Home Staging & the Role it Plays

Interior Designers and Home Stagers are similar but also, very different.

The Real Estate industry contains several professions and services that are instrumental to the success of the transaction. Several buyers and sellers are familiar with the importance inspectors, lenders, and appraisers hold to the transaction. But what about the individuals that arranges or stages the furniture? These individuals are referred to as home stagers.

Different from interior designers, home stagers must appeal to the buyers by personalizing or depersonalizing the space in preparation for the sale. Prior to designing, an interior designer must consider the customer’s individualistic or familial personality and lifestyle to deliver a tailored environment perfectly suited to them. 

What advantage do staged homes possess?

The goal of staging homes is to emphasize the home’s architectural details and best assets. This allows buyers to effectively gauge the potential that the new house could offer them.  

The time the house stays on the market is significantly reduced when a stager is introduced into the space. It allows the buyers to envision their lifestyle easily and that is harder to do if the home is empty. According to NAR, “Statistics have shown that houses that have been staged average 42 days on the market vs. non-staged homes that can average 142 days on the market.”

The Home Stager Steps in

A home stager’s main competition is the staged homes that home buyers witness from watching the HGTV channel. Many home buyers are inspired by the overall aesthetic captured through the screen they’re regularly stationed in front of, and often find themselves on home décor retail sites. 

“A home stager must know the difference between decorating to sell and designing to live. There must be a perfect blend of eye-catching with mass appeal,” according to Erin Halperin, an agent at Prime Realty who happens to have extensive experience in the real estate staging world. 

Many home stagers don’t ever step foot inside the space they’re tasked to stage, let alone meet the prospective buyer since there is rarely only one, especially at the start! If the home stager does not have access to personnel on either side of the transaction, I asked Erin how she finds inspiration:

“Inspiration comes from places such as art, Architectural Digest and Elle Décor magazines, catalogs, but also social media. It serves one purpose to me only which is that it allows me to see designers and architects making beautiful spaces all around the globe, that I would never know of otherwise.”

How Social Media is at Play

The beautiful thing about social media is its accessibility. Home stagers do not have to follow all industry-related social media handles to be successful. All social media platforms have the option to filter through their respective platforms through categorical hashtags. So, if a home stager needs specific inspiration for a certain aesthetic, say boho style or eccentric, they can find an ample number of options through that hashtag. With some hashtags collecting over 500K posts within an hour of when it was first posted, users all around the world can engage with your post!  

Selling a Lifestyle, not Just a Room

What are the benefits of staging your real estate listing? 

Leaving the task to the buyers of envisioning their life can be a mistake. They’re not totally to blame. Who could really walk into a space with no furniture and still be able to envision themselves in the house? “Staging a home helps consumers see the full potential of a given space or property,” said Jessica Lautz, NAR’s vice president of demographics and behavioral insights. 

Today, Erin stages smaller homes by incorporating pieces that sellers already have coupled with items from her small collection of accessories such as rugs, pillows, and lamps. Erin believes it is easy to walk into an empty space and furnish it, however, she likes the creative challenge of taking existing items and rearranging a room. “I love re-envisioning a room to its fullest potential to attract a buyer. The greatest compliment I get is when a seller says “Geez, well now I want to stay!” 

Quarantine changed how people made changes in their homes based on their new way of living. Every home stager is different. Here’s how Erin approaches real estate staging in terms of trends: 

There are several more trends in both categories but in regards to Erin’s approach, the trends listed are what she’s paying attention to during her staging appointments. 

Anti-trends: 

  • Open shelves in kitchens
    • Impractical because if you cook often, it’s hard to maintain 
    • Easy + cost-effective but impractical
  • Gray as the only color throughout the home versus as an accent color, infused with other colors
  • Farmhouse/Barn Doors
    • There’s a place for the Farmhouse style and its attributing features but it’s not for every home
Design Trends: 
  • Built-in appliances
  • Less industrial kitchens; hoods for example
  • Backsplashes are either continuing on the countertop or tiles are stacked vertically versus horizontally 
  • Color, florals, bringing natural elements inside to “inform” the color palette & create rooms that reflect the people living in them
  • Black accents are used to make everything pop

Key Takeaway for Home Stagers

Home stagers must be very sensitive to a seller’s attachment to items in their home. It’s their job to help the sellers realize why they want to sell and that everyone has a different style preference.

It’s also important to note that real estate staging does not have to mean bland neutral. Personality makes a home memorable and shows a buyer walking through the home what kind of creative potential exists for them to make it their own. “Clean,” “Bright,” and “Flow” are the mantra words that I use regularly when staging.

