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!

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.

From their First Rye Home to a Relocation: Fiona Led the Way

Chris and Irene happily lived in Rye for the past ten years. After starting their family, they purchased their four-bedroom Colonial on Elmwood Avenue with Fiona in 2012. At the time, understanding Rye’s neighborhoods and all they had to offer to a growing family was vitally important.

“We were new parents,” recalls Chris. “That knowledge was very important. We wanted to know about the amenities of each area before settling in. Fiona helped us to a great area and a wonderful home.”

They kept in touch with her over the years. When they considered renovations or additions, they consulted with Fiona, who helped them determine the projects that would deliver the best return for their investment. When they decided to relocate to South Carolina, they turned to Fiona to help them manage the sale of their home. Not only did they have a good relationship and a loyalty to her, they felt she would best prepare them for what lay ahead.

Preparation, knowledge, and relationships

Fiona recommended and handled a pre-listing inspection. She made recommendations of what needed to be fixed, cleaned, or renovated prior to listing their home. To help them get the work done, Fiona put her network of contacts to work. Says Chris, “It was much easier with Fiona’s help. It was the difference between consulting the yellow pages and working with Fiona’s trusted contacts, with whom she has worked for a very long time. They were honest and thorough.”

Having a hands-on realtor stage their house was critical in making it buyer-ready, explains Chris. “We moved our furniture out, and Fiona moved furniture in that had the vibe buyers were looking for. She personally styled our shelves. At one point she helped to change out our window screens! She jumped in to help wherever it was needed.”

Buyers were out in droves during the Covid pandemic and the market was fast-paced. A lot had changed in the real estate market since Chris and Irene had bought their home. But with Fiona by their side, they felt prepared, relaxed, and confident about finding the right buyer.

When the time came to navigate the offer process, Chris and Irene were again glad to be working with Fiona. She helped them manage the entire process and negotiate a deal they were happy with.

“Fiona has been in 90% of the homes in Rye, and her knowledge about the local market was a huge advantage. She’s a great negotiator. I highly recommend working with Fiona.”

Fiona Helps Couple Sell After a Lifetime in Rye

After living in their Rye home for over 42 years, Peter and Nancy were ready to retire. They had their sights set on South Carolina. It was late winter, 2021, when they started looking for homes in the south, and interviewing Rye realtors to help them sell their Oakland Beach Avenue home.

“It was our first experience going through this. We wanted to get a great price for our home, of course, but we had a lot of concerns and were nervous about the process,” said Nancy. The couple thought they would need to make some minor repairs and cosmetic enhancements to their home before selling, so they were also looking for recommendations on the best way to prepare it for listing.

They researched real estate agents, narrowed their list to a few brokers of interest, and scheduled interviews. They met Fiona and immediately felt at ease.

“Fiona was the best fit for us,” explained Peter. ”She had a great track record in terms of sale prices. She was professional. We liked what she had to say about how she would prep our home. She had a plan. Plus, we liked her! She listens. She’s personable. We felt we could trust her. It was like having a family member give you good advice.”

Fiona’s recommendations included getting a pre-listing inspection and planning a series of repairs and renovations to the 100-year-old home. With a lifetime of belongings to sort through, the couple had their work cut out for them. But it was less overwhelming with Fiona by their side, according to Nancy.

“Fiona had a plan. She was so smart and helpful. She considered our budget and told us what to do and what we could skip. She had our best interests in mind.”

Timing was critical. The couple closed on a home in South Carolina last April and planned to put their Rye home on the market in May. Their adult son was living in their Rye home because of the Covid pandemic. Work was just getting underway to get the home ready for the market.

“Fiona was a huge help,” said Peter. “We were moving out of state and really had to rely on her. She told us she could handle everything for us if we moved.”

And she did. Fiona researched available apartments in Westchester to help their son find a place to live. She contacted painters and electricians and tile installers. She arranged for work crews and met them at the Oakland Beach home to let them in and ensure work was completed. She contacted an engineer to help with plans for the driveway.

