People Make Perfect Props in Listings

July 10, 2014

Showhomes Tampa takes residential staging to a new level, recruiting middle-class occupants to live in upscale, vacant properties.

Designers stage the home, using high-end furnishings belonging to the new "home manager" to emphasize its strong points and minimize its flaws; but franchise owner Linda Saavedra says that placing pseudo-homeowners in the listing is what creates a special energy. 

"There's life," she says. "The home managers act like human props ... and [with buyers] it's like magic. It works phenomenally well." 

Homes staged this way move off the market more quickly and command higher sale prices, according to Showhomes. The benefit for the caretakers is cheap rent for luxurious quarters — but it comes at a higher cost. The home must be in "show" condition at all times, enforced by random inspections, and managers must tolerate a laundry list of rules governing their existence in the listing. 

Moreover, they have to be ready to relocate on short notice, once a listing sells. "They have to live a very different, very difficult life," concedes Kim Magnuson, a Showhomes sales director.

Source: "Home-Staging Firm Uses People as Props," Tampa Bay Times (July 6, 2014)

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