‘This Is Staging on Steroids’

July 8, 2019

One possible avenue toward selling your listing is to make it a “show house,” which would give interior designers access to redecorate each room in the latest trends and then open the property to the public as part of neighborhood events. Such a selling strategy, which more real estate professionals across the country are trying, according to The Wall Street Journal, can give designers a platform to showcase their work while also attracting potential buyers to your listing.

Typically, each room in a show house is redone by a different designer; each designer covers the cost of his or her project. Visitors at community events pay an admission fee to tour show homes, and the proceeds usually go toward a charity. Following the event, designers take back any items that are removable from their designs. In the end, the seller is left with a freshly designed home to promote on the market without the cost of remodeling.

“This is staging on steroids,” Margaret von Werssowetz, a sales associate with Handsome Properties in Charleston, S.C., told the Journal. She’s selling a show house for $1.65 million.

The annual Decorator Show House in Wichita Falls, Texas, has had nine of its homes sell during its 11-year history. “Attracting buyers through this prestigious event and showing them a house decorated in this way can help them feel that it’s a high-end home worth the price,” Allison Gray, a sales associate with Briko Realty Services in Wichita Falls, told the Journal.

The Journal notes that a five-bedroom home near the local college, Midwestern State University, was listed for $240,000 and lingered on the market for two years before becoming a show house in 2014. In the home, designers painted the living room a light mint green with a darker green trim that continued into the dining room, where the trim was paired with wallpaper that featured a medallion pattern. The home needed some additional work that designers addressed, such as refinishing the floors and updating the kitchen and bathrooms.

“Being a show house helped sell that house [to me],” says Britt Milstead, who purchased the property shortly after the show home event. “It provided touches that needed to be done that the seller wasn’t willing to make.”

In Topeka, Kan., a 7,300-square-foot home was not attracting any buyers when it was first listed in the spring of 2014. It became the Designers’ Show House for Child Care Aware of Eastern Kansas, which is a nonprofit to help parents with child care and education. Local designers installed new kitchen cabinets, removed dated wallpaper, and repainted walls in a neutral color. After being a show home, the property was bought for $514,000.

Without the upgrades, home buyers Kristina and John Dietrick say they wouldn’t have purchased the property. “It would have been too much work,” Kristina Dietrick told the Journal. “The cool thing with a designer show house is that they do the heavy lifting.”

But show houses don’t always lead to a sale. Some real estate pros say they can actually hinder a sale if the designs vary too much from room to room. “The problem with designer showcase homes is they don’t flow,” John Valley, broker-owner of Valley, Inc., in Topeka, told the Journal. “One room looks this way, one room looks that way. It doesn’t have any continuity.”

Decorator Show Houses Are Designed to Sell,” The Wall Street Journal (July 3, 2019) [Log-in required.]