People don’t like purchasing empty homes. At least according to home staging companies, which are now hiring temporary residents to create an occupied atmosphere to lure in potential buyers. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Home “staging” companies charge owners several thousand dollars to fill houses with attractive furniture — but no human props. Faux homeowners could be the next big thing in staging. They supply “that little extra mint on the pillow,” says Steve Rodgers, president of Windermere Exclusive Properties in San Diego, which has the listing on Windward Way. “Down-low and subtle is sometimes good.”
Ms. Clavin responded to a Craigslist ad placed by Quality First Home Marketing, a San Diego startup. It aims to fill high-end empty houses with occupants who play the part of happy homeowners, in a bid to remove the price-depressing stigma of vacancy.
When a real-estate agent phones, Ms. Clavin says, ” ‘I live here’ — because technically, I do,” and provides a broker’s number before the caller inquires further. She must keep the house spotless between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. She usually gets only five minutes to light the candles, flip on music and disappear before a showing. If she has more time, she’ll bake cookies to scent the home.
If the place sells in 90 days, she’ll earn a relocation bonus, and move on to another empty asset.
Showhomes Management LLC, a franchise operation based in Nashville, has 350 “resident managers” living in homes for sale in 46 high-end markets, including in Florida, Arizona and Illinois. The company has seen revenues increase 88% since last year, says vice president Thomas Scott. Unoccupied staged houses aren’t selling as well as those with people in them, he says, “because people can still tell they’re vacant.”
The article goes on to recount one temp inhabitant who used borrowed furniture and Wal-Mart curtains to create a home that looked like it was owned by a “wealthy world traveler.”
The real estate market may have crashed, but the circus continues.