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This article was originally written by Nairn Friemann, president of Ingenuity & Pizzazz Inc., RESA 2012 Professional Home Stager of the Year and a CSP graduate and intructor. Her article is wonderfully well written and really showcases the pitfalls associated with choosing the wrong home stager.
Five Common Costly Mistakes Made by Untrained Home Stagers
Selling a home is never easy. However, the challenges today seem overwhelming to most sellers.
The main criteria for selling real estate have always been location, size, and price but never before have presentation and condition been as important as they are today. 95% of buyers are shopping first on the Internet and “driving-by” properties in a “click.” Without a doubt, appealing website photos are the key to attracting buyer traffic (we have dubbed it ‘speed dating’ for homes). Visiting the property, buyers form first and lasting impressions within seconds. 90% of the population cannot visualize and base their judgments solely on what they see and how they feel, and research is proving that emotions play a much larger part of the decision making process than previously assumed.
In this tough market, buyers are also demanding and getting best value, so properties that are in good condition sell faster and for money. According to Barbara Corcoran, for every $1 a home seller does not invest in condition work, a buyer will deduct at least $3. Most buyers today are putting their full investment into the purchase price of the home and don’t have extra money for any major work. In addition, the majority of buyers do not have the time or the desire for renovation.
As professional home stagers, we cannot influence location, size and price factors. Our role is to collaborate with agents and home sellers to prepare properties for the marketplace to sell for top dollar as quickly as possible. This is impossible without thorough attention to condition issues and enhanced presentation.
A successful staging process begins with a professional analytical consultation that includes specific recommendations for the homeowner. It is our responsibility not only to tell the seller what they need to do but also to make sure they understand the importance of staging and to motivate them to follow through with the recommendations. Otherwise, they will not achieve their objectives of selling quickly and for top dollar. In fact they may not be able to sell at all.
A room such as this, left in ‘as is’ condition would fail to meet buyer expectations. In fact, it would probably drive those target buyers right to the competition.
This same room, now transformed, showcases the space superbly and is now a room buyers want to spend time in.
With so much at stake for home sellers, the staging consultation is critical to the preparation and marketing of the property. The expert advice trained staging consultants provide has significant financial importance. That is why real estate agents and home sellers should invest in trained professional home stagingconsultants. Unfortunately, many “stagers” are not trained and make serious mistakes that can be extremely costly to the home sellers. When the staging process is ineffective this can lead to longer time on the market, increased carrying costs for the seller, reduced selling price and increased stress. These are all extremely costly consequences for a home seller.
Here are five common costly mistakes made by untrained staging consultants:
1) They give away free consultations:
My view of this is “you get what you pay for.” Trained professional stagers understand the critical importance of the consultation as the first step in the staging process. They provide comprehensive room-by-room assessments and thorough, prioritized recommendations. They counsel, explain and motivate homeowners to invest in what needs to be done. The consultation should be value-rich.
Free consultations are generally “meet and greet” with some general information about the benefits of staging. They are superficial and fail to capitalize on this opportunity to address all the important staging issues of the property. In many cases the lack of attention to detail and other omissions can lead to ineffective staging, longer time on the market and reduced selling prices.
2) They provide decorating advice versus marketing strategy:
Trained professional stagers know that staging is not decorating – it’s marketing. A room can be beautifully decorated, but fail from a staging perspective. Our focus is on showcasing the best features of the property, making rooms look as bright and spacious as possible and creating buyer appeal and wow impact. Our work is strategic, always considering the buyers’ preferences and the camera’s eye. Even if someone is a talented decorator, they may not be qualified to give you professional staging advice.
3) They perform check-list style assessments but don’t analyze and prioritize recommendations.
This really demonstrates the level of expertise of your consultant. The room- by-room assessment is just the beginning – it is simply information gathering. Identifying the key strengths of the property, and analyzing and prioritizing recommendations in respect to market trends, buyers’ wish lists, and budget issues provides the homeowner with a clear understanding of not only what has to be done but why these actions are so important. This expert consulting advice helps sellers make the best financial decisions.
A professional home stager will evaluate and prioritize what needs to be done in a space to make it sellable.
