mind that whenever you add something to your existing home, such as a porch or an extra bathroom, you should see if your policy needs to be adjusted. Renovations and additions can add significant value to your home and you want to be sure that the new investments you have made are also covered by your insurance.

One thing that is missing from some standard policies is coverage for flood damage. Ninety percent of damage from natural disasters occurs from flooding. Insurance providers usually offer an additional policy that will have insurance for any flood damage that may occur. Keep this in mind if you have a finished basement.

Often it can take up to 30 days for new policies to go into effect. So don’t delay any longer, contact Mel Foster Insurance today.

Mel Foster Co. Helps Fight Hunger

Student Hunger Drive
Supporting our Hungry

Mel Foster Co. conducted an internal food drive to support the community’s Student Hunger Drive.  Its agents and staff contributed 7,684 pounds of food for the 2015 Student Hunger Drive Corporate Challenge.  That is an average of over 25 pounds per person.  The total pounds raised earned Mel Foster Co. the gold award for the Student Hunger Drive.  Their insurance division won the internal food drive.

“We are thrilled to win the gold award  for our company size category this year.  We are happy to see our agents and staff rally behind this important community cause, supporting the hungry and those in need.” says Lynsey Engels, President of Brokerage Division of Mel Foster Co.

Staging Secrets To Get Top Dollar Offers.

Most sellers have tunnel vision when it comes to getting their home ready for sale. It’s important to view your home as a potential buyer would. That paint chip you hardly notice or that collection of family photos running all the way up your staircase will jump out as negatives to buyers. To get top dollar, focus on making your home appealing to potential buyers, instead of appealing to yourself.

Start by removing any clutter around the house. This will help buyers envision themselves living in your home. Although less is more, it is still important to leave the essentials in your rooms. This will give a frame of reference for how much space really is in the room and how furniture can be placed. If the room is completely empty, it may appear to be smaller than it really is. Also, remove anything that is personal in the house such as family photos, religious symbols and everything on the refrigerator.

Next you should focus on all of the things you may have ignored for the past few months. Does your front door have some paint chips? How about that leaky faucet? Quick fixes can get you higher offers.

If you have walls that are painted bright colors, or may come off as taste-specific, consider getting a fresh can of a neutral color and diffuse the bold walls. Although your child may love her fuchsia walls, someone who is just moving in would most likely appreciate a more neutral color. Taking the time to paint the room is an important step when trying to stage the home because it lets someone else see a blank canvas that they can paint their dreams on.

Mel Foster Co. has several agents who are certified in the staging of your property to attract potential buyers. Accredited Staging Professionals® (ASP) are highly skilled and certified in creating just the right atmosphere that will appeal to all five senses of every buyer.

Top Dollar Staging Secrets
Top Dollar Staging Secrets

After The Storm: What To Do When Your Home Is Damaged.

The first thing you need to do is assess the damage to your property. Always be sure that you aren’t in danger and that the storm is completely finished. Start by checking the outside of the home for any damage to the roof, siding and windows. You should also make sure that there are no downed trees or power lines in the area.

Step Two: Call Your Insurance Agent

After you have assessed the damages, your next step is to call your insurance agent to report any damage. Be ready to describe the situation and all of the damage that occurred. Make sure you also have your policy and account numbers ready when you call to speed up the process. Click here to find your Mel Foster Co. Insurance agent.

Step Three: Document The Damage

Before you begin making repairs, make sure you document the damages with photographs. This will prove that the damage actually occurred and will help your insurance agency help you. Once you have documented the damage, make your home safe and ensure no further damage is caused. Keep receipts for any work or materials that you are purchasing to repair your home. It’s important to note that if you must leave your home you should also keep receipts for hotel rooms and restaurants. Depending on your insurance policy, these expenses may also be covered.

What do I do after a storm hits?
What do I do after a storm hits?

Mel Foster Co. Toasts Historic Year

Fick Family announcing their biggest year in company history
Fick Family announcing their biggest year in company history

Mel Foster Co. held its annual awards reception last night at the Waterfront Convention Center in Bettendorf, Iowa. Lynsey Engels, President Real Estate Brokerage and Marc Engels, President of Mel Foster Insurance presented awards to 122 agents that were recognized for achieving membership in the company’s different sales club levels including Chairman, Executive, President and Honor. Top honors were awarded to:

Thad DenHartog – Commercial Top Sales

Diana Franks – Residential Illinois Top Sales

Geri Doyle – Residential Iowa Top Sales

Joe Ertel – Insurance Top Personal Lines

Mike Smith – Insurance Commercial Top Producer

Mike Kessel – Insurance Top Employee Benefits

Combining all three divisions of Mel Foster Co. Inc., the total sales volume increased by 9.21 percent from 2012, surpassing the total sales of 2005, when the market was at its peak, and making it the biggest year in the history of the 93 year old company. Rob Fick attributed Mel Foster Co.’s success to dedicated staff and agents, who continue to build and maintain relationships within their teams and outside of the company. Fick also attributed the increase as a reflection of a strengthening economy and higher consumer confidence in 2013. “I am very proud of what the company accomplished this year. I know Mel Foster Jr. would be equally proud to see us continuing his vision of forward progress and leadership in this community. We’re starting 2014 with great optimism and a stronger economy than in years past, and I anticipate 2014 to be another year of growth for Mel Foster Co. We were fortunate in 2013 to welcome 39 new agents and staff, and 28 individuals are currently enrolled in our pre-license classes,” commented Fick.

Mel Foster Co.’s residential real estate sales increased by nearly 8 percent from 2012. The average sale price for Mel Foster Co. residential real estate was $148,278, a 1.18 percent increase from last year.

New construction sales are predicted to be strong in 2014. Lynsey Engels said, “We are expecting the real estate market as a whole to continue moving forward, with new home construction heavily influencing home sales volume. We are positioned to meet demand for new construction in our area and are pleased to announce that we will be launching four new subdivisions in 2014 coupled with the four that were launched in 2013. We closed 85 new residential lots last year and will have another 146 lots available in 2014.”

Mel Foster Commercial relocated to the Elmore Office Park in the spring of 2013. Engels reported that agents in the commercial division closed an average of over six million dollars per agent. After having their best year last year since 2005, Mel Foster Commercial still had a one percent increase in sales from the previous year.

Mel Foster Insurance had the biggest year in the history of the company. Marc Engels commented, “We have introduced a lot of new processes throughout the division and our agents and staff have done a great job adapting to the ever-changing insurance markets. Much of our growth can be attributed to our strong carrier representation which has allowed us to secure new business relationships in the Quad City market.” Direct written premiums were up 44.8 percent since 2009 and the insurance division has been able to more than double its employee benefits department. Engels added, “To continue to build each year is a testament to our team’s ability to meet the expectations of our Quad Cities and surrounding area clients.” In 2013, the personal insurance lines department’s sales grew 8.1 percent and the commercial department was up 15.4 percent. Engels also said, “I think individuals and business owners in this market appreciate the consistency, integrity, and professional competence our team brings to the insurance experience.”

Mel Foster Co. invested in multiple technology enhancements in 2013 to help buyers and sellers search for homes more easily. The new website was launched in fall 2013 and a new app was recently rolled out. Internally, agents benefitted from IT upgrades, a more robust intranet site, paperless transactions and enhanced consumer reports with greater details for homebuyers and sellers. Lynsey Engels stated, “We want to make sure that our agents have every tool they need to successfully meet their clients’ needs. We continually invest in technology upgrades and stay current on new features that we can integrate into our systems. With over 90% of people searching for a home online, it’s crucial for our agents to have top of the line technology.”


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