Posts Tagged ‘home staging franchise’
Dewey and Judy Baldwin’s Realtor told them not to expect a quick turnaround when they put their home up for sale in January.
They called a home stager, who brought in furniture and furnishings to spruce up the vacant, 3,500-square-foot home in Long Bay Estates.
“The house looks a lot better with furniture in it,” Dewey Hill said. “It brings out the features of the house.”
Home staging has been around for decades, said Maureen Bray, board president of the Real Estate Home Staging Association, but it’s really taken off in the last five years, a trend she at least partially attributes to broadcasts on HGTV.
Yes, she said, staging should help a home sell more quickly, but how much could depend on who you’re talking to.
Homes in Portland, Ore., where she is located, are on the market for an average of 77 days, she said. Those that have been staged by her company, Room Solutions Staging, sell in an average of 13.5 days.
Bray said staging has become more important as the real estate market has revived and buyers look at maybe a dozen homes before deciding which to purchase.
“The ones that look the best make buyers feel like they can move in,” she said.
The Baldwins chose new stager Charity Keefer, who recently opened her Showhomes franchise on the Grand Strand.
They got her mini-makeover package, and Dewey Hill said there is more buyer interest, and solid interest, in the home since Keefer did her work and had a brokers open house.
A former pharmaceutical saleswoman, Keefer said she got into staging as a way to get out of the constant road trips her job required and to spend more time with her husband and two small children.
But in addition, it gives her a chance to express her creativity.
“I’ve always had this creative side, and I wasn’t sure what I’d do with it,” she said.
Keefer said that besides the furniture and furnishings, her company painted the inside of the Dewey house, installed new light fixtures and put new tiles on the fireplace surround.
Keefer bought the franchise earlier this year and did one other home before she officially hung out her shingle. Since the Deweys’ home makeover, she has gotten a contract for a Socastee home being sold by Ron Boykin of Re/Max Southern Shores.
“When (a home) is vacant,” Boykin said, “it’s sometimes hard for people to visualize their own stuff in it.”
He said the owners of the custom home that borders a park and the Intracoastal Waterway signed for a $4,000 package that will have Keefer staging the entire downstairs and the master bedroom upstairs.
He’s not sure what to expect, but the home already has been on the market for a year, and Boykin hopes the staging will prompt a sale in three months.
Bray cautioned that people check out a home stager before they hire one. Among other things, she said that certification, while not required, is a plus because it shows the stager’s dedication to the profession. Further, she said that stagers should have their own liability insurance to protect the homeowner’s policy.
Keefer said she has both those, but she’s short on the experience that Bray said clients should also ask about. A stager’s website is another plus, Bray said, as are local references and before and after photos, which clients should want to see.
Besides the staging, Keefer will also be arranging live-in managers to give otherwise vacant homes that lived-in feeling, a hallmark of the Showhomes franchise.
While Bray doesn’t think managers are necessary, Showhomes believes that they can provide that extra oomph to houses that are for sale. Besides the lived-in feel, managers are responsible to see that the home is kept clean and show-ready.
“They really have to be meticulous in the way they live,” Keefer said.
Staging is not just cosmetic, although things like fresh paint and curb appeal can be important.
One of the most important things sellers should do is to declutter and depersonalize their home.
“It’s one of the main turnoffs for buyers,” she said of clutter. “It prevents buyers from seeing the main features of the house.”
Good staging will let buyers focus on the space of the house and to appreciate its architectural details.
But even before staging, Bray said it’s essential that sellers price their home to sell.
“Staging isn’t going to cure an overpriced home,” she said.
Keefer said homebuyers decide within 15 seconds of walking through the door of a home for sale if they could live there. Bray said the decision certainly comes within the first 60 seconds, so it’s critical for a stager or seller to focus on the home’s entry.
“You want whatever people see to make them want to see more,” Bray said.
The Starres aren’t movie stars, but they live like it — for a fraction of the cost.
They’re “hired” by Showhomes, a Nashville company that helps sell high-end homes. It preps the homes to look “lived in”… by finding people to actually live in them, at a very discounted rate.
Currently, there are 200 home managers, who reside in the home until it’s sold (it usually takes about three to six months). They watch for any maintenance issues and make the home look desirable (food in the fridge, clothes in the closet) for prospective buyers.
