This article is from a real estate column I am running in my June 2010 newsletter, “Wizard’z Wordz”.
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An Interview with Elayne Wooding of Showhomes, St. Petersburg
Considering that many of the readers of “Wizard’z Wordz” are real estate professionals, I thought to dedicate this month’s feature interview column to a real estate professional.
If you are not in the real estate industry, perhaps you are selling or buying a home or know someone who is…you may find this interview still rather interesting. Most small business owners are typically interested in learning about how others ‘think outside the box’.
This would be one such story.
Earlier this year, I came across an interesting article in Realtor.org entitled, “Consider Live-In Stagers for Vacant Homes” and was intrigued by the live-in concept. The article featured a company called Showhomes; a Nashville, Tenn.-based company, which has eight offices located in the state of Florida, (where I am located). Showhomes provides live-in stagers for vacant homes that are for sale.
I probed further and discovered a Showhomes office located in St. Petersburg which is managed by franchise owner Elayne Wooding.
Thank you, Elayne for so generously donating your time to answer a few interview questions for our readers.
Q – Please explain how you got into the staging industry and why you opened Showhomes St. Petersburg.
EW – I decided to become a home staging entrepreneur after working my way up the ladder in the real estate and finance fields. We’ve had so much negativity when it comes to real estate. I’m thrilled to be a part of a solution that helps everyone – the homeowners, Realtors, builders and top notch home managers that we find to live in the homes while they are on the market. It’s extremely rewarding to help people in distressed situations and homeowners who feel overwhelmed by all they are up against because of the market for high-end homes.
Q – Who is your ideal customer?
EW – The sagging real estate market has created ideal market conditions for Showhomes’ services, which help local realtors sell properties by transforming high-end vacant entities into valuable, staged homes.
Q – Why would a seller wish to use your services?
EW – If you present a vacant house, buyers are often unable to visualize the empty space as a home. Even if the empty house sells, it is often for a price far below the list price. Because the home is vacant, buyers expect a bargain – hoping to take advantage of an owner they think is desperate to sell. If you present a Showhome, buyers are able to visualize the fully furnished and decorated space as their home. This personal connection leads to a premium sale price. Buyers make higher offers because they have already bought a home in their mind – they can see it as theirs, and will offer a premium price to make sure it becomes theirs.
Q – If I were a seller, explain the steps involved in contracting with Showhomes.
EW – Contact us directly www.showhomesstpetersburg.com for a no obligation proposal.
Q – What is the cost of your services?
EW – Nominal Set-Up fee when Home Manager occupies the property, No monthly fees. Staging fees are paid at closing when the home sells.
Q – What types of homes do you accept into the Showhomes St. Petersburg program?
EW – Vacant homes generally starting from 300K to 8,000,000k.
Q – What are the benefits of staging a home using the services of Showhomes St. Petersburg?
EW – Transforming vacant houses into valuable, cared-for homes that buyers respond to.
Q – Do you have any statistics to back-up the benefits of your services? [Does a home sell faster? Receive more offers? Gain more traffic?]
EW - According to a survey from National Association of Realtors Showhomes sell 10%-20% faster and an average of 93% of list price.
Q – Besides staging a home, what role does the Home Manager play in the sale of a home?
EW – Keeping each home in show-to-sell condition seven days a week.
Q – With the Home Manager living at my home, do I have any guarantee that nothing will happen to the property?
EW – Showhomes contractually indemnifies the homeowner and backs this with property damage insurance on every home, plus $2,000,000 general commercial liability insurance. We also require each Home Manager to carry a minimum of $500,000 personal liability insurance.
Q – Are Home Managers’ backgrounds screened?
EW – All Home Managers undergo detailed credit and strict background checks.
Q – Can a Showhomes staged home be viewed 7 days a week?
EW – Homes will be accessible for showings seven days a week. Our Home Managers will open blinds and curtains and turn on lights to ensure that your home is in perfect condition when a buyer arrives. Buyers will see a perfectly maintained, tidy and clutter-free home.
Q – Where does the staging furniture and accessories come from? How is the staging-style determined, i.e., modern, eclectic, country, Florida-style, etc.?
EW – Home Managers who have contracted to keep your property looking like a model home. Furnishings and accessories that are appropriate for the property are owned and provided by the Home Manager and Showhomes supplements these as needed to make the property look its best.
Q – What happens if I do not like the way my home is staged?
EW – We inspect and arrange every detail to ensure that your home is shown at its best.
Q – Is there a ‘best’ time of the year to stage a home?
EW – Every time a home is on the market is the best time to state a home.
Q – Do you stage a home for holidays if requested by the seller? Do your stagers take requests for specific styles/designs if the homeowner requests this?
EW – We will use furniture and accessories that appeal to the demographic group most likely to be searching for a home in this area. We will create a warm and inviting environment.
Q – Are you specifically a staging company or do you have realtors on-site/staff selling my home in addition to staging it? Or do I use my own realtor?
EW – We are specifically a staging company. Many of our staff are licensed agents, but we work with agents as an extension of their marketing efforts and not competition.
Q – Showhomes is a franchise. Please tell us about the St. Petersburg franchise. Is your seller unique to other areas where Showhomes franchises are located? If so, explain why.
EW – Showhomes – known as America’s largest home staging company – began its operations in 1986 and started franchising in 1994. It currently has 67 franchises in 24 states. Showhomes has helped realtors and homeowners sell more than 25,000 homes worth more than $8 billion across the United States by transforming high-end vacant houses into valuable, staged homes.
Q – Is there anything else you would like people to know about your company?
EW - When your home sells, we prefer a 30-day notice to give us time to relocate our Home Manager; a minimum of 21 days notice is required. We will have your home cleaned and returned to you in the same or better condition than when we received it. We will work with you to make sure your closing goes off quickly and smoothly.
Thank you, Elayne.
Contact Elayne Wooding:
Elayne S. Wooding CMP, MIRM
Showhomes St. Petersburg
111 2nd Ave. N.E. Suite 919
St. Petersburg, Fl. 33701
866-797-7426 ext. 706