Posts Tagged ‘home managers’

How to make your home more appealing to buyers (

April 2nd, 2014

If you’re planning on putting your home on the market, there are things you can do to spice up your property to attract potential buyers.

Spring is the best time to sell a home, says Ally Piccolomini, co-owner of the Philadelphia branch of the home staging company Showhomes.

philly-default-header-logo“Everyone wants a new change,” Piccolomini says. “It’s a lot easier with the [seasonal] transition and before the new school year.”

Showhomes, a national company, opened its first office in the region last month in Radnor. Piccolomini, who has worked on homes in Kennett Square, West Chester, and Glen Mills, says the company’s mission is to assist sellers with sprucing up their homes by focusing on three things: decluttering, depersonalizing, and deodorizing.

Piccolomini recommends removing excess furniture, accessories and personal items, such as family photos.

“Take away family photos so that a new buyer can come in and visualize the home with their family,” she says.

Plus, sellers should make an effort to rid the home of bad odors. Cigarette smell and pet odors can turn potential buyers away.

Other simple things that can be done to make a home more marketable include painting the front door, painting the interior a neutral color, and highlighting architectural features. For example, painting the fireplace mantel white for big impact.

“It gives a calm, peaceful feeling to the room,” Piccolomini says. “It gives it some balance.”

The outside is just as important as the inside, so don’t forget to take a look at your home’s curb appeal.

“When people drive up that’s the first thing they see. You just want to get them in the door.”

Wanna get happy? Forget therapy and put your money into staging

March 31st, 2014
Bancroft Place Houston inner loop development in the River Oaks area June 2013 living room dining room
Those who have remodeled or redecorated in the last two years say they are happier (74 percent), more relaxed (51 percent) and tidier (35 percent) at home. 
4321 Travis living room
Big windows and comfortable furniture top the list (74 and 70 percent, respectively) of what makes people happiest about their homes. 
Kitchen at 3801 Normandy in Dallas
The happiest rooms of the home are common areas such as the family/living room (42 percent) and kitchen (15 percent). 
Dallas midcentury redo by Durham Builders
Men prefer comfort overall, whereas women like for a room to be neat. 
We love to flip through shelter magazines and browse design blogs to behold beautiful houses and inspired interiors. Although we may suffer some heartache (only because our abodes often pale in comparison), according to a new study by Houzz, those well-designed homes are the key to their owners’ happiness.

In its Home & Happiness Survey, the home remodeling and design site discovered that people who recently remodeled or redecorated are happier and more relaxed. Of the more than 6,000 homeowners surveyed, a whopping nine out of 10 agree with that statement. Nearly one third (31 percent) also entertain more often post-reno.

People who have renovated or remodeled in the last two years say they are happier, more relaxed, tidier and entertain more often.

How long this happiness lasts has yet to be determined; perhaps it’s only until the bills arrive. Still, a happy home is a renovated one, apparently.

The study also shows that most homeowners are happier at home than away (65 percent). These findings were consistent across men and women, and across home locations in urban, suburban and rural areas. That percentage was as high as 71 percent for people in newly built homes, but it dropped to 51 percent for those who describe their home as “in need of work.”

So what is it about these newly remodeled homes that make people jump for joy? Big windows and comfortable furniture top the list (74 and 70 percent respectively). The happiest rooms of the home are common areas such as the family/living room (42 percent) and kitchen (15 percent).

People who responded that their homes need work, however, say that they are happiest in the bedroom (23 percent). At least there is still magic there. Glass half full, people!

If you can’t afford to renovate or redecorate, there are still ways to live a happier lifestyle. According to the study, homeowners are happiest in rooms that are clean and organized (72 percent) and comfortable (68 percent). However, there are gender differences. For men, comfort is king, while women favor rooms that are neat and clean.

Why a Top 10 Remax Realtor Uses Showhomes

March 21st, 2014

Andrew Duncan from Tampa, Florida is one of the top Real Estate agents in the country.  He recently was ranked 10th out of 90,000 Real Estate Agents for Remax nationwide.  He has used Showhomes Tampa for years and recently saw first hand how we can make a major impact by utilizing our services for his personal home.  Check out this testimonial to learn more about how Showhomes can help you with the transformation of your home: Duo


Help for Selling Your Home Faster — and Maybe for More

March 19th, 2014

Prep your home properly before you put it on the market.  

