Rye Couple: Fiona’s Strategy Sold Our Home

Helen and Bill are savvy business professionals. Helen, a marketer, and Bill, who works on Wall Street, are self-described “information-driven and analytical types.” So, when they decided to put their Rye home on the market amid the uncertainty caused by the pandemic, they sought data to help them understand the real estate landscape. And they turned to Fiona Dogan.

“We relied on Fiona to provide a framework for us,” explained Bill. “I sell stocks and bonds, and she sells houses, but the principles are similar. She arrived at our first meeting armed with facts and figures.” 

Fiona also gave the couple a profile of potential buyers and what would appeal to them. Says Helen, “She had data, but also had her finger on the pulse of what people from New York City were looking for — the intangibles.”

A long relationship

The couple had actually reached out to Fiona a few years prior, when they first started thinking about selling their home. Fiona gave them a two-year plan to prepare their home for the market, which included minor repairs and renovations. After becoming empty nesters, they decided to take the plunge. 

One of Fiona’s recommendations was to stage their home for sale. 

“She told us what to fix, what we could leave alone,” says Helen. “Having her handle the preparation and staging was the biggest bang for the buck. We gave her complete control and it was worth it.” Helen continues: “Painting, decluttering — she had the buyers in mind and she made it all happen. She helped us get the house ready for buyers, and she helped us get ready to sell, too.”

The strategy

Initially, they thought their home would appeal to Rye residents looking to upgrade, but Fiona had other ideas. She recommended focusing their marketing on buyers located outside Westchester County. The couple trusted her recommendations on pricing and how she handled the negotiation after an offer was made. 

“She knows how to position a house in any market — in a pandemic or otherwise,” notes Bill.

The couple says they felt well prepared for the entire process, from marketing the home through the offer, sale and closing.  “There were no surprises,” adds Helen. “It can be so emotional and anything can happen. But she did a good job in screening buyers and that helped.”

The couple says they recommend Fiona’s services highly.  “Fiona gives you an accurate lay-of-the land. She works with clients in a way that’s comfortable, yet customized, down to her communication style. We had good information from her and were able to make the best decisions for us,” says Bill. 

Helen adds: “Fiona feels like your smart best friend who gives you the best advice and gets it done. She’s charming, a straight shooter, and she’s always accessible. The experience with Fiona left us with a good feeling.” 

Prep for Market Key to 3 Offers, 3 Weeks After Listing

When the Covid pandemic hit last March, Susan Watson decided to quarantine with her life partner to avoid traveling back and forth from her own home amid the uncertainty of the novel coronavirus. As she learned that more and more families were looking for space outside of New York City, she knew it was a good time to rent her vacant home on Central Avenue in Rye. But she’d have to clean it out first. Susan had moved into the house seven years earlier, consolidating the effects of a large home and a smaller city apartment into one space. Despite several New Year’s resolutions, the attic and the basement were still full and the thought of getting her home ready for the market was overwhelming.

“I’ve bought and sold homes nine times, so I knew there was a lot to do to prepare,” she explains. “I talked to Fiona, who is so knowledgeable and confident in her approach. I’m smart enough to know when I am getting expert advice, so I followed hers to a ‘T’,” Susan said. 

Fiona provided her with a guide to decluttering her home and a roster of contacts for painting, window washing, landscaping, and more. With Fiona’s to-do list in hand, Susan secured a dumpster and emptied the house of older, heavy furniture and clutter, made minor repairs, changed light fixtures, and improved the landscaping. “Fiona has experience in building and construction, so she really understands the ‘bones’ of a house and what improvements needed to be made. She also had all the contacts I needed to get everything done.” 

‘An expert by my side’

As Susan was looking for a long-term tenant and wanted to better understand who the potential renters might be, she turned to Fiona to educate her about the rental market, as well as landlord and tenant obligations. Fiona also advised her on the appropriate price, and, after the offers came in, guided her through the review of each potential renter’s financials. When renters made demands, Fiona gave her confidence to be able to say “no” to the ones that wouldn’t work for her.

“Being a businesswoman myself, I could have figured all of this out. But I knew I had an expert at my side. Things went a lot faster with Fiona at the helm.”

Three weeks after the home went on the market, there were three competing offers. 

“That put us in a great position, because we were able to negotiate,” noted Susan. 

Susan said she had a lot of choice when it came to realtors she could work with in Rye. She selected Fiona because of her expertise and professionalism. “Fiona approaches real estate with real business acumen. It is not a hobby for her. It’s business. It’s her profession.”

Fiona Helped Us Close on Our Home During COVID-19

Darlene Bronson accepted an offer on her home in Rye Brook, New York in early December. She planned a closing date for April 1, 2020, which would give herself time to find a new home, pack, and move. Things were going according to plan: she found a new home in January and began to pack up her home of eight years. By the first week of March, she was ready.

