Showhomes National Media Blog
Showhomes Continues Expansion Throughout the Pacific Northwest
Posted on Monday November 13, 2017
As the housing industry continues to boom, Showhomes has experienced an increased demand for its home staging services, home updating, and Home Manager program
In the last two years, Showhomes has signed its first two franchisees in the Pacific Northwest. With the Boise, Idaho, and Beaverton, Oregon franchisees coming from backgrounds in law and engineering, the two owners have proven that regardless of their background, anyone with an interest in real estate and a passion for business ownership can successfully become Showhomes owners. Showhomes has seen nothing but success since first opening in Oregon and Idaho - and the brand is still just getting started in developing the region.
"The entire Pacific Northwest region has become a hub for people moving for many reasons, so the real estate market is very fluid, creating a high demand for our services," said Showhomes COO Matt Kelton. "We're now looking for franchisees in areas like Portland and Seattle that can help spearhead our growth throughout the Pacific Northwest."
Kelton says the brand has room for 12 more locations throughout the region and will start first with a focus on finding the right partners to grow with Showhomes. With four distinct revenue streams, Showhomes' business model provides its owners with an automatic leg up on the competition. From traditional home staging to home updating to home makeovers and the brand's Home Manager program, Showhomes franchisees have potential in both "hot" real estate markets and "soft" market conditions.
"Our business model is different than anything else I've seen in the industry," said Catherine Chandler, Showhomes franchisee in Beaverton, Oregon. "Working with Showhomes has allowed me to diversify my portfolio in ways that I didn't think was possible, and it's been a wonderful experience to be able to offer each of our services to people in the Oregon community."
Chandler agrees with Kelton that one of the reasons the Pacific Northwest holds immeasurable potential for Showhomes is because the region has seen a notable influx of people moving in. She also points out that in addition to the growing population, Showhomes franchisees in the Greater Portland area will receive a unique subset of business due to new tech jobs popping up, creating more opportunity for residents in job transitions to take advantage of the Home Manager program.
"The Home Manager program is perfect for people who need to quickly move to the area for a job, and would like to experience the various neighborhoods before they commit to a lease or to home ownership," Chandler said. "Homeowners also love that we're a one-stop-shop, so they can write one check to one company and trust that their home will be on-trend and ready to sell."
Kelton and his team are working with potential franchisees to join Chandler and the rest of the Showhomes family in harnessing the full potential in the Pacific Northwest region. Through initial and ongoing training, Showhomes guides its local owners throughout the entire franchising process. Prospective owners can expect their investment to range from $45,300 to $78,000.
"One thing we're sure of is that there is plenty of business waiting in the Pacific Northwest for the right franchise partners to jump on," Kelton said. "We have every reason to believe that this is just the beginning for Showhomes in the region, and we look forward to continuing our conversations with entrepreneurs interested in joining us."
From Home Managers to Franchisees: How Showhomes’ Business Model Helps One Husband and Wife Duo Thrive as Entrepreneurs
Posted on Tuesday October 03, 2017
Nearly 15 years after becoming Showhomes franchisees, Jeff and Heidi Ross are still growing alongside the brand in Memphis, Tennessee.
When Jeff and Heidi Ross stumbled across Showhomes, it was on accident. It happened when they were moving to their new home in Little Rock, Arkansas-they found themselves scrambling for a place to live in the short-term after their house in Mobile, Alabama sold in just 47 days. That's when Jeff noticed an ad in the newspaper for Showhomes. The brand's franchisee in Mobile was looking for a family that could use their furniture to help stage a home to get it off the market. So they decided to give it a shot.
To say that the husband and wife duo found their calling would be an understatement. Right off the bat, Jeff and Heidi fell in love with Showhomes' home manager staging program. That's why they moved into their second staged home in Mobile after the first one sold. Recognizing that this process benefited them, they decided to look into being home managers when they moved to Little Rock while they got settled. However, after doing a little research, they discovered that Showhomes didn't have a franchise in the area. Sensing an opportunity for growth, they decided to invest in and open it themselves.