Houzz Contributor
Selling a house is a major undertaking. Where do you begin? First you’ll need to establish a big-picture view of how to prepare it. This ideabook will help you do that, so you can get your home in shape to sell quickly at the best possible price (without breaking your budget).
farmhouse exterior by Blueline Architects p.c.
The project: Get a home ready to sell.Why: Taking the time to prepare your home before putting it on the market can help it fetch a higher price and increase buyer interest, making for a quicker sale. Taking a big-picture look at what to do to get your home ready to sell will help ensure that you make the best decisions and stay under budget.Things to consider: It makes sense to start with the outside of your home, since that is what potential buyers will notice first. Shoot for nice landscaping, a freshly cleaned exterior, a driveway and walking path in good repair, a well-lit porch and an eye-catching front door.
craftsman entry by Locati Architects
Make a list early on of all of the repairs your home needs, from the tiny (change a lightbulb) to the major (new roof) before deciding what to get done. The fact is that the cost of most repairs and upgrades will not be recouped in the sale price, so focus on taking care of the minor repairs and tackle bigger projects only if you feel you must.
beach style entry by Francesca Owings Interior Design
Remove clutter and organize what’s left. Any real estate agent or home stager will tell you that getting rid of clutter and excess personal items is essential to making your home look its best to potential buyers. Less stuff will make your space look larger, which is almost always a positive thing. Overstuffed closets and drawers signal to buyers that there is not enough storage space in the home, while neat and orderly closets help buyers envision living an organized life in your house.
If you need to get a lot of furniture and accessories out of your home while it’s on the market, think about renting a storage unit. The cost could be worth it if it means your house shows better and sells faster (and hopefully for more money).
farmhouse kitchen by Rafe Churchill: Traditional Houses
Who to hire: The pros you’ll hire to help prep your home for sale will depend on how much work your home needs and on how much work you plan to do yourself. Consider these:

  • Real estate agent: This is the first pro you will want to hire. Your Realtor should be able to give you an honest assessment of what your house needs to position it well on the market.
  • Handyperson: Hiring a handyperson for a single day is often enough to take care of a whole list of small repairs.
  • Electrician: Get that broken doorbell and porch light fixed, and update interior lighting.
  • Cleaning service: Getting your house sparkling clean is a low-cost way to make your home look its best. A professional house cleaning team can make your house shine in a single day.
eclectic bedroom by Hampton Design
  • Painter: A fresh coat of paint indoors and out is a surefire way to make your home stand out.
  • Stager: A professional home stager can help declutter your home, arrange furniture (sometimes bringing in loaner furniture) and accessories, and make paint and landscaping recommendations to get your home in top shape for a quick and profitable sale.
  • Landscape designer or gardener: Landscaping consistently makes the list of things that can influence a home sale. If you do not have a green thumb, it could be worth it to invest in pro services from someone who does.
eclectic family room by thea home inc
Cost breakdown: Sage advice is to spend as little as possible on your home to prepare it for sale. Small changes and upgrades will give it a boost in perceived value without your having to dip too far into your savings.

  • Expect to pay $50 to $85 per hour for a handyman and $60 to $100 per hour and up for an electrician.
  • Home staging consultations (you implement most of the changes) run $150 to $500, but it can cost $2,000 and (way) up for full-service staging and furniture rentals.
  • Should you decide to rent a storage unit, expect to pay about $100 per month for a 10- by 15-foot unit.
  • House painting generally costs about $2 to $4 per square foot.
eclectic kitchen by Lindsay von Hagel
Best time to do this project: The boom time of year for home sales is summer, so it’s a good idea to set late spring or early summer as a goal date to have your home ready to sell. You can start preparing your home to sell anytime, but sooner is always better than later.If you can, begin preparations the year before you plan to sell to give landscaping time to fill in, and to give yourself ample time to get work done. For instance, you could plant spring bulbs in the fall, take care of interior house repairs in winter and finish up the rest of your projects in spring to ready your home for its first open house in early summer.
traditional exterior by Sarah Greenman
First steps: 

