Welcome to our interview with Helen Servick, the founder of Blink Staging, a full-service staging company that specializes in preparing properties for the real estate market. In this interview, we'll explore the benefits of staging a property, how BLINK sets itself apart from other staging companies, the importance of personalizing a home while appealing to a broad range of potential buyers, and much more. Helen shares her insights and experience gained from years of successfully staging homes for sale. So, let's dive in!
Q. Can you explain the value of staging a property and how it can benefit home sellers in today's real estate market?
A. Time and again we discuss 'THE POWER OF PRESENTATION'! There is no question that every property benefits from proper presentation. Even in the current marketplace, where there is not enough demand to satisfy the level of buyers, we have 100s of examples over the years where if the house is priced correctly and presented well - there is a buyer out there, and more frequently a bidding war! We have also many examples in this marketplace where sellers believe because it is such a hot market they don't have to put any effort into the sale of their property, only to have no activity once it hits the market. Today's buyers are well-educated and demanding, they respond to a little effort by the sellers when presenting their homes. Time and again we see the transformation that a fresh coat of paint lends itself to a dated kitchen, bathroom, or paint palette that is no longer in vogue. Furthermore, allowing a staging company to come in and either blend (a mix of homeowner's and stager's furniture) or take out and bring in staging furniture to an empty house, creates a current decor which resonates with the next homeowner, and creates an emotional connection to the property. We have staged hundreds of homes and we have never had a client regret their decision to allow us to help prepare their property for the market.
Q. Blink Staging offers a range of unique services, including staging, blending, and rentals. Can you tell us more about these offerings and how they set your business apart from other staging companies?
A. We are a unique staging company because over the years we have evolved to make the effort of presenting your property for the market as seamless and comfortable for our clients. We own every piece of furniture, decor items, and bedding that is necessary to present a property, which allows us flexibility to ensure that the product we present to the market is curated and personalized vs. cookie cutter and expected. Furthermore, through the years we recognized the needs of our clients which included, painting, plumbing, carpentry, flooring and tile work, landscaping, house cleaning, auction house contacts, relocation moving experts, home editing and organizing, estate sales, and management of multi-generational families. As such, we have an excellent team of trades who work for us, as well as, partner with companies for the sale and disbursement of furniture, etc. This all-in-one resource is truly unique within the staging world and sets us apart from other stagers.
Q. What is your process for working with clients and how do you ensure that your staging services meet their specific needs and goals?
A. We believe firmly in a partnership with the homeowners, their agents, and ourselves. After visiting a home for the first time, we take time to reflect on the home, its strengths and possible challenges, the neighborhood and market that it is located in, and then strategize with the team as to how best to present the property for the market. We listen to the client and get a sense of their comfort in the work that we feel is necessary to ensure a successful launch, as well as, their agent in terms of whom they believe is the next homeowner. We then curate a personalized approach with regard to the decor and timing to meet these goals. We are fortunate enough to own all of the items that we deliver into a home, which allows us to curate items that are custom for the needs of a specific home, which results in the end result looking presented - not staged. The greatest compliment we receive after a potential homeowner or agent walks through the house, they ask if the home has been staged or not!
Q. Could you share a success story or memorable experience from your time running Blink Staging? How has your work helped home sellers and real estate agents achieve their goals?
A. Truthfully, we have been very fortunate in that all of our client interactions have happy endings and often they become repeat clients! That being said, the greatest success stories are not only the multiple offers that most of our clients receive - but more so the homes that were on the market - did not receive any activity and we are called in, usually the homeowners are reluctant and dubious that the investment in our suggestions and staging will make a difference - only to be delighted that after their hard work and our efforts they successfully sell their home. Those tend to be the success stories that we truly take pride in.
Q. Can you speak to any common misconceptions that people might have about home staging? How do you address those misconceptions and educate clients on the benefits of staging?
A. There are 2 great misconceptions when people think of staging or getting their home ready for the market. The first is that they believe they should strip the home of all personal possessions. We firmly disagree with this thought, in fact, we enjoy adding elements of a homeowner's life and personality into a home when we blend. We find that it creates an emotional connection with the next homeowner. Seeing happy forms of life in a house is an absolute plus. The second misconception is that staging means that clients have to clear EVERYTHING out of their home. This is absolutely not the case. We offer our blending services specifically for this reason. In fact, 65 - 70% of our business has evolved into this area of service.
Q. In your opinion, what are some of the most important factors to consider when staging a home for sale? How do you balance the seller's personal style with the need to appeal to a broad range of potential buyers?
A. The most important factor to consider when preparing a home for the market is to recognize that a client's home is now a product. This is also the most challenging aspect of our business - helping clients to understand that their home is now a product vs. their home. We use the term 'product' because we want to help them understand that it is not a personal reflection of their decor, taste, layout/use of space - but rather it is now time to look at their home as a commodity that they are looking to receive the highest return on their investment. We find that when a homeowner is able to set aside their personal connection to a chair, or a piece of art for example, they then see the value in preparing their home for the expectations of today's buyers. We also work to educate a homeowner on what staging vs. decorating is. It is very important that they understand that not every wall, or space needs art, furniture, etc. We are often meant with the question: does this space look bare? Our response to this question is to remind a client that the next homeowner did not know that there use to be something else on that wall, or in that portion of the room - and to remind them that we want the next homeowner to walk in and get a sense of the space and architectural detail offerings in the house - because that is what they are buying.
Q. How do you stay up-to-date on the latest trends and best practices in the home staging industry? Are there any particular resources or sources of inspiration that you rely on for inspiration and education?
A. We find inspiration from all areas of life - truly. We love to evolve with trends and be at the forefront of style - while remaining firmly planted in the goals of staging - which is to appeal to the greatest and broadest group of potential buyers. When we travel, we take inspiration from hotel interior design and styling. We love going into local design shops throughout New York, Westchester and Fairfield counties, and being inspired by their presentation of patterns and layouts. We have active accounts with all the large design and trade showrooms which are an endless source of inspiration and guideline for upcoming trends. We purchase all our own fabrics, and custom-make all our own pillows and upholstery. Of course, we are avid readers of all the design magazines and watchers of design shows! We also have tremendous relationships with the agents whom we work with and welcome their feedback. We find it incredibly rewarding and helpful to hear how a buyer walks through our client's homes and what works or doesn't work - fortunately, we don't get many 'doesn't work' remarks! We truly enjoy what we do and customizing each home so that it feels unique to the home and not a 'stamp' of BLINK.
Experts in their field, Helen Servick and Kate Rossi have been successfully staging homes together for over 6 years. Both Greenwich residents, they enjoy working throughout Westchester and Fairfield counties, staging and presenting waterfront, in-town, and backcountry properties. Working alongside the leading agents, they have a true understanding of who the home buyers are, and continue to update the BLINK style to reflect what these buyers are looking to see.