A Seller’s Paradise, Buyer’s Battleground: Real Estate Market Update

In the fast-moving landscape of residential real estate, the year 2024 is proving to be nothing short of extraordinary. With rapid shifts in inventory, pricing dynamics, and buyer behavior, staying ahead in this market requires a keen understanding of its nuances.  

Global real estate advisor Fiona Dogan sheds light on current market conditions to help buyers, sellers, and renters understand the trends shaping the residential real estate scene. 

Q: What’s the current state of the market in 2024? Can you give us a snapshot? 
 
Fiona: It’s a seller’s market, without a doubt. Inventory is incredibly low, with homes flying off the shelves faster than ever before. As of today, we have only 21 homes available for sale in the Rye City area. And typically, at this time of year, the peak of the spring market, it’s more like 35 to 40 homes that are available. Bidding wars are the norm.  
 
Q: What does this mean for sellers? 
 
Fiona: It’s the best time in the last ten years to sell your house in Westchester. Sellers are in the driver’s seat. They have the upper hand in negotiations, with the power to dictate prices, closing dates, and terms. In this market, even homes in need of renovation are attracting multiple offers, as buyers compete for scarce inventory. Strong buyer demand and limited inventory mean you’re in a powerful position to negotiate the best possible price and terms. 
 
With buyers eager to snatch up anything available, elaborate renovations or whole house staging may not be necessary. However, well-maintained homes will still fetch a premium. 

What about interest rates? How are they having an impact?

Fiona: The current interest rates are definitely holding some people back from jumping into the market. Sellers, for example, may wait to trade their home and purchase a new one. However, sellers are emboldened because they’re getting such extraordinary prices — 20 – 25% over their asking price. Those prices are negating the soft interest rates.   

Q: How should sellers approach pricing their homes in such a competitive market? 

Fiona:  The key is to price strategically. While it may seem tempting to aim for the stars, overpricing can deter potential buyers. The list price is usually below where it will trade because you’re getting people in to assess the value. And once you price at the right value, potential buyers will look at it, then consider what the home is worth to them now and in the future. Pricing slightly at or slightly below market value can attract more interest and lead to bidding wars, ultimately driving up the final sale price. 

So what’s your advice to buyers when it comes to making offers?

Fiona: I ask my buyers, “what is the value to you to get this house? How much are you willing to pay so that you win this house?” It’s almost like a gladiatorial battle right now. Don’t get stuck on the price per square foot or what the neighbor traded for a year ago. It doesn’t matter. If you want to win a house in this market, you must pay what you are willing to pay, to make sure you secure it and nobody else gets it.  

Q: what other advice do you have for buyers to navigate this challenging market?

Fiona:  The competition is fierce. Buyers need to be prepared to act fast and decisively. many homes are under contract within two days. Forget weeks—think hours! Hesitation and lack of preparation can mean missing out on the perfect property. Be prepared to waive contingencies and present a strong financial profile. Any buyer who is dependent on a mortgage is really in third place after cash or waiving a mortgage contingency. However, there are some very good programs to get pre-qualified, so there are situations where people who are contingent on a mortgage can be very competitive. Working with a seasoned agent who understands the market dynamics is critical.  

Is selling off-market a good option in these dynamic times?

Fiona: Very few people in this market are buying direct off-market, neighbor-to-neighbor or for sale by owner. The market is performing so strongly for sellers that it’s not worth it to miss the open market—you’ll be leaving money on the table. Some of my clients struggling to find their dream home are considering less competitive towns or renting in the short term while waiting for the market to cool down. 

Q: Are there any areas of Westchester experiencing particularly intense competition?

Fiona: Absolutely. High-performing school districts like Rye and Scarsdale are at the forefront of the frenzy, with homes garnering multiple offers and selling well above asking price. Other popular areas like Harrison, Rye Brook and White Plains are also experiencing      unheard of competition because of the desire to live in attractive, friendly suburban communities.   
Q. Any parting thoughts?  

