San Diego native Alex Ryden is bringing the home staging business that he started out of his house in Denver back to his hometown. His company, Guest House, has its corporate headquarters split between San Diego and Denver, with San Diego operations in a Mission Bay warehouse.
Most of the company’s 13 employees work remotely.
A 2007 graduate of Rancho Bernardo High School, Ryden is going high tech with the company that provides furniture and artwork to put in homes that are up for sale.
He also provides an interior decorator who will help choose and place the furnishings and artwork that Guest House provides.
“We help make the space look a lot more fresh and modern with furniture or art − all of that together,” Ryden said.
Selling a Lifestyle
“It’s pretty difficult to sell properties according to market data if there’s not furniture inside,” Ryden said. “Even though the market is really hot, the question is how much more can I get for my property if I invest more resources in it. Staging’s actually the cheapest upgrade you can make.”
In homes that are already furnished, a Guest House interior decorator will suggest ways to improve it.
“You don’t want to show them (buyers) your lifestyle and how you live. You want to show them how they could live. It’s selling a lifestyle to the buyer,” Ryden said. “What does it really feel to live here? I see staging as a tool that just answers questions so that realtors don’t have to.”
The entire process can be done online through the company website.
“The only person you meet is our designer if you want to do an in-person walk-through before they set up the home,” Ryden said. “With a new customer, our sales team calls you just to reassure you but you can do everything online.”
If questions arise, “a human’s just a phone call away,” Ryden said.
When the house is sold, the buyer has the option to buy all or some of the furniture that Guest House staged in the house, and they can do it all online.
Every piece of furniture, artwork and furnishings right down to kitchen cutting boards is listed with a price attached.
A QR code link to the list is prominently posted on a wall in the house that buyers can access through their smart phones.
“If you’re purchasing that home and everything inside it, it just stays. You get a beautiful home turnkey,” Ryden said.
A Welcome Addition
Ryden said the buyer of a San Diego home staged by Guest House is buying everything inside up to $15,000.
“It happens more often than you think,” Ryden said. “We anticipate this trend really accelerating, really taking off, especially as supply chains jam and more people upgrade to bigger homes.”
Carrie Mickel, a real estate agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, said that Guest House was “a welcome addition to the San Diego market.”
“Guest House staged a condo for me and it sold in less than a week for above asking price,” Mickel said. “I would work with them again in a heartbeat.”
Guest House stages homes in San Diego, Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs. Prices for staging a home start at $2,500.
From Bags to Furniture
A graduate of the University of California Santa Barbara with a bachelor’s degree in communications and global studies, Ryden got into the home staging business almost by accident after spending 10 years in advertising.
Before moving to Colorado, Ryden said that he had started a company that sold backpacks and other bags.
When he moved to Denver, he set up a retail operation in his Victorian home selling bags.
As a hobby he picked up from his grandfather, Ryden collected furniture, and he said that people who came to buy the bags wanted to buy the furniture that he had collected.
“People said, ‘well the bags are cool. What about that coffee table? What about that rug?’ I had a living room that I thought was kind of cool,” Ryden said. “We really started making our whole home shop-able.”
Soon, he attracted the attention of real estate agents, who were looking for ways to improve their sales.
“I really saw the opportunity to grow the business,” Ryden said. “I bootstrapped the business for two years.”
With the recent infusion of $3 million in venture capital, Ryden is hoping to expand.
“We definitely have a ton of resources now,” Ryden said.
He hopes to triple Guest House’s workforce within the next year.
“In the near term, I think we can grow to really transform the staging market,” Ryden said. “In the next five to 10 years, we want to be in every major city in the U.S.”
CEO: Alex Ryden
Headquarters: Mission Bay and Denver
Business: Home staging
Number of employees: 13 full-time
Notable: The idea for Guest House came about when Ryden was setting up a retail shop in his home and people wanted to buy the furniture.
Website: https://guesthouseshop.com/ ; Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/guesthouseshop/