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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.

Kelton added that individuals looking to partner with the company for a Phoenix location will initially invest about $50,000 and will be connected to the tools and support offered by Showhomes to facilitate business growth.

Beaverton, Oregon Engineer Turns Home Staging Passion Into Business Ownership
Posted on Monday July 03, 2017

Portland-area entrepreneur Catherine Chandler opens first Showhomes in the state of Oregon

Catherine Chandler is the true definition of "Jack of all Trades." When she was young, she moved around the country with her family, and when she grew up and got married, she and her husband continued being adventurous, buying and selling homes, and even bought a small farm at one point. With a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and a Masters in Electrical Engineering, Chandler spent seven years in retail management and 14 years in engineering.

When Chandler was young and her parents were buying and selling homes, she remembers her parents pointing out which would be her room in vacant homes and promising her, "it'll look bigger when your stuff's in it!" So, when she and her husband bought and sold five homes since they've been married, she staged them each on her own. That's why, when she started craving a career that better utilized her creative side, her husband told her she needed to "be like the people on HGTV."

"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.

"How much money can I make?" This question, and the infinite variations that are thrown at franchise development people on a daily basis, forms the root of many prospective franchise's due diligence process. It can also, due to Federal Trade Commission regulations that appropriately protect franchise buyers from unscrupulous sales people, be one of the most difficult questions to answer.

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.[1] 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."

[1] 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.

As the housing and real estate industries continue to rebound, the role that home staging plays in the space is becoming increasingly important. That's why demand in the industry is at an all time high-sellers are actively looking to work with professional stagers to help their homes go from a listing to a final sale. And when it comes to top quality home staging services, Showhomes has positioned itself as the brand to beat.

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:

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."

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Crain's Chicago Business: Showhomes Goes Beyond Traditional Staging with Home Manager Program
Posted on Friday March 24, 2017

livein staging-main - The Callahans staged and moved into this 11,400-square-foot home in St. Charles in 2012. - Mike Callahan


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.?

livein staging-02 - Stager Barbara Bliss and temporary resident Gary Kahn in the Oscar Mayer mansion in Evanston - Dennis Rodkin
Photo by Dennis RodkinStager Barbara Bliss and temporary resident Gary Kahn in the Oscar Mayer mansion in Evanston

"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.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Homeowners Could See Faster Offers With Proper Staging
Posted on Tuesday March 21, 2017

Home sellers could see faster and higher-priced offers if they properly stage a house that helps buyers make an emotional connection to the property, according to a National Association of Realtors report.

So, when Realtor Maureen Reynolds was hired in April to sell the large hangar house at 2540 Taxiway Echo in the Spruce Creek Fly-In after it had been on and off the market for about five years, she was surprised at the few pieces of furniture available to fill the many rooms.

"It was only partially staged with the owner's furniture," said Reynolds, an agent with Premier Sotheby's International Realty in the Fly-In. "I wanted to really kick it up a notch and be able to have a perspective buyer better visualize how the rooms are used and what furniture fits."

She and the homeowner hired Michelle Bondi, owner of the Showhomes East Volusia franchise in Daytona Beach, to decorate and stage the 7,260-square-foot house with five bedrooms, seven bathrooms, an airplane hangar and a tennis court. The asking price is $2.65 million.

Bondi and her family also get to live in the house during the sales process.

"If you walk into a house that's vacant, it feels cold, empty and most people in today's market have no vision how they are going to decorate it and do furniture placement," Bondi said. "When someone walks into a model house that is furnished, they want to buy that model because it looks great and they have an attachment to it."

A 2015 Profile of Home Staging survey, a first for the Chicago-based National Association of Realtors, found that 96 percent of surveyed Realtors who worked with buyers believe staging usually and sometimes impacts a buyer's view of the home. Only 4 percent of Realtors said staging has no impact on a buyer's perception.

Staging helps buyers visualize the property as a future home, makes buyers more willing to walk through the home they saw online and a home decorated to a buyer's taste positively impacts its value, according to the survey.

One-third of Realtors surveyed said staging could increase an offer price by 1 to 5 percent. Another 20 percent of Realtors said staging could raise an offer 6 to 10 percent.

The Realtor survey also found that staging the living room and kitchen have the most impact on a buyer raising their offer. Staging the master bedroom, dining area and bathroom also have a positive impact.

Bondi, who has owned and sold clothing stores, was the operating manager of the local Showhomes staging franchise when she and her husband, Willie Holland, bought it in late 2015.

The business does staging consultations for Realtors and homeowners. It also offers one-day mini makeovers using the owner's furniture, but also using new paint and flooring.

It also has a home manager program where Bondi or another manager moves into a vacant house, stages it, maintains it and lives in it during the sale.

