It’s All About Condition, Condition, Condition!

When it comes to selling a home quickly, the average Realtor will gently suggest to their client that a little tidying up goes a long way. The good Realtor will recommend getting rid of the clutter and staging their home professionally. But, an excellent Realtor bluntly tells their client that buyers have absolutely no imagination and that in order to get the highest price in the shortest time the house must look like a show home featured on HGTV!

Here’s what it comes down to: the pristine condition of a home, from the first impression of its exterior to the most detailed engineering inspection, is now the factor that will command the highest price from a buyer, even winning out over the best location.

Most busy young buyers, used to seeing “perfection” in homes on TV, in print, and on social media, don’t have the time, money, or inclination to renovate or even refresh a home. The same goes for older buyers who are downsizing and have no desire to spend their leisure hours on design and décor decisions in a new home.

In the past, sellers with homes in excellent locations were able to rely almost solely on their street address to increase the price of their home. If the house was a little dated or cluttered, the savvy buyer would overlook small blemishes to buy in the best location. Nowadays, buyers will bypass older, dated, and shabbier homes on the best streets in favor of other homes renovated and updated to such a high standard that they look brand new. Even homes in compromised locations, such as flood zones or busier/noisier streets, will sell more quickly and at a better price if they have been significantly remodeled or refreshed by the seller before they go on the market.

So, word to the wise: be a savvy seller. Be willing to go further than ever in order to dazzle buyers at the first showing, from installing modern light fixtures and appliances to, in some cases, replacing an unsightly roof, repainting a faded house inside and out, or installing brand new kitchens and bathrooms. In the best-case scenario, buyers will be so enchanted with a stunning well-prepared home, they will make an outstanding offer at the very first showing. Sellers may blanch at spending money on such big-ticket items, but more often than not, investing several thousand dollars up front can net you tens if not hundreds of thousands in resale. It will be time saved and money well spent!


Tips for Home Buying and Selling During December

The holiday season is always joyful and festive, but it also can be stressful and chaotic – with or without buying or selling your home. Yet, homebuyers and sellers may find unexpected advantages in the real estate market during this time. Here are some tips for making the most of this “quieter” time in real estate:

Tips for Buyers: 

  1. Sellers know that there are fewer buyers out looking during the holiday season, so they’re more likely to make a deal than wait until the spring.
  2. Some sellers are more motivated to sell their homes before year-end for tax reasons, and also to avoid having to keep their house on the market during the holiday season when family and friends may visit.
  3. Buyers can often negotiate a lower purchasing price during this quieter time, especially if a seller’s house has been on the market for several months.
  4. Because inspectors, appraisers, attorneys, contractors, painters, and handymen – professionals that buyers depend on – are often more available during the slower winter months, it can be easier and faster to put a deal together.
  5. Both buyers and sellers will enjoy their Realtor’s undivided attention as he/she is less likely to be overwhelmed with clients. Plus, a savvy full-time professional Realtor will ensure that a colleague covers holiday absences so that clients are always well represented.

Tips for sellers:

  1. The holidays can provide a timely opportunity to showcase your home with festive and warm holiday decor. This will set your house apart from the competition and leave the buyer with a memorable impression.
  2. Holiday lighting, wreaths, and trees help improve the curb appeal of your home, and will serve to attract a buyer.
  3. A Holiday Open House provides a unique chance for sellers to welcome potential buyers with cheerful music, freshly baked holiday goods, and seasonal punch or cider. This appeals to the emotions, perhaps more than any other time of year. Remember, ambience counts.
  4. Even though the pool of buyers may be smaller over the holidays, those who do make appointments will likely spend longer viewing your home due to vacations and slower work schedules.
  5. Sellers can take heart that buyers out looking at homes in the winter months are generally “the real deal” – folks who are motivated to make an offer and negotiate a sale. January is a strong month for corporate transfers and those executives often use the holidays to hunt for a home. They are often under pressure to make a decision and buy a home quickly.

Fiona Dogan is a Licensed Realtor® in the Rye office of Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty. She is a Westchester Five Star Real Estate Agent, Platinum Award winner, and an Accredited Buyer Representative. For more information, please contact Fiona Dogan at: or visit her website at


Don’t Miss the Boat! Prepare Your Home Now for a 2017 Sale

Are you thinking of putting your home on the market this spring? If so, now’s the time to get your home in top shape. Here are several helpful tips to get you started on the road toward a quick home sale at the best price:

