Mel Foster Co. Celebrates 2022 Achievements

Mel Foster Co. celebrated 2022 at its annual awards event on January 26, 2023. Lynsey Engels, president of real estate brokerage, Marc Engels, president of Mel Foster Insurance, and Rob Fick, president and CEO, collectively honored 109 award winners for their 2022 achievements and released the company’s year-end results.

Mel Foster Insurance, a locally owned and operated independent insurance agency, had another successful year in a challenging insurance market. With insurance rates rising across the region, the agency was able to capitalize on their numerous financially stable insurance company partners to bring insurance solutions to clients. Agency President Marc Engels commented, “The insurance industry continues to see record catastrophic weather events, nuclear liability verdicts, and unprecedented social inflation, affecting premiums for all insurance consumers. Our people and our long-term relationships in the insurance marketplace make us uniquely positioned to find competitive rates while providing professional and local service.”

In an evolving insurance market, the commercial property and casualty department experienced year-over-year growth of 8.9%. Overall, the insurance division saw increased revenue of 6%, and direct written premium was up 5.9%. Mr. Engels said, “I am proud of our entire team for the outstanding service provided throughout the year, which allowed us to retain 98% of our clients in 2022! We appreciate the confidence clients have in us as we recognize we would not be here without their continued business.”  

“In 2023, we will continue to make financial investments in training and professional development for our employees. We will work diligently to be a trusted independent agency in the Quad Cities region that delivers a great insurance experience,” said Mr. Engels.  

As one of the largest land developers in the Quad Cities and surrounding areas, Mel Foster Co. sold 24 residential lots in six subdivisions in 2022. To keep up with the demand, the company has 103 developed residential lots available in inventory for home buyers wishing to build their dream home. In addition to the already developed residential lots, Mel Foster Co. has four additional subdivisions final platted and ready to be developed.  Mel Foster Co. residential agents sold 69 new construction homes or condos in 2022 and the average new construction sales price in 2022 was $455,994, up from $452,734 last year.

Mel Foster Commercial Real Estate Services, led by Thad DenHartog, had over $75 million in commercial real estate sales, down 8.7% from last year. Two of the company’s commercial brokers ranked in the top 10 of the Quad Cities Commercial MLS. Ms. Engels said, “Even with the changing marketplace, the Quad Cities commercial real estate industry saw an increase in interest from outside investors. Despite rising inflation, fears of a recession and supply chain disruptions, the demand for industrial space was still high.”

Nationally and locally, residential real estate continued to experience a lack of inventory and rising interest rates sidelined some buyers and sellers in the year’s second half. Mel Foster Co. had a 5% decline in volume from 2021. The average sales price for the company was up 9.57% from 2022 at $213,588, and the number of days on the market dropped to 27 compared to 37 in 2021.

Ms. Engels stated, “The first half of the year was similar to 2021. Buyers experienced strong home prices, limited inventory, and a relatively fast-moving environment. As interest rates increased, inflation skyrocketed, and inventory remained tight, the market changed in the last half of the year. Our agents still successfully closed deals with those challenges.” On average, Mel Foster Co.’s agents closed 13.5 transactions (buy or sell) in 2022, which is higher than the national average according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

Across the eight residential office locations within Mel Foster Co., the company had a combined 11 agents in the top 10 of their respective residential MLS. Ten agents were named on RealTrends America’s Best Real Estate Professionals list, which honors the finest real estate agents from across the country.

The website, MelFosterCo.com was named one of the leading real estate websites in the nation. The website was recognized for its community section by the real estate industry publication RealTrends Website Rankings, which highlights the top real estate websites across the country in six total categories in an annual brokerage website ranking. A team of technical experts specializing in website design, structure, and functionality analyzes the sites. Mel Foster Co. earned the 2022 Top Workplaces in the USA and Top Workplaces in Iowa, a partnership with The Des Moines Register and Energage.

Fick welcomed 17 new agents/staff and congratulated five other agents/staff on their retirements during the awards. Twenty-two agents were recognized for volunteering on real estate association committees or boards at the local, state, or national level. Forty-one agents and staff were thanked for their years of service with the company, totaling 660 years of combined service. Across all three company divisions, the median years of service among staff/agents is 13.5 years. This number is nearly double what other companies experience, according to NAR. Fick commented, “Our years of service marker indicates that our agents, producers, and staff have collectively created a culture that I am proud of.  We invest in new technology and new products to help our agents and producers find success at Mel Foster Co. We are always seeking talented professionals to join our team.”

Throughout its 100-year history, Mel Foster Co. has prioritized giving back to the communities it serves.

Mel Foster Co. continued its Think.Buy.Be.Local campaign in 2022. In support of this initiative, the company raised money to support local families by participating in the River Bend Foodbank Community Hunger Drive. Mel Foster Co. supported multiple families in need over the holidays, made and delivered baskets to seniors, partnered with WQAD for a school supply drive, held a blood drive with ImpactLIfe, donated to Quad City Animal Welfare Center through a partnership with WHBF, and collected toys and money for Toys for Tots. Mel Foster Co. agents and staff supported over 160 local businesses during Small Business Week, a 62% increase from last year. The company partnered with local breweries and coffee shops in its communities by providing its agents and staff with branded Mel Foster Co. growlers for a complimentary fill on the company at those establishments. The company is also the three-peat defending champion of the Quad-City Times Bix 7 Brady Street Corporate Sponsor Challenge. Ms. Engels stated, “It’s a privilege to work with our staff and agents with opportunities to give back and support local businesses.”