But not everyone can get the gig — Showhomes’ acceptance rate is about 40%. Residents must undergo online background checks, including criminal and rental histories. They’re typically white-collar professionals who are in a city temporarily, newly divorced or, in the Starre’s case, a family of five looking for a quick and easy rental.
With Showhomes, the Starres didn’t need to make a long-term commitment — they could leave their furniture in storage until they figured out where they wanted to live long term.
But what was a temporary move became a way of life. Over the past two years, they’ve lived in five different Showhomes — ranging from $900,000 to $1.3 million in value — all in the San Diego area. The amenities have included everything from tennis courts to pools.
“It’s a way to live in a really inexpensive way,” said Matt Kelton, chief operating officer of Showhomes, which has 58 franchises in 18 states.
But it’s not all a walk in the park. Showhomes has a number of restrictions for home managers.
“You can’t be a smoker, you can’t have a bunch of pets, no religious items — things that can deter [a buyer] one way or another,” added Kelton.
Personal items like family photos, sports teams and political paraphernalia are also prohibited. And then there’s the prospective buyers who could be surveying their home at a moment’s notice.
“We give up certain parts of our lives [for] the reduced rent,” said Calvenn.
They also have to move every time a place sells, with just about a month’s notice, and maintain a spotless home in the meantime.
“You have to keep it clean and model home-ish,” said Crystena Starre, a stay-at-home mom to her three kids. “We got to teach the kids, ‘We need to put things away.’”
For homeowners, Showhomes is piece of mind that costs just .5% to 1.25% of the list price (this can vary and decreases the longer a home stays on the market).
Radiologist Bernie Schupbach first worked with Showhomes in Fox Valley, Ill., when he put his home on the market six years ago.
“I was living probably 20 miles away, and it was hard to get down to check on it,” explained Schupbach. “There was always ongoing concern of a water pipe breaking or animal infestation or vandalism in the interim between visits.”
Schupbach didn’t have to worry about finding and vetting renters — or about the state of his home before it sold.
“We only communicated with [the home managers] if there was a problem,” said Schupbach.
Schupbach’s home was on the market for several years during the recession. It ultimately sold for around $500,000, and he had such a good experience that he employed Showhomes to stage his new home for buyers (which is the other half of the company’s business).
And while Kelton says one man was a home manager for 15 years, moving from home to home, the majority do it for a much shorter period of time because of the “nomadic lifestyle” it requires.
As for the Starres, the wealth of knowledge they’ve acquired from living in different San Diego neighborhoods has helped them narrow down where they want to put down roots. They soon plan to purchase their own home.
Katie Meisenger looked twice at a Batavia home for sale in 2013, but she could not see herself and her family living there.
Meisenger wanted to move her family from a smaller space in North Aurora and had her eyes on a nearly 5,000-square-foot home in the Tanglewood Hills subdivision on the city’s west side. Since the home was vacant, all she could see was the wear and tear until Showhomes, a home staging company, worked on the space. “
The Realtor took us in the third time, and that’s really when it came alive,” Meisenger said.
The furniture, hanging pictures and other decorative accents added to every room gave the home a certain warmth and sparked ideas for what she could do with the space. Two days later, Meisenger and her husband put in an offer, and they have lived there with their three children since November.
The Meisengers’ story is one of many that demonstrate the benefit of home staging. Staging involves strategically changing the appearance of a home to make it look more desirable in the hopes a buyer will make an offer.
Home staging can bring in 10 percent more offers and speed home sales up to 78 percent faster compared to homes that are vacant, according to the Real Estate Staging Association 2012 Annual Report. The number locally is generally 50 percent faster, said Mike Callahan, owner of the Showhomes Fox Valley franchise with his wife, Janine.
“The idea of real estate is to give that impression of a perfect home that everyone wants but no one really has,” said Tiffany Riehle, a real estate broker with the Berkshire Hathaway Starck Real Estate office in St. Charles. “You’re trying to show buyers what could be in that space.”
Riehle said she almost always refers sellers to St. Charles-based Finishing Touches Interior Design, which offers staging services. She said she and other brokers turn more often to home staging in the current real estate market.
Homes are selling close to their list price and receiving multiple offers from buyers, Riehle said.
Since buyers can be pickier, staging can be helpful to set a property apart from others, she said.
