Posts Tagged ‘showhomes fox valley’

Home staging valuable tool in real estate market

August 11th, 2014

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.”

Showhomes Unique Model Featured on NPR

July 22nd, 2014

Temporary Tenants Give Luxury Homes A Lived-In Look

Alan Shuminer lives on two acres of land in a house with a current list price of $3.3 million in Miami — and he only pays $2,600 a month. He is a home manager for Showhomes, a home staging company.

Bernie Schupbach needed to sell his home in the height of the real estate crash.

His home in Yorkville, Ill., was unoccupied. It had lingered on the market for a long time — and Schupbach, a radiologist in Aurora, Ill., was growing uncomfortable.

“To me, you worry about a pipe breaking in winter. You worry about the heat going out. You worry about vandals. You worry about animal infestation,” he says. “My big concern was: There’s nobody there, I’m 30 miles away.”

Then somebody mentioned Showhomes to Schupbach and his wife, Lynn.

Showhomes is a home-staging company that helps people sells their homes. Its employees make minor suggestions like changing a paint color or fixing up a front door, but also de-clutter and depersonalize a home.

And nothing depersonalizes a home more than having another person, couple or family living in it — meet Showhomes’ unique Home Managers program.

Home managers are actively recruited — and vetted — by the staging company, through avenues like real estate agents and Craigslist. Showhomes gets paid by both the homeowner and the home manager.

The home manager pays a fee that’s one-third to half of what traditional rent in a specific market might be plus utilities, says Matt Kelton, chief operating officer of Showhomes.

The average fee paid by a home manager to live in a Showhomes property is $1,350 per month.

Home managers go through a specific training program. They need to keep the house immaculate, disappear when potential buyers come for a showing, and, once the house is sold — never come back again.

Oh, and there’s another catch: Whoever moves in needs to have enough furniture to fill the home, which is often a luxury property.

Kelton says that on average, home managers have a five-day “no peek rule,” when designers take their furniture and redesign the house. He says homeowners often see their newly redecorated house and say, “Man, I wish I wasn’t moving.”

Kelton says the Home Manager program helps sell houses by making them look lived-in. An empty house, he says, gives off the perception that a homeowner is desperate to sell.

“To sell a vacant house, you’re going to see a home that takes longer to sell. It’s going to show the flaws of the homes right away,” he says. “Something about having food in the pantry … it’s hard to put my finger on it, but there’s some kind of emotional connection that happens.”

Showhomes was founded in 1986 and now serves communities in 18 states. The company, with nearly 60 franchise offices across the U.S., was founded during the savings and loan crisis and oil bust of 1982 in Oklahoma, when interest rates were set at 17 or 18 percent and banks had huge amounts of foreclosed homes.

The company started to take homes that were sitting vacant and match them with people who were being relocated.

Many home managers are people in transition, like executives who have been relocated, or someone waiting for their new home to be built.

Alan Shuminer has been a home manager in Miami for about five years. When he first got involved in the program, he had just gone through a divorce and was looking for a place close to his three children.

Shuminer says he’s an atypical home manager because he’s in the program for the long haul. He estimates he’s moved 10 or 12 times. Luckily for him, if a home manager is moving to another in-town Showhome, a franchisee pays for the move.

And it works perfectly for Shuminer. “I’ve done the house ownership bit,” he says. “My lifestyle right now doesn’t require me to be home very much.”

Nationally, properties staged by Showhomes list for an average $750,000, but range from $200,000 to $12 million.

Shuminer, a lawyer, says he hasn’t lived in a house that’s less than $1.41 million. He currently pays $2,600 per month for a 7,500-square-foot house — with a pool — that’s listed at $3.3 million. (According to Kelton, the average home manager fee is $1,350 per month.)

Generally, Showhomes focuses on properties that among the most expensive in an area, Kelton says. Nationally, its average list price is around $750,000, but prices range from $200,000 to $12 million.

And Shuminer’s favorite part of the program? “Going to a new house,” he says.

He says he gets bored and too acclimated after a while; he reaches the point where he’s ready to move. And it’s easy for him, because after so many moves, he says he has a lot less stuff than he used to.

“I think some people see it as being unstable,” Shuminer says. “The fact that I move around is just one of the idiosyncratic quirks about me.”