"Our decision to become Showhomes franchisees was completely natural. It was the perfect solution for us when it came to short-term housing, but we recognized that it could lead to something more," said Heidi. "Jeff and I had also always wanted to go into business together, so this was an opportunity that we couldn't pass up. And now, nearly 15 years later, we can say that taking the leap to become business owners was absolutely worth it."
Jeff and Heidi opened up their first Showhomes franchise in Little Rock back in 2003, and started experiencing success right away through the home manager staging program that they once engaged as homeowners. But a few years later-after they won Showhomes' Franchise of the Year award in 2007-they decided to take on more. That's why they purchased the rights to open up a new location in Memphis, Tennessee in 2008, making them the first franchisees to buy another franchise in a different state.
Today, Jeff and Heidi still operate their Memphis location. And even after selling their Little Rock location to another franchisee after 11 years as its owners, they're still seeing growth alongside the Showhomes brand.
"The home manager staging program has been incredibly profitable for us as franchisees. That's really been our focus over the years-we've even been in 20 different show homes ourselves," said Jeff. "But what makes the business model so exciting isn't just its success rate. It's also incredibly thrilling to help homeowners sell the biggest asset they have. When you pour love, furniture and energy into a staged home, you're going to be able to sell it for a higher price. Knowing that we helped facilitate that is incredibly rewarding."
With nearly 60 locations currently open for business, Jeff and Heidi are far from the only franchisees thriving alongside Showhomes. And by offering a low initial investment that ranges from $50,700 to $84,860, the brand is positioning itself for continued growth in key development markets down the line.
"What makes Showhomes so unique is the fact that it's not only about staging. You don't have to be a professional stager, designer or realtor to succeed in this business-being a Showhomes franchisee is really all about managing people," said Heidi. "Through our Showhomes locations, we've been able to become a part of a strong team that's always getting bigger. And by establishing strong relationships with the members of our local community, we're confident that we'll continue to grow down the line."
Meet Pratt and Shelley Barndollar of Showhomes Houston (Voyage Houston)
Posted on Thursday September 28, 2017
Thanks for sharing your story with us Pratt and Shelley. So, let's start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Pratt and I have been married for 32 years and have moved over 10 times. In that time, we've purchased and sold numerous home which we either renovated or updated all of them. I have a certification in Interior Design and am also a certified Kitchen and Bath Designer now I'm a certified Real Estate Stager.
So, when Showhomes Houston came available for purchase we jumped on it! We absolutely love owning our own company and we are so thankful that we can bring our expertise of our many moves to our clients. We know how the seller and the buyer is thinking. We offer so much more than just staging to our clients, we offer peace of mind and our experience of over 32 yrs. of being exactly where they are.
Great, so let's dig a little deeper into the story - has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you've had to overcome?
When you own your own company, there aren't enough hours in the day. When you get home from either a staging or meeting a prospective client, there are a thousand other things that you have to do to keep your business going forward.
Today, social media plays a huge part of any business, esp. our business as it is so visual.
Please tell us about Showhomes Houston.
Showhomes Houston is a luxury home staging company. Our specialty is staging for estate and luxury homes.
I believe the thing that sets us apart is the fact that we are a franchise that comes with many benefits, The biggest is the continuing learning that you have with owning a franchise.
I think the thing I am most proud of is our listen360/yelp/houzz scores. Pratt and I are conscientious and we will only give our clients 110%!! That gives me the biggest joy of all knowing we are able to help our clients with any of their needs from painting, updates and staging!
Ability to Go Beyond Traditional Home Staging Helps Showhomes Franchisee Boost Sales by Over 50 Percent
Posted on Monday September 25, 2017
If you had told Marisa Salas that she'd be in the home staging business ten years ago, she never would have believed you. But now, as one of Showhomes' biggest success stories, she can't imagine doing anything else.
Salas started her professional career in the jewelry business. Her family owned two retail stores, one of which she ran for nine years. She even worked as a precious jewelry manager for Neiman Marcus-both in New York City and Coral Gables, Florida-before deciding to take some time off to raise her children. But when she started considering the possibility of going back to work, she needed a change of pace. That's when the idea of home staging as a Showhomes franchisee became a reality.