Home staging companies contract directly with sellers, and real estate brokers see them as valuable to their marketing, said Margaret Gehr, owner of Chicagoland Home Staging. The way homes look on a computer screen is important, especially in today’s digital age, Gehr said.
Gehr said a home staging project typically involves a consultation that involves going room to room and deciding on an action plan. Staging companies either will redesign rooms using the home’s existing furnishings or bring in their own.
Showhomes will contract with people to actually live in staged homes.
“An occupied home looks better, feels better and smells better,” Mike Callahan said.
The Callahans themselves have lived in an 8,000 square-foot staged home since October in the Crane Road Estate neighborhood in St. Charles Township. They have lived in about 10 houses since they sold their Batavia home and purchased the franchise in December 2008 in the midst of the Great Recession.
Mike Callahan uses his mortgage banking background, and Janine Callahan uses her decorating background to lead a team of eight people. They figure they eventually will go back to a permanent home, but they call the current phase in their lives an adventure.
“The results for the homeowner just bear out time and time again,” Mike Callahan said of home staging. “It’s a wonderful tool for them to utilize.”
Charity Keefer (36) was born and raised in Lynn, Indiana and moved to South Carolina in 1997 where she graduated from the College of Charleston with a BS in Business Administration in 2001. Upon graduation, Charity worked for one year at UPS conducting outside sales. She has spent the past 11 years selling pharmaceuticals. Her husband, Bradley, a native to the Grand Strand, is a podiatrist and partner with Seacoast Podiatry Associates. The couple also have two children together Noah (6) and Ava (5).
How did you learn about Showhomes?
In 2003 I moved from Charleston to Myrtle Beach, which is where I met my future husband, Bradley. Being in pharmaceutical sales, I was constantly on the road traveling and was away from my family. Last fall (2013) I was doing some soul searching and was looking into business franchises on a top 50 list. I was hoping I could find a business that matched my corporate business background with my passion for creative design. (The idea actually came to fruition one day when I thought of all the vacation homes Myrtle Beach has to offer tourists and the desperate need for some updating in regards to these properties). I came across Showhomes and after having an initial 30 minute phone call with Matt Kelton (which actually lasted two hours!) I knew Showhomes was the perfect fit for me.
Why did you want to work with the brand?
I am a business minded person with big ideas and Showhomes is a great organization that offers a great service, so it made sense for me. Plus, it was close to home and brought together beautifully my business background and love for design. I also come from a family of small business owners so I guess you could say it was in my blood.
How has business been since opening?
We have only been in business for one week and we have already worked on one home vacant home in established beach community. It is in a great location just blocks from the ocean. It is truly a hidden gem. It has been on the market for five months and needed some updating, so I hope we can get it sold soon! I am really looking forward to seeing where business goes as there is nothing like it in the area. The closest Showhomes are in Charleston and Asheville, so I am hoping the community takes advantage of the great services the company has to bring premium buyers with premium offers!
What services do you plan on offering?
I would like to balance it out with a little bit of everything; staging, home management and makeovers/updates. I really hope to focus on vacation rentals as well.
Are you involved in any community outreach programs?
I am an active member of the Coastal Carolina Association of Realtors and hope to get involved with the local women’s shelter. I also am a Realtor® and have my certificate in staging (CPRES).
Do you have any future plans for expansion? Future plans?
Absolutely, maybe one or two locations. I am not sure yet, but would love to have another location after the Grand Strand is well established.
Do you have any other hobbies or interests?
I am an avid runner and am currently training for my first full marathon in February. I also enjoy time on the water with my family. We are big boaters and enjoy water sports.
Founded in 1986, Showhomes has helped Realtors® and homeowners sell more than 25,000 residential properties worth more than $8.5 billion, by transforming high-end vacant houses into fully-furnished, inviting, valued Showhomes. Currently serving prominent communities in 20 states, Showhomes is a rapidly expanding franchise system with 61 offices nationwide. Boasting the expertise of long-time real estate and interior design professionals, Showhomes is a one-stop-shop for home staging, home redesign, “One-Day Makeover’s” for currently occupied homes and its proprietary Home Manager program – a proven model to get upscale vacant homes off the market, faster. Every major national media outlet in the U.S. has praised the work of Showhomes, the company’s work has also been featured on Oprah, HGTV and the Travel Channel. For more information or to learn about franchise opportunities, please visit www.showhomes.com.