Kelton says being a home manager means a very different kind of lifestyle. He said he’s had managers in the Showhomes system for anywhere from 30 days to 10 years.

As for Schupbach, the radiologist, he guesses home managers lived in his house in Illinois for about two years. “I had somebody in the house. I knew that if something went wrong, they would tell me,” he says.

From High School Sweethearts to Franchise Partners

May 20th, 2014

Husband and wife team, Mike and Janine Callahan are using their background and their individual strengths to make their Fox Valley Showhomes a success. The Callahan’s are high school sweethearts who have been together for nearly 38 years. Mike was a former mortgage broker and Janine’s background is in design and décor. After Mike retired, he went back to school to pursue post graduate education and then back to work as a consultant. He began consulting for people who wanted to buy franchises, and after a Showhomes intro call to introduce brokers to the new company, it dawned on him that this would be a wonderful opportunity for he and Janine as it’s a perfect blend of their backgrounds. He called the franchise owner and two weeks later purchased their Showhomes franchise back in 2009 in the Fox Valley and have been working together ever since. Mike and Janine did not ever dream that their professional careers would merge, but this opportunity couldn’t have been a better fit for the two of them. Together they have built an award-winning location, earning awards including 2010 top decorating franchise, 2011 franchise of the year due to their triple digit growth year over year for 3 years, and in 2012 they become brand ambassadors.

Janine initially had fears about working together. But since their roles are so different in the company it has allowed them both to shine while supporting one another. Mike’s roll is more about interacting with the business and marketing end of the company. And Janine’s never in one place—she is out scouting properties, pulling furniture and decorating homes.  Janine is right brained, and Mike and left brained—it is the perfect yin and yang.

What services does your Showhomes offer?fox valley party

We can do anything from the front curb to the back alley to help sell a home.  If the home is completely vacant we bring in furnishings, hang art, bring in TV’s, and make it look like someone is living there. Janine loves the challenge of creatively staging quirky rooms and spaces, to give buyers an idea of what they could do with the space. We also stage from top to bottom and can bring in a home manager. The home manager’s role is to care for the house and make sure it shows well; anything from making sure to turn on music, mow the lawn, and make sure the sidewalks are shoveled to making sure that there is no water in the basement. If a person is still living there we can do a one day makeover where we lighten things up for example by moving existing furnishings to best accent the home.


We have a total of 10 employees including ourselves.  Janine is the lead designer.  And we have a fabulous staff with varied talents ranging from professional organizers to designers like Janine —Janine’s goal is to train herself out of a job. I want to teach each person on the team and empower them to be able to function without me.


What are some interesting stories about working with Showhomes?

The owners of a (doll brand) were the owners of a 14,000 sq. /ft. home in St. Charles, Illinois. It sat on 22 acres with pond, pool, guest house. The home was on the market for five years with no offers. We went in and staged it. We sold in a short time. The owners are such big fans they are now considering opening a franchise of their own. The homeowners liked what we did so much that they actually hired Janine separately to decorate another one of their homes in Florida.


Also, when Hollywood is filming in the area they use houses on the market for the stars to stay in. A studio once tried to get a famous Hollywood hunk into one of their homes for six months.


What groups or charities are you involved in?

We are very community-minded. We are also very involved in our church (Christ Community Church in St. Charles, IL) and that has brought up a lot of charitable opportunities. When we started the business we decided that each year we would donate a portion of our earnings to a charity. We recently donated to Camp Reynolds Wood, and in the past we have given to the Fox Valley Pregnancy Center and most recently Fox Valley Food for Health.

Mike and Janine truly enjoy their association with the Fox Valley Food for Health. They were able to get one of their contract designers into the program after she was diagnosed with cancer for the second time this past year. Jeannie Harms, a professional organizer and longtime friend, has been working with Mike and Janine for three years, and has recently ended chemotherapy and is finishing radiation. She is doing well and is actually back working a light schedule.



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


What Showhomes Is All About

January 8th, 2014

Mike and Janine Callahan owners of Showhomes Fox Valley in the western suburbs of Chicago just celebrated their 5 year anniversary with Showhomes.  As a former franchise of the year they are regarded as one of the premier staging companies in the U.S..  The Fox Valley team recently created an amazing video which features a number of Realtor and home owner client testimonials.  If you want to get a good idea showhomesfvabout what Showhomes is all about and how our value proposition works then check this out:

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.