Fiona: While it’s difficult to predict the future, experts anticipate the market remaining competitive throughout 2024 and likely 2025. Inventory is unlikely to increase significantly, and buyer demand is expected to stay strong. By understanding market trends, pricing strategies, and the importance of preparation, individuals can make informed decisions and succeed in achieving their real estate goals in this dynamic environment. 

Ready to make your move? 

Whether you’re a seller looking to capitalize on the hot market or a buyer determined to find your forever home,or a renter looking to try before you buy, Fiona can help!  

Contact Fiona today to discuss your real estate goals. 

Fiona Dogan is a top-producing realtor with Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty in Rye, New York. 

Global real estate advisor Fiona Dogan sheds light on current market conditions to help buyers, sellers, and renters understand the trends shaping the residential real estate scene. 

The Pre-Prep Stage: Get Ready to Sell Your Home in Style with Fiona’s Guide

Thinking of parting ways with your beloved home in the coming year? That’s fantastic news! But before we dive into the exciting world of staging and listing, there’s a crucial step that often gets overlooked – pre-prepping your home for the market.

I get it, your home is brimming with years of memories and a treasure trove of possessions, and the thought of preparing it for sale might seem totally overwhelming. But don’t worry, I’m here to help you navigate this process with the least amount of stress and the goal of maximizing sale price.

Let’s Talk Money

Why bother with all the purging, decluttering, and organizing? It’s a proven strategy that can make you some serious cash when the time comes to sell. I’ve seen homes go for way over asking price with multiple offers, sometimes raking in an extra $100,000 or more! 

So, let’s roll up our sleeves and get into the good stuff.

Timing is Everything  

Picture this: Ideally You start prepping your home about 6 to 12 months before you list it. Sounds like a lot, right? But fear not! With a little help, it’s a breeze. And if you’ve got kids coming home from college or a school break, why not make it a family affair? Get them involved – it’ll make it easier to say goodbye to those childhood treasures. 

Now, if you’re in a hurry, we can fast-track things to a more efficient 3-month timeline. How? Bring in a “project manager” to keep things running smoothly — that’s where I come in. With my extensive network of resources, we’ll get you started when you’re not sure where to begin. 

Step 1: Let’s Declutter with a Purpose

Before we even think about organizing, let’s declutter like pros. We’re talking room-by-room action here. No need to overwhelm yourself; it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Start with the kitchen, then tackle the basement, and so on.

Here’s a simple system for what to do with your stuff:

  • Say goodbye to anything you haven’t touched in over a year and that’s not worth selling or donating.
  • Donate anything you haven’t used in over a year but that someone else might find useful.
  • Box up items you’ve used in the past year but not recently.
  • Keep things you use daily or weekly.

Let’s get tactical now. Here’s what to do with specific items:

  • Batteries: Dispose of them safely, following your local guidelines.  
  • Miscellaneous clutter: Attack those infamous junk drawers, random kitchen gadgets, and aging cosmetics and toiletries.

Let’s not forget to:

  • Shred and toss unnecessary receipts to clear out that paper clutter.
  • Dispose of outdated documents that are no longer relevant.

Now, let’s bid farewell to:

  • Broken furniture that’s beyond repair or not appealing to buyers
  • Outdated electronics – responsibly dispose of them following local e-waste guidelines.
  • Gently used clothing? Let’s give them a new lease on life through donation.
  • And for those bulky or hazardous items, or if you’ve got a massive junk pile, consider renting a dumpster or giving a junk removal service a call.

Step 2: Time to Tackle the Clutter

Just like with decluttering, we’ll tackle one room at a time.

  • Start with the high-traffic areas – your living room, kitchen, and bathrooms. These spaces leave a lasting impression on potential buyers, so let’s make them shine.
  • I know, it can be tough parting with sentimental items. If you’re selling a home filled with family memories, why not make it a family event? Spend a day going through old clothes and nostalgic items together.
  • If you’re downsizing, think about renting a storage unit for non-essential items. It’ll help you make those tough decisions while keeping your cherished possessions safe.