  1. Interview and choose a real estate agent.
  2. Assess your property — not just the value but also what could be done to the interior or exterior to appeal to more buyers.
  3. Decide what work you are going to do yourself and what you would like a pro to do.
  4. Hire a home stager. Your stager will have important input on what repairs and changes will be most worth your time and money, and which ones to skip.
  5. Hire additional pros as needed, starting with a landscaper. Remember, the landscape needs time to fill in.

Early Spring Thaw in Homes for Sale? Listings Up 10%

March 18th, 2014


Economy Mortgage Rates


Here is a new report from AOL Real Estate.  Call your local Showhomes office today to help you while the market is still hot!


“Brutal winter storms in much of the country didn’t stop home sellers from being optimistic about the housing market, with 10 percent more properties for sale nationwide in February compared to a year ago, according to data released today by The median list price increased 7.6 percent to $199,000 during the same time, according to the National Housing Trend Report.

Along with more homes being put up for sale at higher prices, the median age of the inventory went up 6.5 percent from a year ago to a median of 114 days, or almost four months. Homes being on the market longer can help turn what’s now considered a strong seller’s market into a better situation for buyers.

“We’re still seeing a stronger sellers’ market. We’re slowly, hopefully moving more toward equilibrium,” says Steve Berkowitz, CEO of Move, Inc., operator of, the official website of the National Association of Realtors.

This good news doesn’t necessarily mean that the normally busy spring buying season is starting earlier, but it could open the door to more spring sales. Sellers are showing that they’re more confident than they were a year ago and are willing to put up homes for sale that they might have previously held back on because they had little or no equity in them, Berkowitz says.

“It could be a sign that more housing is coming on the market,” he says.

Why more listings? Home sellers could be putting their homes on the market well before the spring buying season because they think they’ll beat the competition and get the price they want now. “With the inventory you may get a better price,” Berkowitz says.

“Life events” associated with housing changes — such as births, children entering school, and aging homeowners downsizing — are again causing homeowners to move because they can afford to if they have more equity in their homes as home prices increase. Low interest rates for home loans can also be a reason for more home listings.

The 7.6 percent increase in home price listings is another sign of seller confidence going into the selling season. However, of the 121 markets that posted annual gains in median list price in February, 84 markets rose less than 10 percent, according to the report.

California and Denver are hot: Home inventories in California have bounced back from last spring. Stockton, for example, has twice as many homes listed on as it did a year ago.FresnoBakersfieldRiverside and Oakland all had year-over-year increases of 40 percent or more on the number of homes for sale.

Last year was an anomaly with a low level of inventory, Berkowitz says. Homes have been on the market for a median of almost four months, a 6.5 percent increase from a year ago, but in a healthy market the housing inventory would be six to eight months old and creating more of a buyer’s market, he says.

“It’s a little bit of a healthier market,” he says of the inventory improvement.

Among the 10 largest markets with declining inventories from a year ago, Denver and Chicago are relatively strong markets. Median list prices from a year ago were up 19.6 percent in Denver and 14.3 percent in Chicago. Lower inventory in those areas will likely increase housing prices into the 2014 homebuying season, according to These areas and a handful of other Colorado markets are unlikely to have the same appreciation that California had much of last year, since the deficits aren’t as large.

Weak markets still persist, the report found, with list prices dropping by more than 1 percent in February in 14 markets. These are typically in older, industrialized areas such as Shreveport, La.,Rochester, N.Y., and Omaha, Neb.