Showhomes of Fox Valley Featured in Daily Herald

February 28th, 2013

Showhomes of Fox Valley highly awarded



Ambassador Award, President’s Club, Circle of Excellence, Most Homes Sold

Vacant homes are hard to sell! They lack buyer appeal, languish on the market and receive low offers. Showhomes, a national home staging franchise, and their franchise partners have provided successful selling solutions for real estate professionals and homeowners in all economic market cycles for the past 27 years.

At the recent Showhomes Annual Conference, held at the beautiful Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville TN, Showhomes Fox Valley was honored with the Ambassador Award. Owners, Mike & Janine Callahan of the Fox Valley area were presented with this award for unselfishly mentoring and helping others reach their goals.

“It is wonderful for our team to be recognized for our results. Our daily rule is; treat others as we would like to be treated. It works! Being recognized for doing this really affirms the value of that creed”, Mike said.

The Callahan’s have owned Showhomes Fox Valley since 2008.

Along with the Ambassador Award, the Fox Valley team also earned these top honors:

Most Homes Sold

Circle of Excellence, for excellence in Customer Satisfaction.

President’s Club, for highest level of market penetration.

Bert Lyles, Showhomes CEO said, “We are proud of our Showhomes family and especially the Fox Valley team. They operate a quality business based on integrity with outstanding home staging design and customer focus. These awards are well deserved.”

# # #

Since 1986, Showhomes has helped realtors and homeowners sell more than 26,000 homes worth more than $8 billion across the United States. Showhomes provides a turnkey package in home staging that includes whole-house furnishings, professional decorating, a live-in home manager and marketing support services.

If you would like more information about Showhomes Fox Valley, or to schedule an interview with Mike & Janine Callahan, please call Mike at 630/363-1301 or email

Showhomes Home Staging Heats up Chicago’s Fox Valley Home Sales

December 10th, 2010

December is one of the slowest months in home sales, but if you ask Michael Callahan, franchise owner of Showhomes Home Staging in the Fox Valley suburb of Chicago you may get a different answer. Why? Showhomes had four homes sell this month.

Fox Valley living room before staging

What made the difference? Home staging.

The four homes that sold were all very different, ranging in style, size, location and price. All had been tough to sell and all four had been sitting on the market for lengthy amounts of time.

One of the properties, a townhouse, was a small and featured small rooms. The challenge was highlight that the two-bedroom home had good, usable space. Callahan’s team staged the house to accommodate enough furniture without the townhouse feeling cramped or crowded. The staging was so successful the buyers, who had complained that other homes in the complex were too small, fell in love with this one and placed an offer, even though it was smaller than the others.

Living room after staging

The next home was a unique, historic property that had been on the market for several years. Even staged, the house stayed on the market for about a year with a live-in Home Manager. The house had small rooms and an awkward layout. Michael and the Home Manager focused on creating functional rooms that could accommodate furnishings and a comfortable lifestyle. With careful staging, the living room, dining room and kitchen eating area made sense to prospective buyers. Without it, visualizing the spaces working was much more difficult.

Master before staging

A 10-year-old, three-bedroom house in Fox Valley was the next one to sell. The neighborhood featured mostly houses with four or five bedrooms, and though Showhomes does not typically stage basements, in this case, the team created a fourth bedroom from the basement. This detail showed that the home could accommodate a larger family and put the property in a more competitive position in that neighborhood.

The fourth home was the most expensive, though it had one of the lower values in a high-end neighborhood. Again, in this house, the basement was staged with all the furniture facing the window because it looked out over a beautiful wooded area. In the end, this house, valued at just $1 million, was competing with houses in the $2 million range.

“All three Chicagoland area Showhomes  franchises are standing out in the industry because we are producing such good sales results,” says Michael. “Homes that have been really difficult to sell are moving when staged.”

Master after staging - SOLD!

Home staging with live in Home Managers works at all price points. The four houses ranged from $200,000 to $1 million.

“But it doesn’t have to be a million-dollar home to receive the value of good quality staging,” says Michael.

For more information on Showhomes, visit and for franchise information, visit