Home Guru: Seller’s ‘Train Hard, Fight Easy’ Approach to Listing a Home

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Bill Primavera
Bill Primavera

By Bill Primavera – Anna Maroselli could write the definitive book or teach a master class on preparing a home for sale.

While normally it is a matter of a month or two from the time a seller and realtor engage in the process of listing a home, there was a gestation of more than two years from the time I was called by Maroselli for a comparative market analysis until last week when her six-bedroom raised ranch in Yorktown Heights was listed.

In the intervening months, there was a methodical system of activity that might have been ordered by a drill sergeant.

“One of my favorite expressions is ‘train hard, fight easy,’” she told me early in the game, noting the origin of the aptly put quote from Alexander Suvorov, a 19th century military leader in the Imperial Russian Army.

From the first of my two interviews with her, along with invitations she extended to two other realtors for consideration, her journey to listing her home has been painstaking. Only after the fact did I learn that, before retirement, Maroselli had been a legal secretary for a major multinational corporation and was responsible for communications with foreign diplomats, government officials and top business executives.

“I was always detail oriented, always made checklists and everything had to be perfect,” she said.

The process started with her taking my suggestions, some from my columns which she had carefully read and saved in a folder, and from our frequent conversations, first to update her kitchen with a granite countertop and new backsplash, to remove wallpaper there and from two bedrooms, and the need to paint her interior in neutral tones.

On her own, Maroselli needed to “re-purpose” some of the rooms of her home. The lower level had been utilized for her daughter Adrienne’s family, her husband and son in a three-bedroom setup. Now that her daughter was leaving, the lower level would be reconfigured for the flexibility of a new owner.

Maroselli also hired a stager and decorator, Susan Atwell, whose function it was to help her declutter, depersonalize and rearrange furniture. For the painting, I recommended the stalwart “Fireman Joe” Pascarelli.

While Adrienne was leaving, she stayed on to help her mom accomplish her long checklist, including selection of interior colors. She chose different shades of grey, today’s favorite neutral, which Maroselli said, “seem to reflect and blend in with whatever color is near them, much as hazel eyes do.”

Adrienne also helped with paring down furnishings and simplifying window treatments by removing drapes and replacing them with plain valances with grosgrain ribbon trim.

There were a couple of stumbles, then corrections along the way. For instance, when Maroselli went to a large retailer to choose the granite kitchen countertop, she found it too complicated to coordinate selection of the granite with installation of the sink. Someone suggested to her a “one-stop” way to handle that by going to Westwood Stone and Granite in Cortlandt and asking for Anthony, who deftly coordinated the whole job for her.

Frequently I would receive updates to learn, for example, that all the hardwood floors had been refinished for the “wow” factor, or that the backsplash suggested for the kitchen would not be ivory subway tiles as originally planned, but rather beveled stone bricks, and dated lighting fixtures had been replaced with more contemporary ones.

In tow at our contract signing and final meetings before listing was Maroselli’s other daughter Christine, very real estate savvy, to help advise her parents. Then, Maroselli joined in the process, editing copy for the descriptive remarks for the MLS listing and promotional materials, word by word, a first for me.

The figurative close-order drill continued to the week before listing when I was invited back to the house for viewing of Maroselli’s work, which I was able to declare total perfection.

Within eight hours from the time the listing went live, there were seven showings requested, just from the way we were able to describe Maroselli’s hard work. Preparedness always pays off.

Her suppliers were Anthony Carraturo of Westwood Granite and Stone in Cortlandt Manor at 914-736-9100; Painter “Fireman Joe” Pascarelli at 914-330-3889; and stager and interior designer Susan Atwell at 914-525-0454.

Bill Primavera is a Realtor® associated with William Raveis Real Estate and Founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc., the longest running public relations agency in Westchester ( His real estate site is, and his blog is To engage the services of The Home Guru and his team to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.


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