4) They don’t know how to handle sensitive issues so avoid them.
Mastering the art of difficult conversations with home sellers is a key skill for professional home stagers. We are trained to address sensitive issues with home sellers and understand that it is imperative for us to do so. One strong negative impression can override a list of positive factors and prevent a sale. These sensitive issues can include odors, cleanliness problems, unattractive and dated décor, clutter, an abundance of religious items, provocative art, etc. A lack of understanding and or skill in handling these issues is not an excuse and avoiding them can be a very costly mistake.
5) They fail to motivate the client with an action plan
Professional home stagers know that it is not enough just to tell home sellers what they need to do. The true test of an effective consultation is that the consultant has been able to motivate the sellers to follow through with the recommendations. Trained staging consultants understand that the staging recommendations may seem overwhelming to their clients, but by outlining a feasible action plan, they will inspire confidence and demonstrate their ability to help with some or all of the process. Trained professional home stagers are serious business owners who are experts at consulting, design planning, problem solving, project management and showcasing. A home seller is far more likely to get the best advice, follow through with the necessary staging process and succeed at selling faster for top dollar if they invest in a consultation with a trained staging professional.
In that same living room as above, the property now shines because the professional stager made this key selling space a priority.
We would like to add:
When beginning your search for a professional home stager it is important to consider their portfolio, the length of time they have been in business, their education or training background, and that they have insurance. Take into account the calibre of work they do as well as the overall results they achieve for their clients. The home staging industry is not regulated and therefore anyone can call themselves a home stager. It is the duty of the home owner or the realtor to do their due diligence when researching the professionals in their area so that they select the right individual or company to partner with.
At Showhomes we are very pro franchising and there are a ton of great organizations that you can join. We wanted to share a great article predicting trends in the industry for the second half of 2013. Of the top 10 franchise sectors listed in this article Showhomes is involved in 3 of them (Home Based, Residential Services, and Real Estate). Finding the right franchise is one of the most important decisions you will make. We really recommend that you consider what you are the most passionate about in your life. As you will be spending lots of time in whatever franchise you choose you should do something you enjoy. Simply buying a franchise just because you think you can make a bunch of money usually isn’t the right choice. Talk to franchisees and see if you can envision yourself in their shoes. Whatever you choose to do go with your gut with what feels right.
“Senior care and mobile businesses show promise along with niche food-focused operations.
Franchises are expected to experience modest growth at best this year. This from “The Franchise Business Economic Outlook: 2013″ report and other sources.
Still, they should “outperform within many of the industries where franchises are concentrated,” predicts Matt Haller, vice president of public affairs and chief of staff to the president and CEO at Washington, D.C.’s International Franchise Association.
Which franchise sectors will see the most growth—and, hopefully, success—through the balance of 2013? Haller, along with author, blogger, and consultant, Joel Libava (“The Franchise King”), and Jeff Elgin, CEO of FranChoice Inc., believe the following ten are strong possibilities.
1. Senior Care.
“Everyone you ask about this is going to mention senior care,” Libava says. “It’s still a really good sector for franchising. The numbers don’t lie and the demographics line up just as they should.” That’s not to say it’s free of potential pitfalls. “What most people don’t realize about it is that it’s really a sales and marketing business. You need to be strong in both of those areas to make it work,” Libava stresses. “Yes, there are plenty of potential customers, but you aren’t going to get them if you don’t hit the pavement and create a referral network.”
- 2. Mobility.
This franchise sector also involves the senior population. Libava sees a potential windfall for businesses that install ramps or handrails in or around people’s homes. “There’s definitely a need out there for these kinds of services, since more and more people are staying in their homes as they age, but I think they may need to be paired with other senior services.”
3. Home- or Van-Based Service Businesses.
A few examples are Budget Blinds, CertaPro Painters, Fibrenew, Fish Window Cleaning, and franchises featuring pet- and children-related services, says Elgin. He considers these businesses especially appealing at the moment because they’re both low-investment and high-margin. “Since the financing marketplace basically went away four years ago, we’ve seen an explosion of focus on these types of franchises because many people can’t afford other more traditional fixed location opportunities without financing part of the initial investment.”