“Fiona’s network came through for us — her contacts, her resources, her relationships. They were reasonable. She knew our goals and they understood them,” said Peter. “She and her team did everything they could to make our home appealing to buyers. We never would have gotten the price we wanted if not for Fiona.”

Selling? How to Prep and Price Your Home for a Fast Sale

In real estate, we often hear what matters most is “location, location, location.” There’s another element about finding a home that buyers care about very much. Price. If a home is priced beyond their budget, they won’t even take a look.

Thus, one of the questions I get asked most often is “What is the best price to list my home for sale?” Should we price it below market value in the hopes it will sell quickly? Start out higher and drop if no buyers bite?

My answer? It depends. Getting a great price for your home requires a sound strategy, customized to your situation. It also requires careful preparation so that your home is in tip-top shape before going on the market.

Data and decluttering

My best advice is to plan to work with an experienced realtor, one who has an in-depth understanding of the current market. A recent client, Patrik J., of Rye, said receiving current market data and objective advice was tremendously helpful in preparing and pricing his home for sale.

“We had a laundry list of things to do to prepare our home for the market,” he recalls. “Fiona went through our house and gave us a to-do list, including changing out the countertops and a major decluttering. It was a comprehensive list to make the house presentable. When you’ve lived in a house for a long time, you no longer have a critical eye. So Fiona’s advice was critical. Well, we accomplished most of what was on the list. I have to say, the newer look was much nicer, fresher, cleaner.”

My recommendations put my client way ahead of the competition. While Patrik working on his house, I was analyzing comparable listings, pending sales, active listings, and other relevant real estate data. I presented the information to Patrik and his wife and we discussed strategy. Their objective was to price the house well — and to price it to sell. We did our homework and set an attractive price that reflected the home’s value and the current local market conditions.

After the house was updated and refreshed, we set an optimal price and listed their property.

“We had three bids in the first week,” Patrik notes. “Our accepted offer was close to the asking price. We trusted Fiona’s recommendations and that really worked out well for us.

“What’s great about working with Fiona? She is a pro. She knows what it takes to sell a house and will tell you what she thinks. She had a really good understanding of the market and how to prepare an older house for sale. I don’t know any other brokers who are that hands-on.”

Interested in selling? Contact Fiona for a consultation.

Fiona Dogan Recognized in ‘Best Real Estate Agents 2021’

Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or ready to downsize and sell your family home, working with successful real estate professional who’s ahead of the curve really matters. Look no further than Fiona Dogan, who was just recognized as a Westchester Magazine Best Real Estate Agent in 2021.

This recognition is the latest in a series of accolades received by Dogan, who was ranked among the top 3% of all William Pitt Julia B. Fee agents and ranked among the top 1.5% of all real estate brokers nationwide.

“It’s wonderful to be recognized for doing what I love to do,” says Dogan. “Of course, the real reward is getting to know my clients and helping them to achieve their goals — whether it’s finding the perfect buyer or a home that’s just right for their family.”

To select agents for the list, Westchester Magazine partnered with DataJoe Research, which conducted research and administered peer and consumer surveys campaign to identify agents. As a primary benchmark, agents had to generate a minimum of $12.9 million in sales revenue during the period of October 2019 through October 2020.

In the peer survey, real estate agents were asked to provide sales volume ranges, and also to nominate their peers; consumers and recent homebuyers were asked to nominate agents who exemplified excellence. Finally, DataJoe analyzed performance data for agents in their respective firms.

As real estate decisions are among the most important financial and lifestyle decisions people make, it’s vitally important to work with a cutting-edge professional who stays on top of the latest real estate trends and technology and who understands the marketplace.

Fiona takes the time to get to know her clients in order to understand their needs and customize the experience. “That means every single client is getting a personalized approach,” she explains. “I’m very hands-on, and will guide you through every aspect of the process which includes research, pricing, preparation for listing, marketing, negotiations, inspections, and more.”

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