Archive for May, 2010
At Showhomes Home Staging, we have a tradition of celebrating wins by ringing bells. We do this when we add new franchise owners, we do it when we contract new homes to stage, we do it when we move in our live-in home stagers and we do it when we help home owners sell their homes. Ringing the bell increases our energy level, helps us focus on progress and helps everyone in our company pick up the momentum. When you move faster than everyone else in business, your business thrives. Most of all, ringing loud bells is just plain fun.
At our national conference in Nashville this month, we took our bell ringing to a new level. Matt Kelton, Showhomes’ COO, is a fan of Saturday Night Live and in particular of this famous skit featuring Will Farrel and Christopher Walken:
Kelton had the brilliant idea to hand out cowbells to everyone at the conference and when they heard a great idea, ring the bell and yell out ‘I need more cowbell!” It worked and throughout our high energy gathering, cowbells were a-ringing (if ringing is the right word for the dull thonk a cowbell makes.)
Showhomes has lots to ring bells about: Our franchise system has expanded greatly, our overall revenue numbers are way up despite the slow real estate market and recession and most importantly, we are succeeding at helping home owners all over the country sell homes faster and for higher prices.
It may be a ring, a ding or a donk – we’ll take it!
Take a look at our group as they Thrive in 2010:
By Tom Bailey Jr. / Memphis Commercial Appeal
May 5, 2010
About a year ago, the same Brandi Jackson left a $700,000 home in Collierville’s Braystone neighborhood after living in luxury there just 30 days.
Photo by Karen Pulfer Focht / Memphis Commercial Appeal After a successful staging, Brandi Jackson loads up her belongings in a Germantown house for mover Sherrod Farmer on Tuesday. Jackson lived in the Oakleigh subdivision house for six months as a “manager,” helping the owners finally sell it after 2 years.
Last fall, she moved out of a $460,000 home in Collierville’s new Creekside neighborhood, having lived there five months.
Jackson is not flipping, squatting, evading or even waffling about her choice of neighborhoods.
She’s helping sell houses.
She’s a “home manager” for Showhomes Home Staging in Memphis.
The franchise screens and places people like Jackson — and their furniture — into vacant homes that are on the market.
The house seller pays Showhomes a setup fee and Showhomes recruits someone to live in and furnish their home, making it easier to sell. The caretaker is responsible for the utilities, insurance and sometimes lawn care.
The house sitter enjoys living in a very nice home and neighborhood for perhaps one-third of what it would normally cost to rent the home. Home owners like this arrangement because it saves them thousands off the monthly cost to fully stage a higher end home.
The caretaker agrees to have the house ready for agents to show on short notice, and to not be present when the house is shown.
Crye-Leike real estate agent Donna Northcutt was so happy with the results at Braystone, she arranged to have Jackson move from there to the Creekside house.
The Braystone house had been for sale more than a year, but sold within 30 days after Jackson, her son and “eclectic/modern” furniture moved in.
The Creekside house had been on the market more than a year, and sold five months after Jackson moved in.
The Oakleigh home had been on the market for 21/2 years, and sold five months after Jackson moved in.
“Having furniture and a caretaker in the house makes a big difference,” Northcutt said.
“A lot of (prospective home buyers) think the empty rooms look too small, say, for a king-size bed,” Northcutt said. “But if a king-size bed is in there they say, ‘Oh, it looks great.’ They don’t see the size of the room very well without furniture in it.”
Early last year Jackson was going through a divorce, moving out of her Arlington home, and was looking for a place with at least three bedrooms for all her furniture.
She found the Braystone home on Craigslist. The monthly fee was $1,500 a month to live in a $700,000 home.
“You can’t beat that,” Jackson said.
Among the amenities were a media room, game room, view of a lake, walk-in shower and upscale appliances.
Of course, neighbors were quick to approach and ask, “Did you buy?”
“You tell them, ‘No, I’m staging the home – I’m a prop.’ That piques their curiosity.”
Of all the neighborhoods, Braystone was the most positive.
“Every single person on that block talked to me,” Jackson recalls. “They were kind to me, so sweet. You’d think it would be different since that was the most prestigious neighborhood.”
Jeff Ross bought the Showhomes Home Staging franchise in Memphis about 18 months ago. He has owned the Little Rock franchise eight years.
“With our success in Little Rock, it made sense to go two hours east to a bigger market,” Ross said.
Typically, Showhomes works with homes priced at more than $200,000.
The house sitter must have nice furniture and no pets, must not smoke, and never refuse a showing on as little as an hour’s notice.
“The house has to be immaculate,” Ross said.