4. Business Services.
Haller ranks this segment of the franchise industry among the top two sectors in both employment growth and growth of the number of establishments this year. “As corporate America continues to do well, the demand for franchise business service providers steadily grows,” Haller maintains. Increased manufacturing and other such activities “will have a positive impact on a broad range of business services, which will continue to support the growth of franchises in this sector.”
5. Commercial and Residential Services.
“With the accelerated movement in the housing market, spending on home improvement is increasing and the demand for residential and commercial services is growing rapidly too,” says Haller, who expects this sector to grow by 2.8 percent this year. The continued sales of existing homes in 2013, he adds, “will mean more work for franchises that provide home care, from bathroom updates to lawn maintenance.”
6. Frozen Yogurt.
This has been one of the most talked-about sectors in franchising for the last three years, according to Libava. Perhaps as a result of all of that chatter, there are now over 25 different concepts in this particular space. “I have a feeling that it’s becoming crowded and increasingly difficult to differentiate one franchise from another,” he says. “Still, I think it’s one to watch.”
7. Gourmet Burgers.
Although this food-focused franchise sector also has been “hot” for a while now, Libava believes that just like frozen yogurt, the burger sector will continue to do well for some time to come. “A lot of people want burgers and fries, especially good ones.” He considers upscale burger joints to be “a safe bet for people who want to get into food franchising and also have several hundred thousand dollars—because they’re big investments.”
8. Various “Executive-Model, Rapid-Initial-Growth” Franchises.
A few examples of this sector are niche fitness franchises with a twist, like Kosama, or those that focus on massage and related services, such as Massage Envy. These businesses “typically have fixed locations and higher initial costs,” Elgin says, but they also tend to attract lots of customers “and therefore start making money far faster than standard franchise businesses.” Massage Envy is also like Target in that it brings affordable luxury to the masses…
9. Real Estate.
“The real-estate industry turned a corner last year and continues to add to that recovery in 2013,” Haller says. Specifically, he adds, sales of new homes will increase 26.5% this year, up from the 19% increases seen in 2012 . “New building construction is expanding, vacancies are coming down, and rental activity is improving,” Haller says.
10. Fast-Casual Restaurants.
A subset of traditional quick-service restaurants, these franchises “continue to be high on the list for strong ROI,” according to Haller. “Consumers are always looking for convenience and value and, as a result, turn to less expensive food options.” This particular sector should prove to be especially appealing for those looking to franchise, he adds, because of “the demand factor and [because] there are no limits to where you can open a quick-service restaurant.”
Here is a great blog post from Home Matters in Indianapolis:
Ready for another price reduction? How about multiple offers instead?
Do these scenarios seem too far apart to be realistic? Here in Indianapolis and our surrounding areas, sellers are facing one extreme or the other. With low inventory levels, buyers are snapping up well priced and presented homes quickly. Homes that don’t meet one of those two wickets (price or presentation) are not seeing the shift in market. They are still sitting and still requiring price reductions.
Properly presenting homes from the beginning
Whether a home is vacant or occupied, having the home staged prior to listing is an important part of receiving maximum returns. Statistics show that the first two weeks of a listing is the best time to receive an offer. Faster is better and to not have the home properly prepared from day 1 means leaving money on the table.
Waiting to stage until after the initial surge of showings is a common thought for many sellers who are trying to “save money” by seeing if they can sell without staging.While this thinking is understandable, it is also flawed. In order to maximize the possibility of multiple offers (something becoming more common in today’s market) professional home staging needs to happen from the beginning, not when the best sellers have already left the building.
Price reductions happen around 30 days
When a home has been on the market for more than 30 days it begins to feel stale to agents. Interest is waning and the likelihood of good offers is reduced. The average price reduction, according to Zillow is 1-3%. Often on a $200,000 home, price reductions may be $5,000 – $10,000 smashing that average with nearly 5% in reductions. Compare this to the cost of home staging. An average vacant staging job in this price range, would be in the low $2000′s. For occupied homes a professional evaluation and changes based on recommendations may only be a few hundred.