"As my children got older, I realized that I wanted to work again. But I didn't want to go back into retail and take on a job that required me to work nights, weekends and holidays. That's when my husband and I decided to look into different franchising opportunities," said Salas. "We were first introduced to the business model through our friend who was a successful franchisee for a home health care brand in New York. But as we started doing our own research, we realized that Showhomes was the best fit for us. Not only was it open for us to develop and own in Coral Gables-it's concept was second to none."
Since launching her Showhomes franchise eight years ago, Salas' business has grown exponentially. In fact, her sales this year are up over 50 percent from 2016, allowing her to add additional stagers and assistants to her team. Salas credits that rapid and impressive success to hard work and Showhomes' unique business model, which goes beyond traditional home staging to include its home manager program.
"We started seeing rapid growth after investing heavily in our inventory. We realized that we needed to make that investment in order to take on the multi-million dollar projects that were being presented to us," said Salas. "But our success as business owners is also due to Showhomes. The brand has grown tremendously since I first signed on to become a local owner-between the home manager and staging only options that are available to franchisees, people who come into the system now really have the chance to make it their own. That's an advantage that I'd encourage others to leverage."
Based in Nashville, Showhomes offers its franchisees the opportunity to either break into an increasingly popular segment of the real estate industry or add another revenue stream to their bottom lines. And with initial investments ranging from $50,700 and $84,860 and nearly 60 locations currently open for business, the brand also makes its proven business model affordable and accessible to aspiring entrepreneurs like Salas, ultimately furthering its ongoing expansion efforts.
"Franchisees like Marisa are the driving force behind the entire Showhomes brand. That's why we go above and beyond to position our local owners up for success-there's nothing more rewarding or exciting than seeing our franchisees boost sales and set records," said Matt Kelton, Showhomes' COO. "As we continue to target new areas for expansion, including Southern California and Southeast Florida, we're looking forward to helping other business owners realize their dreams of thriving as an entrepreneur."
Home staging business eyes Phoenix for expansion (Phoenix Business Journal)
Posted on Friday July 07, 2017
Following success in swanky Scottsdale, a home staging company is eyeing expansion next door in Phoenix.
Showhomes, started in 1986, uses interior design to transform vacant homes before putting them on the market to increase the chances of selling the home.
"We bring in furniture, art, declutter, depersonalize, and make it look like a model home," said Matt Kelton, COO of the company. "We have helped sell over 35,000 homes valued at about $10 billion since we started."
Traditional home staging is not the only service on Showhomes' roster, which includes home updates, home makeovers, and home manager staging, the company's most successful service.
"Fifty percent of our business is the home manager program," said Kelton. "We match vacant homes with relocated executives looking for housing."
The customer base for Showhomes home manager program also includes empty nesters, new professionals and individuals going through a divorce, said Kenton, but one characteristic is common amongst all customers - flexibility.
The program allows individuals to live in an upscale home at a reduced rate while the home is on the market, but the customers also need to be willing to temporarily leave if there's a showing and relocate if the house is bought, which Kelton says generally the customers actually appreciate.
"They're not committed to long term," said Kelton. "It's a nomadic lifestyle."
He added that customers are attracted to the upscale homes, with an average price tag of $800,000, and the subsequent lifestyle the homes offer to them, but don't want to go through the process of buying a house.
"Add up being a homeowner with taxes and maintenance and repairs and everything else, this can be a real savings for people," said Kelton.
Upscale homes are easily recognizable in Scottsdale, where Kelton says Showhomes has been successful for 15 years. He added that the company wants to add six additional locations throughout Phoenix.
"Our target market is affluent suburbs with new growth, construction communities, job growth, and transient white-collar workers," said Kelton, adding that Phoenix is a prime location for Showhomes because of the growth in new businesses.
In the 30 years since the company's inception, Showhomes has built up an extensive roster of 60 locations in 22 states.