Engels closed the awards by thanking the agents and staff for their continued perseverance, loyalty, and commitment to clients. “We don’t know what challenges 2023 will bring, but our dedicated professionals will be ready to serve our communities.”

For a complete list of award winners, visit https://www.melfosterco.com/agent-achievements

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.

Home Design And Remodeling Trends

Today’s design and remodeling trends can be followed by tracking what homeowners are searching online. Companies compare last year’s to this year’s website searches to get a glimpse at what people are researching. See what trends have been popular in the first half of this year, as reported by Houzz Pro.

Dedicated Activity Space

Having flexible and functional space at home became important once working from home became prevalent. Home office searches jumped 108% over last year’s searches, indicating that finding practical use of existing space at home is a big deal. Turn a spare bedroom into a place for work. Rearrange the furniture to carve out a nook for a desk and laptop near the window.

Green Makes A Statement

After years of cool grays, blues and white, homeowners turn to green to add warmth to the home. And where do we see green? Pretty much everywhere! The most significant search trend for green is for kitchen cabinets and bathroom tiles. Living spaces are filled with organic green botanical motifs when combined with natural wood. Existing chairs and sofas are being recovered in luscious, velvety fabrics in stunning emerald or peacock.

Decorating Accents

Add flair to a room by introducing new accent pieces to your living space. Replace your existing mirror with a luxurious and contemporary gold one. Swap your faucets, light fixtures and handles in the powder room with the updated champagne finish from the matte silver you have now. Jazz up your furniture pieces by purchasing new accent pillows for a fresh feel.

Swimming Pool And Water Features

Swimming pools are fun, and homeowners want control over when they can enjoy one and with whom they can enjoy it with. Pools that offer a water feature, like a waterfall, also provide the luxury and soothing sounds for relaxation owners seek. Pool companies are having a hard time keeping up with demand for the addition of this feature, confirming that the searching trend for pools being up 797% is right on point.

Find more homeowner tips at melfostercoblog.com

Preparing Your Home To Sell

Sellers want their home in top condition when it goes on the market. We know those first impressions and curb appeal matter. What can homeowners do to get their house in top condition to sell?

All In The Presentation

You only get one chance to make a first impression. Some say the first impression is the only impression that matters. You’ll often get the best return on your investment when spending money on improvements to the outside of the house. Make time to power wash your home and clear out the spiderwebs on the front porch. Keep the landscape tidy and free of debris and ensure the walkway to your home is clear. Buy the new garage door or update the front entrance door and add a fresh doormat.

Showcase Properly

Clear the entrance and kitchen of dirt and grime. Touch up any nicks in the drywall and paint walls in high-traffic areas inside, like the main hallways and bathrooms. Address any areas where stale odors or stains are noticeable in your carpets or rugs. It may be time to hire a carpet cleaner to do a deep clean. It’s important to depersonalize the home. The buyers have to envision themselves in your space, so remove personal photos where possible.

Do’s And Don’ts

  • DO – Almost all buyers claim they search for a home with good light. Always maximize the lighting at home, both inside and out. Be sure all the window coverings are open to let the sunshine in. Purchase higher wattage bulbs for lamps and light fixtures.
  • DON’T – Even if you think your pet is the most adorable one that exists, not all buyers will agree. It’s best to send your pet to a friend or neighbors’ home during a showing. Some buyers get the impression the house is not clean if animals live there, so it’s best not to have the food bowl or litter box out as a reminder.
  • DO – Buyers want storage. Organize and purge items in your closets so that the closets are only half full. A tidy closet only half full will give the impression that there is plenty of space.

Find more tips for selling your home.

The Shift From Open Concept

Are you open to a home that is not open concept? Some buyers have reevaluated and now search for homes that reflect how differently we’re using our interior space, specifically when choosing an open or closed concept layout. Consider a few reasons why some are seeking homes with a more closed concept.

More Privacy

More rooms with distinct separation by walls and doors give you more options to find a spot for privacy. And the reality that we’re spending more time at home now than ever before just reiterates the value of having a choice in finding space to tuck away from others and regroup.

More Volume Control

While the sightlines of an open concept home are appealing to many, the acoustics and noise level can often be troublesome. Moms find little reprieve from the wild shrieks of spirited youngsters in an open-concept space where the kitchen flows to the family living area. A home with a separate kitchen allows for more volume control while preparing family meals.

More Rooms To Decorate

If you’re a fan of interior design but have trouble choosing just one theme, finding a home with multiple rooms means you have that many more chances to vary the décor. Instead of worrying that the open design plan flows from one room to another, you can arrange each room with creative flair.

More Energy Efficient

You have more control over the heating and cooling of your space with a closed-concept home. Managing the house temperature by closing off rooms used less often results in lower heating and cooling costs and makes the closed concept arrangement more energy efficient.

Now’s the time to give an older home a chance. Find more tips for buyers at melfostercoblog.com


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