Don't get me wrong. I'm a firm believe in staging, but it needs to be done correctly for it to yield the results you're looking for. Otherwise, it might not work to your advantage.
I've been going back and forth with myself for the past few weeks about whether or not to write this blog, and I decided I didn't care if the company got upset because I would never use them again anyway.
I sold my personal home in Dallas. For most of the listing, I was still living there, and I had it staged with my own things. However, at some point, we had to move out and move on with our lives in our new city, and I was left with three options. Which door to open?
The first option was to leave the house vacant. We lived in a very nice neighborhood, so there were no worries about safety of a vacant house.
The second option was to have a stager come stage the house. I met with someone and we discussed some options and the fees.
The third option was to have an actual staging company come stage the house and have home tenders staying there to make sure everything was always in its place, and nice for every showing. This was the option we chose because not only was there someone there to mow the lawn and take care of all the maintenance, but that meant we did not have to incur utility costs on a home we weren't living in. That was approximately $400 a month we were saving.
The company? Showhomes of America....
However, things never work out well when you're out of town and trusting someone else to do something for you.
The first bell? We had a showing and they commented about the boxes. Oops, they hadn't fully unpacked yet, though they were given plenty of time. The next bell? I received utility bills for dates I wasn't living there. They "forgot" to put utilities into their name... Have I been paid for the bill yet? NO, and it's several months later.
Another bell went off when we received calls and emails from some of our neighbors about all the people that were always at the house, the fact that they were always working on a junkie car in the driveway or garage, and the LOUD car that could wake the entire neighborhood when they started it. Sounds like they should have taken advantage of the Cash for Clunkers program.
Then, I received a call from my listing agent saying he received a call from my neighbor asking when we were going to take care of the fence. The fence? What was wrong with the fence? I know a big storm him Dallas a couple of weeks earlier, as my parents had to put up a complete new fence at their house. I called ShowHomes and asked what was going on, and why I was not informed our fence was on the ground.
Ummm, the home tenders said the neighbor was taking care of things. So? It's my house, and I deserve to know that the fence has been down as we continue to have showings!!
Finally, I decided to make the trip to Dallas to see things with my own eyes. Oh no!!
I pulled up, and I was like, You've got to be kidding me!?? Right in the drive way, and NOT in the garage, was a junkie car. I had specifically asked them about the junkie car I was told about and told them they needed to be in the garage and out of site. We're talking about a $400-500k neighborhood! Why was there a junkie car in plain site?
I entered the house, and walked around with my jaw dropped to the ground. When I moved, and saw it vacant for the final time, I was sad because it's a gorgeous house. I looked around this house, and didn't even recognize it as my fabulous house. It was sad. The furniture was horrid, and should never have been put in a house valued over $250k.
Everything was brass and cheap-looking, and didn't go with the house at all. Almost like this family bought furniture about 15 years ago, and have never updated anything since. I can't stress enough how bad everything looked.
I walked out of the house stunned. I called Showhomes of America to let them know my experience, and questioned why they allowed these specific people to move into my house when they didn't have the caliber of furnishings for it, which I had questioned before I even signed the contract with them, but they assured me they had staging people who took care of everything to make sure it looked good.
I should never have trusted anyone being out of the area. I should have made a trip as soon as they moved in to see it for my own eyes. Instead, we sold our house for a much lesser price because the staging did not work to our advantage in anyway whatsoever!
Lesson? If you're going to be out of town, make sure you either make a trip back, or you send someone over to take a look and send you pictures. I had asked for pictures, but were told they don't like to do that and just want the home owners to separate from the house. I should have known something was wrong right then.
If you made it this far through this long story, great, I hope you learned something to watch out for when you stage!! Staging is supposed to "cost less than your first price reduction" however, this staging experience cost me thousands of dollars... Last lesson, don't use Showhomes of America in Dallas (I don't know how their franchises work across the country) as they don't take repsonsibilty for their mistakes!
**edit: So I don't get hit with slander charges, let me say this, directly from the website of the company I'm talking about:
"A. Kelly Rose, along with Dan Ortega, began Showhomes of America in 1986... Mr. Rose sold his interest in the National Showhomes Franchise company in order to concentrate fully to the success of his Showhomes flagship office located in Dallas, Texas."
No where on their website, nor on any paperwork I signed, does the company refer to themselves as Showhomes of Dallas. They are Showhomes of America on all documentation.
**Are You Packed Yet?**
Austin TX Real Estate and the surrounding areas of Lakeway, Bee Cave, West Lake Hills, Cedar Park, Round Rock, Spicewood, Circle-C, Steiner Ranch, and everywhere in between... Hill Country Austin TX Real Estate and beyond. Whether you're buying or selling an Austin home, I'll be with you every step of the way.
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All my blog posts were first published on donnahomesblog.com.
Copyright© 2009 By Donna Harris, All Rights Reserved. You may re-blog with links back to this post.
* Staging a Home Doesn't Always Work to Your Advantage *