Archive for February, 2011
New Business Helps Occupy Local Luxury Homes
Showhomes works with “home managers” who fill vacant luxury homes in Potomac, Bethesda and Chevy Chase to help sell them on the market
You could have a new (temporary) neighbor in Potomac, thanks to a newly launched luxury home staging company in the area.
Showhomes, which opened an office on Foxcrest Court in Potomac in January, is working to fill vacant luxury homes in Potomac, Bethesda and Chevy Chase in order to help sell them, said Scott Cillay, business development manager for the Potomac Showhomes.
The company, which has 75 offices in the United States, finds and screens “home managers” who reside in vacant luxury homes while real estate agents try to sell them.
The applicants — who are usually relocating to the area — can occupy a home until they find a new place. While doing so, they can avoid putting their belongings in storage, keep an eye on an empty house and help sell the property, Cillay said.
“People want what someone else has and a vacant house is not a home,” Cillay said. “Our home managers make sure the house is well cared for, and houses that are lived-in attract more offers sooner at higher sales prices than vacant homes.”
The home managers must pay a fee to be in the program — one-quarter to one-third of what market rent would be. Also, home managers are required to carry $500,000 in insurance in case of property damage while they occupy a residence. This insurance is in addition to the $2 million Showhomes supplies as insurance for a residence, Cillay said.
Showhomes carefully screens its home managers and requires that all of them pass a background check as well as an evaluations of the required lifestyle they must maintain to occupy the luxury home. Specifically, home managers have to be non-smokers without pets who keep their living spaces clean and clutter-free in case realtors need to show the home. Also, the home managers need to provide their own furniture that is appropriate for the house.
“Our applicants are usually people who are relocating, and we are letting them test drive the neighborhood and giving them chance to live in Bethesda, Chevy Chase or Potomac,” Cillay said.
“A lot of people don’t want to dive into a commitment to purchase right away, and we give them the option to live a way they are accustomed to without moving into an apartment.”
Cillay said the area is a great place to open the business because the housing market here is not facing many of the challenges seen in other parts of the country.
“In this market, we aren’t looking at the same level of distress as in many other markets,” he said. “While this is a good real estate market — one of the best in the country — there are a number of vacant homes that are just sitting there. Houses above $1.5 million is where it starts to slow down a bit.”
Showhomes is currently seeking applicants for home managers in the area and will work with local real estate agencies to form partnerships, Cillay said.
“When people walk into an occupied home, they tend not to question the arrangement,” Cillay said.
Showhomes live-in home staging services popular with increasing number of banks
Foreclosed homes may be an opportunity for buyers and investors, but for banks they are a mess with no end in sight. Foreclosures cost money to maintain, create insurance problems, invite vandalism and devalue neighboring homes.
Showhomes home staging, a nationally franchised network of home stagers, provides an increasing number of banks with a tidy solution: Showhomes places a live-in home stager, called a Home Manager, who occupies the home and keeps it in show condition until it sells.
“Once a home is foreclosed, banks want it off the books as soon as possible, but too often just the opposite happens,” said Matt Kelton, Showhomes COO. “So many distressed properties, especially the high-end houses, sit empty and deteriorate quickly. They don’t stand out and they attract low-ball offers that lower property values.”
Distressed real estate sales accounted for about 48% of all U.S. home sales in 2010, according to Campbell’s Surveys, a strategic research firm. A recent RealtyTrac report estimated banks repossessed more than a million homes last year, not including up to delayed 250,000 foreclosures. The four largest U.S. banks alone hold $7 billion in foreclosed houses on their books, RealtyTrac says.
Showhomes is working with bankers and asset managers to help them preserve foreclosed listings, minimize costs, reduce insurance exposure and sell homes for higher prices. The service is attractive because Showhomes picks up utility bills, handles minor maintenance and takes care of cleaning. Best of all, banks don’t pay don’t pay monthly staging fees, making it an inexpensive staging option for banks handling foreclosed homes.
“We got our start 25 years ago helping banks stage foreclosed homes and today, our service is just as valuable,” said Kelton. “Nationally, banks can save millions by using Showhomes. It’s a no-brainer for any sized bank.”
Since its founding in 1986, Showhomes has helped U..S Realtors and homeowners sell more than 26,000 homes valued at more than $8.5 billion by using live-in Home Managers. The Showhomes business model is based on the fact that well-furnished homes kept in show-to-sell condition sell faster, and for higher prices, than vacant houses. For information and franchise opportunities, please visit www.showhomes.com.
By: Aaron Park
January 18, 2011
Do you have a Vacant Home? Take a look at this idea…
What’s at risk when your vacant home is for sale?
It’s not a matter of selling your house, packing up your stuff and moving on. Now there’s the issue of your vacant, unfurnished house that remains on the market. Worse, your homeowners’ insurance rates just went through the roof because of the extreme risks of a vacant dwelling.
Picture this: A Realtor’s lockbox hangs off your home’s front door, announcing that no one lives at this address any more. The heat was turned off long ago, and potential buyers shiver as they hurry through, trying to imagine what some rooms were used or even designed for. It’s not unusual for a vacant home to stay on the market for a year or longer these days, making it a target for thieves looking for appliances, copper and more that they can haul out back windows in the dead of night.
Many insurance policies have exclusions that start as quickly as 30 days after the house is vacant. Insurance companies are so concerned about the added risks of a vacant home that they often will cancel a policy during the middle of its term!
While it’s true that ‘staging’ a home is a step in the right direction, it doesn’t address the idea that no one is there.
Recently, I came across a company new to the Sacramento area that may help solve the issues associated with a vacant properties. Showhomes, a nationally known home staging company, is one better. A resident manager moves in and completely furnishes the place with the help of a professional stager. This ‘home manager’ takes care of the premises, paying utilities and keeping the home neat for a Realtor showing.
It is widely accepted that prospective buyers tend to pay more for a home for a home that is occupied and nicely furnished. They also tend to make quicker buying decisions on homes that don’t look ‘desperate.’ These resident managers pay Showhomes a monthly fee, about a third of the market rent, creating a trade-off for their expert house-sitting services.
Features of the company’s contract include insurance obligations, such as general liability for injuries and property damage to the public, special perils liability coverage for damage to the home itself, and worker’s compensation. The homeowner agrees to continue the insurance on the home.
The benefits to the owner, is that the home is no longer vacant or unoccupied, so there would be no exclusions, no risk for immediate cancellation and the home is now occupied by a ‘tenant’ of sorts, even though the owner is not collecting a rental income from this person.
The home should also become eligible for a “regular” insurance policy, in addition to the benefits mentioned above. If you’re an absentee owner, this kind of arrangement transfers the maintenance and responsibility for utilities to the resident manager.
For more information on how Showhomes works as well the local contact information, go to www.Showhomes.com. The costs are usually compensated for by the higher sales price reaped from having this arrangement instead of leaving a house vacant, looking like a distressed property. The company generally will not consider homes below $400,000 sale price.
Showhomes is the only nationwide provider we know of for this perfect solution to the risks associated with a vacant home.