Quick, what’s the first thing people notice when they enter your home? Does it make a good impression?
If you struggle to answer both of these questions, and it’s time to sell your domicile, you might be in the market for a meeting with Carol and Steven Apa, owners of the new Showhomes Inc. in Charlotte.
The couple recently relocated to Charlotte from the New York area and have decided to make their mark on the Queen City by making a mark in the home staging business.
Home staging is the process of making a house that’s for sale look more inviting to the potential buyers. Gone are the days when making sure all the clutter was cleaned up and baking a fresh plate of chocolate chip cookies was all you needed to do to make the home enticing to buyers.
“Some people have a hard time when they’re trying to sell a home to separate themselves from it. They’re looking to sell the home and it needs to appeal to the prospective buyer. If you’re living in the home while it is on the market they have a hard time separating it from their personal things and having to put those away,” said Carol Apa. “They need to set the home up to appeal to a buyer so that someone comes in and they say to themselves ‘Wow, I can really see my family here.’ And they need to be able to see their furniture in that home and their family photos hanging on the walls. We try to put the home to a blank slate and stay on trend – but also keep the colors neutral like grey and beige.”
But with the higher number of vacant homes on the market these days, Showhomes has one more trick up its sleeve to help sell properties. The company facilitates something called a “home manager” program as well, involving someone living in the vacant home at a discount in exchange for keeping it in good shape and safe.
“Let’s say your home is vacant because you’ve relocated out of state for a job and the home is just sitting there. We get a home manager – and verify them with a criminal background check, credit check and other things. Then we train them to be a home manager who lives in the home 24/7 and makes sure it isn’t vacant,” Apa said.
Vacant properties are often vulnerable properties in today’s market.
“You can have vandals or kids come in and have a big party and do thousands of dollars worth of damage. The home manager makes sure the home isn’t vacant and vulnerable to that. Also, the home manager has to make sure their furniture is in compliance with the design and the theme of Showhomes so sometimes we put their furniture in storage and then use some of our furniture,” Apa said. “That home has to be kept show ready at all times. They have to be ready at 10 minutes’ notice to show the home. Often this is a professional who is maybe moving to the area and doesn’t quite know where they want to live yet and they will enter the program. Once that home goes into contract we will then assist them to moving to a new property.”
The home manager doesn’t live on the property rent-free, either. They are free to have their own job and lifestyle, but must be ready to show the home with short notice. However, the rent is at a discount. For example, if the home has a comparable rent of $4,000 a month, the manager lives there at a reduced rate.
But the main goal of the company is to sell the home.
Apa adds: “Besides the home manager program we offer home makeovers where we come into the home that is owner-occupied and do some decluttering or rooms need to be painted or flooring needs to be changed or furniture updated. We may also rearrange the furniture so the room flows better and so forth. For example, we may see that they are using the dining room as a home office so we rearrange it to show that the room is a dining room so the prospective buyer can envision it as the original intent for that space. We are trying to get them the most money and sell the house quickly.”