Even in a shifting market, homes will sit while others sell. Poorly presented homes will justify the price tag of similar homes with higher prices. If you are interested in preserving the equity of your home, there is no investment than home staging before the home is listed.”
Marty Barnes from The Entrepreneur Source recently wrote a great blog post about one of our long term franchisees Donna Muelver. Great overview of the fascinating people that are part of the Showhomes family.
“Our Entrepreneur this month wasn’t looking for a franchise and had little interest in owning one. But sometimes the franchise just finds you. Donna Muelver answered the door when opportunity knocked and she is happy she did.
Donna Muelver was a stay at home mom and foster parent and her husband Rick was a firefighter. One day a friend told them about a real estate sign installation company that was for sale. It was a struggling company with potential. Donna could run and market the business and her husband Rick and eldest son Wayne could help out with the installation of the lawn signs. They did this for over 10 years, increasing sales and adding real estate photography to their basket of services. And then, opportunity knocked again.
Here is a great blog from Chicagoland Staging:
“I was recently speaking to a group of homeowners who are thinking of selling their home in the next year. One of the lessons that I was trying to impart is the idea that faster is better when selling their home. I often hear, “I don’t care about selling fast. I care about getting the most from my home sale as I can.” What many sellers don’t realize is that there is usually a direct correlation between days on market and the net proceeds of your home sale.
Faster is better: 3 days is better than 30 days
As I was talking to the home sellers, all I could think of when I uttered the words, “faster is better”, was the AT&T commercial. You know the one. The little boy advises the adult that Grandma would like to be faster and they could strap a cheetah to her back in order to achieve this end result.
The one thing that is true of this marketing campaign is that faster is better, at least as it pertains to home selling. Consider for a few minutes if you were a buyer. You found a home that you really love. You found out it has only been on the market for 3 days. Consider what kind of offer you are likely to make.
Some of the offer decision making process will include:
- How quickly would you likely feel compelled to make that offer?
- What is the likelihood that you may have other potential buyers who want this property?
- How likely are they to take a lower offer?
Would your answers change if you knew the home had been on the market for 30 days? Most of the time the answer is, “Yes.” The average offer will be much higher if it’s made in 3 days than if it is made in 30. Most buyers will feel compelled to make a higher offer and do it more quickly. As the 30 day mark approaches, buyers begin to feel that there is no rush, and there won’t be any competing offers. Motivation gets much lower.
The truth is that in many markets, 30 days is still a very quick sale time. If the average days on market is 60, 45, or 90 days (or more) then 30 is a fabulous statistic. Offers will continue to decline every week the home lingers on the market.
Faster is better: Keeping your home show ready
Another part of the faster is better argument is that home sellers will have less work when the home sells quickly. It is a lot of work keeping a home show ready. Making the bed, vacuuming, keeping the laundry rooms free of work, removing the pets from the home, so on and so forth. How many times do you want to do this? When the home sells quickly, you’ll have to do this a lot less.
The truth is that when selling a home, faster is almost always better. Sellers will have less work preparing for showings, leaving the home for showings, and stress of wondering when the offer will finally come in. Offers will likely be higher, and very possibly there will be more of them if the home is shown in it’s best possible condition.”
Bellaire home wins in CNBC Competition “Best Bang For Your Buck”
Showhomes Home Staging had its home staging services recognized nationally by CNBC’s Million Dollar Home Contest.
Showhomes Home Staging, a national home staging franchise, staged the million dollar property that was selected by CNBC’s real estate expert, Dolly Lenz, as the “best bang for your buck” in the country, priced at $1 million on May 3, 2013.
The winning home on Cedar Street in Houston’s Bellaire neighborhood is listed by realtor Lisa Kornhauser who works for the firm of John Daugherty Post Oak Realtors, who asked Showhomes to help him stage the million-dollar property. The English manor is 4,413 square feet and features four bedrooms, 3 1/2 bathrooms, a fire pit, outdoor kitchen and exceptional kitchen appliances.
Showhomes Home Staging specializes in helping realtors and homeowners sell homes by staging properties in such a way that prospective buyers can already imagine themselves living in the home.