Then COVID-19 hit. Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered all non-essential retailers and businesses to close. The world shut down.

“We had no idea when we would be able to close on the home we were selling or the home we were moving to. It was unsettling.”

She said that working with real estate agent Fiona Dogan “kept her sane” during the crisis. “Fiona was always there for us, even when the timing was out of her hands. She kept the process moving so that the moment we were allowed to act, our closing would be scheduled. She made it happen.”

Sealing the deal remotely

As New Yorkers began to navigate their new stay-at-home life, Bronson had to dive into the taped-up boxes in her empty house to find items they needed to live day-to-day. The Brooklyn couple who bought her home wanted to accelerate their move, but their co-op board would not allow movers into the building. Bronson worried about losing her deposit on her new home.

“We were concerned about losing everything on both ends,” she said. “But Fiona kept us calm. She smoothed things over. She was in close contact with our buyers and their broker, the bankers, and lawyers. Fiona also had an excellent working relationship with the agent for my new house, whom she had recommended. Her constant communication kept everyone in the loop and kept our deal active.”

Fiona orchestrated a new closing date of April 28, pulling together all of the parties necessary to complete the sale, including the buyer, seller, their agent, and attorneys. She spent one afternoon in her car parked in the Bronson’s driveway, ready to field questions from the new buyers as they completed their final walk-through and inspection. She ensured the proper paperwork was routed, documents were signed, money was wired, and signed documents were delivered to all necessary parties.

“There was a level of trust that Fiona had cultivated on both sides that helped seal the deal,” said Bronson. “We closed on both houses in the same day. It was hairy! We couldn’t have done it without Fiona.”

“We were in good hands”

Bronson says she interviewed several brokers before putting her home on the market and that Dogan felt like “the right fit.”

“My children were graduating from college and we were ready to downsize. Fiona understood our situation and took time to get to know what we were looking for. She also gave me confidence that we would be able to sell our home to the right buyer.”

Though Bronson wasn’t ready to sell her house last summer, Dogan gave her valuable advice on getting her home ready for the market, including making small repairs around the house; packing up bulky furniture and personal items; hiring a home inspector for a pre-listing inspection; and taking photos of the home while the weather was good and plants were in bloom.

“She guided me through the whole process. Fiona had an amazing team to stage the house and it looked beautiful!” says Bronson. “By the time we put the house in the market in October, it was HGTV-ready.”

Dogan marketed the house online via open houses and showings by appointment, her website, social media, her extensive professional network, and the Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty network. The result? Multiple offers and a bidding war.

“Fiona handled everything. I felt taken care of, like I was in good hands. When one offer went through, she calmly went back to all offers and negotiated a great deal.”

No one could have anticipated the chaos that would follow. Bronson says there’s no one she’d rather work with during a crisis. “I highly recommend working with Fiona.”

Now is the time to prep your home for a post-pandemic sale

The blossoming of spring flowers typically coincides with a surge in new listings hitting the market. But this year, the coronavirus has disrupted the hot home-selling season. With shelter-in-place orders in place, home buyers are not out in their usual spring time droves. Chances are, they wish they were. Space, fresh air – these are things more urbanites are dreaming about.

There are bright spots pointing to a housing market recovery. Many New York City area families, spurred by the pandemic, are seeking to make a move now to escape to homes offering more space and more fresh air. There’s a new wave of city dwellers shopping in the suburbs, according to a recent Wall Street Journal story.

The declaration earlier this month that real estate is considered “an essential business,” fortunately, has kept things in motion, albeit at a slower pace. As an industry, we’ve adjusted the way we do business, offering virtual home tours and participating in remote home closings. It’s the new normal.

Yet, some buyers may not take the plunge until they can tour a home in person. That means that when the pandemic subsides, there could be a pent-up demand for inventory. So, this is a good time to start preparing for a housing market that will recover once this crisis is over.

Here are my tips on how to position your home to be ready for a post-pandemic sale:  

Boost your home’s curb appeal: Trim shrubs, power wash your deck, paint your shutters and trim, mulch flower beds, replace any broken light fixtures, flower pots, or other décor damaged by winter. Your home needs to “wow” a buyer before they ever step foot inside the front door.

Organize the interior: With most of your meals being cooked at home, your pantry may already have undergone a makeover or a cleaning out. If not, organize shelves in the kitchen and other areas of the house. Fold towels and sheets. Consider ordering drawer organizers and/or matching baskets to keep supplies tidy.

Purge: In this time of uncertainty, consider what truly brings you happiness inside your home and do a deep purge of what doesn’t. Have a dumpster delivered and discard any furniture that is worn or outdated or otherwise overcrowding a room in your house. Work with your realtor to get some advice on what will work well when photographing your home for listing.

