Franchise Company Taps into Top Emerging Career

Home staging listed as top new career on list of emerging careers in down market

NASHVILLE, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--While many formerly bright job sectors continue to shed jobs at a record rate, home staging has emerged from the rubble as a top career choice.

CareerBuilder and CNN recently ranked home stager as the No. 1 choice on their "Seven emerging jobs poised for growth" list. It may seem surprising that a real-estate related career is thriving in the current economic climate, but home staging is growing because it's helping hard-hit homeowners recover.

As the only nationally franchised brand in home staging, Showhomes is riding the wave of the growing industry. The Nashville-based company is the country's largest home staging company, with 51 franchises in cities including Los Angeles, Kansas City, Portland, Chicago, Houston, Miami and Nashville Already experiencing heavy growth in California, Florida and Texas, the company is also expanding the Northeast and focusing on a long-range goal of achieving 200 to 300 franchises in the next five to 10 years.

Michelle Sifford and Jennifer Ding are two career changers who recently launched a Showhomes franchise together in Richmond, VA. The business partners worked in management positions the Richmond corporate headquarters for Circuit City, the electronics retailer that went bankrupt earlier this year.

"We found the Showhomes concept new and very interesting," says Ding, who was the former director of business operations at Circuit City. "After conducting several weeks of research, we decided to move forward because our analysis of the market showed solid growth potential."

Sifford, former vice president of inventory at Circuit City, likes the unique structure of Showhomes, the only one of its kind in the home staging business. Showhomes is well known for using people as "props" to help stage and sell vacant homes. Vacant homes are difficult to sell in any market and by far the hardest to sell in today's market.

"It's a great concept," Sifford says. "Everybody wins - the franchise owner, the homeowner, the Realtor and the home manager. We transform vacant homes that would otherwise sit and drag down property values into stunning properties that sell faster and for a higher price."

National experts say there will continue to be an oversupply of luxury homes on the national market in the coming years. J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. recently predicted that it would take until at least 2012 for the high-end housing market to recover from the recession. According to the latest numbers from National Association of Realtors, there's a 17-month supply of unsold homes priced above $750,000 on the market.

Furthermore, the latest unemployment statistics show that it will take years for the job market to shift and recover. According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor, the number of unemployed in the United State is at 9.4 percent, or 14.5 million, the highest number since the early 1980s.

Plus, the national unemployment figures don't even include 2.3 million people "marginally attached" to the labor force. These individuals aren't counted as unemployed because they haven't searched for work in the four weeks preceding the national survey.

Ding and Sifford are delighted that they are no longer part of the national unemployment statistic.

"We are numbers people, so we didn't make the decision to pursue this career lightly," Ding says. "We have over 40 years of retail and supply chain experience between us. We knew we had to study this concept to see if it made sense. We came to the conclusion that this business model is viable in any economic climate. Our research showed that even in great times there's a market for the service."

About Showhomes

Showhomes - known as America's largest home staging company - began its operations in 1986 and started franchising in 1994. It currently has 51 franchises in 23 states. Showhomes has helped realtors and homeowners sell more than 25,000 homes worth more than $8 billion across the United States by transforming high-end vacant houses into valuable, staged homes. The Showhomes business model is based on the fact that staged homes kept in show-to-sell condition sell faster, and for higher prices, than vacant houses.

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