“The key is to add little details,” says Matt Kelton, chief operating officer of Showhomes Home Staging, “Today’s Wall Street Journal by the coffee maker, slippers by the bed and fresh flowers on the dining room table make all the difference.”
CNBC’s Million Dollar Home Contest revealed a single multi-million dollar home in six different markets across the U.S.: Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; Houston; New Haven, Conn.; and San Diego, Calif. The show aims to explore value in different markets and real estate trends in different regions of the country.
What’s that smell?
Scents and odors are everywhere and all buyers are influenced by them, particularly when looking at houses to purchase. The sense of smell is the strongest of all the senses to connect (or disconnect) buyers to your house.
When preparing to stage a house, we recommend getting rid of the sources of bad odors by making a house super clean and dealing with pet issues, to name a few. But how about subtly layering a scent through a house that has no odors, but is clean and staged?… Infusing scents for the sole purpose of helping convince buyers that your house is “the one”.
With that being said, should you pull out scented candles for your next showing or prepare to bake chocolate chip cookies for your Open House?
Well, no you shouldn’t and here’s why…
We need to stop doing what we THINK works to attract buyers and rely on studies that tell us what DOES work. Research shows that while popular scents may trigger positive emotions, they can distract from our ability to make decisions.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
Eric Spangenberg, Dean of the College of Business at Washington State University, has been studying the effect of scents on the buying habits of people for over 20 years.
He and his co-authors published the results of their recent study in the Journal of Retailing.They found that shoppers spent 31.8% more when a store was scented with a simple orange scent over a complex blend of scents. Professor Spangenberg says the same principles apply to Open Houses, “because in both cases, the aromas may affect cognitive functions in the same areas of the brain involved in decision-making.” And what were their findings about stores with no scents? Buyers spent more in these stores than in the stores with complex blends, but less than in the stores with simple scents.
When buyers are confronted with a complex scent, even if it is pleasant, they are distracted by trying to figure out what the smell is instead on focusing on the house.
So, how do you know which scent to use? According to Professor Spangenberg,
”You need to think, ‘What scent will buyers associate with this environment?’ It must be simple and positive and congruent.”
Simple: He recommends using simple scents, such as orange, lemon, basil, vanilla, green tea, pine and cedar. These scents are easier to sort out, less distracting and thus more conducive to spending.
Positive: Equally important is the strength and source of that scent. You don’t want buyers to be bowled over by a strong scent the minute they walk through the door. As the saying goes…”less is more.”
“You want scents to be on the edge of your perception — not centrally processed. This leaves the central part of your brain to do what it does best: process the task at hand” – Eric Spangenberg
Using natural, organic elements will help keep the scents subtle and also prevent turning off buyers who are sensitive or allergic to synthetic commercial products.
Congruent: You must select a scent that is in harmony with the location of your house. The scent of pine may be great if your house is on a wooded l
How do you infuse your home with simple, organic scents?
Original Source: Sue Proud of Proud Home Staging: http://proudhomestaging.com/2013/04/
Not so, says Realtor Joe Finnerty, of Prudential Patt, White Real Estate. Finnerty and his clients encounter homes with dirty dishes in the sink and an overflowing cat litter box.
“A part of you wonders: Did the agent tell them what to do?” said Finnerty, who has an accredited home stager on his team. “I have heard sellers say before, ‘If somebody really wants the house, they will overlook that stuff.’ They won’t.”
Real estate agents and home stagers say the surefire way to sell your home fast is staging, either with the help of a professional or by following the simple, effective rules of the trade.
A house that sells fast is clean, clutter-free and looks well maintained. Staged homes sell for about 8 percent more money since they sell faster, Finnerty said.
Real estate agents and professional stagers alike agree the window to make a good impression is small. An effectively staged home allows potential buyers to envision moving right in.
“Allow the buyer to see the house, not the seller’s belongings,” advises Therese Kelley, president of the Lehigh Valley Association of Realtors.
Most buyers will first see your home online, so you want stellar photos that show all aspects of the house, said Nina Evangelista, owner of Staging It. She warns that clutter jumps out in photos.