Beaverton, Oregon Engineer Turns Home Staging Passion Into Business Ownership
Posted on Monday July 03, 2017
"Staging homes has been a way of life for me for a long time now, so I'm thrilled to get to do this for a living," Chandler said. "My husband and I have fallen in love with the Portland area, so as soon as we knew this was where we wanted to stay, I knew it was time to pursue my true passion."
Chandler plans to open the very first Showhomes location in the state of Oregon this summer. Based in Beaverton, her territory will cover the west side of Portland and plans to utilize every revenue stream available in the Showhomes system - from traditional home staging to light home updates to the brand's unique Home Manager program.
The nation's leader in professional home staging services was the perfect fit for Chandler not only because of her background in staging homes, but also because of Showhomes' supportive corporate team and network of franchisees.
"Having worked as a store manager for many years, I knew I wanted to find an opportunity that gave me a lot of autonomy but also some structure and support, which is why I looked into franchise opportunities," said Chandler. "I'm confident that my Showhomes business will take off without a hitch because the brand has already set me up for success."
Based in Nashville, Showhomes offers franchisees the unique opportunity to either break into the rebounding real estate industry or to add another revenue stream to their bottom line. In addition to Chandler's Oregon franchise, the brand is also actively looking to expand into key development markets including Southern California, Southwest Florida and beyond. Showhomes aims to offer affordable start-up costs, with initial investments ranging between $50,700 and $84,860, making it easily accessible to aspiring entrepreneurs.
Showhomes: The Momentum Positioning Them As Industry Leaders
Posted on Wednesday June 07, 2017
Carefully scrutinizing a franchisor's financial performance representation ("FPR" - found in Item 19 of a franchisor's FDD) is an essential part of a prospective franchisee's due diligence process, and Showhomes' 2017 FPR tells an impressive story.
Fortunately for brands like Showhomes, whose FPR sets them apart from other franchised brands, the FTC allows franchisors the option to make a financial performance representation if they choose. A well-crafted FPR, like that of Showhomes, can help prospective franchisees analyze this most important - and frequently asked - question.
"Fifteen years ago, very few franchisors prepared financial performance representations (or earning claims as they historically were called)," explained Matt Kelton, Chief Operating Officer at Showhomes. "Many franchisors thought it was too dangerous and left them liable if franchisees were unable to meet the established expectations. Today, prospective franchisees are doing more due diligence than ever, and franchisors are at a disadvantage if their FDD does not include an FPR. Candidates might think the franchisor is hiding something or that they don't have a good story to tell."
Showhomes has a great story to tell, and they use their 2017 FPR to provide franchisee candidates with an idea of what it means financially to own and operate a Showhomes franchise. For example, in Showhomes' 2017 FPR, of the 19 Showhomes franchisees whose territories were in full-time, continuous operation during the three-year period as of December 31, 2016, these franchisees had average annual revenues during the 2016 calendar year of $366,078, with 47% of those franchisees exceeding this average. This volume is impressive for any home-based business, especially one with estimated start-up costs ranging from $50,700 on the low end to $84,860 on the upper end.
What is driving that increase? "Aggressive marketing. Diversification of revenue streams. We're creating a luxury brand." explained Kelton. "The average list price of homes we serve is over $800,000 and our four core revenue streams; home manager, home staging, home makeovers, and home updates; allow us to do well in any real estate market."
The brand looks to continue this trend with a focus on unit level economics and further diversification of revenue streams. And with national expansion on the horizon, economies of scale will allow for increased brand recognition through national marketing initiatives.
With their uncommon and highly scalable business model, Showhomes allows franchisees to turn a passion for Real Estate and design into an exciting and rewarding business opportunity. With the growth and momentum displayed in its 2017 FPR, it is easy to see why there is growing demand for this unique brand.
As with any business opportunity, Kelton advises prospective franchise buyers to analyze business risk and understand return on investment. "It is important to understand the context of the numbers represented in an FPR, and one of the best ways to do that is to talk and validate with the franchise system's existing franchisees - a step Showhomes strongly encourages its prospective franchisees to do."
