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 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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Do You Need to See a House Before You Buy It? Maybe Not.

In 2020, I helped a Rye family sell their home to a couple moving to the area from California. They toured the home virtually and the purchase was completed with the couple never having had to set foot in the house. 

Purchasing a home sight unseen is a trend on the rise nationally. Nearly two-thirds of people who purchased a home last year made an offer on a property they hadn’t seen in person, according to recent research by Redfin. That figure is up 32 percent from the previous year. 

What I’m seeing in Westchester and Rye is that purchasing a home sight-unseen is happening out of necessity. This trend is on the rise among all buyers because of several factors: low inventory of homes, which promotes bidding wars; COVID travel restrictions or pandemic-induced health concerns; and people are becoming more comfortable with technology enabling virtual walk-throughs. Not seeing a home prior to purchase used to be more common among international buyers, investors, or the ultra-wealthy, when an agent might handle the purchase to preserve the anonymity of the buyer.

Is buying a home sight unseen a good idea for you? It might be  — but the key is to be working with a seasoned real estate professional to guide you every step of the way.

How it works 

Traditionally, prospective home buyers will tour a house, get a feel for space, measure rooms, assess appliances, fixtures, and the neighborhood. Sight-unseen means that the buyer has looked at photos and videos online. Additionally, they may have had a live video walk through with their agent.

Working with a professional real estate agent is critical. An experienced local agent will be someone the buyer has engaged through the process, starting with the video tour. The agent will serve as the objective “eyes,” look for areas of concern, and identify any issues upfront. She will also help with due diligence, including researching the property, facilitating the offer process, and securing and reviewing the home inspection. If you have the help of an experienced real estate agent, the process can go off without a hitch.

Pros and cons of buying a home sight-unseen

The pros? As a buyer, you won’t sweat the small stuff. Loose door handles or peeling paint won’t become deal breakers because you tend to focus is on the bigger picture. But, buyers should work with their agent to ensure there are no big-ticket “surprises” not revealed on the virtual tour. A possible con is a lack of understanding the neighborhood vibe: the external noise, style of the other homes, and other intangibles. 

Purchasing a home is likely the biggest financial transaction you’ll ever make. If you are a nervous first-time homebuyer, sight unseen may not be a good idea. However, if you’re a buyer in this hot, competitive market who has lost out on other homes; you are comfortable doing online research; and you are working with an experienced, local agent who can help you feel confident about the home’s location and value, sight unseen may work well for you. 

Whether buying in person or sight-unseen, purchasing a home can be a long, draining, and emotional process.  Your agent will be there to guide you, support you and manage every detail — big and small — throughout the process. 

From the Upper West Side to Rye: Fiona Led the Way

Pregnant with her second child, Bettina was looking for more space for her growing family. But she was in no rush. The Upper West Side two-bedroom apartment she shared with her husband and first child was convenient for their jobs and social life. Then Covid hit and her husband’s and her offices closed. The apartment became confining.

“Our five-year plan became our ‘now’ plan,” says Bettina. 

A family friend who knew the area referred Bettina to Fiona Dogan, whom she knew for real estate and Rye expertise. When Bettina met Fiona, she felt an instant connection. “Fiona was thoughtful and she made an effort to understand what mattered to us and what would inform our real estate decisions. I felt like she would lead us down the right path.”

Not knowing the area, Bettina’s challenge was to learn all she could about Rye — the community, the landscape, and the housing stock. Fiona organized several tours for Bettina and her husband, designed to showcase varying styles within an array of budgets. “I trusted Fiona because she’s walked in my shoes. It was the most thoughtful way for us to get to know the area,” Bettina notes. 

Throughout the process, Bettina gained a thorough understanding of the both the rental and buyer’s markets, while looking at new construction, contemporary, and older homes within their price range. Fiona also educated the couple on the art of home pricing and what Rye offered to young families. 