Prime Realty is Eager to Assist the Upstate of South Carolina

Are you looking to buy or sell in the Upstate of South Carolina? Then list your home with Prime Realty. We can deliver Prime Results in Prime Time.

As a boutique firm, we pride ourselves in delivering that personal touch for you. Not only will our dedicated agents make you their #1 priority, but we can also provide services that will accelerate the sale like home staging. Learn more on our ‘About’ page or visit our inventory site that is in sync with the MLS, which means as soon as a listing enters the market it will be featured on our Live Greenville site. 

Prime Realty Agent Spotlight: Sierra Wright

Prime Realty’s First Agent Spotlight

Are you interested to learn more about what being a realtor is all about? Once you’ve read Sierra’s story, we encourage you to submit a contact form. Click here.

Meet Sierra

The agents at Prime Realty are dedicated professionals that have a genuine passion for the industry. For our first agent spotlight, I chose an agent that is relatively new to the industry and in the short amount of time she has been an agent, she has proven that she contains the work ethic that this industry demands from real estate agents.

Sierra Wright is a Residential Sales Specialist who joined Prime Realty just under two months ago in December of 2021. Before real estate, Sierra was working as a banker and teller at two local branches for six years. Sierra loved building relationships and assisting her customers financially in her day-to-day role at the bank.

Before Joining Prime Realty

To Sierra, timing is everything. Sierra has always been interested in real estate. She has always admired the realtor profession. Sierra says that riding around looking at neighborhoods and searching for houses online has always been something she enjoyed doing. Entering the field was something that crossed Sierra’s mind frequently while she was working in the banking industry.

Sierra entered the field because she wanted a career change and decided to register for online courses just to give it a try. When I asked Sierra why she decided to become a real estate agent, she said:

The greatest joy in life for me is making others happy. I’ve always wanted a career that was rewarding and gave me a chance to make a positive impact on someone’s life. Real estate allows me to run my own business and help someone achieve one of their biggest goals in life and nothing satisfies me more than that.

Since Joining Prime Realty

Sierra is grateful that she entered the field when she did because otherwise, she isn’t sure she would have had the chance to meet the management team at Prime Realty. Had she started her search sooner, they wouldn’t have been able to invite her to join. Sierra values the team-oriented environment Prime Realty facilitates. Stepping foot into the office for the first time, Sierra recalls feeling assured that she made the right decision. At her start at Prime Realty, Sierra recalls everyone being so willing to help her:

When some people are in the same industry as you, they aren’t as willing to help or give advice. I love that everyone looks out for one another because that’s the personality that I have. I wouldn’t have learned as quickly as I did if it wasn’t for everyone at PR.

In the four months since Sierra was onboarded, Sierra has noticed a positive change within herself. She is finding herself to be more organized since becoming an agent and feels confident she has better time management skills because of it. Even with her career change, she is still able to enjoy all the things she loves about Greenville! She mostly enjoys going to Downtown Greenville because there are so many restaurants to choose from, favorites like: Larkins, Trio, and Ink & Ivy. She also absolutely loves Legacy Park for how relaxing it is for her.

All in all, Prime Realty takes the time and dedication necessary to ensure all the agents that are onboarded, share the same sentiment as Prime Realty: Our customers are our #1 priority. Sierra recently personified that sentiment by successfully going under contract within two days of posting her very first listing into the MLS. Within the short span of time Sierra has been a Realtor® at Prime, she has been making strides and it’s all thanks to her dedication and persistence!

Now that you’ve heard Sierra’s story, are you ready to take a leap of faith?

So many Realtors® experience a similar feeling prior to entering the Real Estate Industry. They either don’t believe it’s the right fit for them, or they create excuses as to why they should hold off on pursuing the profession. Rest assured, the agents at Prime Realty are licensed Realtors®. Prime Realty focuses on training and education. From the moment our agents are onboarded, they are provided their very own binder with several resources, guidelines, industry practices, and more! Prime Realty’s B.I.C. and Executive V.P. of Sales personally host training meetings on a weekly basis, host videos on our online training platform, Prime U., and facilitate mentor and mastermind groups to ensure their agents are well-versed in industry standards and practices.

If you are interested in learning more about Prime Realty and what we can do for you as an agent, submit your information on the ‘Join Us’ page of our website.

Stay tuned for the next agent spotlight premiering in May.