Step 3: The Art of Organization

Once we’ve cleared the clutter, it’s time to organize your home. The goal, even before we get to staging, is to present your home as a blank canvas so potential buyers can envision themselves living in your space.

Let’s break it down:

  • Kitchen: Organize those cabinets and pantry to show off a tidy, clutter-free kitchen.
  • Bathroom: Clear those countertops, organize toiletries, and grab some fresh, white towels to add a touch of luxury.
  • Living room: Arrange your furniture to create a spacious and inviting atmosphere. Show off the room’s potential functionality and flow.
  • Closets: Neat closets with uniform hangers convey ample storage space and contribute to a polished look.
  • Yard: Spruce up the front and back yards, clean up, declutter, and pay attention to details like raking leaves and pool maintenance to create an inviting outdoor space.
  • Office space: Careful not to toss important documents like trusts, wills, insurance policies, tax returns, and power of attorney documents.

And don’t forget to give surfaces throughout your home a good cleaning for that polished and well-maintained appearance.

Fiona’s Resource Guide 

As a seasoned real estate pro, I’ve got a treasure trove of knowledge and a network of trusted contacts to make this process a breeze. Check out some of my go-to resources in Westchester and the surrounding area:

The Resource: Offers Home Management, Organizing, Moving & Relocation, Staging Support, and more. 

123 Organize: Specializes in Move Management, Organizing, and Staging. 

Professional Organizer by Tory: Provides Professional Organizing services. 

Auction Ninja: A leading platform for online estate sales and auctions. 

Black Rock Galleries: Specializes in upscale auctions. 

By following my lead and tapping into my network, you’ll not only sail through the Pre-Prep Process but also maximize your financial gains. Whether you’re starting a year ahead or need a quick turnaround, your home will leave the absolute best impression.

Ready to sell? Contact Fionafor a consultation today!

Escaping the City Life? 9 Reasons to Relocate to Westchester With Fiona Dogan

In the fast-paced world of Manhattan and the hip neighborhoods of Brooklyn, city living has its allure. The convenience, the buzz, and the endless list of activities at your fingertips are hard to resist. However, as the recent pandemic unfolded, it’s apparent to many city dwellers that a change of scenery might be in order. That’s where Westchester County comes into the picture. 

Buyers considering a move away from the hustle and bustle of the city, you’ll need expert guidance. I helped many families relocate from New York City to Westchester during the pandemic—and made the move myself 17 years ago. With extensive real estate knowledge and nearly two decades of hands-on experience, I can help you seamlessly transition from the city to the ‘burbs.   

9 reasons Why Westchester Should Be on Your Radar 

Space to Breathe

One of the first things you’ll notice when you move to Westchester County is the abundant space. No more cramped apartments or tight living quarters. Westchester offers roomy homes, sprawling backyards, waterfront recreation, verdant parks, sandy beaches, and a sense of peace and tranquility you won’t find in the city.  

Top-rated public schools

If you have children, the cost and stress of private schools in the city might be weighing on your mind. Westchester County boasts excellent public schools, alleviating the financial and emotional burden. Having raised three children in Rye’s top-ranked school system, I can offer personal insights into what you’ll find in Westchester.  

Close-Knit Communities

Westchester is synonymous with small, welcoming communities. It’s the kind of place where your neighbors become friends, and community events bring everyone together. I understand the importance of having a sense of belonging and can guide you to communities that have a strong community spirit. 

Quality of Life

If the high costs of city living are becoming overwhelming, Westchester offers a breath of fresh air. I know the Westchester market inside and out and can help you find a home that allows you to enjoy a better quality of life without breaking the bank. 

Work-Life Balance

Remote work opportunities are here to stay. I can help you find a property with that provides an ideal backdrop for a balanced lifestyle. Imagine working from your home office with a view of your own yard instead of a cramped city apartment! 