Which is fine by Jackson, an organized person by nature.
The key, she said, is to always keep the house clean enough so that it would never take long to make things just right.
Sitters in Memphis can move into half-million-dollar houses for as little as $900 to $1,200 a month if they qualify, Ross said.
Jackson was paying $1,000 a month for the $300,000 home in Oakleigh. Monthly amounts vary market to market and pricing is set by the local franchise. The home owner on this home would have had to pay over $2500 a month to have it staged without a caretaker.
But on Tuesday, she made her last move. The former teacher who plans to enter law school took advantage of the buyer’s market; she bought her own home in Cordova.
Owners: Jeff and Heidi Ross
Service: Provides live-in “house managers” and their furniture for homeowners who are trying to sell their vacant houses. Most economical way to stage a home with little or no up front staging fees and no monthly staging fees. Cost deferred to closing.
Phone: (901) 361-7419
Showhomes held its first annual Home Staging Certification class this past Thursday at a $1 million dollar Brentwood, TN mansion that has been on the market for some time. 35 Showhomes home stagers from markets all over the country descended for an intense Home Staging class taught by the Decorating and Staging Academy, Showhomes’ advanced staging trainers.
The builder of this home graciously agreed to open the home for our group of talented stagers to transform and the results speak for themselves:
Dining room before (above) Master Bedroom before (Below)
Staging class prior to the hands-on
Sandra Racz, staging intructor from the Decorating and Staging Academy talks with over 30 Showhomes franchise owners and stagers. Talk about some strong opinions in one room! I learned a ton myself listening to so much talent.
Dining Room after (Above) and Living Room after (below)
Master Bedroom above and below – Showhomes stagers Carla Chiefetz from Princeton, NJ and Sandra Wicks from LA
This is an actual home for sale and all training aside, we staged this home in an unbelivable 3 hours (having 30 expereinced people helps.) Just in time – a Realtor showed up for a surprise showing as we put the finishing touches on the home followed by the listing agent and the builder and his wife.
The buyer spent over an hour in the home and at least 30 minutes in the master – it was calm and serene. This was their second showing and it made a real impact; we bet it sells!
This event was both educational for our group and clearly beneficial for the builder and Realtor – we’re planning to make this an annual event in Nashville so stay tuned!
What do you think?
Custom builder Jerry Smith of Fairhope staged a few rooms in an empty, high-end house to make it more homey, then liked it so much he staged most of the house.
“A lot of times people will walk into an empty home and it feels kind of cold,” he said. “They can’t envision how to decorate it. Staging has made a big difference.”
Staging is all about making a house look attractive to buyers, and using that technique to help homes move off the market more quickly is becoming the norm rather than the exception, especially in the current economic slowdown, according to Realtors, staging professionals and area builders.
Smith hired Showhomes Mobile/Baldwin to stage his house in Fairhope’s Rock Creek, a home listed in the $900,000 range by Ashurst & Niemeyer.
Custom builder Brad Lewis in Mobile has a staged house in Newcastle Estates off Johnson Road and says it shows nicely. In fact, he said, “I use it to meet clients — the last two contracts I’ve gotten are because of that house. I take them out there and it serves as an office.”
“You can’t stage every room, but you stage the rooms that are most important,” for viewing, Darnell said, who reported selling three high-end staged homes for builders. “They love it. You have a better chance selling staged than you do vacant.”
Showhomes offers a home manager service, said owner Angela Blankinchip. For a fee, typically 1 percent of the listing price at closing, a home manager will live in the furnished home and keep the house and yard in showing condition seven days a week, according to Blankinchip.
Given the number of $500,000 to $800,000 homes on the market, “people are doing everything they can to make it more attractive, and staging adds value,” Blankinchip said. And, she said when potential buyers look at homes on the Web, “they want to see pictures of something beautiful.”
When a house is vacant, the flaws and limitations jump out, said Jane Ann Lance of Enhanced by Lance Home Staging Services in Mobile. “People who buy the higher end homes are looking for the ‘wow’ factor,” she said.
Builders and Realtors often hear buyers say they don’t know how their furniture will fit in the house, Lance said. “A lot of the higher-end homes have tricky floor plans and bigger houses tend to be more open. Staging allows you to see how it would be to live in this home.”
In the upper-end homes, most owners have the furniture, but they need the big accessories such as lamps, large paintings and beautiful entrances, Lance said.
“People tend to overcrowd or clutter a room,” said Tammy Boothe of Showhomes.
“But we don’t want to hide the builders work,” such as crown molding, custom fireplaces and other details, she said.