 The information above is based on the average annual revenues experienced during the time period of January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2016, by the 19 Showhomes franchisees that were in continuous full-time operation during the entire 3-year period ended December 31, 2016. Of the 9 (or 47%) franchisees that exceeded the stated average, 2 franchisees operate in 1 territory each, 4 franchisees operate in 2 territories each, 1 franchisee operates in 3 territories, and 2 franchisees operate in 4 territories each. See Item 19 of Showhomes' 2017 FDD for further information. Some outlets have earned this amount. Your individual results may differ. There is no assurance that you will earn as much.
The Top Five Reasons to Become a Showhomes Franchisee
Posted on Friday May 05, 2017
From its increasingly in-demand services to unrealized growth potential in key development markets across the country, the brand offers its local owners the unique opportunity to tap into a variety of programs that can lead to multiple revenue streams.
For over 30 years, Showhomes has been setting a new standard for excellence in the booming segment. It's bringing a level of innovation to the industry that's otherwise missing -in addition to traditional home staging, the brand offers its customers home manager staging, home makeovers and home updating services. And with 58 units currently thriving in communities across the country, it's clear that Showhomes' unique model is catching on among consumers and business owners alike.
There's no shortage of competitive advantages that come with launching a Showhomes franchise. However, these are the top five factors are the ones that owners consistently point to as the main reasons they decided to become a franchisee and grow alongside the leading brand.
1. Showhomes' Services Remain in Demand No Matter the State of the Housing Market
It's no secret that the housing industry is volatile by nature. But even when the market is experiencing a downturn, Showhomes' services remain in demand. Regardless of the state of the economy, sellers consistently put their homes on the market. And in order to sell them, they need to ensure that their properties are presentable for prospective buyers. That gives Showhomes franchisees the opportunity to tap into a steady stream of clients to boost their bottom lines, and even expand their reach as business owners.
"Staging is an essential part of the home selling process, and there isn't another company out there that does it better than Showhomes," said Matt Kelton, Showhomes' COO. "Especially as the housing industry continues to bounce back and experience some positive growth, demand for our services is continuing to climb. That's a trend that we expect to continue down the line, which makes now an incredibly exciting time to be a part of the Showhomes family."
2. Opportunities for Growth Are Available in Key Markets Across the Country
With its sights set on crossing the milestone 100-unit mark in the near future, Showhomes is able to offer new franchisees the rights to develop and own top tier markets. While other franchise brands sell out or oversaturate key cities, Showhomes is able to grow in major development areas because of its flexible business model. And as the brand continues to target key regions like Southern California and Southeast Florida for expansion, it's perfectly positioned to break into previously untapped real estate markets and their local communities.
"What really lured me in to the Showhomes brand was the opportunity to grow as a business owner. Especially with my experience as a real estate broker, teaming up with the brand has allowed me to build on my existing client base and reach even more customers than I was before," said Kent Welch, a Showhomes franchisee in Kansas City, Missouri. "I couldn't be happier with my decision to become a Showhomes franchisee. Even after launching my location, I'm still finding new ways to expand alongside the brand."
3. The Brand Offers a Simple, Proven and Affordable Business Ownership Opportunity
Every part of Showhomes' business is designed to set its franchisees up for success. The brand's corporate support team goes above and beyond to ensure that Showhomes' system is easily accessible to aspiring entrepreneurs, starting with its simple business model. By becoming a Showhomes franchisee, local owners gain access to a step-by-step system that's been proven to be successful in a variety of different communities across the country. It's also incredibly affordable for owners to get their businesses off the ground-initial investments range from $45,300 to $78,000.
4. Showhomes Enables its Franchisees to Tap into Multiple Revenue Streams
By offering four distinct services within the home staging industry, Showhomes' business model provides its owners with an automatic leg up on the competition. The industry historically lacks innovation, ultimately positioning Showhomes at the forefront of the industry. And when Showhomes franchisees add those innovative services to their own individual locations, they have the potential to tap into multiple revenue streams.