  • Spruce up the exterior of your home. While the weather is still cooperating this fall, make sure to address any exterior paint, shingle, chimney, stonework, driveway, and landscaping issues. A long cold winter may delay these repairs and cause you to list your home in less than perfect condition or miss the prime March through June selling season.
  • Take exterior photographs of your home during the beautiful fall weather. Outstanding photography is the key to impressing a buyer. Once you’ve addressed any exterior issues, be sure to take stunning photos that include the fall colors. Put pots of chrysanthemums next to the front door for added color. Then, when you are ready to put your home on the market, you’ll have great photos to show.
  • Think about investing in a pre-listing engineering inspection. Buyers and sellers don’t like surprises. A pre-listing inspection can help you discover any issues your home may have in advance, give you time to correct any problems, and allow you to be confident that your home is in perfect condition and can withstand even the most detailed buyer scrutiny.
  • Use the long winter months to prepare the interior of your home. Start with de-cluttering. Decide what you must absolutely keep, and then sell, donate, put in storage, or throw away the rest. This will help make your space look larger and neater when your home is shown.
  • Consider investing in the most important rooms in the house: the kitchen and bathrooms. Think about re-grouting, replacing broken tile, and even re-glazing older bathtubs and tile to repair any scratches and update to a modern color. Old, dark wood kitchen and bathroom cabinets should be painted in brighter, fresher colors, and out-of-date hardware and lighting fixtures can be easily replaced with more contemporary styles.
  • Interview Realtors to decide whom you want to work with to sell your home. Make sure you interview more than one Realtor before you decide whom to hire. You may be working with your agent for several months, so it is important to find someone you like and trust. Your Realtor can help you save time and money, and can turn a potentially overwhelming and stressful experience into a smooth and successful one.

Fiona Dogan is a Licensed Realtor® in the Rye office of Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty. She is a Westchester Five Star Real Estate Agent, Platinum Award winner, and an Accredited Buyer Representative. For more information, please contact Fiona Dogan at: or visit her website at

Got A Fixer-Upper? Better to Fix It Up Before Selling

No more scuffed wood paneling, peeling paint, and worn carpets. This season educated buyers are spurning the fixer-upper for turn-key houses where they can simply drop their bags and start their new lives.

For years, houses that needed a little TLC were in demand for buyers who didn’t mind taking on do-it-yourself projects in the hope of flipping the house and turning a nice profit.

But now, buyers want their homes in move-in condition. It used to be location, location, location, but noticeably, especially in the past year, if the house is not in near-perfect condition, it could be on the best street but nobody wants to touch it.

One of the main reasons for this is that Millennials – the largest group of buyers these days – are working overtime on their careers and families and are spoiled by reality TV shows in which homes are spiffed and sparkling in a half-hour. They prefer their “gem” of a home already polished, not in the rough.

Sprucing up your home for sale need not be an expensive undertaking. Sometimes it can cost between a few hundred dollars for light staging to a few thousand for heavier repairs. But that investment will almost certainly translate to a much higher sale price. Using classic fixtures and furnishings from mid-range sources such as Home Depot generally makes more sense than buying at high-end stores, where most items are custom-made and would appeal to more specific tastes anyway.

Doing the work up front can add hundreds of thousands of dollars on a sale price and can save months, or even years on the market. If you pay $50 to $100,000 to replace the bathrooms or kitchen – the two key areas that will help sway a buyer – the successful sale price might go up as much as $300,00 or $400,000.

For example, former Rye residents Abbie and John Morrison spent $18,000 on home improvements to their Soundview Avenue property before selling it to move to northern California. That extra effort – repainting, refreshing bathroom tile, replacing carpeting and fixtures and some other work – enabled them to boost the asking price to $1,399,000, about $200,000 beyond what they otherwise might have listed their house. It sold for an even $1.4 million within a week.

It’s really all about making your house look like a model home so someone can imagine living there. Careful cosmetic improvements send a signal to buyers that the home is well maintained down to its foundation. If the house looks shabby or a little dated, the buyer often fears that there are deeper problems waiting to surprise them. A good Realtor should have a list of trusted home repair experts and a relationship with a professional stager, all of whom can help make your place look its best.

The good news is that after two to four weeks fixing up a home, it can often sell in 10 days, or even less. A fixer-upper, or one that looks like it needs a lot of work might linger on the market a year or two. The truth is that about one in a hundred buyers is looking for a home that needs work, and then it really has to be at a bargain price. And even those who think it’s a good idea to take on the projects themselves generally do it only once. After that, they say, ‘I’m never doing that again.”

Fiona Dogan is a Licensed Realtor® in the Rye office of Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty. She is a Westchester Five Star Real Estate Agent, Platinum Award winner, and an Accredited Buyer Representative. For more information, please contact Fiona Dogan at: or visit her website at

Tips for Selling Your Home This Spring

With daffodils about to burst into bloom, now is the best time to list your home for sale. A small investment of time and money can make your house stand out from the crowd and help attract multiple buyers, increasing your chances for a quick sale.