Prepare for Your Mortgage Loan Application

Mortgage Loan Application

Applying for a mortgage is something that most people never learn to do until the time comes. And when that time comes, many can feel like they’re already 10 steps behind. If you’re in the process of buying a house, that most likely means you have your finances in order and a budget set in place. So, what’s next? When you’re shopping for a lender, consider different options like your bank, local credit union, or online lenders. Mortgage brokers offer a considerably wider array of options and can streamline the mortgage process for you. 

Let’s Begin

Once the seller accepts your offer, you’ll need to apply for a loan. According to Bank of America, “All lenders require you to provide information about yourself and anyone else who will be listed as a co-borrower on the mortgage.Keep in mind that each lender has their own criteria, so the results of your application can vary. On average, it can take anywhere from 30 days to several months for your application to be approved. The exact forms for different applicants vary but a lender can gauge whether you’ll be approved by checking out your recent pay stubs, bank statements, W-2 Forms, and tax returns.

Your financial situation affects the documents you are required to submit, but here are seven commonly requested documents: 

1. Tax Returns

Your tax returns allow lenders to gauge your financial health. For the lender to be able to request a copy of your tax return to the IRS, you must provide the lender with a signed Form 4506-T. They want to see one to two years’ worth of tax returns. 

2. Pay stubs, W-2s or other proof of income

Pay stubs allow lenders to gauge your current earnings. For those of you that are self-employed, you might be asked to show proof through 1099 forms, direct deposit or other methods. 

3. Bank statements and other assets

Lenders request these documents to verify your financial standing. Since lenders are assessing your risk profile, they’ll look at your bank statements and other assets. Any traces of savings or emergency savings plans will be taken into consideration when reviewing your application. Lenders want to know how prepared you are for an emergency. Having 3-6 months of savings equivalent to your living expenses will indicate that you are responsible and prepared for an emergency. They’ll also reference your investments assets like your life insurance. They will also analyze the amount of time the direct deposit’s total has been in your account and verify it didn’t appear overnight in your account. 

4. Credit History

With your verbal or written consent, lenders will pull your credit report. Industry members advise you to be prepared to write a statement that explains negative items in your credit report. For example, if you underwent a short sale or foreclosure, you would include stating so. Not disclosing blemishes will delay the application process and could even prevent mortgage approval.  

5. Gift Letters

If you are in the position that your friends and family can give money towards your new home, then you’ll have to provide written information that the money is in fact a gift and not a loan.  

6. Photo I.D.

Solely to verify you are who you claim to be.  

7. Renting History

A person’s rental history is vital for applicants who don’t have an extensive credit history. Lenders will request proof that you were an ideal tenant who paid on time. Lenders could ask your landlord to provide documentation backing up your claim or ask for a year’s worth of canceled rent checks (checks that were cashed by the landlord). 

Locking in your interest rate

According to Bank of America, “A rate lock, also known as a rate commitment, is your lender’s assurance that the interest rate and discount points are guaranteed until the rate lock expiration date.” Talk to your lender about ways you can protect yourself against rising interest rates. If you’re worried about the rising rates, you can lock your rate with your lender when you fill out the application. You are not obligated to do this if you believe the rates will decrease prior to signing off on your new house, but the rate must be finalized and locked in prior to the lender preparing your closing documents.

At the time of signing, you need to already have your budget set for the down payment. According to Patch.com, “the long-accepted ‘standard’ down payment for buying a home is 20% of the total sales price.” Make sure to also budget for the anticipated appraisals, inspections, and the home’s closing costs.

Prospective Buyers

What is a prospective buyer? A prospective buyer is:

  1. a person who has submitted an offer to the seller, but the seller has yet to accept the offer. 
  2. a person who is in preparation to buy their first home. 
  3. a person who expresses interest towards a specific property but has yet to make an offer. 
  4. a person who has begun their home search but has yet to select a specific property. 
  5. a person whose offer has been accepted by the sellers, the negotiation process may or may not already be underway, and the closing documents are what’s left to sign.

From a legal standpoint, the term prospective buyer is most commonly reserved for once the potential buyer’s offer has been accepted by the seller. It can be essential to know whether you qualify as a prospective buyer for legislative reasons. South Carolina is included in the sum of states that acknowledges and accepts the term: prospective buyers. 

Why is it important?  

Because the prospective buyer is entitled to certain rights during the sales process. In some areas across the nation, the potential buyer isn’t classified as a prospective buyer until an offer is submitted, as a legal standpoint. In other areas, the status isn’t disclosed to the buyer until the seller has accepted their offer.

Why have I been refused a mortgage?  

