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How to Live in a Million Dollar Home (for Practically Nothing)

Showhomes’ unique home manager program ensures a quick and profitable sale, as well as a significantly reduced rent for the manager.

By Sara Smola

If you’re considering selling your property, Showhomes, a full-fledged staging and design service, will take care of the details from updating a paint color, to bringing in furnishings for either complete or high impact staging, to de-cluttering and depersonalizing a home. Showhomes Pasadena Owners Phil and Ginny Hawkins are experts in prepping a home for the market, ensuring optimum results, yielding equally optimum profits.

A dual interior decorator-realtor (with a stint on television’s Extreme Home Makeover), Ginny Hawkins combines her two passions as co-owner of Pasadena’s Showhomes. “Real estate requires decorating in order [for the home] to look good,” explains Ginny. “I’ve been a decorator for 28 years so I did that first, and then I got into real estate.” Her business partner and husband, Phil Hawkins, oversees the business and sales side of Showhomes, which implements a home manger program— a win-win situation for both home manager and seller alike.

Showhomes’ home manager program is a particular lure for both home sellers and realtors as it ensures the on the market home won’t be vacant, will be kept in pristine condition, and adds a “real life” aspect to the home. “When the realtor gets there, the way the system works, the home manger has to be out. They leave the lights on, leave the house conditioned, in other words, heat/air set to the right level, maybe a little fire in the fireplace, air freshener, or maybe somebody might want to bake some cookies. They have the house ready [for a viewing] and it’s pristinely clean. Pillows are fluffed, no laundry, no dishes in the sink— immaculately clean. They’re responsible for all that. That’s their job,” says Phil.

Many managers are white collar professionals—including doctors, attorneys, entrepreneurs—simply seeking a nomadic lifestyle or are in a transition such as going through a divorce, in the process of relocating for a job or waiting for their own home to be built or renovated. In exchange for overseeing the property, they pay a significantly lower amount of rent than what is typical for that type of house. The home manager may also bring in their own furnishings if they’re up to Showhomes’ high standards. “It’s way to stage the home,” says Phil. “When we’re looking for home managers, ideally, we like somebody who brings staging grade furniture that can go in a nice home. [Although] we may have to augment that with some of our own [furniture].”

All home managers are carefully vetted and undergo a rigorous background check before being selected. But once you’re chosen and moved in, it’s not all lounging and leisure as the home is expected to be in tiptop showing condition at a moment’s notice. ‑ e manager acts as a 24/7 in-home caretaker, providing peace of mind to the owner and realtor that squatters or vandals won’t jeopardize the profits. “You don’t want your buyers walking into an empty, dank home,” explains Phil. “A potential buyer walks in, they know it’s not lived in, so [the buyer thinks] it could be easier to negotiate with.”

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