The top 10 metropolitan statistical areas with the greatest year-over-year list price increases, followed by percentage increase and median list price for February 2014 are:

  1. Stockton-Lodi, Calif.: 38%, $248,600
  2. Las Vegas: 26%, $177,500
  3. Reno: 26%, $259,900
  4. Detroit: 26%, $119,900
  5. Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif.: 24%, $292,800
  6. Orange County, Calif.: 23%, $599,900
  7. Fresno, Calif.: 21%, $229,000
  8. Bakersfield, Calif.: 20%, $179,999
  9. Los Angeles-Long Beach: 20%, $449,999
  10. Denver: 19%, $329,000


Cities with the greatest year-over-year inventory increases, with percentage increase and followed by total listings for February, are:

  1. Stockton-Lodi: 101%, 1,740
  2. Fresno: 53%, 2,933
  3. Bakersfield: 52%, 2,754
  4. Orlando, Fla.: 49%, 13,425
  5. Riverside-San Bernardino: 46%, 21,221
  6. Phoenix-Mesa, Ariz.: 45%, 23,654
  7. Oakland, Calif.: 42%, 2,715
  8. Minneapolis-St. Paul: 38%, 15,431
  9. Lakeland-Winter Haven, Fla.: 38%, 4,247″

Home staging tips: How the 5 senses help you sell

March 17th, 2014

Most homebuyers know that sensation—the moment you walk into a house and just know it’s the home for you. What they may not know is the feeling of “home at first sight” sometimes needs a helping hand.

Home staging is all about creating that emotional connection. To be successful at it, you have to appeal to all five of the buyer’s senses.


Smell can evoke an emotional response that doesn’t even register in our conscious thoughts. Even the slightest hint of mustiness can conjure impressions of mold and mildew, so make sure each room of your home smells as fresh and clean as possible.

Mother and daughter arranging fresh-cut flowers

  • Weather permitting, open your windows and doors to let in the fresh air. Box and ceiling fans can help you circulate air into rooms with less ventilation.
  • Fresh-cut flowers can brighten any room’s atmosphere. Just make sure you choose varieties with subtle scents and low pollen.See examples »
  • Replace or remove old rugs and bathmats and clean or air out curtains.
  • Have your carpets and upholstery cleaned just before you put your house on the market and remember to vacuum daily. With any luck, your floors will be seeing a lot of extra foot traffic!
  • As much as you can, keep trash—especially kitchen waste—in sealed containers outside or in your garage.
  • Don’t let dishes pile up in the sink or dishwasher. Rinse after each use and take special care to keep your garbage disposal clear. Run the water for at least 30 seconds after you turn off the disposal and clean with vinegar and water as needed. Toss in some citrus peels for a fresh aroma.
  • Choose cleaners that won’t leave a harsh chemical smell in your home. This is a chance to do something nice for yourself, as well as your visitors. Cleaning is a much more pleasant task with a dose of aromatherapy. See examples »

Pet owners: If your furry family members must stay in the house while it’s on the market, try to limit them to areas with hard-surface floors and encourage them to stay off the upholstery. Bathe and brush them as much as possible to keep shedding and odors minimal. Buyers with allergies will thank you!Learn how to “stage” your pets »

Smokers: If you’ve been smoking inside your house, now’s the time to stop.


Use a variety of cloths and textures in your home. Cover your furniture with new fabric if the original upholstery is starting to look worn. Bed linens should be clean, stain-free and touchable. Run your fingers over some of the surfaces in each room. Dusty? Clean it. Splintering wood? Sand it and refinish.


While your home is on the market, it needs to be set up in a way that serves your selling goals, not necessarily your lifestyle. That may mean rearranging or redistributing your furniture, putting personal belongings into storage and/or painting and other redecoration.

  • Each room should be shown to its best advantage. Small rooms can appear larger with the proper furniture placement, paint color and lighting. The right window treatment can help compensate for small windows. Take steps to address cracks, stains or other visible signs of disrepair. No matter how minor they may be, you don’t want buyers to start thinking the house needs work.Beautifully set dining room table
  • If you’ve been using the dining room as a home office or your guest room as a storage room, consider borrowing or renting furniture that helps re-establish each room’s original purpose. Buyers should be able to see how they’d live in each space, not how you’ve chosen to use it.
  • The less you showcase your personal tastes, the easier it is for buyers to see their own design possibilities in each room. Pack away mementos like family pictures and trophies and de-clutter as much as you can. Consider adding a fresh coat of paint; it will help create that clean slate you’re going for and freshen up your walls at the same time. Need help choosing an interior paint color? Check out this article »


Take a moment to listen to your house. No, this isn’t a zen exercise. Do you hear dripping faucets, squeaky steps or anything else that needs a quick fix? You can’t control things like traffic sounds or noisy neighbors, but you can distract from them by playing soft music throughout the whole house.


