Behind The Scenes: The look that will get it sold

We continue to follow Gabriele Sewtz behind the scenes of her every day as a top Compass real estate broker in New York City.


Gabriele’s day starts just like most New Yorkers. Hopping on the subway, from her home in Park Slope, Brooklyn, she heads to Union Square in Manhattan where the New York office of Compass is located. Of course, she makes time to stop for the requisite coffee before making her way into the 5th Ave building.

Stepping off the elevator, Gabriele stops by the front desk where she always says hello and chats with the receptionist. Compass has a great camaraderie amongst its employees, Gabriele is no stranger, saying “hi”, and “good morning” to everyone she sees on her way to her desk where she has the day’s agenda already laid out.

With every sale, there is the marketing timeline. The timeline keeps Gabriele on track to get each property on- and off- the market as quickly as possible — at the highest price. In this case, Gabriele is working with a unique, penthouse property in Williamsburg, so in addition to the listing’s photo spread she is shooting a video to show off the amazing aspects of the apartment. First things first, she needs to get to the location and see what kind of condition it is in. Then she will start staging.


Gabriele doesn’t mince words, neither does she miss a beat. As soon as she enters the penthouse, she is already figuring out where to move furniture, where to place pillows and rugs, and what is missing to give this space the look she wants. The look that will get it sold. Out comes the tape measure. Gabriele starts shifting things around, pointing out where she wants the couch, a seat cushion gets tossed on a chair, a box of magazines disappears into the closet, and next thing you know the space has taken on a new life. She’s a magician. It is widely known how efficiently Gabriele sells properties but her hidden talent is making clutter vanish. When staging any apartment she abides by three words — reduce, rearrange, and refresh. Gabriele says, “The key is having a step-by-step plan in place”. Once Gabriele has reduced and rearranged the penthouse to a minimalist, yet elegant state, she readies for the next day.


Her smile hides something. She looks forward to what is to come with anticipation. Ah, I know that face. That hint of a smile means it is shopping time, aka the fun part. That is what she was hiding the other day. It is on to the refresh part of the staging process where Gabriele searches for the little (and sometimes big) things that will make the property stand out in the listing. Walking from store to store Gabriele is on the hunt. She has a vision for the penthouse; she just needs to find the right pieces to bring it together. Will it be a few simple throw pillows, or a cozy dining set, maybe this well-worn console table? Looking up from a rack of linens Gabriele spies a distinctive light fixture that fits her vision.

Content with her findings it is back to the office, but first, a stop at the market. New York open-air markets are some of the best places in the city to find hidden treasures. From hand-made trinkets to fresh flowers, there is bound to be something unique to inject a little personality into any room. Gabriele finds a nice planter of orchids for her desk and a few more bouquets for the penthouse. Tomorrow the videographer and photographer will be on hand to shoot the listing. The day’s shopping was fun but now it is crunch time.


With the sun, basking the roof deck of the penthouse in its warm glow the videographer starts to line up his shot. Gabriele is already in position, camera in front, and New York City skyline in full view behind. She continues to go over her lines all the while keeping up-to-date with clients and the office. Gabriele’s phone is never out of reach. She focuses on the task at hand, while in the other hand she stays connected to the market.

Every aspect of each listing is important, and Gabriele works on every bit with exacting scrutiny. She discusses the shot with the videographer, while an assistant makes sure her voice is coming in crisp and clear over the microphone. The assistant cracks a joke back to them and everyone has a laugh. Even when it is serious business, there is always time for a little fun and games.


Finally, the scene is complete. Gabriele moves on to the next area of focus, the kitchen and living area.

Once again, she hones in on the details. No branch out of place, no stem too long; Gabriele gets to work cutting the flowers she picked up the previous day and places them in a vase on the dining table. Her vision for the apartment is coming together wonderfully.

The photographer snaps his shots of the interior and heads out to the patio to join Gabriele and the videographer lining up the final scene. “With the Empire State Building to my right and the Chrysler Building to my left, that’s perfect,” says Gabriele about the arrangement of the last shot.

Setup, once again, against the backdrop of Manhattan, Gabriele gives her closing remarks to the camera. With that, it is a wrap. Next up on Gabriele’s agenda, a Compass advertising spread for Edible Brooklyn magazine.

Watch the movie here



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