New Business Helps Occupy Local Luxury Homes
Showhomes works with “home managers” who fill vacant luxury homes in Potomac, Bethesda and Chevy Chase to help sell them on the market
You could have a new (temporary) neighbor in Potomac, thanks to a newly launched luxury home staging company in the area.
Showhomes, which opened an office on Foxcrest Court in Potomac in January, is working to fill vacant luxury homes in Potomac, Bethesda and Chevy Chase in order to help sell them, said Scott Cillay, business development manager for the Potomac Showhomes.
The company, which has 75 offices in the United States, finds and screens “home managers” who reside in vacant luxury homes while real estate agents try to sell them.
The applicants — who are usually relocating to the area — can occupy a home until they find a new place. While doing so, they can avoid putting their belongings in storage, keep an eye on an empty house and help sell the property, Cillay said.
“People want what someone else has and a vacant house is not a home,” Cillay said. “Our home managers make sure the house is well cared for, and houses that are lived-in attract more offers sooner at higher sales prices than vacant homes.”
The home managers must pay a fee to be in the program — one-quarter to one-third of what market rent would be. Also, home managers are required to carry $500,000 in insurance in case of property damage while they occupy a residence. This insurance is in addition to the $2 million Showhomes supplies as insurance for a residence, Cillay said.
Showhomes carefully screens its home managers and requires that all of them pass a background check as well as an evaluations of the required lifestyle they must maintain to occupy the luxury home. Specifically, home managers have to be non-smokers without pets who keep their living spaces clean and clutter-free in case realtors need to show the home. Also, the home managers need to provide their own furniture that is appropriate for the house.
“Our applicants are usually people who are relocating, and we are letting them test drive the neighborhood and giving them chance to live in Bethesda, Chevy Chase or Potomac,” Cillay said.
“A lot of people don’t want to dive into a commitment to purchase right away, and we give them the option to live a way they are accustomed to without moving into an apartment.”
Cillay said the area is a great place to open the business because the housing market here is not facing many of the challenges seen in other parts of the country.
“In this market, we aren’t looking at the same level of distress as in many other markets,” he said. “While this is a good real estate market — one of the best in the country — there are a number of vacant homes that are just sitting there. Houses above $1.5 million is where it starts to slow down a bit.”
Showhomes is currently seeking applicants for home managers in the area and will work with local real estate agencies to form partnerships, Cillay said.
“When people walk into an occupied home, they tend not to question the arrangement,” Cillay said.