First impressions are extremely important when you’re showing a property to potential buyers. In fact, that initial viewing or photo can make or break the sale. When a person walks into a space that they could eventually be calling home to their family, they need to be able to see that vision concretely, or, as a REALTOR® or property owner, you run the risk of them assuming the worst for the space. Most people simply don’t have the creativity to envision the possibilities.
“If you have a buyer that has a bedroom not set up as a bedroom, buyers will discount the value as they don’t have their vision goggles on,” says Monica Carrabba, of the Carrabba Group with Compass Beverly Hills. “We recommend staging for every client.”
For this reason, as you likely know, staging is the suggested practice, from model units at major apartment complexes to single-family homes. To some, however, staging can seem like a daunting task. There’s the hassle of finding every individual piece, pick-up and handling, quality of the furniture, storage or return after, and the most worrisome factor: budget. Spend too little, and you’re bound to have a staging with nicks, scrapes and tatters; however, it’s impractical to spend top dollar on every staging for quality pieces. How would you use them again? Do you return or resell them? Store them?
The list of problems and concerns of staging runs quite long—or, alternatively, you use the market leader for staging and pay an arm and a leg, potentially out of your own pocket as your client won’t agree to covering the cost. That doesn’t seem like much of a choice. This traditional method is expensive, inflexible for your client, and frequently has a dated furniture catalog from which to choose.
And then there’s Fernish, a company that promises flexibility, convenience, quality and cost-efficiency (to brokers and real estate agents alike) via a furniture subscription model. Fernish is a lifestyle subscription service co-founded in 2017 by Michael Barlow and Lucas Dickey, which recently announced a partnership with Crate and Barrel, including its CB2 and Crate&Kids sub-brands, and is backed by and invested in by a number of heavy-hitters in real estate, as well as the traditional furniture rental space.
Besides being used directly by end-consumers for one-click, designer-curated collections for bedroom, dining room and living room, Fernish can also be utilized by REALTORS® for staging purposes. Instead of outdated and staid furniture that many staging companies present, Fernish boasts a collection that includes brands the aforementioned CB2, Crate and Barrel, as well as EQ3, Alder & Tweed and Zuo, plus high-flying, venture-backed DTC brands Floyd Detroit (case goods) and Campaign (upholstered goods and decor). All of these brands are available at competitive and affordable prices from Fernish.
Compass Beverly Hills has worked with Fernish multiple times. Carrabba says, “Based on data from NAR, home staging gets a home 1-15 percent more. [It’s] a no-brainer. We have had two experiences with Fernish thus far: one a partial stage, where the homeowner needed a little more to make it more marketable…and also a complete stage.”
The Carrabba Group used Fernish for all primary furniture pieces, while accenting said pieces with their own assortment of quirky and endearing home decor items—cost-efficient, yet very appealing to prospective buyers.
The goal of Fernish is to make the furnishing process as stress-free as possible, so if the owner of the home for sale is under financial restraint, and can’t afford a hotel or rental home on top of the staging costs s—as so many have to do with the current mode of staging—they can live in a Fernish-staged home. Joe Carrabba, also from Compass Beverly Hills, says, “This is a value-added service and Fernish brings super great pricing. Be it a full staging of a vacant home or, if a client still lives at the home while listed and only a partial staging is needed, the team at Fernish is OK with that.”
In addition, if the furniture is still needed by the new owner of the property, it can be bought with the home, or even with an extended subscription so that the tenants can have time and peace of mind to buy their “forever” furniture for the property. This is where the homeowner can really flourish and benefit from Fernish. To them, Fernish offers a no-hassle, low-cost way to give life to the space and make it a home.
If the property is going to be used as a rental, Fernish is there for that, too. Property owners can use Fernish as their furniture provider to defray lump sum costs and mitigate need for upkeep, or they could also allow residents to use Fernish as a fully-furnished provider and allow them to pick their preferred furnishing from Fernish’s selection.
Additionally, a prospective buyer that’s worried about “too much home” as they upgrade from a smaller current home to a potentially much larger home can use Fernish to cover the furnishing gap, as they decide whether the extra bedroom should be an office, playroom or guest room. Try it out as one for 3-6 months with Fernish, then decide the room’s ultimate fate for significantly cheaper than buying one furniture set and then selling to refurnish the ultimate decision.
Currently, Fernish is live in the Greater Los Angeles metro area and Orange County, Calif., but is growing and expanding to markets on the West Coast. Similar companies have also begun to sprout up in NYC and San Francisco. The Fernish offering certainly provides a lot of optionality for the REALTOR® to convert a potential buyer or to defray costs and improve revenues for the seller.
Welcome to the era of subscription furniture.
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