How do you know how much house you can afford and how much cash you may need at closing and soon after moving? Mel Foster has a mortgage calculator to help you determine your monthly costs. This information is helpful when you apply for pre-qualification for your mortgage with a lender.
The mathematical formula for calculating monthly payments for a given mortgage loan amount is complicated. This is where a mortgage calculator comes in handy. It does the work for you by quickly calculating the monthly payment based on the amount of the loan, mortgage length and interest rate. Use these calculators.
Other Factors To Consider
The mortgage is not the only expense you’ll have when buying your home. Be sure to include these other costs as you prepare your budget:
Mortgage insurance (if applicable)
Homeowner’s Association fees (if applicable)
Attorney, title, inspections and closing fees
Utility service initial fees
Interest rates are still at historically low numbers, which has been great for locking in affordable mortgage rates. Recent decisions within the Federal Reserve Bank will affect borrowing power for homeowners, with indications that interest rates are likely to start climbing again in 2022. Ultimately, this means consumers will pay more to borrow. It’s time to act quickly and secure your mortgage before interest rates rise.
The challenges the pandemic created in 2020 led Mel Foster Co. to develop new ways to advance the use of technology for open houses, marketing and closings. The new technology was well received by buyers and sellers and will likely remain as a standard practice long after the immediate threat from COVID-19 has passed.
Mel Foster Co. President Lynsey Engels said, “The year 2020 made our agents pivot and try new ways to communicate with buyers and sellers, market listings differently and complete closing paperwork virtually. Many of our agents were already using our virtual tools, and COVID-19 made it essential for conducting business. We are so fortunate that we had these tools in place and were ready to modify the way we do business so we could continue serving buyers and sellers.”
Mel Foster Co. typically hosts an event each January to recognize agents and staff and celebrate achievements. This year, the awards were held as a virtual toasting to the year 2020. “While the pandemic prevented the agents, staff and management from getting together in person, the company felt it was important to toast our 2020 successes and kick off our 100-year celebration,” Ms. Engels commented. Each agent and staff member received a customized box with items from local businesses that allowed Mel Foster Co. to support its fellow local businesses.
Lynsey Engels, president of real estate brokerage, Marc Engels, president of Mel Foster Insurance, and Rob Fick, president and CEO, released the company’s year-end results collectively via video presentation. The video also recognized the achievements of 109 agents who received awards for their performance in 2020.
Mel Foster Insurance continues to be a trusted independent insurance agency in the Quad Cities region with exceptional client retention rates and the continued growth of new personal/business client relationships. In 2020, Mel Foster Insurance associates added 725 new clients along with writing 1,600 new lines of coverage.
The insurance division increased both total premiums written, up 2.9 percent, and policy count, up 3.1 percent from 2020. Mr. Engels said, “We are pleased to have a 97.4% client retention rate agency-wide. We strive to provide a personalized insurance experience and we can’t thank our clients enough for their continued business.”
“Our entire team came together and delivered on our commitment to providing first class service to our personal and business insurance clients. That couldn’t have been more critical than in a year where we were handed a pandemic, major March hailstorm, and the August derecho,” Engels stated. “Our insurance partners and agency personnel all stepped up in a positive way to assist our clients in a year that saw unprecedented claim counts. I am so grateful to our team and the way we handled the challenges of 2020,” continued Mr. Engels.
Mel Foster Commercial Real Estate Services, led by Thad DenHartog, sold nearly $71 million in commercial real estate properties earning 33% of the market share in 2020. The division employs eight commercial brokers and two staff members. Three of the company’s commercial brokers ranked in the top 10 of the Quad Cities Commercial MLS. “We saw positive commercial real estate market activity this year,” commented Ms. Engels. “In a year when our clients faced many challenges, our commercial brokers helped them navigate their unique short-term and long-term needs so they could continue to be successful.”
Across the eight residential locations within Mel Foster Co. that serve Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois, the company had a combined 13 agents in the top 10 of their respective MLS. The average sales price for the company was $176,429 and the number of days on the market for 2020 was 58. Like many markets across the country, our region saw record-low inventories as sellers waited longer to list their homes. On average, Mel Foster Co.’s agents closed 15 transactions in 2020, higher than the national median of 12, according to statistics from the National Association of REALTORS®.
In 2020, Mel Foster Co. sold 47 lots in five subdivisions. Mel Foster Co. is the largest land developer in the region and continues to expand its existing subdivisions. The company plans to release 65 new residential lots in 2021. Mel Foster Co. residential agents sold 101 new construction homes or condos in 2020. The average Mel Foster Co. new construction sales price was $401,649, up from $377,731 last year.
During the virtual awards toast, Fick welcomed 11 new agents/staff and congratulated 13 on their retirements. Twenty-six agents were recognized for volunteering on real estate association committees or boards at the local, state, or national level. Forty-nine agents and staff were thanked for their years of service with the company. Across all three divisions, the median number of years of service among staff/agents is 15.5 years. This number is three times the national average as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in September 2020.
