Pair Right at Home as House Managers
By Tracy Rogers
LITTLE ROCK — Heidi Ross is a bit different from most home stagers. Instead of staging a place and forgetting it, Ross, co-owner of Showhomes Little Rock and Memphis franchises, places furniture and people in vacant houses to help sell faster.
Ross and husband Jeff first learned about Showhomes in 2003 when they sold their house in Mobile, Ala., more quickly than expected. The Rosses were looking for a temporary home while searching for a place to live in Little Rock.
“We needed temporary housing.” Access to that temporary housing came in the form of an advertisement by the Showhomes franchise in Mobile. The Rosses became Home Managers, moving into a vacant house, paying for utilities and yard upkeep and using their own furniture to stage the house while it was on the market. The family liked their temporary abode and asked about moving to another Showhome in Little Rock, but the city didn’t have a franchise.
“We realized, ‘Hey, maybe this is a good opportunity for us,’” Ross says. So the couple bought the franchise for Central Arkansas and two others that include the Memphis metropolitan area.
Today, Ross and his team manage about 10 houses in Little Rock and 10 in the Memphis area, using Home Managers selected for their furniture and how it fits a particular house on the market.
“We find individuals in transition,” Ross says.
That could be a family that sold their house too quickly, as the Rosses did, or a couple that needs to move to Little Rock, but has yet to sell their house elsewhere. It could be a divorcee who’s used to a certain way of life and has the furniture for that lifestyle but can’t afford a $500,000 house anymore. Or it could be someone who’s sick of apartment living and wants to live above their means.
There are other benefits for homeowners. They do not have to maintain vacant homeowners insurance, which can be costly. Showhomes also stages every room in the house instead of just key rooms as some home stagers do.
“We even put food in the refrigerator and have clothes in the closets,” Ross says.
Having the house occupied also keeps pests from moving in, as they so often do in vacant places, and keeps plumbing and electrical problems at bay.
“It’s actually good for the home,” Ross says. “A house that’s unoccupied will start to deteriorate.”