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.

Mel Foster Co. Agents Earn Premium Club Status

Lynsey Engels, President, Real Estate Brokerage at Mel Foster Co. Inc. is pleased to announce ten of their agents have received recognition in the 2014 Premier Club by Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®.  The following agents received Premier Club status, based upon closed referrals between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014:

  • Zina Akre, Geneseo
  • Jodi Faulkner, Bettendorf
  • Lucky Lang, Davenport I-74
  • Don Marple, Davenport Kimberly Road
  • Norm Marcov, Davenport I-74
  • Tim Odey, Bettendorf
  • Judy Schmidt, Moline
  • Steve Sullivan, Moline
  • Jackie Turner, Galesburg
  • Pete Voss, Davenport Kimberly Road

Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® is a global network of over 500 premier real estate firms.  Leading RE is comprised of select independent real estate companies who set the standard of quality service, while generating a highest volume of referral, relocation, and real estate business opportunities for its members.

Mel Foster Co. Relocation division is lead by Deb Boland, and her team assists with moving in or out of the area, providing community tours, finding second homes and senior living.  Contact our relocation specialist for more information at www.melfosterco.com

Start A New Winter Tradition.

Start a new winter tradition.
Start a new winter tradition.

Are you a snowbird? Do you “fly south” for the winter? Why continue to rent, especially if you find yourself returning to the same place year after year. Try using Mel Foster Co.’s free relocation services to help you find and purchase a second home in your favorite winter destination. Our vast network of contacts will help you find an agent wherever you spend your winter.

Here are just a few things that we offer:

  • Help you find an agent in another state
  • Provide cost of living comparisons
  • Help you find a mortgage company

While you’re basking in the sun in your winter get-away town, thoroughly survey your favorite neighborhoods. How’s the traffic when the population is at its winter peak? Are stores or restaurants more crowded at certain times of the day? This information will give you an idea of what to expect during winters to come.

Ask your agent about renting out your winter home in the months that you’re away to generate more disposable income. If you pick the right property, it may pay for itself.

Contact a relocation specialist and start making connections in your winter community.

Where Gen Y Buyers Can Find A Diamond In The Rough.

Are you a Gen Y buyer?
Are you a Gen Y buyer?

When shopping for a home, check out transitional city neighborhoods that might just be on the verge of revitalization. You might find a great price or a really unique home that’s in the middle of the action. There are several reasons why you should consider all of your options when searching for your new home.

Urban neighborhoods are home to coffee shops and corner stores. Boutiques and other quirky shops can add the character you might be missing in a traditional suburban setting.

Young couples or singles, who aren’t ready to give up a thriving nightlife, are often drawn to downtown lofts, converted warehouse spaces or even upper floors of shops and restaurants. Living downtown may give you more opportunities to make friends who are your age.

Many times, living in an urban area gives you easier access to public transportation that could significantly reduce your annual transportation budget, if you’re fortunate enough to no longer need the use of a car.

Farmer’s markets and food co-ops are also becoming very popular in urban areas. With access to organic and farm fresh food, your health and wallet could be thanking you. Another point of consideration is that living in densely populated areas gives you the potential for exposure to other ethnic groups and cultures. New and interesting food and customs could become just another perk of your new neighborhood.

Downtown homes or lofts are often smaller than homes out in the burbs. This means less to clean, a smaller yard or maybe no yard to mow, and your utility bill may be smaller in a smaller home. You have your whole life to move out to the suburbs. Look around your downtown for the hot spots that fit your budget and style.

Count on a Mel Foster Co. agent to help you identify up and coming neighborhoods and the programs that may make homeownership more affordable to you. Find an agent at your local office.

Turn A Vacation Rental Into Your Second Home.

Turn a vacation rental into a second home!
Turn a vacation rental into a second home!

Vacation home sales are on the rise, with many people buying for a vacation home to use now and retire to later.

Second home buyers tend to be in their 40s and 50s, are still working, have children who are starting their own families and no obligations to care for aging parents. They are using their vacation home as a meeting place to gather everyone during holidays or other significant family holidays.

When the home isn’t being used, it generates rental income. In some locations, the rental fees can completely cover the mortgage, taxes and fees of homeownership, giving you a vacation home for free that can eventually become your second home in retirement.

Purchasing a vacation home where you’d eventually like to retire allows you to establish community ties for a smooth transition into retirement later. It’s also a great trial run. It gives you a glimpse into where you might want to spend your golden years before the time arrives and you have to make a firm commitment.

There are also financial benefits to owning a second home. First is the appreciation that will happen over time, especially if you purchase in a popular resort area. However even modest appreciation over time is acceptable given all the benefits of second home ownership.

Mel Foster Co.’s relocation division has connections to help you find a second home anywhere in the world. Contact a relocation specialist at 800-367-1134.

Get Your Finances In Order.

Getting your finances in order
Getting your finances in order

One of the smartest things you can do before buying a home is getting yourself pre-qualified. By getting pre-qualified, you’ll get an idea of what your mortgage might cost, ahead of time. This can help you prepare your budget, set your expectations and strengthen your confidence to negotiate when you’re ready to make an offer.