According to Experian, if you are refused a mortgage, here are a few common reasons why: 

  • The lender has calculated you won’t be able to make the repayments. 
  • You’ve made too many credit applications in a short space of time in the past six months, resulting in multiple hard searches being recorded in your report. 
  • You’re not registered to vote on the electoral roll (this is used for proof of your address and identity). 
  • There are mistakes such as incorrect addresses or other errors on your application form. 
  • You may not fall into the target bracket for the type of mortgage you’ve applied for. (Experian, 2022)

Community Assistance Programs

1.) SC Housing 

2.) Community Works Downpayment Assistance 

3.) GCRA 

“Established in 1974, the Greenville County Redevelopment Authority (GCRA) works to improve the living conditions of the county’s residents by building new homes, rehabilitating existing homes and improving the infrastructures within communities.”

Did you know you could be eligible for down payment assistance? 

Qualifications: Eligible Buyer

  • Must be a first-time home buyer 
  • Stable income 
  • Secure a 30-year, fixed rate 1st mortgage 
  • Complete the application process
  • Invest a minimum of $500 into the home purchase
  • Attend a community works orientation
  • Attend a homebuyer education workshop through GVL County Human Relations Key Program 

Qualifications: Eligible Properties 

  • New and existing properties in GVL County 
  • Max purchase price for new construction is $240,000 
  • Max purchase price for an existing home is $195,000 
  • The home must be the buyer’s principal residence 
  • Monthly mortgage payment must be affordable (33% of monthly income) 

Eligible Uses 

  • Funds may be used for down payment and for closing costs.
  • The total of bank mortgage on the property may not exceed 100% of the appraised value. (This does not include funds from Community Works.)
  • Buyers may not receive any funds back at the time of closing. 

Thank you for reading our blog! If you have any questions or are looking for a recommendation, please email us at info@primerealtysc.com. 

 

References

Credit Karma

Experian

Bank of America

GCRA

SC Housing

Community Works 

Prime Realty’s Vendor Program: Prime Trusted

Prime Trusted was created with the idea of facilitating a network of vendors that could be readily accessible to not only our agents, but also our past and present clientele. Prime Realty continually aims to collect and distribute resources that are beneficial to our clients. Our vendor program allows us to assist our clients beyond the closing table.  

Within our network of vendors, we have 30+ businesses in 25+ service categories. The companies and individuals listed on the preferred vendors list have either provided service(s) or conducted work for clients of Prime Realty, for individuals that Prime Realty agents have met and have expressed satisfaction towards their service(s), or that Prime Realty has felt confident in utilizing their service continually. 

Who?

The Prime Trusted Vendors act as stakeholders in the agents’ businesses by offering tools, world class service, and ongoing training to achieve individual and collective growth.  

What? 

Prime Trusted is designed to give vendors who are leaders in their own respective industry and who are in alignment with our values the opportunity to build relationships with our agents. 

When?

Starting February 2022. 

Where?

Headquartered in the Prime Office located in Greenville, South Carolina. The location of our network of vendors spans from all around the Upstate of South Carolina. 

Why?

Prime Realty takes pride in being able to support our local associates by helping facilitate relationships with reputable vendors, a part of the real estate industry. 

program's contact infoFrom Our Broker-in-Charge

Our BIC Ashley Lewis shares why our vendor program, Prime Trusted, was created.

“One of the most valuable things a realtor brings to a transaction is the network of people and businesses that they know and trust. We formed Prime Trusted to gather those [people and businesses] into one database to help our clients have quick access to some of our favorite businesses in the area. Naturally like any generated sheet, we do not have any control regarding their service or responsiveness, but if it is brought to our attention that select Prime Trusted vendors are not meeting expectations and not abiding by our Prime Trusted Commitment letter they have signed to be considered for acceptance, they will be removed from the program. So, please rest assured these vendors have been vetted, their licensure and insurance have been verified, and I would trust them in my own home. For many of the vendors included, chances are they have already been there, too!” 

Once the transaction is completed and you’re now settling into your new home, let’s say you are inspired to redo your bathroom, or want to upgrade your kitchen; your resource pool may be limited. If you aren’t privy to the home buying process, the despair of “What do I do next?” is staggering. Nothing feels worse than not knowing where to find your next resource. With the Prime Trusted Vendor Program, you have access to all services in your area at the click of a button.

Q & A 

Where can I learn more? 

To learn more, visit the Prime Trusted Vendor page on our website at primerealtysc.com. There you can find our full and comprehensive list of Prime Trusted vendors for your reference. 

How to get started? 

To get started, submit your application to the firm and within two weeks, expect a follow-up from either the firm or our agent leader. 

What are the requirements? 

Your business must be in the Upstate of South Carolina, you must present documentation of licensure and insurance, and you must abide by our Prime Trusted Commitment letter.

