Who doesn’t love a show home? Hands up if you’ve ever been to look round the show home on a local new development simply because you wanted to have a nosy? We all love looking round show homes and why is this?

The reason is quite simple really. Show homes are aspirational. They give us a glimpse into the life that we aspire to or the life that we wish we had, just in the same way as looking at images on social media platforms, such as Instagram or watching TV programmes, such as Selling Sunset or Succession.

Are You A Small Developer, Builder or Property Investor?

If you are building a new property, a small development, are converting a property or refurbishing a property you might not have made a link between what you are doing, and show homes. We tend to associate show homes with large scale developments and the volume house builders. We tend not to associate them with one off builds, small developments or refurbs, but why not? The psychology is just the same.

Show home

Developers create show homes because they want to sell the lifestyle. They want people to believe that if they buy the property they will enjoy a certain lifestyle. Empty properties make it very difficult for buyers to do this. Quite simply an empty property is not very interesting. A lot of people lack the ability to create the image of that lifestyle in their heads, they need to be able to see it in front of them. Another difficulty with empty properties is that potential buyers may worry what furniture can be fitted within a space. Furnishing and dressing a property with appropriate furniture, provides a sense of scale.

Are Your Properties Lingering Longer Than You’d Like?

The media is full of stories about the difficulties of the housing market, how properties are taking longer to sell, and are suffering price reductions. There is no one explanation for this, although it does appear as if there is a disparity between the expectations of buyers and sellers and also a lack of realism in pricing on the part of some agents.

It is undoubtedly true that the longer a property remains on the market unsold, the more likely it is that potential buyers will offer a lower figure. If a property has been on the market for a long period of time buyers will imagine (rightly or wrongly) that there is something wrong with it or will assume that it’s overpriced. New builds and refurbished properties have another element, namely that they are empty.

The Issue With Empty Properties

Here’s an extract from an email I received from an estate agent recently which I think identifies exactly what the problem is.

“Some of the feedback we have been getting is that people are trying to understand how they would live in the house … if we stage one of the houses people will be able to see themselves cooking in the kitchen, where they would put the bed etc. One of the main things people have held back on is the kitchen/diner, lots of the feedback is whether they can fit a dining table and a sofa”

An empty property is hard to visualise living in.

Staging a property for sale works just as much for a one off property as it does for a larger development.


Another reason why empty properties are more difficult to sell is their appearance on your marketing materials, whether that’s social media, the property portals or the brochure if there is one. We all know that these days if we are looking to buy a property, we go on one of the portals, define our search area, we outline our criteria and then properties that match those criteria will pop up in our feed. We scroll through our feed, and if that image in our feed doesn’t capture our attention then we will probably scroll past and we won’t bother clicking through to find out more about that property.

Picture of a camera because image is everything

Our attention spans are shorter and we are used to seeing stunning images on Instagram for example, or from shows that we have watched on television. Our expectations are very high. So the images that people see have to really showcase the property and an empty property just doesn’t grab people’s attention and stop them scrolling. I always advocate using a professional photographer.

Why not CGI?

That’s a very good question. CGI is very useful if you are looking to market your property or properties off plan before it has been built. This tends not to be so applicable in one-off builds, conversions, or refurbs. The big problem with CGI, is that it’s very good at attracting the attention of buyers but what happens when they turn up to view. They may not have realised images they have seen online are CGI (the quality of CGI can be very high). When potential buyers turn up to view a property, it may come as a shock to find it’s empty and they may feel let down. They don’t get the emotional connection. CGI has its uses but it’s no substitute for physical staging.

CGI image of a house


As a developer, builder or investor, you will do your sums – you will work out costings and you will have a budget. If you haven’t considered staging a property before, then you need to factor in your costings and your budget an element for the staging, which will include fees, possible rental costs for furniture and purchase of inventory which is to be used to furnish and dress the property.

Your Target Market

When considering that budget you need to bear in mind your market. You have to use inventory that is of an appropriate quality and standard for the property you are marketing. If you are going to be marketing the property at a price point of say £800,000 – £1 million then the products you use in your staging will be from different sources to those you would use if you are marketing a property at £400,000 to £500,000.

Investment Not Cost

If this all sounds like an additional expense that you can’t afford then bear in mind two things.

  1. The cost of staging is likely to be less than the cost of your first price reduction. Your first price reduction has to be significant in order to have the necessary impact.
  2. Often a buyer will come along who wants to buy the show home and everything in it. So there may well be an opportunity to offer potential buyers the opportunity to purchase the contents, or perhaps certain elements. The advantage of this is not only do you recoup the cost, or part of the cost, of the inventory, but doing so leaves you completely free for the staging of your next property, which might be completely different, and for which a different inventory might be required.

What you spend on staging your property is an investment not a cost.

What’s It Like Working With Me?

As a developer, builder or investor if you are potentially thinking about staging a property, what is it like to work with me? We all know that people buy people. We work with people who we know like and trust. I love listening to people, hearing about them and the story behind the property (and there always is a story). I take the time to discuss your project to understand what is important and what your priorities are. I will also do background research. I’ll be upfront with you and I will give honest feedback. I will discuss options with you to suit your budget. What I do is tailored to your requirements.

Judith Todd, Home stager and Interior Designer working at her desk

Why Am I different?

One way in which I am different is that I have worked in estate agency, from being the person who did the viewings with you to being the sales negotiator on the sale. This experience gave me important insights into what people look for when buying a property and perhaps more importantly, put them off. I’ve heard the comments potential buyers make when looking round properties and this is important because the feedback they give they not be what they really think.


If you are a small property developer, builder or property investor

You want to secure the best price and sell quickly enabling you to move on to your next project. Creating a show home turns your property from bricks and mortar into a home that buyers want to live in. Factor in a cost for staging when compiling your budget. You could even offer a “move in” package.

If you would like to learn more then call me on 07745 876182 to arrange a free no-obligation chat. I cover the Wirral, Cheshire and North Wales