Arguably the most difficult sense to appeal to when selling a home, taste can be addressed by providing refreshments. Visitors might not remember which house had a vase of daisies on the counter, but they’ll remember the one that had just-brewed coffee, ice-cold bottled water or a fresh fruit tray.

Just how important is a first impression? In a 2012 Coldwell Banker Real Estate survey, 62% of women and 61% of men knew within the first visit if a home was the right one. What’s more, 28% of women and 25% of men put greater emphasis on their feelings about a home than they did on the home’s price, square footage or layout.

Staging your home may seem like a lot of work, but it will all pay off if it helps sell your home faster. Keep reading our blog for future DIY home staging tips!


March 6th, 2014

Showhomes has staged more homes across the country than any other staging organization.  We have many great long term relationships with Realtors across the country and this has been one of the keys to our success.  There are times when we see mistakes made by Realtors that we interact with that could be avoided.  This is a great blog by Rooms in Bloom Home Staging with some information that you should consider before working with a Realtor and Home Stager.

“It’s always great when realtors and home stagers create strong partnerships. In these types of scenarios, both parties support and rely on each other to handle the important aspects of preparing and selling homes. We have seen these partnerships go wrong however and from our perspective, here are the Top 10 home staging mistakes realtors make:

1. Selecting your Stager based on price only – Selecting a stager simply because they are the cheapest is one of the best ways to sabotage your sale and cost your clients thousands of dollars in lost equity. More important than cost is the experience, talent and resources a staging professional will have – and the results they achieve! When selecting your staging professional, base your final decision on their portfolio, professionalism and expertise.

Free or Low Pricing doesn't ensure QUALITY so buyer beware!

Free or Low Pricing doesn’t ensure QUALITY so buyer beware!

2. Telling your stager what they can – or cannot – address in a home – It’s not always easy to hear what a home stager has to say but their job is about addressing  ALL the factors that buyers will object to. Agents often tell their stagers to go easy on their clients or not to address certain things. This does a disservice to your clients and can potentially cost them in poor buyer interest, price reductions and even the sale of their home. A better plan is allow your staging professional to discuss everything they need to so even if you or your clients decide not to implement the suggestions right away – if the house doesn’t sell then – there is a back up plan.  Finally, trust your staging professional to handle sensitive topics in such a way that you or your clients will understand and appreciate. If your stager can’t do this then maybe it’s time to find a new stager!

 3. Selling your listings vacant – Statistically, vacant properties take 90% longer to sell than staged properties. That can mean sitting on the market up to 7 months longer and going through countless price reductions.  Investing in home staging never costs as much as the first price reduction once a property is on the market. Not recommending your clients invest in staging can cost them on the the final sale price and extra carrying costs, resulting in a long stint on the market.

staging empty rooms

4. Not using professional photography – It’s an online real estate world and buyers are searching for their next dream home on their mobile devices. Buyers are also inherently visual so professional pictures of bright, modern spaces will get their attention and get them in the door for a visit. If your realtor doesn’t offer professional photography, find one who does. It is simply not an option anymore not to use professional photography.

5. Poor planning and time management – This is an important one!Many people fail to plan how much time it will reasonably take to prepare and stage their homes for sale. The sense of urgency prompts them to put the property on the market when it clearly isn’t market ready. Be reasonable and plan for taking anywhere between 1 – 3 weeks to get your home show-worthy. Calling in a home stager and then planning for pictures the next day is unrealistic and unreasonable – for both your clients and for your stager.

