Lived In Look - Live In Home Stagers Catch on in Miami, FL

Home Stager with Showhomes

Great story on using lived in home stagers from South Florida:


When attorney Alan Shuminer started looking for a house to rent, he came across a listing that he thought was a typo: $2,800 per month for a five-bedroom, 5,000-square-foot home with a pool in High Pines, a high-end area near South Miami.
I thought there was a 1 missing, that it was $12,800, he said. But I called to check.
The price, about one-third the rent the house would normally fetch, was correct. The catch: He needed to have nice furniture, let agents show the house to prospective buyers on short notice, and be willing to move out quickly if the house sold.
In order to live in the house which is listed for sale at $1.75 million Shuminer would need to become a home manager, an industry term for specialized temporary renters, also known as live-in stagers.Shuminer said it was the first time he had heard of a home manager but decided it was a perfect fit for him. After going through a recent divorce, he wanted time to figure out his next step and didnt want to commit to a lease.
I decided it was a good transition for me, he said. And I get a much nicer home than what I would normally be able to get for that price. The house next-door rents for $7,500.
Shuminer said he didnt mind spending approximately $9,000 on new furniture because he was going to need it anyway. He moved in to the new home last weekend.

Live-in staging is gaining popularity in South Florida, as a large inventory of high-end homes languishes on the market.
Developers and other owners of vacant high-end homes want to go beyond the standard staging where they rent or buy furniture to decorate the house. They want people living in the homes.Real estate experts say a well-maintained, nicely furnished house thats occupied creates a warm, pleasant atmosphere for potential buyers. That not only helps the house sell quicker and for a higher price but also reduces the owners expenses.
It creates value for homeowners, said Marisa Salas, owner of Showhomes, a home staging franchise in Coral Gables. When a house remains empty, it slowly deteriorates.
The owner of the house doesnt get rent, Salas said. The monthly fee paid by temporary residents goes toward maintaining the house. The home manager is entitled to 30 minutes notice when agents want to show the house and typically gets about a 30-day move-out notice, depending on the contract.
Salas said most of her clients are builders, but she plans to target banks that have growing portfolios of foreclosed homes.
Salas receives a fee based on the sale price when the house sells. The fee for a $1 million house would be about $7,500 to $8,000. The fee is separate from the brokers commission.

Home staged by Showhomes Coral Gables

Live-in staging is a concept that first emerged in the 1980s during the saving-and-loans crisis, when the federal government became the owner of thousands of homes after a series of bank failures.
It was such an effective marketing tool, and here we are again in a very similar situation, said Valerie Szymaniak of Boca Raton.
Szymaniak recently launched two Web sites, and, to match potential home managers with sellers of vacant homes.
While the practice was born more than 20 years ago, most people are completely unaware of it, Szymaniak said. She plans to build a national database of owners of vacant homes and potential stagers.
She said 40 potential stagers have registered profiles on her Web site since it was launched three weeks ago. Live-in home stagers are potentially anyone who is willing to live a flexible lifestyle in exchange for perks, Szymaniak said.
One of the people who helped Szymaniak come up with the idea for the Web site is a friend who was a live-in stager for six years until she recently decided to buy her own house.
Carol Everett said the last house she lived in was a $1.7 million, 5,600-square-foot house in a gated golf-course community in Texas. She paid $1,200 per month to live in that house. She now pays $2,300 a month for her mortgage on a $275,000 home in Austin.
I miss it, she said. I was considering going back to staging.
Everett said occasionally having to pack up and move didnt bother her. Her shortest stay in a house was 2 months, but normally she said she stayed in a home for about a year.
When you start staging, you learn how to pack, she said. I would pack on one day, move on another day and unpack on the third day. I loved the lifestyle. I lived in gated communities, in country-club areas and met people whom I wouldnt meet otherwise.

Salas, who opened her agency in April, said home staging is a good option for people looking for transitional housing, those who dont want to be tied down by a lease, recently divorced people and relocating executives.
The house that Shuminer moved into was previously managed by a Burger King executive who had moved to Miami and wanted to become familiar with the area before purchasing a home, Salas said. The executive lived in the house for three months and later bought a condo by the beach, she said.
Salas and Szymaniak arent the only entrepreneurs betting on the home-staging trend.
Thomas Scott, vice president of operations with Showhomes in Nashville, TN, said the company recently opened an office in Fort Lauderdale and wants to open additional offices throughout the state, where banks are seizing and putting up for sale a record number of houses. The nationally franchised company has locations in 52 markets and is growing rapidly. Currently, Showhomes has offices in Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa, St Petersburg, Pasco County and Ft Lauderdale and is seeking franchisees in the Ft Myers, Sarasota, Naples and Pensacola areas.
There is a great demand for that in South Florida, Scott said.

Comments (5)

Kim Sellers
Lake Arrowhead, CA Coldwell Banker - Lake Arrowhead, CA
Lake Arrowhead Realtor - BRE#01412099 - Lake Arrow

Ok, I have never heard of this before, but I guess it makes sense.  I would say it would have to be the exceptional renter to be in the home.  I am very particular on how I keep a home and we all know the homes we walk in to and run screaming out of it, high end or not.

Sep 23, 2009 09:51 AM
Sonja Patterson
Keller Williams - BV - College Station, TX
Texas Monthly 5-Star Realtor Recipient for the Hou

I would be scared to let someone live in my 1.75 million dollar home...if I didn't know them REALLY well. :)  I'm glad it worked out for your friend though!

Sep 23, 2009 09:57 AM
Home Staging
Showhomes - Nashville, TN

Kim and Sonja, you should preview homes staged by Showhomes. We have a Houston office that could arrange showings and have been in that market for over 20 years doing this; chances are you've shown our homes and not known they were staged!

The key is incredible quality control and serious insurance. It works and it produces sales in today's market when nothing else does.

Sep 23, 2009 10:10 AM
Diana Steele

A few things... constructive advice.

The top photos scream that a man that likes black lives there, and has no taste.  Not family friendly, or female either, too taste specific.  Looks like a lair.

Too many chairs around table.

The last photo, a white contemporary sofa, black end table, brown ottoman, pastel rug that is too small?  You can't call this eclectic, this is mis-matched furniture put together by someone that has no taste or style.  The artwork is way to loud with the colors.

I would be furious if your live-ins did this to my house.  If you have been doing this for 20 years, and this is as good as it gets???? 

Sep 25, 2009 03:42 PM
Home Staging
Showhomes - Nashville, TN

Diana, Thanks for your advice - everyone is entitled to an opinion and this is an open forum.

I'd bet if what we did sold your house in record time and the sale price was higher than you expected plus the staging fees were all paid at close and we picked up your utilities, paid for professional cleaners to come in and babysat your home through every showing, you'd be really happy.

This homeowner was :)

Remember, every home has a target buyer and this particular home is staged towards a male buyer for a reason. Some of ours are geared towards families, some to empty nesters, some to urban folks like this one. All buyers are not equal and the best stagers understand how to target a buyer with diverse staging that does not look like staging.

Like they say in Home Staging, the proof is not in the product, it is in the result. For us the result means one thing: A SOLD HOME!

Check out our gallery and Flickr stream for some additional examples:

Thomas Scott

Sep 26, 2009 12:21 AM