While the home manager program is more often used for higher end homes and many of the area's vacation and second homes sold by absentee owners, Reynolds is using the program for a more modest house she has listed for sale at $350,000.

"The advantage of the program is the house is always ready to show and it's prepared perfectly," Reynolds said. "There is no point in having a house staged if it's not pristine, ready to go, the pool clean and the yard mowed."

Fire Vs. Ice: Seasonal Design Tips For Your Home (Estate Envy Magazine)
Posted on Monday January 09, 2017


It can often become confusing when deciding whether or not to adjust a home's interior that's on the market as seasons change and the holidays approach. Is it okay to add a Christmas wreath to the front door? What about fall decorations around the house?

Estate Envy spoke to Barbara Bliss, a professional home stager with Showhomes, to get her insight on adding seasonal decorations to your home as well as basic tips to keep in mind when selling in a specific season.

Focusing on winter, it's important to clear the front lawn of debris or snow and keep the area well-maintained. One of the first things a buyer notices when they pull up to a house that they're touring is the front yard, and making that first good impression is key. It's also crucial to sweep up all of the cobwebs around the front porch and make sure to stay on top of falling leaves around the yard and in tree beds.

Bliss, who owns the North Shore-Barrington Showhomes franchise in Illinois, says it's a great touch to update homes for each season, but to keep a strict mindset of moderation.

"In September, I often still see pictures of a house that's covered in snow from last winter! The house becomes stigmatized if it sits, so keeping it up to date and including photos with the current season helps keep it fresh," said Bliss. "It is nice for a house to feel festive, but less is best. A few elegant decorations and nice holiday accents go a long way. But try not to overdo the holiday decorations when a house is on the market. Save the full-blown holiday decor for your new house."

Think in terms of subtle festive accents; adding a simple wreath to the front door, a small festive centerpiece to the dining room table or a vase of foliage does the job. With Christmas and other religious holidays, it can be enticing to put up a Christmas tree or brighten up a listed home by decking it out in holiday lights and stockings. However, Bliss warns against decorating the home to this degree.

"Keep it neutral. Don't focus on any one religious holiday because that may turn off potential buyers. The property should appeal to any nationality or faith and feel inviting," said Bliss.

Every person wants to purchase a property that they can envision themselves in. Creating a cozy atmosphere during the colder months sets the tone for the winter season and contributes to a specific vision of home. Add a folded throw draped over the couch and cozy pillows to the sofa. If there's a fireplace in the property, make sure it's thoroughly cleaned and place firewood either by the side or inside the fireplace. But don't light the fire, since you don't want to leave it unattended before buyers enter the house. Also, look to add more light in the home to create a bright and radiant effect that contrasts the gloomy, dull winter days. And if it's a chilly day and you want to go the extra mile, brew some cider and bake some cookies to present on a kitchen countertop or island. Added bonus: your space now smells like freshly baked cookies.

Along with winter design tips, Bliss warns not to forget the basics of shoveling the driveway when snow falls, getting rid of icicles and salting sidewalks and entry paths so people don't get injured or have a difficult time entering the home. And once temperatures start warming up, Bliss says that spring is prime time to list your home on the market if you have the option.

"Early spring is the best time to add your home to the market. Spring blooms new flowers and buyers come out of hibernation ready to spend the holiday bonus," said Bliss.

Even though spring may be the best time to sell a property, every season is full of opportunity if your home is properly decorated, clutter-free and clean. Adding festive accents and decorations is by no means a must for a home; it's a supplement. Key design tips to keep in mind include keeping your home neutral so it fits the style of every potential homeowner. Paint the home in colors like gray and beige, and avoid any pieces of furniture or decor that make the space look cluttered or feel out of touch. If you do choose to add festive accents, Bliss emphasizes moderation, moderation and moderation

New home for the holidays? Showhomes offers luxury living at rental prices (Crain's)
Posted on Tuesday December 20, 2016

There's no place like someone else's home for the holidays. That rings true for Nancy and Robbie Jones, at least.

The Joneses are home managers for Nashville-based Showhomes, which means the couple moves into and maintains high-end homes while the properties are on the market for sale. Their task is to give each home a lived-in feel that could help potential buyers envision themselves living there. This unconventional work-life balance also means the Joneses have to move out at the drop of a hat, though they say they enjoy that adventure, too.

Earlier this month, the couple told Crain's they were getting ready to move into their fifth house in under two years.

Through Showhomes, the Joneses said they are able to live in giant estates for about one-third of their market rent. The homeowners, meanwhile, can sleep peacefully knowing their home is being taken care of in between showings, per the Showhomes business model.

Currently living in a 105-year-old home, Robbie Jones said the most unique home they lived in was a 9,000-square-foot estate with a movie theater nestled on a semi-private lake.