6. Staging the home yourself – Well meaning realtors often offer to help clients stage their homes – with mixed and varying results. As most realtors have not been trained on how to effectively showcase focal points or create great flow through key selling areas, these efforts are often ineffective. We recommend working with a professional who can confidently recommend the right colors, finishes and furnishings to add the WOW factor  so that the agent has a property which is a joy to market and sell. Unless a realtor owns their own staging business and inventory (we know of a few successful ones), agents are best to partner with a staging professional who can handle all aspects of a home’s preparation while the realtor does what they do best: sell the home!

7. Disrupting the Staging - Once a home has been staged, it’s important that it be kept in the same condition throughout the time it is up for sale. Most stagers have clauses in their contracts which prevent items from being moved or relocated so it’s important to be aware that the home was staged in a certain way for a reason. Moving furniture around or relocating staging decor can make the staging less effective. Additionally, if someone sits on a bed or a sofa, fix the pillows and straighten the bedding – especially for the pictures.

This room looks great except for the pillows on the sofa! Someone sat on the sofa and didn't fix them for the pictures!

This room looks great except for the pillows on the sofa! Someone sat on the sofa and didn’t fix them for the pictures!

8. Undermining Your Stager - When we get contacted by a new realtor, we always invite him or her along on a staging consultation so that they can see how we work and understand the reasoning behind our recommendations. This builds trust and confidence in both parties so that they can, in turn, support each other. Nothing is worse however, than having the agent who hired you disagree or dismiss your suggestions in front of the clients. Not only does that create confusion but it also makes the stager you chose, look like they don’t know what they are talking about. Staging is our area of expertise and that is what most realtors want – an expert – so their clients will listen and follow the recommendations. If you disagree with something your stager is saying, it’s fine to ask why they suggested it – your clients are probably wondering too – and listen to the explanation. If the stager is recommending things that you know won’t add value or are confusing, be sure to have a talk with him or her after the appointment.

9. Poor Communication with Your Stager - The best partnerships are built on great communication so we encourage realtors to disclose all necessary information to their stagers. This can be anything from relevant personal details about the client (divorce or a death in the family necessitating the move) to providing feedback on the staging services themselves. We aren’t mind readers and letting us know facts like the home owners have already bought a home and are listing the following day will greatly impact how we prioritize our recommendations. Realtorswill get a client complaint from time to time – stagers are addressing some personal topics and regardless of how good their communication skills are, there will be people who take offense. Discuss it with your stager and do your best to back them up. Remember, they are having the conversations with your clients that you don’t want to have. Some of our best realtor partnerships have come from going through these types of situations together.

10. Telling Your Clients they Don’t Need to Stage their Home - While this echos a bit of #6, this mistake deserves a mention. We often hear agents say that they don’t recommend home staging or that they have never had to use one in their ___ years in business. Great! It’s important to realize however that the way homes are sold these days has been changing and evolving for awhile. Presentation and condition are very important to today’s buyers who value quality over price and who have little time or interest in dated properties. The emerging buyer places considerable value on free time – they eat out more, travel and value time with friends and family over working in their home. They will pay MORE money for a home which is turn key and which reflects the lifestyle they aspire to have for themselves. If you aren’t staging your listings then we can tell you with confidence that you are helping to sell the staged homes in your area. Sellers are aware of these changes and are seeking out realtors who offer home staging as part of their listing services. They know they have to do more to impress this new generation of buyers. Offering staging to your clients will give you more marketable listings, better sales & more referrals plus it will give you an edge when you are competing  against other agents!

A great partnership with your stager will strengthen your business and impress your clients. Avoiding these mistakes will ensure that the relationship you have with your stager is a long and profitable one!”



An Entrepreneurs Story-Donna Muelver

June 20th, 2013

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 2013

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.