Fix up, renovate, and repair: Get your home in showroom-ready shape. From broken drawer pulls and torn window screens to faulty faucets and sinks slow to drain, make a list of small repairs and needed renovations throughout your home. Fix what you can and research vendors to help perform major repairs when our lockdown orders are lifted.

Interview realtors:  Now is also a good time to talk with prospective real estate agents who can market your home effectively for a quick sale at the highest possible price. Seasoned real estate professionals who have seen an array of market conditions will help you navigate a post-COVID real estate sale.  If you choose to work with Fiona, you will have access to a global referral network and superior technology enabling face-to-face communication between agents, sellers, and buyers.

I would be happy to discuss the preparation of your home for sale, whenever the time is right for the real estate market, and for you. I can be reached at 914-414-5147 or Fiona.dogan@juliabfee.com.

Real Estate Planning? Fiona Dogan is Here to Help

With the spring market getting underway just as the number of coronavirus cases rises in the region and around the world, many people are wondering if they should put real estate decisions on hold. A shaky economy and volatile stock market aren’t easing concerns.

Some may have to move for a new job or because they need more space for a growing family — or less space if they are becoming empty nesters. Others may want to escape apartment living during this period of “social distancing.” Yet, there are other good reasons to move forward and make a real estate decision:

Right now, buying a home is more affordable than ever. Mortgage rates are at an all-time low, hovering in the 2.5% to 3% range. Interest rates, also at historic lows, may eliminate a future refinancing. And sellers in Westchester County may have a slight edge, with a lower inventory contributing to higher demand. This may explain why here at William Pitt Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s, we are seeing significant activity amongst buyers and sellers.

Because of the challenging times, we are adapting our practices, including reducing or eliminating open houses in favor of individual appointments and virtual walk-throughs of our listings. Ensuring the health and safety of our families, co-workers, and clients is paramount.

Preparing for your next move

I’m here to help! Here’s how:

Home value estimates:  By providing you with a rough estimate of the value of your home, we can help you prepare to buy what you can afford or sell by determining the list price.

Virtual walk-throughs: With social distancing in full-swing, some home sellers are reluctant to open their doors to the general public for an open house. I’d be happy to take you through a listing by appointment, or set up a time when I can show you a home via FaceTime or Skype.

Preparation and planning for buyers, sellers, and renters: There’s a lot to be done before you start your real estate journey. Should you stage your home before selling? What are your parameters for a new home? What are the ideal terms for your rental arrangement? I have extensive experience in these areas, and more, and can be of help.

Along with the rest of the world, I’m staying on top of a rapidly changing situation and its impact on the real estate industry. Most important, I am focused on providing the best service possible. Please reach out to me with any questions or concerns, at any time. I would love to hear from you.

Fiona Dogan Ranked Among Top 3% of All Company Agents

When selling your home, choosing the right person to assist you can make all the difference in the world.  On that score, look no further than Fiona Dogan, the consummate real estate professional, who was just ranked among the top three percent of all agents at William Pitt Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty for sales in 2019. That placed her in the top 30 brokers across 26 brokerage offices in Westchester County, Connecticut, and Massachusetts!

“This achievement could not have been realized without the extraordinary service, exemplary client experience, and commitment to hard work you demonstrate every single day—all core values shared with our company,” Paul E. Breunich noted in a letter to Dogan notifying her of the recognition.  Breunich is president and chief executive officer of William Pitt Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty, an affiliate of Sotheby’s International Realty.

“It’s terrific to be recognized, of course,” Dogan says. “And, particularly rewarding when it’s for work I love to do. I’m happiest helping clients find their perfect home, or finding the buyer that is just right for their property.”

As real estate decisions are among the most important financial and lifestyle decisions people make, it is critical to have the guidance of an expert broker with extraordinary judgement, impeccable taste, industry expertise, and a vast knowledge of the local and global market.

Dogan’s experience spans over a decade and includes work in new construction, home staging, and buying, selling, and renting homes in Rye, Harrison, Purchase, Port Chester and White Plains. She also serves international clientele looking to relocate to the area. Dogan offers concierge service to her clients, a differentiating factor that has helped her become a top-producing broker.

“I work with individuals and families to develop an understanding their needs at the very beginning of the process. That ensures a customized experience,” Dogan emphasizes. “I’m involved in every aspect of the sale: research, staging, pricing, marketing, inspections, negotiating, and more. I go the extra mile.”

Her affiliation with William Pitt and Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty benefits her clients in myriad ways, too.

“Through our affiliation with Sotheby’s International Realty, we achieve much broader exposure than any other firm for our listings. Coupled with my own extensive network, I’m able to assist buyers and sellers locally and around the world.”

Dogan’s top ranking recognition is the latest in a series of accolades received by Dogan, who also achieved the top three percent ranking in 2018 and in the same year, was named to the America’s Best Real Estate Professionals by Real Trends list in 2018.

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