Think it sounds too good to be true?

The catch involves strict rules and flexibility.

Home managers have to always be ready to move, and may move up to three times a year. The homes must remain pristine and be ready for a showing at all times.

Matt Kelton, chief operating officer at Showhomes, said there's never a shortage of people interested in being a home manager.

"It's a different kind of life, but it's surprising how many people are interested in participating," he said.

Kelton, who's been with the company for 10 years, acknowledged that it took him awhile to wrap his head around the idea. When he did, he understood the value of the program.

"The bottom line is that the homes sell faster and for more money. When you go into a house that's staged with a home manager, the lights are on, clothes are in the closet, there's music playing and it seems to pop more than a vacant house or even just a staged house," Kelton said. "It's a win-win-win. It's a win for the homeowner, the home manager and even the (real estate agent)."

Over 30 years, Showhomes has helped sell over 25,000 houses valued at over $8.5 billion, according to the company.

Chris Simrell is one of the buyers. After searching for six months, she purchased a home staged by Nancy and Robbie Jones in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

"We've bought many, many homes and have lived a lot of places over the past 10 to 12 years, and it's different when someone cares and shows that type of detail," she said. "Walking around the house, the decor that they chose for the home helped make it more special and appealing rather than seeing a house empty."

Showhomes currently operates in 18 states. Although the company is headquartered in Music City, the program isn't yet active in the Nashville market.

"We don't currently have a location in Nashville, but we are in Memphis. Currently, we are in talks about getting into the Nashville market. It's such a hot market right now that it kills us that we don't have someone already there to take advantage," said Kelton, adding that Showhomes plans to have a home manager stationed in Nashville in 2017.

Jack Miller, a veteran Nashville real estate agent with Parks, a 41-year-old residential brokerage with 12 offices in Middle Tennessee, said he's curious to see how the Showhomes service will play out in Nashville.

"When the market was slow, there was a huge demand for their services. That's not the market that we're in right now," he said. "However, we do have a lot of empty homes, and when they have a home manager in place, they can turn an otherwise bland new construction home into essentially a model home overnight."

Showhomes’ Home Manager Program Helps Franchisee Take Real Estate Business to the Next Level
Posted on Monday December 05, 2016

Barbara Bliss II

Through the brand's diverse revenue streams, Barbara Bliss has been able to grow her booming business. 

Barbara Bliss first came across Showhomes Home Staging while she was working as a realtor in Chicago's North Shore neighborhood. She instantly became one of the brand's biggest fans—through working with the country's largest and most successful home staging franchise, she was able to sell eight homes for 99 percent of their listing price. That's why Bliss jumped at the chance to take over the North Shore territory when the local franchisee behind the business was looking to retire.

Since joining Showhomes' ever-growing franchise system 12 years ago, Bliss has been able to take her real estate business to the next level. By offering multiple revenue streams that go beyond traditional home staging efforts, the brand has been able to provide stability in an industry known for its volatile nature.

"Having the backing and support of the Showhomes brand gives me so much credibility. From its ongoing support to extensive list of tools and resources, everything that I need to succeed is right at my fingertips," said Bliss. "There isn't another brand out there that even comes close to matching our unique business model. We're really raising the bar when it comes to defining what a home staging company is supposed to do."

One of the biggest differentiators for the Showhomes brand—and Bliss' real estate business—is its home manager program. The brand matches high-end, vacant homes with people who have beautiful furniture and accessories who are in need of temporary housing. Those home managers then live in a vacant home listed for sale that Showhomes stages. In exchange for keeping it clean and opening their doors for realtors to show the home, home managers receive drastically reduces monthly fees that are far below the market rate.

"The benefits of the home manager program are far reaching. It's a win for realtors because it provides someone to look after their listing, and it's a win for homeowners trying to sell their place because they only have to pay a flat fee after their house sells and closes," said Bliss. "Showhomes' home manager program has been absolutely huge for my business in Chicago. And it never involves reinventing the wheel—the brand already has the best systems and processes in place for its franchisees to adapt."

With 50 plus units across the country, it's clear that Showhomes' model is thriving in the communities it serves. And the brand is well on its way to passing the 100-unit mark. Target development markets like Southern California and Southeast Florida are wide open, meaning there are multiple opportunities for new franchisees to become a part of Showhomes' system.

Prospective owners can expect their initial investments to range between $45,300 and $78,000.

"If you're passionate about home design and looking to go into business for yourself, but not by yourself, Showhomes provides an unparalleled franchising opportunity. Successful owners like Barbara have proven time and time again that our model works," said Matt Kelton, Showhomes' COO. "We're excited to continue working with our new franchisees to provide the support and tools they need to become successful local business owners."

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