“If they don’t like the pictures, they won’t call. The better the photos, the more traffic you will attract,” she said. “The more space and the cleaner the home appears, the faster the sale.”
If an online listing piques a potential buyer’s interest, most then hop in the car and drive by the home, Evangelista said. That’s why sellers need to evaluate their entire home with a critical eye starting with the view from the street.
Lawns should be well maintained, and if it’s spring or summer, plant flowers, Kelley said. In fall or winter, make sure leaves are raked and walkways shoveled. Give the front door a fresh coat of paint and put new numbers on the house.
“It makes the prospective buyer think they really took care of this home in other ways,” Evangelista said.
If the target buyer is a family with children, list your home in the spring, said Shoshana Gosselin, an interior designer and stager who owns Love Your Room. Families don’t want to uproot their children mid-school year, so they typically aim for a summer move.
The house should be spotless. Get carpets shampooed and drapes cleaned. Eliminate pet or food odors and send Fido to the neighbors. Ditch the tchotchkes and take down the personal pictures.
“If you go into a living room and the whole wall is covered in family photos, it’s hard to picture yourself there,” Finnerty said
Buyers are nosy
Prospective buyers aren’t like polite house guests, warns Gosselin. They will be looking in closets and storage spaces, so start packing and purging.
“You want them to open a closet and see how big it is, not all your shoes,” she said.
Replace dated light fixtures or draperies. Make sure light bulbs are all working and turn all the lights on before a showing, Kelley said.
“Little updates, details are what sell a home,” Gosselin said.
Has your wife been nagging you about that door that sticks for years? Chances are, Kelley said, buyers will notice that too. Save yourself the trouble and fix it before your home goes on the market.
Paint and carpet are two of the cheapest and biggest updates a seller can make. Slapping a fresh coat of paint on the wall has a 109 percent return on investment, Evangelista said. Stick to neutral colors and bring in pops of color with accessories, said Gosselin, who recommends Benjamin Moore Marble Canyon as a buyer-friendly paint color.
Solutions big and small
Fixes don’t have to be expensive.
Put that dated fire screen in storage and let the fireplace shine with a fresh stack of firewood, Evangelista said. Or swap out the kitchen hardware.
“You want to appeal to a vast amount of people,” Evangelista said. “Not to one small unique set of people.”
The return on investment for major updates like a new furnace or roof is tricky because buyers expect homes to have these things.
“If you pay $6,000 for a new roof, we can’t raise the price by $6,000,” Finnerty said. “It definitely makes it more appealing. If the roof is totally falling down, you will get every penny’s worth back.”
If you fear the age of your furnace could be an issue for potential buyers, Kelley suggests having it serviced and finding out the replacement costs since it will impact your bottom line. Savvy buyers check a unit’s service card, she said.
Real estate agents agree vacant homes are the hardest to sell. If the owners have moved out, Kelley and Finnerty strongly advise renting furniture and staging a home.
Stagers offer tiered services ranging from one-time consultations to total home overhauls with new furniture and accessories. One-time consultations typically result in a report with suggested updates.
If you can’t afford to hire a home stager, ask your real estate agent for help.
Know your target buyer and get your home ready for that person.
Eliminate niche and personal items from your home.
Rooms look smaller without furniture, so placing just a bed in a room helps buyers with scale.
Small, inexpensive updates can make a huge difference.
TAMPA, Fl. - The Spring and Summer months are traditionally home selling season, and prospective sellers are hoping to cash in on signs that the market is improving. But how do you separate your home for sale from all the others?
“It’s the art of decorating a home so that it sells at the highest price in the shortest amount of time,” said Ann Alderson of Staging South Tampa.You may want to consider staging your home.
It’s especially helpful with rooms that don’t quite fit the mold. You might turn an unusually small room into a home office, for example. It takes more than adding a desk to an office space. Stagers say adding particular objects can bring an emotional connection. A book, some greenery, or a touch of color can help a buyer fall in love.
“People associate psychologically, cooking in the kitchen, and family, so its warm and inviting,” said Saavedra, as she entered the kitchen of a home that had been recently staged. There are nicely placed kitchen tools, some greenery, even napkins and placemats in the dining area.