“Fiona educated us on all that Rye has to offer, she gave us a great sense of the neighborhoods and helped us to feel comfortable here. Rye has so much family-oriented activity, from the beaches and nature centers, to golf, Playland, and parks. It felt like a really great place to raise a family. It checked off all the boxes,” she explains.

Contacts and connections 

When Bettina and her husband first walked into the home in Rye’s Midland neighborhood, it “felt like it was home,” says Bettina of the stately stone Colonial that was built in 1925. After their offer was accepted, the contract and closing phases were seamless, even with Covid restrictions. Fiona understood the health guidelines and helped them to navigate the whole process remotely.  

Then it was time to do some work on the house. Fiona’s experience and network of contacts served as an excellent resource for the new homeowners. She referred them to painters, electricians, and contractors to assist. 

“Fiona is such a great contact to have because she stays in touch. She is helpful on everything and helped us to settle into our new community. We are so grateful for what she is doing to help.” 

Thinking of Moving to Westchester?

If you’re considering a move north of New York City, please check out my recent interview with Brownstoner, an informative real estate magazine and website in Brooklyn.

In the webinar, “Making the Move to Westchester,” I put in the spotlight Westchester’s beautiful Sound Shore, and answered an array of questions for homebuyers, including:

  • Why should Brooklynites consider Rye and other towns on Westchester’s Sound Shore?
  • What’s the market like right now in lower Westchester?
  • How do buyers and renters find a community that’s a good fit for their family?

A key point that I discussed with moderator Elizabeth Aloni is that the Covid pandemic has caused home buyers to sharpen their focus on leaving the city for the suburbs, at an earlier stage of family rearing than they have in the past. While this fall has seen a bit of a holding pattern — many people bought or rented in the suburbs when the pandemic hit, but, for now are staying put—by the spring many more will be seeking homes to buy or rent in the suburbs.

My colleague, Chase Senior Home Lending Advisor Michael DeRosa, was on hand to discuss various financial products available for buyers. He also had some good advice: “Buyers need to be prequalified or pre-approved if you’re making the move in the next four months,” he said. “But if you’re thinking of making a move in the next year — at least know your credit score now. You’d be surprised at how many flags come up without you knowing it.”

Watch the full webinar below. As always, I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have, and help you get started on your next move. Feel free to give me a call at 914-414-5147 or email me at Fiona.Dogan@juliabfee.com.

Leaving NYC? Why Rye, New York is the Best Place to Live

Pre-pandemic, your criterion for the perfect suburban abode may have been a home closest to a Metro-North RR commuter station, with an easy commute to Manhattan. But with the tectonic shift toward remote work and school, now you may be wishing for a home with a big backyard where you and your kids can take Zoom breaks and a little exercise, while breathing in some fresh air.

For urbanites fleeing New York City, there are plenty of factors to consider before putting down new roots: schools, space, amenities, lifestyle, and more.  But if the search for the perfect town seems overwhelming, here’s some simple advice: consider Rye, New York! With the prospect of kids and spouses being home from work and school looming, you’ll find Rye to be a pretty-near-perfect town to settle in — in a pandemic and beyond. 

As resident of this beautiful city on the Long Island Sound for over 20 years, I’m grateful for all that Rye has offered to me and my family. Here are 10 reasons why:

  1. It’s like being on vacation, all year-round. 
    Dip your toes into the soft sand and gentle waters at one of Rye’s beaches and you’ll feel like you’re visiting a seaside resort town. As a resident, you’ll have access to 34 acres of public beaches, known to locals as Rye Beach and Oakland Beach.  We have a boardwalk, too, with great views of the sparkling Long Island Sound ahead and Rye’s historic art deco amusement park, Rye Playland, as a backdrop. Challenge the kids to a round of Playland’s miniature golf course. Just minutes away is Longford’s Ice Cream, serving small-batch, premium frozen deliciousness for the past 26 years. This is coastal living at its best. 
  2. It’s where everybody knows your name. 
    OK maybe not everybody will know your name right away, but because of its size — Rye is a small city of about 16,000 residents — there’s a very strong sense of community here. Shopkeepers and restaurant owners will get to know you. Your school community will be tight-knit. And there are many ways to get involved. If you’re looking to make new friends, donate time to a worthy cause, or spend time on activities you enjoy, there is undoubtedly a community organization aligned with your interests. Our 70-year-old Rye Newcomers and Neighbors Club is a warm and welcoming way to meet people. Many of their activities, including an outdoor book club, have continued throughout the pandemic. The  Woman’s Club of Rye, Garden Club, Rye YMCA, and the Expat Connection are just some of the organizations that contribute to our vibrant community. In no time at all you’ll recognize everyone in our amazing local newspaper, The Rye Record!
  3. There’s always green space nearby. 
    There’s no better place to be outdoors than Rye! Our beautiful 62-acre Rye Town Park has verdant spaces for picnicking and relaxing. The Rye Nature Center offers educational programs and includes forest and wildlife sanctuary and two miles of trails for hiking. Nearby, the Edith G. Read Sanctuary offers 179-acres of forest, bamboo groves, native grasses, birds, and wildflowers. The Marshlands Conservancy of Rye is excellent for birdwatching. Pristine beauty surrounds us.
  4. Waterfront recreation is minutes away. 
    In addition to our beautiful beaches for swimming and frolicking in the sun, Rye is home to beach clubs, yacht clubs, fishing areas, and a marina with a public launching area, winter boat and kayak storage. Sign the kids up for sailing or kayak lessons or rowing classes with Row America.
     
  5. We are home to a top-ranked school district. 
    Rye City Schools top regional and national lists each year. In 2020, U.S. News ranked our district 12th in New York State and #125 in the nation, and Niche.com gives our education an “A+” rating. Not only will you find excellent public schools but there are outstanding private school options nearby. You’ll find amazing teachers and a rich array of programs and activities in our strong school communities. Education is simply stellar.
  6. Our restaurants rival the Big City’s. 
    You won’t miss city dining when you move to Rye. When it comes to gourmet fare, Rye has it all, including an elegant French eatery and patisserie, a fabled steakhouse, wonderful fish, low-key bar and grill-style establishments, plus beachy waterfront restaurants with views of the Long Island Sound. We know how to dish good food! 
  7. Shops that stock what you need — and want. 
    Our bustling downtown offers everything from home décor and clothing to fine wines, fresh produce, and prepared foods. Our independent bookstore has thrived for over 30 years. What’s more, our very active Rye Chamber of Commerce created a pandemic-friendly pedestrian area on our main thoroughfare, Purchase Street, where we enjoy al fresco dining, outdoor exercise classes and dancing, and a farmer’s market. 
  8. Art and culture thrive here. 
    Our thriving Rye Arts Center is a community gem that offers opportunities to engage in art classes, lessons, exhibitions, performances and more. They’re offering robust virtual activities now and are rolling out in-person small-group programs. History buffs will want to engage with the Rye Historical Society and Jay Heritage Center. Need a mindful wellness break from these stressful times? Check out Wainwright House, the oldest nonprofit holistic learning center in the nation. 
  9. It’s a short commute to NYC. 
    If you’re heading into town, to the office or otherwise, frequently or sporadically, take a 40-minute trip on Metro-North to Grand Central. The commute can’t be beat.
  10. There are homes to suit every taste and budget.
    You’ll find a varied inventory of homes here. From classic and custom Colonials, to contemporary estates, romantic Tudors, ranches, co-ops and condominiums, historic homes and brand-new construction, Rye has it all. 

You may have seen Rye featured in scenes on television shows like Mr. Robot, and big-screen features like “This is Where I Leave You,” starring Tina Fey and Jane Fonda, and “Big,” starring Tom Hanks.  Our city looks beautiful on screen — but it’s even better in real life! I’d be happy to share my extensive knowledge and experience to help you make the move.

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