Staging a house with people could help move your home on the market

FOX VALLEY, Ill. -- Moving homes, even in a tight market, may take a special touch. The staging company Show Homes takes their craft to a whole new level.

It is staging on steroids. Because it all comes down to one thing: Making a home come alive when the home owners are no longer living there.

You may have heard of people filling empty houses with furniture to make them feel lived in.  But how about filling those same homes with real people?

Some might see it as smoke and mirrors but those in the business say “live-in home managers” like Show Homes make the difference when a high priced home just won’t move in the market.

Mike and Janine Callahan have been married for more than 40 years. For the last 8 of them, they have been living their lives together in other people’s homes.

Their business is a west suburban staging company with a twist.

“The business is a staging biz and we happen to be a part of the props that come along with it,” Mike Callahan said.

“My job as a home manager is to keep my home in show condition 12 hours a day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.,” Janine Callahan said. “There could be a showing at any time with no warning.”

The Callahans not only live in the home, like a 7,000 square foot home in St. Charles, the nearly $1.5 million home is fully furnished with all their stuff. From couches to candlesticks to tree decorations to dining room chairs.

As home managers, they are contracted to live there under one condition: take care of the house and make it feel lived in. Not messy, lived in. Keep it tidy and give the house some life.

As owners of a Show Homes franchise, the Callahans have lived in 12 different homes for sale so far.

Homeowners in the Fox Valley area pay the company an initial fee to stage the home and have the home managers move in.

Homeowners pay the taxes and take care of all costs outdoors. The Callahans and other home managers like them are living the high life, but pay for all utilities they use under the roof. That’s it.  The house is rent free. One hitch: You have keep the property clean at all times.

Cost to homeowners is anything from $3,500 to $8,500 whether a manager stays there for three months or 13 months.

The couple furnishes all their properties with goods from their warehouse.  They have more than 8,000 square feet of stuff. Items are categorized and cataloged by type, color, gender, etc.

Right now, the Callahans are staging 28 homes and they have home managers living in eight of them.

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