How to Save for a Down Payment

Do you have enough for a down payment?

You’re ready to leave your rental behind but don’t have enough down payment yet. Here’s how to start saving today to get you closer to moving into a home of your own.

Begin Saving Early

The sooner you’re able to start saving the better, especially if you’re able to invest some of your savings. The more you have saved, the more options you’ll have when looking for a home.

Follow a Budget

If you’re disciplined and able to stick to a budget, you should be able to set aside a specific amount of your paycheck to savings every month. You may have to cut expenses or seek additional income, but you will save in the long run by having lower monthly mortgage payments.

Save Windfalls of Cash

Start saving any extra money you come across. Tax returns, gifts and bonuses are perfect sources for your down payment. If you’re able to grow this money through investments, it will get you that much closer to your long-term goals.

Use Interest to Grow Your Savings

If you’re able to utilize high interest savings accounts or certificates of deposits (CD’s) you’ll automatically be putting your money to work for you. Seek out the best resources for earning more for your money.

If you’re wondering how much you need to save for a down payment, use this easy mortgage calculator

Spring offers a chance to refresh and try something new.

Plant a tree.

Consider local events when planning your April community involvement and activities.

Dress for Success’ Recycle the Runway at River Center in Davenport

April 12

5:30-9:00pm

Wine Festival Preview Dinner in Rogalski Center at St. Ambrose in Davenport

April 14

6:00-10:00pm

Muscatine Symphony Orchestra at Central Middle School in Muscatine

April 14

7:30pm-11:00pm

Midwest Corvettes Spring Rally at Isle Casino Hotel in Bettendorf

April 15

8:00am-12:00pm

Women’s Health & Lifestyle Fair at River Center in Davenport

April 21

8:00am-4:00pm

Quad-City Audubon Field Trip at Crow Creek Park in Bettendorf

April 21

7:30am-11:00am

Earth Day Volunteer Landscape Work Day at Hauberg Civic Center in Rock Island

April 22

10:00am-3:00pm

Celebrate Arbor Day at Moline Garden Center in Moline

April 27

3:00-4:00pm

 

 

 

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.

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

Mel Foster Co. logoRT-AB-Badge-Lockup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Cool Energy Saving Tips

Cool Energy Savings Tips
Cool Energy Savings Tips

With the weather heating up, it’s tempting to crank up the air conditioning. Unfortunately, this will also crank up your energy bill, so follow these tips to stay cool and save money.

  1. Clean or Replace Air Conditioner Filters

Be sure your cooling system is running at peak efficiency. If your filters are dirty and blocked, you’ll be using more energy and getting less cool air. Cleaning the filters won’t only result in cleaner air, but also a more efficient system. You’ll be breathing cooler and cleaner air for less money.

  1. Keep Windows and Blinds Opened and Closed at the Right Time

Keeping the blinds and windows closed when the sun is beating down is an extremely easy way to keep your home cooler. But if you like having fresh air, try to only open windows at night or in the early morning before the heat and humidity rise. Having the windows open rather than running the A/C a no cost way to keep your home a little cooler while still enjoying the summer weather.

  1. Only Use Air Conditioning if you are Home

It might be refreshing to always come home to nice cool house, but running air conditioning 24/7 can be very expensive. Turning off the air while you’re at work will end up saving you money each month. Many thermostats have scheduling features or smart phone connectivity so you can activate air conditioning at a specific time.

  1. Use Fans to Circulate Air

Using fans to keep air moving is one of the best ways to keep cool. You’ll save energy, and be able to control the speed of the air flow. This will help cool air disperse more evenly throughout your home, and keep energy costs down. Remember to switch your fan’s direction to counterclockwise in the summer to create cool downward airflow

Protecting Your Home While On Vacation

Protecting your home.
Protecting your home.

Vacation should be a time for relaxing, not worrying about your home. Mel Foster Co. has a few tips to help protect your home while you’re vacationing.

  1. Avoid Social Media

It may be tempting to share how excited you are about your trip, but it’s an obvious giveaway you are leaving your house soon. Try to avoid posting pictures while you’re on vacation, instead wait until after the vacation to share photos online.

  1. Stop the Mail

Having an overflowing mailbox is a clear indication someone hasn’t been home recently. Stopping mail from the USPS is easy and free for up to 30 days. You don’t even need to go to the post office after your vacation to retrieve your mail; a large bundle will be delivered once you’re home. And you can sign up online to have your mail held.

  1. Lock Everything

It seems like common sense, but it never hurts to double check to ensure everything is locked. Windows and back doors are all possible points of entry. Before you leave for vacation, be sure to double-check everything is locked, and if you have a spare key, leave it inside the house while you’re away. Many burglars look for hidden keys outside the home.

  1. Have Electronics on a Timer

A dark house is a sign no one is home. Set timers on devices in various rooms for different times. Some timers even allow you to control the lights through your smartphone allowing you to switch the timers on a daily basis.

  1. Have Someone Checking on Your Home

The most reliable way to keep your home safe is to have a family member or friend check on your house a few times while you’re away. If someone is coming and going from your house while you’re away, it’s much less likely that burglars will choose your house.

Clean It Up To Sell It Fast

Sell Your Home Quicker.
Sell Your Home Quicker.

The change of seasons presents the perfect time to deep clean up your home, and make it more appealing to buyers. Here are four ways a little elbow grease can add value to your home and help it appeal to more buyers.

  1. Focus on the Floors

Deep cleaning your floors is a great way to freshen up your home. Steam cleaning carpets, applying a new finish to hardwood floors or adding new rugs all make your home look more attractive to buyers. Consider hiring professional help to get out any stains you’ve been unable to remove.

  1. Apply Fresh Paint, Inside and Out

A new coat of paint dramatically improves the appearance of your home. Stick with neutral colors to appeal to a broader audience. Having a fresh coat of paint on the exterior will increase your curb appeal and raise interest in your home.

  1. Replace Popcorn Ceilings

Nothing screams dated more than popcorn ceilings. It was an extremely popular practice during the 80s and 90s, but most homebuyers today don’t like it. Removing or covering popcorn ceilings is a time intensive project, but increases the value of your home.

  1. Deep Clean the Kitchen and Bath

The kitchen and bathrooms often don’t receive deep cleanings as often as they should. Cleaning grout, replacing caulk, and scrubbing down cabinets and sinks takes time, but buyers notice. You need to show buyers your home is well cared for, and keeping heavily used areas clean is a great sign your home is properly maintained.


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