Sellers may put up some money to have the home staged, but it can pay off. Home seller David Riley is happy with his choice to stage the home he had for sale. He listed the home at many thousands more than he had planned, once it was staged. Within 48 hours, he said he had an offer that was several thousand dollars higher than his list price.
“It took it from an incredible house, to a very cozy warm home,” said Riley. “It was a total transformation.”
Experts say when staging your home, look for balance. Be careful not to cram too much in, or to put too little in for the right feel. Make sure home repairs are done, so that the home is in ‘move in’ condition. And don’t forget the importance of curb appeal. Add mulch, greenery, and even some color to make the home pleasing to the eye. The right touches can help you move your home more quickly, and often for a better price.
Fred Pierson’s path to entrepreneurship was anything but linear. Before becoming a Showhomes Home Staging franchise owner in Raleigh, N.C., Fred Pierson had two different corporate careers.
In college, Pierson earned a degree in aviation management and went on to manage corporate jet facilities across the United States. Due to the nature of his work, he and his wife, Lorraine, moved frequently. After years of packing and unpacking, Fred, Lorraine and their young children settled in North Carolina and Fred left the aviation industry and his first corporate career.
Fred then joined Starwood Hotels and Resorts. He felt that “hospitality was similar in nature” to his aviation work. For the next decade, Pierson worked his way up the corporate ladder, eventually earning the title of General Manager. As the economy contracted during the Great Recession, Fred returned to work for a competitor at half the compensation of what he had been making.
“After doing corporate work for 25 years, my wife and I felt it was time to start working for ourselves,” says Pierson. “In life, opportunities present themselves occasionally, but what really made Showhomes the right opportunity for us was the timing,” he explains.
As luck would have it, a good friend of Fred’s was starting her own mortgage brokerage firm around the same time as his departure from the hospitality industry. Due to her encouragement, Fred became a national and state licensed mortgage loan officer — passing both tests on his first try.
“Old dogs can learn new tricks!” he says.
Working as a mortgage officer was very interesting to Pierson, though he soon realized it could put a strain on his relationships with friends.
“I refused to sacrifice my relationships with people to originate loans,” Pierson explains, “As such, my wife and I looked at opportunities that would provide me with a pipeline of loans without pushing me to use my personal contacts.”
A good friend led the Pierson’s to Showhomes, a business model they felt they would use as an “ancillary feeder” to his mortgage business that catered to those relocating to the Raleigh area.
“We quickly saw that the opportunities with Showhomes were far greater than within the mortgage business,” says Fred. “In a short period of time we saw impressive results that allowed us to walk away from the mortgage side of things and focus on Showhomes.”
The Pierson’s ultimately chose Showhomes over other franchise opportunities because it played to the couples’ talents. Lorraine enjoyed interior design and, as a byproduct of Fred’s aviation management days, was adept at staging houses and making them feel like homes. Fred, a self-described “turnaround specialist for companies,” easily brought in new business.
“Technically no one does what we do on a national level with the level of support and national branding that Showhomes offers,” Pierson says.
On what to expect when becoming a Showhomes franchisee Fred says, “You’re buying the right to a territory and what you do with that territory and how you manage it effectively is up to you.
As franchisees, Fred and Lorraine have learned a considerable amount about real estate and the effect staging has on the buying and selling process. The number one challenge to Showhomes as a business model, according to Fred, is demonstrating the value of a staged home to both the seller and to the realtor. “Showhomes is here to stage, maintain, manage and protect your home. My job is to make someone fall in love with your home; it’s the Realtor’s job to find a buyer”.
With experiencing close to a 70-percent success rate of having homes sell within 90 days of being staged, the Pierson’s feel that the human elements—leaving slippers by the bed, The Wall Street Journal near the coffee maker– clearly make a difference and bring a human touch.
“To be successful it helps to be well-rounded and most people, because of their corporate careers, are specialists in a particular area, like sales, operations, or administrative. For this reason, it works best with a great team, similar to myself and my wife Lorraine.”
“I take great satisfaction in explaining Showhomes to business principals,” says Fred, “Smart people right away say, ‘That’s an amazing business model!’”