Education and Enrichment

Westchester County and its many towns and villages offer quality schools and a variety of enrichment activities. Your children can receive an excellent education, and you won’t have to sacrifice cultural experiences like arts and performances, which are readily available in nearby NYC. I can point you to the array of community resources available. 

Commuting Made Easy

Commuting is a significant factor for many considering a move. Westchester County strikes the right balance with its proximity to the city. I’ll help you find communities with easy train access, ensuring that you’re not too far from Manhattan. 

Escape Without Being Too Far

While Westchester provides a peaceful retreat from city life, it’s not so remote that you feel like you’re in a second home or vacation territory. It’s less than an hour from Manhattan, so you can still enjoy all the city has to offer without the daily stress. 

Affordable and Modern Housing

You can count on my expertise to help you identify comfortable housing options that work for your budget. With my seasoned guidance, you can explore the options that align best with your needs and preferences. Whether you’re a family looking for a more affordable and balanced lifestyle or an individual seeking a tranquil retreat from city living, Westchester County has got you covered. 

If you’re ready to escape the city and embrace a new way of life, I’d be happy to work with you. Ready to make the move? Contact me for a consultation. 

Fiona Dogan’s Complete Guide to Downsizing Your Home (2023)

Downsizing your home is a significant life decision, filled with both excitement and challenges. Whether you’re an empty nester, newly single, or simply seeking a simpler lifestyle, downsizing requires careful advance planning and expert guidance.

I’m a highly successful, seasoned real estate agent with Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty in Rye, New York. My 17+ year history of working with other clients in similar situations helps me understand the unique needs of homeowners looking to downsize their homes.

With my extensive real-estate knowledge and hands-on experience, I will help you seamlessly transition to your next home while easing your concerns and maximizing your financial benefits. My comprehensive guide will help you gain some valuable insights and make your downsizing journey a success.

The Financial Sense of Downsizing

Downsizing your home isn’t just about simplifying your life—it can also make excellent financial sense. Larger family homes often come with higher carrying costs. Energy inefficiencies, higher taxes, and significant maintenance and landscaping expenses can quickly add up.

By downsizing to a smaller home or apartment, you can lower utility bills, lower taxes, and eliminate multiple expensive running costs freeing up your liquid resources for other important priorities. Furthermore, taking advantage of today’s dynamic seller’s market can enable you to cash out at favorable prices and maximize your financial gains.

The Benefits of Downsizing Your Home

Maximize Your Returns: Downsizing allows you to take advantage of the current seller’s market, giving you the chance to cash out at a significant profit and maximize your returns.

Sell Your Property Quickly: Today’s real estate market is extremely efficient, providing you with an opportunity to go into contract within a few days and enabling you to move quickly to your next steps

Secure Long-Term Savings: Downsizing can often ensure immediate savings by reducing property taxes, maintenance expenses, and the overall management burden associated with a larger home.

Enjoy a Simpler Life: A smaller home means less space to maintain and fewer possessions to manage, offering a simpler and more streamlined lifestyle for you.

A Chance to Declutter: Downsizing encourages you to embark on the valuable process of decluttering, allowing you to let go of unnecessary possessions and create a more organized living space.

Align with Your Life Changes: Downsizing often accompanies significant life changes such as becoming empty nesters or entering retirement, enabling you to open a new chapter in your life.

Preparing to Downsize Your Home

Planning for a downsize move requires careful consideration and preparation, but the effort invested will pay off both on moving day and in the months that follow as you settle into your new home. Here’s my step-by-step guide on how to effectively plan for a downsizing transition.

Figure Out Your Budget

Create a detailed budget that lays out your current financial situation. Make sure to include all your monthly expenses, as well as annual costs like property taxes and insurance. Then, create a future budget “downsize” to compare it to. Analyzing the changes in expenses will help you understand exactly how your finances will be impacted by downsizing.

