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. 

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. 

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.”

From List to Accepted Offer in 24 Hours: Our Experience With Fiona

Eadie and Albert Brunner were Rye residents for almost 30 years when they decided to put their home on the market. They planned to relocate south to Charleston, South Carolina, prompted by Albert retiring from his position managing Manursing Island Club on Rye’s Sound Shore.

When it came to hiring a real estate agent the couple didn’t consider hiring anyone other than Fiona. They knew her through their children being friends and from her stellar reputation in the Rye real estate community.

“When I saw a photo of her fixing a window and watering flowers at her clients’ homes on social media, I was so impressed with her attention to detail. I thought it was brilliant,” explained Eadie.

They met Fiona in June 2021 at their home to discuss listing their property. At the time, their three children had all moved home due to the pandemic and the combined contents of their separate apartments were now taking up space in their home.

“Fiona had a vision. She saw through the clutter and could tell it was a great space despite the chaos. She recommended organizers that we could hire and days later she came to help with the cleanup. It was so helpful to have her take point because it was an emotional process for us.”

What really stood out to them was the solid team of trusted professionals in Fiona’s network and how she worked with them on the couple’s behalf. The preparation took time, but Fiona kept the couple calm and positive during the process. “She helped us to see the end result. Fiona arranged for us to have help with cleaning, minor updates and repairs, and staging it to make it buyer-ready.”

The ongoing pandemic and dynamic housing market concerned Eadie and Albert, who were afraid they missed the peak season. Yet Fiona’s supportive approach assured them that there were plenty of buyers still out there. They were thrilled to see the home receive an accepted offer in 24 hours, and go into contract in 72 hours.

“All the stress was alleviated in that sale. Fiona is very dedicated to her job and her team is fantastic. They communicated so well and that made it seamless for us. I would 100% recommend Fiona to others.”

 

 

‘We Made the Right Choice in Fiona and in Rye’

Peter and his wife Annie began planning to relocate across the border from Toronto to New York in spring 2021. They were considering Westchester County but had no idea where to look. Purchasing a home remotely during a pandemic was a challenge, but they could tell from the start that Fiona, who was recommended to the couple by a colleague, was a great fit. They knew immediately she was uniquely familiar with the local market and it was clear from the start that their expectations would align with hers.

“We interviewed other brokers but picked Fiona,” explains Peter. “What’s important is that we needed someone who we felt was looking out for our best interests. We felt she’d be honest with us and push back when needed. We liked her approach — she came armed with hard data, which helped us set realistic parameters that would allow us to reach our goals.”

What struck Peter as unique was Fiona’s choice to have their first meeting at her own home, which they found very personal. She had lined up six homes to show them, and spent the better part of the day touring the couple through Rye — it’s schools, downtown areas, clubs and neighborhoods. Says Peter, “I’d never had a real estate agent do that for me before. That made us feel we made the right choice with Fiona, and right choice in Rye.”

Because Annie and Peter were spending their time in Maine, Fiona had to be innovative in showing them properties and making the most of their time in a market where houses were selling within days of hitting the market. Using video chat, Fiona walked them virtually through every inch of potential homes,  highlighting features she felt would meet their needs or be out of step with what they were looking for.

“The entire process couldn’t have been more efficient,” notes Peter. “Fiona’s connections saved us time. She knew what was coming on the market and was able to interpret the situation: what the inventory was, what the pricing might be, how fast it would go.”

Peter and Annie closed on their new home in Rye in July, 2021 and love their new community. “Fiona went above and beyond, exceeding our expectations. We absolutely achieved our real estate goals,” says Peter.

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