What to do first? Check for problems and make repairs. Potential homebuyers will immediately notice what is wrong with your house, and assume that any small problem indicates a much larger hidden issue. As this can become a negotiating point, take care of all repairs before your house hits the market. First impressions are key, so fix any exterior blemishes such as peeling paint or cracked walkways; replace missing door handles or broken windowpanes; and clear debris or overgrown plants from your yard.

You may also want to consider updating any rooms painted in dark colors or heavily wallpapered, especially if your interior décor is over 10 years old. Fresh, neutral colors can help a buyer feel right at home, and are much easier to photograph.

Hiring a professional stager to look at your home with a critical eye can be well worth the investment. A stager can refresh your home by simply rearranging the furniture and room configurations to maximize a buyer’s positive first impression. The stager also can help you purchase small accessories or accent pieces to enhance your home’s decor and give it that “wow” factor.

Also consider investing in a pre-listing inspection report to inform you of any potential problems, as this will give future buyers a level of comfort that there are no hidden issues to worry about. If you live in or near a flood zone and can indicate that you have no water problems, get a copy of your CLUE report to prove lack of insurance claims.

One last note: if you know you will be listing your home for sale in the next year, consider taking photos of your home and property. Spring, summer, and fall photographs will help your agent successfully market your home.

You can also do some simple and effective home-staging tips yourself:

  • De-clutter by removing at least half of the items you have on display in your home, including photos, collectibles, personal awards, and ornaments. This helps to depersonalize your home and allows buyers to picture themselves living there.
  • Replace or remove any worn or damaged furniture or carpeting.
  • Remove any cat or dog litter from view and eliminate pet odors. Install air fresheners or candles to give your home a pleasing scent.
  • Clean your windows − it helps to make your house sparkle!
  • Pay special attention to landscaping: pull weeds, mow the lawn, wash walkways, and put fresh, bright potted plants out to greet your potential buyer.
  • Prior to an open house or a showing, open the blinds and curtains and switch on the interior lights. Think about playing soft music in the background and baking some cookies that will give off a warm and inviting aroma. A bright and cheerful house will make a great impression!


Fiona Dogan is a Licensed Realtor® in the Rye office of Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty. She is a Westchester Five Star Real Estate Agent, Platinum Award winner, and an Accredited Buyer Representative. For more information, please contact Fiona Dogan at: or visit her website at

Eight New Year’s Resolutions for Serious Home Sellers

If you are thinking of listing your home for sale this year, here are some tips you may want to consider before putting your house on the market in 2016:

• List your home in January. Traditionally sellers have timed the marketing of their homes to coincide with the spring months of March and April. However, sellers should consider listing even earlier. For starters, your house will stand out as a fresh new listing amongst the older ones from the previous year. This allows you to catch some early bird buyers and beat the spring rush. January listings also attract attention from serious buyers who have already sold their homes, or transferees who have to buy quickly. Those who are out house hunting early in the year are generally qualified, serious buyers able to move quickly.

• Prepare your house for the market. Now is the time to de-clutter your home, do some early spring-cleaning, and make any needed repairs and touch-ups. Clean, sleek, updated homes will show well in online photos and at open houses. Buyers who see visible signs of wear and tear to a home will often assume the rest of the house has hidden problems as well. You may want to consider hiring a professional stager to help get your home looking its best.

• Get important documents ready. Buyers will ask to see floor plans, surveys, utility bills, repair receipts, and appliance and systems manuals. Plus, attorneys will need title and insurance information on your home. Start to collect these items early on to be ready for a quick closing.

• Get a pre-listing home engineering inspection. This will reassure buyers that there are no hidden problems with your home, and will put you in a good position to address any significant issues before they become deal-breakers.

• Begin to research which Realtor with whom you want to work. Visit his/her Web page, check current listings and past sales, and get references. Plan to interview two or three agents as that will help you decide which one will best represent you and successfully market and sell your home.

• Ask your Realtor for a comprehensive market analysis in order to realistically price your home. Houses that are overpriced can languish on the market as competing homes are snapped up at lower prices. Then they end up selling for less than they would have had pricing been more accurate. The hard truth is if your home is not competitively priced, it won’t sell.

• Be physically prepared to sell. You may receive and accept an early offer, then move to contract quickly, so be sure you have a new home or rental ready to move into.

• Be emotionally prepared to sell. Remember, selling a home is primarily a business transaction and needs to be treated as such. Sellers should detach emotionally from their homes, and be prepared to hear buyers’ criticisms. It’s important to be able to negotiate rationally and clearly to avoid hasty decisions made in the heat of the moment.

Fiona Dogan is a Licensed Realtor® in the Rye office of Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty. She is a Westchester Five Star Real Estate Agent, Platinum Award winner, and an Accredited Buyer Representative. For more information, please contact Fiona Dogan at: or visit her website at

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