"Our business model is different than anything else in the industry. There isn't another company that offers something that's on par with our home manager program, which is what really makes us stand out from the competition," said Barbara Bliss, a Showhomes franchisee in Chicago, Illinois' North Shore neighborhood. "Working with Showhomes has allowed me to diversify my portfolios in ways that I didn't think was possible, and has ultimately opened up the door to additional revenue streams that weren't available to me before."
5. Franchisees Can Scale Their Businesses Through the Brand's Unique Services and Support
Beyond the ability to tap into multiple revenue streams, Showhomes' variety of unique services also enables its franchisees to scale their businesses at a rapid rate. And by relying on the brand's corporate support team and network of other knowledgeable local owners, entrepreneurs can continue to take their business to the next level, which positions them for long-term success.
"As a franchisor, our number one priority is helping our franchisees reach their full potential as business owners. We want to put them in a position to expand their reach and work with as many consumers as possible within their territories," said Kelton. "To make that mission a reality, we work closely with all of our local owners to ensure that they're following our proven system and utilizing every resource at their disposal. We're looking forward to helping even more franchisees get their businesses off the ground as we continue to expand in the months and years ahead."
- See more at: https://showhomes.1851franchise.com/details/12031/The-Top-Five-Reasons-to-Become-a-Showhomes-Franchisee#sthash.HX02rzeE.dpuf
Newest Showhomes Franchisee Designs Her Own Success With Latest Business Venture
Posted on Friday March 31, 2017
Tracy Hunter has spent more than 30 years working in the corporate world. As the vice president of finance and administration at a manufacturing business in Long Beach, California, Tracy did just about everything--from financials to customer service and human resources. As much as she appreciated her company and her experience, however, she realized she wanted to do something different than sit behind a desk from nine to five each day.
Tracy looked into franchise opportunities--as she had always dreamed of being her own boss-- but the opportunities she found that were in her comfort zone were things like UPS stores and similar businesses to where she was at before. After digging deeper, she realized she would be signing up for the same office life that she had just left. Tracy and her husband, Martin, instead started investing in real estate and getting into the roofing business. Martin was in construction his whole life, and Tracy's cousin, who is more like a brother to her, had flipped homes for a long time, which always intrigued the Hunters as well.
A few years went by until one day, Tracy received an email with franchise opportunities - she hadn't taken the time to unsubscribe from these emails after signing up a few years back, but she typically just hit "delete." This particular email, however, caught her attention because there was an option to select "real estate" as an interest.
"I wondered what would happen if I only selected that 'real estate' box," she said. "I hit submit, and Showhomes came back. It immediately intrigued me because after flipping my very first house, I learned how important staging is. We had that house empty and on the market for 60 days. It was so beautiful, but it wouldn't sell! We finally spent the money to stage it, and it immediately sold. I've never had a house I didn't stage since then."
She knew well before exploring Showhomes as a franchise option that she believed in home staging, but the more she researched, the more she realized how perfect the brand is for her. The fact that this new endeavor didn't involve sitting in an office all day was an added perk.
Tracy's finance background helped her realize that not only is Showhomes the perfect fit for her personally, but there were also multiple revenue streams that she knew she would benefit from.
"My husband Martin started building houses at a very young age," Tracy mentioned. "He owned his own contracting business and had the chance to build some huge buildings. The two of us are very compatible in terms of our strengths and weaknesses, so we plan to work together to tap into every revenue stream that Showhomes has to offer - from home updating to staging and, of course, the Home Manager program."
Tracy and Martin plan to open Showhomes Long Beach in May of 2017 following the annual Showhomes Convention being held in Chattanooga this year. The Long Beach location comes off the heels of a momentous year for Showhomes and is one of many new development efforts continuing to fuel the brand's growth through 2017. With 58 locations currently open across the country, Showhomes expects to open 10 more by the end of the year.
Showhomes provides a one of a kind opportunity to home stagers, real estate professionals looking to add in another revenue stream, or those looking to break into the industry for the first time.
"We've created a business model with an established track record that opens the door for entrepreneurs to broaden their reach or achieve new goals," said Matt Kelton, COO of Showhomes. "We're excited to welcome Tracy and Martin on board and are confident that they'll help us build on the momentum we've already seen this year."