What is pre-qualification?

Pre-qualification gives you an estimate of what you could potentially borrow. It is based on information you give on your income, assets and credit. Many times a pre-qualification can be done online and is offered by many lenders at little to no cost. It is however just an estimation, and not a guarantee of any type of loan.

Why get pre-qualified?

Once you know how much of a monthly payment you are able to afford, and you’ve figured out a budget for yourself, a pre-qualification will allow you to estimate a loan option to fit your needs. You’ll also have a better idea of which homes you can afford during your search.

What documentation do I need in order to get pre-qualified?

You will need proof of income, this could include recent pay stubs, or W-2 statements from the past two years. You should also bring a copy of your tax return for the past two years, as well as proof of any alimony or additional income. You’ll also want to bring proof of your assets, including bank account statements to show you have the money for a potential down payment. Don’t forget your driver’s license and social security card, as the lender will need these to access your credit report.

Pre-qualification can help you be fully prepared to purchase that home you’ve been eyeing. You can get a head start by using the mortgage calculators to determine your monthly payment, figure out how much home you can afford and make a decision about renting versus buying.

An Older Home As A Green Alternative.

Older Home as Green Alternative
Older Home as Green Alternative

Call it recycling on a grand scale. Homebuyers who want their purchase to be more environmentally friendly are turning to older homes instead of building new. In fact, architect Carl Elefante coined the phrase, “the greenest building is the one that is already built.” What he meant by that is that environmental resources that would be used to build a building’s replacement are often times spared by restoring or repurposing an existing structure.

Did you know that it can take up to 80 years for a new, energy-efficient building to overcome the energy and climate change impacts caused during the construction process? Building reuse offers significant environmental savings when compared to the energy consumption of demolition and new construction.

Older buildings constructed prior to reliance on mechanical heating, cooling and lighting systems utilize what nature offers as part of their design. This can help reduce your energy use, helping you save on heating and cooling your home.

Go green and consider purchasing an older home that just needs a little TLC. Use the option to search by Year Built by clicking here to find a home you can recycle.

Which Loan Is Right For Me?

It’s important to select the right type of mortgage for your financial situation, but understanding your options can be difficult. Your Mel Foster Co. agent  <link to find an agent> is your resource for proving information so you are able to make a knowledgeable decision regarding a mortgage. This quick list explains the top three most popular loan types.

1. Fixed-interest Mortgage

A fixed-interest mortgage is a type of loan that has a set interest rate. Most fixed mortgages are usually 10, 15, 20, or 30 years. The most common length of time is 30 years, as it provides the lowest monthly payment for homeowners. Keep in mind that most of the first few years of the payment are heavily focused on the interest that will be paid off, and very little actually goes towards the principal. You can determine your monthly payment for a fixed-interest mortgage with the Mel Foster Co. monthly payment calculator. 

2. Adjustable-rate Mortgage

An adjustable-rate mortgage or ARM is a loan with a variable interest rate. The interest rate will change after a designated period of time, determined by the lender. As a borrower, you may benefit if the interest rate is lowered, but you will also be exposed to potentially higher interest rates. The interest rate will remain steady for an agreed upon time, and won’t change until the next adjustment period. These types of mortgages are easier to obtain in situations when a fixed-interest mortgage isn’t an option. 

3. Interest-only Loan

An interest-only loan focuses on paying only the interest first. An example would be a 5-year fixed-30 mortgage. This means that for the first five years, you are only paying the interest, and not contributing any money towards the principal. The interest rate is fixed, but may change after five years. Once the five years is up, you begin to pay interest along with the principal cost. This will increase your payments significantly, even if the interest rate doesn’t change. This option is meant for someone who believes that they will earn more money in the future, or currently has their money tied up somewhere else. Just always remember to save your money for after the initial five years.

Which loan is right for you?
Which loan is right for you?

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

How To Find A Family-Friendly Neighborhood.

It’s time to find a neighborhood full of families, to give your kids opportunities to build friendships and memories. Your best resource for locating these family-friendly neighborhoods is your agent.

If you’ve located a possible neighborhood, and wonder if there are lots of kids, take a look around. Look for swing sets, bicycles, basketball hoops or chalk drawings on the driveways or sidewalks. These are signs of a family-friendly neighborhood.

Also check the surrounding area for parks, playgrounds or pools. These amenities are an indication that families are most likely close by. These locations may also boost your sense of community if you frequent them with other families from your neighborhood.

Once you’ve settled on a neighborhood, you’ll need to know what homes are for sale in the area. Search by address or define an area on an interactive map on the Mel Foster Co. website. Another great search tool is the Mel Foster Co. app. It’s free and you simply launch the app in the neighborhood you desire and all homes for sale pop up on your screen with the Foster Finder. The app shows all homes for sale, not just Mel Foster Co. listings.

Looking for a family friendly neighborhood?
Looking for a family friendly neighborhood?


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