Mel Foster Co. Celebrates 2021 Achievements

Mel Foster Co. celebrated 2021 at a virtual annual awards event on January 27, 2022. Lynsey Engels, president of real estate brokerage, Marc Engels, president of Mel Foster Insurance, and Rob Fick, president and CEO, collectively honored 118 award winners for their 2021 achievements and released the company’s year-end results via video presentation.

Mel Foster Insurance, a locally owned and operated independent insurance agency, continued to expand its footprint in the Quad Cities region with strategic investments and expansion in 2021. In April, the insurance division acquired Capstone Insurance Group in the Cedar Rapids area expanding its presence in Eastern Iowa. To accommodate continued growth, Mel Foster Insurance completed a major remodel to its Davenport headquarters which modernized the entire office and added an additional 2,000 square feet.

In a challenging post-derecho insurance market, the insurance division increased both total premiums written, up 7 percent, and policy count, up 3.9 percent.  Mr. Engels said, “It was an extremely busy year with lots of market disruptions, but we are pleased to achieve 97 percent client retention rate agency-wide. Our entire team work diligently to provide a personalized insurance experience and we can’t thank our clients enough for their loyalty and continued business.” 

“We are glad to get the major storms of 2020 that hit our local communities so hard in the rearview.  It was unprecedented claim counts coupled with shortages in labor and materials and I am proud of how the team and our insurance partners rose to the occasion,” Engels stated. “Through our financial investments, growth, and market expansion we have made critical steps to position ourselves for the long term in this region as a trusted independent agency that can deliver a great insurance experience,” continued Mr. Engels. 

Mel Foster Co. is the largest land developer in the region and continues to expand its existing subdivisions. In 2021, Mel Foster Co. sold 38 lots in four subdivisions. The company plans to release 70 new residential lots in 2022. Mel Foster Co. residential agents sold 75 new construction homes or condos last year. The average Mel Foster Co. new construction sales price was $452,734, up from $401,649 last year.

Mel Foster Commercial Real Estate Services led by Thad DenHartog had over $82 million in commercial real estate sales, up 15.89 percent from last year. Two of the company’s commercial brokers ranked in the top 10 of the Quad Cities Commercial MLS. “We saw another year of positive commercial real estate activity in our market,” commented Ms. Engels. “Despite what is being seen in other parts of the U.S., commercial real estate is very strong in the Quad Cities. Due to supply chain disruptions, the demand for land and industrial space was up in 2021. We expect to see this trend continue in 2022 as the market works to overcome labor and materials shortages.”

Residential real estate continued to experience a lack of inventory nationally and locally however Mel Foster Co. residential boasted a five percent increase in sales volume from 2020. The year was marked by unprecedented competition with many homes receiving multiple offers within days of listing at record high prices. The average sales price for the company was up 10.5 percent from 2020 at $194,933, and the number of days on the market was 37 compared to 58 in 2020. On average, Mel Foster Co.’s agents closed 15 transactions (buy or sell) in 2021, which is higher than the national average according to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

Ms. Engels stated, “Last year was a unique time in real estate. Buyers experienced skyrocketing home prices, limited inventory, and a fast-paced sales environment. Low mortgage rates worked in buyers’ favor, and our experienced agents were able to successfully close deals despite the high level of competition.”

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

As part of its commitment to integrating technology with new services, Mel Foster Co. partnered with MooveGuru to provide buyers and sellers a free, value-added service. MooveGuru is an automated concierge platform that sends move-related, money-saving offers to new homeowners via emails. It helps them connect with utility providers and home services to make moving less stressful.

Melfosterco.com was awarded the Website Quality Certification from Leading Real Estate Companies of the World®, one of 107 companies to earn the recognition of excellence for website design, content and functionality.

Fick welcomed 19 new agents/staff and congratulated 12 other agents/staff on their retirements during the virtual awards toast. Nineteen agents were recognized for volunteering on real estate association committees or boards at the local, state or national level. Forty-five agents and staff were thanked for their years of service with the company, totaling 680 years of service. Across all three divisions, the median number of years of service among staff/agents is 15.5 years. This number is nearly double what other companies experience, according to NAR. Fick continued, “We are proud of these milestones and appreciate the loyalty our agents and staff continue to show Mel Foster Co. Many agents have long-standing relationships with their clients, serving them or their families multiple times over the years. These valued relationships and the trusted guidance our agents and staff share with clients are key factors to the success of our 100-year-old company.”