- See more at: http://showhomes.1851franchise.com/details/11379/Newest-Showhomes-Franchisee-Designs-Her-Own-Success-With-Latest-Business-Venture#category
Crain's Chicago Business: Showhomes Goes Beyond Traditional Staging with Home Manager Program
Posted on Friday March 24, 2017
It may not sound like a big deal that Mike Callahan carries his wife, Janine, over the threshold whenever they move to a new address, unless you consider that the pair have moved 11 times since 2010.
"Our kids think we're crazy," Janine Callahan said, but the vagabond life she has had with her husband in their empty nest years is a business.
The Callahans are Chicago-area franchisees for Showhomes, a Nashville-based company that stages homes for sale with more than the usual rugs, lamps and table settings. At Showhomes, staging often includes people who move into the house until i
"When buyers walk into the kitchen, open the cabinets and see all our things in there, it feels like a home they will live in," Janine Callahan said. "Not like a place that's artificially staged."
The couple is now living in a 7,500-square-foot five-bedroom home on Woodgate Road in St. Charles. Priced at $1.75 million, it's a few miles from the 11,400-square-foot foreclosure they're seen moving into in the photo above, in 2012.
The Callahans bring their own furniture, but Gary Kahn goes them one better. When he took up residence last month in the recently restored Oscar Mayer mansion in Evanston, his Tesla moved into the garage out back.
"Even the garage is staged, with my car and a charger," said Kahn, who owns a medical products company and has lived in 11 North Shore homes since 2012 as a Showhomes resident "home manager."
The conventional concept of staging homes with stylish new furnishings "is popular because it's hard to get buyers excited about an empty space," said Tim Calkins, a professor of marketing at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. "But add people to that and you add a level of authenticity, a personality. You can certainly shape the perceptions of people who come to look at the house."
Kahn is one of 20 home managers camped out in North Shore homes where Showhomes franchisee Barbara Bliss has done the staging. Another eight are living in Fox Valley and northwest suburban homes staged by the Callahans, who are both franchisees and home managers.?
"It's a chance to live large for less," Bliss said of the home manager job. To live in the house, home managers pay a monthly fee that's about half the cost of renting a comparable home, according to Matt Kelton, chief operating officer of Showhomes. Home managers also cover utilities and such maintenance details as snow shoveling.
Home managers "are usually in some life transition," Bliss said. Many are relocated executives who don't want to commit to buying a home or empty nesters who "like the adventure of moving around to different homes a couple of times a year," Mike Callahan said. The job also appeals to recently divorced people who want to stay in or near the community where their kids are, Bliss and the Callahans both said, and to people who lost their own homes in foreclosure and are rebuilding their financial profile before buying again.
They must be impeccably neat. "I only hire people who are basically OCD about keeping everything perfect in the house," Bliss said. Applicants get a thorough vetting, according to Bliss and Kelton, and are required to carry renters insurance for their belongings. Showhomes insures the properties on top of existing homeowners' insurance policies.
For the sellers, "it provides a comfort level," said Carter Bearinger, whose 11,000-square-foot house the Callahans occupied for about eight weeks in 2012. The Bearingers had already moved to Florida, so their listing agent suggested bringing in Showhomes.
"It relieved a lot of stress for us, knowing that they'd be there keeping an eye on the house so everything didn't freeze up in the winter," Bearinger said, and on top of that, "they baked cookies for open houses and made it feel comfortable and welcoming at showings."
The monthly fee a home manager pays helps reduce the seller's staging cost, too. Renting furniture and accents for a big house can easily top $5,000 a month, Kelton said, "but if you have someone paying to be in there, that helps." Sellers don't pay the balance due until after the home has sold.
Bliss, who's had the Showhomes territory on the North Shore for 12 years, said that the properties she has represented had been on the market an average of 417 days before listing agents brought her in, and sold in an average of 117 days after she did her five-day staging.
Chicago is a big market for Showhomes, in part because a slow-to-recover market over the past decade left many big, expensive houses lingering on the market and in need of the extra marketing oomph that live-in staging might offer.