Donna and Rick were members of a video virtual tour organization. One of their friends from this organization had recently bought a franchise that staged homes. He was so impressed with this company that he kept telling Donna and Rick how great it was and that this was an opportunity that they shouldn’t pass up. Donna responded that she had never considered a franchise before and had little interest in buying one. But he was persistent and practically insisted that she check it out.
So Donna checked it out and found the company amazing. “I never knew there was such a thing. The company had about a dozen franchise owners at the time and has since grown to about 74. I saw a huge need, the cost was low and I already had connections in the real estate community.”  Within 6 weeks after her friend’s suggestion, she was at the corporate headquarters for Showhomes signing her franchise agreement. She purchased 7 counties in SE Wisconsin, including Milwaukee County and all the way down to the Illinois border.
Donna was looking for a healthy income for her family. She wanted to get her children involved in the business and build a legacy for them. “If wealth comes with it, we’ll accept it.”
Donna and Rick continued their sign installation business for about 2 more years before selling it. Donna jumped into the Showhomes opportunity with her usual enthusiasm and passion for what she was doing. She was the awarded “Best New Franchisee” her first year in business. In her second year, she was “Franchisee Of The Year.” As Donna told me, “I love the fact that I can transform a house that was smelly and unimpressionable to a warm and inviting home that peaks the buyer’s interest.”
So you’re probably wondering what exactly Showhomes does that excited Donna so much. It’s a known fact that vacant homes are harder to sell and often sell for less than occupied homes. Showhomes specializes in not only staging vacant homes, but also puts in a live-in house manager to give it that homey feeling for prospective buyers. Showhomes takes care of the lawn and snow, pays the utilities and the house manager always has the home “show ready”. The seller of the home pays Showhomes a fee when the house sells and the house manager pays a subsidized rent for taking care of the home. It’s really a win-win for everyone.“Most of my clients have moved out of town. My service provides them peace of mind. If anything comes up, I have a list of vendors to take care of every problem.”
Donna uses her passion for cooking to help her with her business. When a home is listed on the market, the listing agent will usually have what is called a broker’s open house. Once a week the local real estate agents will spend a couple of hours over the lunch hour touring all the recently listed homes. They can’t tour them all, so they often check out the ones that might be of interest for their current clients or perhaps the one that has the best food.
Donna works with the listing agent and puts together a home cooked buffet lunch that is well known in the industry. Her broker’s opens are well attended and they give the listing agent the opportunity to network with other agents that might have potential clients for the home. It also gives them the opportunity to get feedback from these agents of what might need to be improved for a quicker sale.
So what does Donna think of franchising now? “I think franchising is the way to go. You have people that give you the tools and give you what you need. It saves me a lot of time and effort. I don’t have to create the systems and brochures. As an entrepreneur, you have to do it all yourself.” She went on to say, “I enjoy the interaction and helpful attitude between fellow franchisees. Marty facilitates a local monthly Franchise Owner’s Group which I find very helpful. As franchise owners we have a kindred spirit to help each other succeed.”
Donna presently has 19 homes occupied with house managers. She’s had 29 homes sell in the past year with 3 more closings scheduled for September. She is presently on the Showhomes advisory council and she also mentors and trains new franchisees. She has had an active role in positive changes over the years.
Since 1986, Showhomes has helped sell over 25,000 homes worth over $8 billion.
Donna presently is a house manager in one of her listed Showhomes, but also has an office at 631 S. 70th Street, Milwaukee, WI 53214. She can be reached at 888-317-8122 X709 or e-mail her Or if you’re somewhere outside her territory, visit for your closest franchise office.
One last testimonial for Donna: Last year we put my elderly mother in an assisted living home. Her house had been neglected and there was years of accumulation of “stuff” that I won’t get into. I’ve worked hard to sort and sell all her belongings and get the house ready to be listed. I must say that I’m proud of how the house looks and the repairs that have been completed. But, it’s now an attractive EMPTY house in a tough market. So, I have hired Donna to find a house manager and stage the house and work with my agent to facilitate a quick sale. If you’re curious about the outcome, call me or send me an e-mail in about a month and I’ll give you an update. And if you know someone looking for a nice home in the Milwaukee suburbs, definitely give me a call.”

Showhomes Wins CNBC Million-Dollar Home Competition

May 21st, 2013

Bellaire home wins in CNBC Competition “Best Bang For Your Buck”

CNBC Challenge 2013

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.


Secrets on How to Sell Your Home Faster

April 29th, 2013

For Sale SignWhen selling your house, it might seem obvious that you should pick your dirty clothes up off your bedroom floor.

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.”

Curb appeal

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.