Make a To-Do List

Downsizing can be chaotic. To navigate this period more smoothly, it’s essential to have a meticulous to-do list that covers every aspect. Once you have secured your new home, be sure not to overlook crucial transitional steps, including setting up a clear timeline, strategizing storage solutions, decluttering effectively, planning the move-out/move-in days carefully, coordinating setting up new home utilities, and setting up repairs and interior decorating for your new home.

Understand the Current Housing Market

The most important step is to work with your trusted realtor to fully understand your current local housing market conditions. This knowledge will empower you to make informed choices about when and how to proceed with your downsizing plans.

With my successful track record as one of America’s best real estate professionals, I will partner with you to carefully explain the intricate details of the current housing market. With my expert guidance, we will navigate all the complexities of your real estate needs and set a course for a successful transition to your new, downsized home.

Prepare Your Home for Sale

Your agent will consider the condition and location of your home, as well as current comparable sales when determining the appropriate pricing strategy. Extensive preparation including inspecting, refreshing, and staging your home will dramatically improve your chances of selling at an over-asking price with possible multiple bids.

With my proven sales success, my strong business acumen, and my 24/7 focused client commitment, I will advise you carefully in determining the accurate listing price for your property, leading to a swift and successful sale.

Read more about my process here — How to Prep and Price Your Home for a Fast Sale

Find Your Perfect Downsized Home

Finding your perfect downsized home involves defining priorities, establishing a budget, and working with a trusted realtor. I will help you explore current listings, tour homes, view open houses, and help you define your most important priorities.  When we find your dream downsized home, I will handle the sales and closing process for you, including determining the correct offering price and terms, scheduling appropriate engineering inspections, and hiring an expert real estate attorney to guide you through the contract and closing.

Choose Fiona Dogan for Your Downsizing Journey

I have had the privilege of working with many wonderful downsizing clients in recent years, guiding them as they embark on their next real estate journey and transition into a new chapter in their lives. One recent client, Shari, shared her thoughts on our collaboration:

“What truly sets Fiona apart is her comprehensive knowledge of the real estate market. Her strategic approach to pricing and marketing my property showcased her expertise, resulting in a quick and lucrative sale. I wholeheartedly recommend Fiona to anyone seeking a broker who brings not only expertise but also a genuine sense of care and friendship to the table.”

It is indeed an honor and a pleasure to be by the side of individuals like Shari as they make these significant life transitions. If you’re looking for a dedicated broker who combines market expertise with a personal touch, I’m here to assist you every step of the way.

How to Manage the Emotional Side of Selling Your Family Home

The pencil marks on the door frame where you measured your son’s height, the backyard where you took your daughter’s prom photos, the kitchen where so many memorable family dinners took place…a well-loved family home is so much more than four walls providing shelter. Selling it means leaving a place that holds many memories.

According to the Census Bureau, 8.4 percent of the population moved in 2021. While over 40 percent of people moved because of price, 25 percent moved for family-related reasons, such as a death in the family or children growing up and leaving home. The average homeowner stays in the family home for over 13 years, and in the Northeast it’s closer to 15 years. Handling life’s milestones plus purging possessions you’ve accumulated over many years adds up to an emotionally complicated time.

There’s good news. Helping clients work through the emotional aspect of selling their home is a huge part of what I do. Sellers need someone who is calm and collected who won’t let feelings stand in the way of the end goal — a successful sale in the fastest amount of time at the highest price possible.

Letting Go

When you lived in a home for more than 15 years, you have a lot of time to develop attachments. You lose objectivity and ability to view things with a critical eye and that is why bringing in professionals to help with decluttering and staging is so essential.

Helping sellers prepare their homes for market means supporting them while sorting through clutter collected over the decades — much of it wrapped up in family memories. You need a partner in the process that is sensitive to the emotional connections who will provide a supportive shoulder to lean on while keeping their eye on the prize — packing up and paring down.