Mel Foster Co. trademarked their think.buy.be.local logo and slogan in 2020. Even in a year with a pandemic, agents and staff participated in many projects to give back to the community. They kicked off 2020 with the River Bend Foodbank – Community Hunger Drive, provided over 300 coats to various non-profit organizations, adopted multiple families over the holidays, made and delivered baskets to seniors, created Valentine’s Day cards for seniors, partnered with WQAD for a school supply drive, held a blood drive with the Mississippi Valley Blood Center, and collected toys and money for Toys for Tots drive. They also supported local businesses by purchasing over 150 gift cards for client appreciation events. During Small Business week, gift cards were purchased for agent and staff raffles to encourage supporting local businesses and encouraging the community to do the same. All posts were shared and tagged on their Facebook page to raise awareness for supporting local businesses.
Fick closed the awards virtual toast by offering a hopeful look ahead at the year 2021. “This is our 100th year, and we want to thank the community for its support all of these years. We look forward to many exciting events and initiatives that we will be rolling out in the coming months.”
Mel Foster Commercial Real Estate Services is pleased to announce its office ranked number one in the CMLS for 2014. Based on 2014 closed commercial transaction production, Mel Foster Commercial Real Estate Services captured over 43 percent of the total volume with $105,044,165 in closed sales.
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.
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.
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.
With housing prices and mortgage rates on the decline, now may be the best time to consider purchasing your new home. It may seem like a hassle to consider a major purchase and a move, especially during this year’s exceptionally brutal winter, however there are several reasons why waiting it out might not be in your best interest.
Rising Interest Rates
According to Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, the National Association of Realtors, and the Mortgage Bankers Association, 30-year mortgage interest rates are projected to be over 5% by February 2015. This increase brings interest rates almost an entire percentage point higher than current market rates.
Inventory in many regions is on the decline. Buyers in markets nationwide are beginning to find that their choices are becoming ever smaller, as the once large assortment of homes continues to decrease.
An Increase in Prices
Homebuyers will find that they are going to pay both a higher price and incur a higher interest rate if they wait until spring. In the long run, higher sales prices and interest rates could mean hundreds of dollars more in a monthly mortgage payment.
Home Ownership Creates Wealth
In a recent study, it was found that the net worth of an average homeowner was 30 times greater than the net worth of a renter. Whether you rent or own, you pay a mortgage. Would you rather pay down your own mortgage or your landlord’s?
Mel Foster Co. has been awarded the Website Quality Certification (WQC) from Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, a global network of 500+ real estate firms which presents the certification to member companies that demonstrate best practices in website design and Internet communications.
Mel Foster Co.’s website, www.melfosterco.com , earned the certification after achieving high marks on a range of criteria, including usability and performance, design and content, interactivity, customer service and Internet lead management, search engine optimization and mobile.
Created by LeadingRE in 2009 to recognize member websites that combine high standards for design, technology and service, the criteria for the WQC are updated annually to reflect the latest in internet marketing strategies. The WQC is an optional program available only to firms affiliated with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® and requires re-certification every two years.
“We are pleased to present the WQC to 124 members this year and commend these firms for creating websites that effectively engage today’s home buyers and sellers by providing relevant information in a compelling way, with the perspective only a local firm can offer,” said Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® President/CEO Pam O’Connor.
“We have received this certification since its inception and it just confirms that we continue to be a real estate leader in using “best practices” in website design and internet communications. Our new site was rolled out in the fall. Our website users are experiencing superior results and an excellent customer service experience on our site,” said Mel Foster Co. Lynsey Engels, President Mel Foster Co. Brokerage.
Mel Foster Co.’s relocation specialists have helped thousands of families relocate to the Quad Cities. Our award-winning staff offers a variety of relocation and real estate services. There is so much to think about and do when planning a move and we can help!
Once you’ve found a home in your new community and set a closing date, contact a mover. Your Mel Foster relocation specialist can help you find moving companies. It’s never too soon to start sorting through your closets and storage areas and determining what you need to keep, donate or throw away.
As you pack up your photos, take a look at your furniture and decide if you need to sell pieces or purchase additional items for your new home. Measure your furniture and consider if it will fit into the floor plan at your new home.
Start a moving paperwork file and find new providers in your community or transfer your records. Be sure to find a new bank, doctor, dentist and vet. Research clubs or civic organizations in your new town and contact the local church to let them know you’re relocating.
About a month prior to your move, check these items off your list:
Change your address with the post office and IRS.
Forward magazines and newspapers to your new address.
Contact utility companies in both your old and new location.
Make travel arrangements.
Contact your insurance agent in both your old and new location.
With a little planning and help from Mel Foster Co.’s relocation specialists, your next move can be an exciting adventure!