Homeowners are savvier than ever when it comes to listing their home for sale. Whether you are in the process of buying or selling your home, there are numerous resources out there to help you make great decisions. But finding the right real estate agent who can effectively promote your home, educate the homeowner, and gain your trust, is more important than ever.

It’s imperative to stay informed about what types of homes are on the market. When listing your home, download the Porch Home History reports of nearby homes and assess how your home compares to the competition.

We recently spoke with top-ranked real estate agent, Heidi Marchesotti of Highland Partners, to get a behind-the-scenes look at working with a realtor and having a successful home listing.

1. What are the top 5 things to know before hiring a realtor?

  1. Ask for their experience and local expertise
  2. See if they have service providers that they can manage on your behalf such as: Estate Sales, Trust attorneys, Painters, Home Stagers, Handymen, Contractors, Financial advisors, Lenders, and more
  3. What is their reputation among other agents that they will be working with
  4. What is their marketing outreach plan
  5. How large is their sphere of influence. You are hiring for what they know and for who they know in the media, outlying areas, real estate industry and other industries as well.

2. How important is staging the home prior to listing?

Staging the home in our marketplace is key.  There are ways to edit your home if you are still living in it, and your realtor should be able to help you with that process as well. Keep in mind that staging is meant to allow prospective buyers to imagine themselves living in your home – not as guests in someone else’s home.  In cities and towns where most homes are staged, it can be confusing when they go from seeing three staged homes to a home that has not been staged. (Pros to hire: Home Stagers, Home Organizers, Handymen)

3. How important are good photographs of the home prior to listing?

It is vitally important to use professional photography in the sale an marketing of any home.  Most buyers begin their search online. It is imperative that you appeal to those buyers enough to entice them to visit the home in person and to share the photo tours with friends and family. If you are a realtor, the way you present a home to the public is a reflection of who you are and how you do business.  It is the most likely way to get referral and additional business from others who are searching for a listing agent of their own. Media outlets will also editorialize your home if it is a good fit and ONLY with professional photography. (Don’t want to hire a pro? Learn how to photograph like a professional.)

4. Of all the rooms in the home, which are the most important for homeowners to make “perfect?”

The master bedroom suite and the kitchen. It is also important to have the exterior in tip-top shape. A buyer’s first impression is made the minute they drive up to the home. (Pros to hire: Interior Designer, Kitchen & Bath Remodeler, Landscaper, Siding Contractor)

5. Which rooms are the least important?

The garage (often used for storage if owner has not moved). While it’s important to keep storage rooms, au-pair suites and lower-level bonus spaces tidy, they are not showcase rooms. (Pros to hire: Garage Organization Specialist, Basement Remodelers)

6. For clients looking for a home, what’s the number one complaint about a prospective home?

The floor plan.  What’s very popular right now is the kitchen/family room combo and a less formal environment. Lack of a master bathroom is a close second. (Pros to hire: Architect, Remodeling Contractor)

7. For clients trying to sell their home, what’s the biggest challenge?

Having the flexibility to have multiple showings and trying to live in the house.  Especially with children.

8. Which home staging projects are good to DIY and which projects should be left to the pro?

It really depends on the client.  My recommendation is to always have a 2nd or 3rd set of eyes come in a de-personalize your space. Touch up paint, flowers, organizing closets and cleaning out or donating what you know you will not be needed is a great place to start. (Pros to hire: Painters, Home Organizer, Hauling Contractor)

9. When is your busiest time of year?

February tends to kick off the busiest time of year – the spring.  Buyers tend to hibernate beginning in November and through the holidays.  They really hit the ground running in February-May.  That said, there is never a ‘wrong’ time to sell real estate.  People are always moving and relocating for multiple reasons.

10. Once they’ve purchased a home, how often to homeowners turn to you for remodeling advice?

I am often asked about remodeling advice.  I recommend asking a realtor about your ideas before the remodeling begins. Spacial planning and configuration is important.  While we can’t talk to the emotional side, we can remind you of the resale aspects of your changes. (Pros to hire: Remodeling Contractors, Architects, Interior Designers, Closet Designers)

11. Which home improvement projects provide the best return on the dollar at time of sale?

The kitchen and, if possible, taking down a wall or adding space to create a more open feeling. Adding a bathroom for a master bedroom suite, creating outdoor seating areas (think outdoor living and dining, fire pit or fireplace and lush environments – potted plants etc.). Having a great indoor/outdoor flow and entertaining spaces.

12. How important is it for homeowner to obtain the right permits for remodeling projects?

It is important to pull permits and to have those permits on file.  Cosmetic issues do not require a permit.  Each city is different with regards to their requirements and regulations, so it is important to have someone who is familiar with and can guide you through the process.


As Managing Partner of Mason McDuffie Highland Partners, Piedmont’s only Real Estate office, Heidi Marchesotti and her team are positioned to assist clients throughout the entire Bay Area. Born in the Bay Area, Heidi graduated from San Francisco State University with a degree in international economics. Before beginning her career in Real Estate, she served several years as Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Berkeley Capital Management. She also consulted with the estate-planning department at Wells Fargo Securities serving the Bank’s private clients.

Her working knowledge of financial markets and estate planning gives Heidi an edge in buying, selling and negotiating real estate. She believes in giving the very best service to her clients through a hands-on approach. Known throughout the East Bay as a top realtor for luxury home marketing, she has organized an extensive network of clients and service providers that vastly improve the home selling experience.  Her local expertise and extensive real estate experience will benefit you whether you are buying, selling or investing.

Top image credit: Shuler Architecture