How long is my membership of this vendor program? 

The duration of your 12-month membership begins at the time of acceptance. The membership is contingent on completing monthly charges and your ability to abide by our Prime Trusted Commitment letter. 

How will this benefit me? 

Brand awareness and exposure is monumental for your business when it comes to competition. The benefits to you and your business in its entirety are not disclosed below but continue reading to learn the basics. 

You would have access to our office meaning a few things: 

  • Display your promotional and marketing materials in the office. 
  • Have marketing materials displayed periodically in the office. 
  • Can host breakfast for agent training meetings and take 5-10 mins to share the latest news pertaining to your business. 
  • Can schedule quarterly meetings with Prime admin to assess agent engagements. 

What differentiates your vendor program from the competitor’s program?  

Our program was built through the established networks of our agents and company. With quality being at the forefront, the quantity of the vendors allowed in our program is heavily dependent on the vendor’s quality of service.  

How is your list different from a Google search? 

The main difference between compiling and referencing your independent research versus ours is that we at Prime Realty have already taken care of the nitty gritty. Each one of our vendors undergoes a screening process, one that verifies they are bonded and insured, that they provide services within the Upstate of South Carolina, and that their company values align with ours.  

To learn more, visit our Prime Trusted page on our website. For an application, email ptvendors@primerealtysc.com. 

Helpful Apps for the First Time Homebuyer

There are more apps to discover, but here are eight to get you started.

To learn more about an app, click on the company’s logo on the left hand side.

Centriq

Centriq brand logoCentriq offers tutorials, how to videos, and more. Buyers have supplies accessible through their fingerprints and can even be alerted if a supply they are looking for is on recall. On their website, Centriq claims, “Just snap a picture of the appliances, electronics, and tools in your home. We’ll add the user manuals, warranties, how-to-videos and more. Personalize and group all your information to make it as unique as your home.”

 

GreenPal 

Green Pal brand logoLike the Handy app, this platform connects you with trusted professionals for easy      scheduling. Moving to a new area as a first-time homebuyer can present its limitations, especially regarding the available resource pool you have access to. Who really prioritizes lawn care above all else during their move anyway? Plus, you can pay through the app, so you don’t have to be present at the time the local lawn care professional is present at your home. 

 

Moved 

Moved brand logoThink of this app as your personal moving concierge. The app connects you with an assistant that will help manage the complex process and various steps that are involved in the moving process. It can organize every step of the way—from finding movers, hiring packers, and selling unwanted items, to updating your address and even hiring cleaners and painters. The app can also help you find moving professionals, affordable packing materials, and storage facilities.  

 

Everything But The House 

EBTH brand logoThis service is an estate sale marketplace conveniently packaged in an app that makes buying and selling secondhand goods easy. EBTH was designed with the idea to help people through their full-service approach to consignment. Similar to eBay’s business model, EBTH features products for seven-day periods where you may bid against other shoppers. Every item listed in EBTH starts at $1.  

 

 

NextDoor 

Nextdoor brand logoThe inventor, Nirav Tolia, spent a decade acquiring data and fine-tuning information that could offer residents a sense of community within their neighborhoods. In neighborhoods across the country, NextDoor is thought to be like a group chat for neighbors. It not only connects neighbors but community members within communities. This app is also a great tool to gauge your potential new community without ever having to worry your contact information will be publicly displayed.  

 

iScape 

iScape brand logoiScape utilizes augmented reality to allow homeowners the chance to visualize potential improvements for their outdoor spaces. Not everyone in the south has access to a truck, so this app is perfect for those that have to arrange a service before retrieving their purchase. Users can experiment with several outdoor implementations like flowers, furniture, and even shrubs before ever having to commit to purchasing them.  

The only downside to this app is that it is only compatible with iOS devices.  

 

Homezada 

Homezada brand logoHomezada is an easy-to-use home inventory app that allows homeowners to manage important documents and plan projects. During every real estate transaction, there are several moving parts and it is easy to forget what important resources you need to readily access. Think of it as a digital hub for home improvements, home maintenance, inventory and finances.  

 

ADT Pulse 

ADT Pulse brand logoSimilar to the Ring Video Doorbell, ADT Pulse allows users to access their security cameras from anywhere in the world. It will allow you to turn on lights, switch small appliances on/off from the app, lock and unlock doors from the app, and more. The main difference between ADT Pulse and their competitor is that ADT Pulse offers a touchscreen control panel, and Ring solely operates by a push-button panel. 

 

Learn more about how Prime Realty can assist you here.