Throughout its 100-year history, Mel Foster Co. has made it a priority to give back to the communities it serves. In honor of 100 years in business, the company donated $100,000 to local charities and organizations. Twenty of those charities/organizations were selected by the company’s agents and staff to receive monetary gifts in 2021 in honor of the centennial celebration.

Mel Foster Co. agents and staff pledged to donate 1,000 hours of volunteer service in 2021 to charities and organizations of their choice to complement the corporate financial gifts to the community. The agents and staff exceeded that goal by over 400 percent, with an average of 17.5 volunteer hours per person. Ms. Engels stated, “It’s heartwarming to see how much our agents and staff care and want to make a difference in the communities and with the organizations that they are passionate about.”

Mel Foster Co. continued its Think.Buy.Be.Local campaign in 2021. In support of this initiative, the company raised money to sponsor over 40,000 meals for local families by participating in the River Bend Foodbank Community Hunger Drive. Mel Foster Co. provided over 300 coats to various non-profit organizations, adopted 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 the ImpactLIfe, and collected toys and money for the annual Toys for Tots drive. Mel Foster Co. agents and staff supported over 100 local businesses during Small Business Week. The company is also the defending champion of the Bix 7 Brady Street Corporate Sponsor Challenge.

Fick closed the awards with a virtual toast thanking the agents and staff for their continued perseverance, loyalty and commitment to clients. “The success we enjoyed together as a company during our 100th year would not have been possible without our clients. We look forward to serving the community during the next 100 years.”  

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

About Mel Foster Co.

Founded in 1921, Mel Foster Co. is a recognized leader for real estate and insurance. 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.

Mel Foster Commercial Real Estate Services is a leading commercial brokerage firm specializing in office, industrial, retail, land and consulting services in Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois. Visit www.melfostercommercial.com for more information.

Mel Foster Insurance, a full-service, independent agency with dedicated professionals focused on serving clients with solutions for business risk management, employee benefits, individual/group retirement planning and personal insurance. It was founded in 1932 and represents over 25 of the region’s most financially stable insurance carriers and offers coverage for personal and business clients. Visit www.melfosterinsurance.com for more information.

How Much House Can I Afford?

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.

Mortgage Calculators

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:

  • Property taxes
  • Homeowner’s insurance
  • Mortgage insurance (if applicable)
  • Down payment
  • Homeowner’s Association fees (if applicable)
  • Attorney, title, inspections and closing fees
  • Moving expenses   
  • Utility service initial fees

Market Conditions

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.

Find a Mel Foster Co. agent to help begin your home search.

MEL FOSTER CO. CELEBRATES 2020 ACHIEVEMENTS

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.”   

EGGciting Hunts to Check Out.

Underwater Egg Hunt at the Rock Island Fitness & Activity Center

March 18, 1 pm – 3:30 pm

Spring Celebration and Eco-Egg Hunt at Nahant Marsh

March 24, 9 am – 12 pm

Spring Egg Hunt at Lincoln Park in Rock Island

March 24, 9:30 am

City of Moline Easter Egg Hunt at Riverside Park

March 24, 9:45 am

Kewanee Park District Annual Easter Egg Hunt at Windmont Park

March 24, 10 am

Bettendorf Easter Egg Hunt at Bettendorf High School

March 24, Noon

City of Moline Flashlight Egg Hunt at Riverside Park

March 24, 8 pm

Geneseo Park District Egg Hunt at the Athletic Field

March 25, 1:30 pm

Easter Egg Hunt at Hope Creek Care Center in East Moline

March 30, 2 pm

LeClaire Park and Rec Annual Easter Egg Hunt at Hollyhock Park

March 31, 11 am

Egg Hunt at the Sawmill Museum in Clinton

March 31, 10:30 am

30th Annual Ranch Rider Motorcycle Brotherhood Easter Egg Hunt at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds

March 31, 1 pm

Doggie Easter Egg Hunt with the Humane Society of Scott County at Fejervary Park

March 31, 1 pm

Family Fun Day & Easter Egg Hunt at Camp Abe Lincoln in Blue Grass

March 31, 2 pm – 5 pm

Egg Hunt at the Discovery Depot in Galesburg

March 31, 5:30 pm

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.

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?

Five Reasons To Buy Now Instead Of Spring

Why you can't afford to wait until SpringWith 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.

Dwindling Supply

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. Receives Website Quality Certification

Mel Foster Earns WQC CertificationMel 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.

For more information about Mel Foster Co., please visit www.melfosterco.com.


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