As a first step, I meet with my clients to assess their individual situation and provide a list of what needs to be done in their house. My recommendations address updates to the decor, depersonalizing, decluttering, and repairs and renovations that need to be made. With my extensive local network, I can also recommend and connect my clients with industry professionals to help bring the property up to date and make it market ready. This hands-on approach helps sellers feel less stressed and overwhelmed while beginning the detachment process from their well-loved home.

Putting a price on memories

When you haven’t bought or sold a house in several decades, you may not be familiar with current market conditions or pricing. And it’s often difficult to push memories and emotions aside to think about your home as a product on the market. You need a realtor who is prepared with data that will inform a competitive pricing strategy, so you have the best chance at achieving the highest price in the shortest amount of time.

When working with clients to determine price, I provide an up-to-date market analysis with comparable listings, pending sales, buyer demand, and other relevant data to drive the strategy. When armed with the facts, it’s easier to make your emotions take a back seat.

Whether it’s selling your parent’s home or your own, having someone help you with the details eases the emotional transition. Selling a home is one of the biggest financial and emotional decisions you’ll make — partnering with an expert real estate professional can give you the emotional separation you need to see your home more objectively and prepare it for sale. By acknowledging your feelings and having a trusted realtor partner at your side, you will be better equipped to make the right choices. And on the days you feel like you can’t leave your beloved family home behind, a seasoned realtor can help keep things moving.

Interested in selling? Contact Fiona for a consultation. 

Fiona Helps NYC Transplants Find Their Dream Home in Purchase, NY

Steve and Christine followed a journey common to young families during the pandemic. Dwelling on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with their two young children when the Covid crisis hit, they sought refuge with Christine’s parents in Nassau County on Long Island. They intended to stay for just a few weeks while they searched for a home in Westchester County.

It was a hectic time, and they knew the market was crazy, but Christine was seven months pregnant. About to become a family of five, they needed an exit strategy.

It was at an open house in Rye where they first met Fiona. Recalls Steven, “Fiona asked all the right questions. She helped us set our real estate goals in terms of size, location, and layout. She took time to weed out what we didn’t want and to see what was available. Then, she toured several homes with us. Some weren’t right but it helped us explore what was out there and narrow our choices.”

Fiona’s extensive broker network was instrumental in facilitating their search during a time when brokers were reluctant to hold open houses. Through her many contacts, Fiona planned home tours around their day trips from Long Island during a window of time that accommodated the schedule of Steve and Christine’s young children.

What they really appreciated about working with Fiona was how she put them at ease. Says Steven, “So many brokers were pushy; they were telling us ‘you need to put in a bid today.’ Fiona reassured us that we had time. She helped us navigate a crazy fast market while helping us to see what we liked and narrow our choices. Fiona kept us calm.”

Adds Christine, “I wanted a pool, five bedrooms, and access to a playroom on the first floor. But I did not want a house that needed work. So, when we found a home that needed work, I resisted. It was a hard ‘no.’ But Fiona helped us to see its potential. She helped us to see past what it looked like and what it could be for our family.”

Fiona worked with the couple to look at the footprint of the house relative to their growing family. She secured a home inspection, gathered comparable home pricing and helped them put in an offer on the house. With Christine’s pregnancy nearing the end, Fiona worked quickly behind the scenes to expedite the negotiation. “Fiona guided us through the entire process,” says Christine. “She navigated us through until we had an accepted bid.

The birth of their baby came before they closed on the home, and they signed the contract while in the hospital. Eighteen months after they went to stay with Christine’s parents in Nassau County, they moved into their new home in the town of Purchase.

When asked if they would recommend working with Fiona, Steven said absolutely and “without reservation.”

“Fiona’s experience and vision really helped us make an informed decision. We recommend her because she wasn’t overbearing. She facilitates and guides without being aggressive. We felt like we were drowning in a fast-moving market, but she helped us tread water. She made a difficult process a smooth transition.”

Let Fiona help you sell or find your dream home. Contact Fiona at 914-414-5147 or email her directly.