Bespoke kitchen, Crittall windows, and period features... this Ranelagh property was a 'labour of love'
19 Chelmsford Avenue, Ranelagh, Dublin 6: €745,000
Most vendors follow a well-trodden path when putting their home on the market. They invite three different estate agents in to give a valuation, choose one, and then let them at it, pausing only to light a scented candle in the hallway before they leave the house to viewers.
But the arrival on the property scene of a number of new online agencies such as Moovingo.com and YourBricks.ie is turning that route to market on its head. Typically the newcomers offer a free valuation, photography, negotiation and support in creating an online property profile, as well as optional extras such as marketing or guided viewings. And, crucially, rather than charging the traditional agent's fee of roughly 1-2pc of the sale price, online-only agents charge a fixed fee of between €800 and €1,500, with optional extras.
At the low to middle end of the market, where demand is high, stock is squeezed and bidding wars are common enough, a percentage-based fee can ramp up quickly as bidding intensifies, even though, online agents would argue, essentially the same amount of work is involved.
For Sinead Doherty and partner Sean Murphy, vendors of 19 Chelmsford Avenue in Ranelagh, the concept was a no-brainer. "I'm a fan of tech," says Sinead who works in marketing, "and like that it all can be managed through the online portal, complete with intuitive dashboard".
Sean's brother recently sold his own house, says Sinead. "He really enjoyed the process and put forward a strong case to go it alone. Traditional agents didn't offer the flexibility we needed so we got in touch with Moovingo, who worked with us to design a bespoke package that perfectly answered our brief."
They opted for the basic package offered by Moovingo, which means they will show potential buyers around their house themselves. The thought doesn't bother them, though. "The house has been a labour of love, so we feel we are best positioned to answer anything that potential buyers may need to know at a viewing."
In fact, they know every brick and tile of the property. They bought No 19 in 2013 for €350,000. "It had been on the market for 18 months - we should have taken that as a warning. It had been in the same family since the 1950s and had been uninhabited since the previous owner had passed away three years prior. It was in a pretty sorry state."
Many first-time buyers would have opted for an easier project, but the couple had fallen in love with the character of the Victorian property.
"We needed to do everything. Essentials - wiring, plumbing, pouring foundations, new windows and doors, insulating and added extras - flipping the stairs, raising the ceiling height at the back of the house, taking the bathroom (out of the kitchen) upstairs, and converting the attic space."
They were keen to keep as much of the original layout as possible, which meant retaining the original layout of the sitting room, hall and master bedroom.
"Everyone felt we should open up the downstairs fully, our architect even suggested a retractable wall - but we would have lost too much of the original charm."
They restored the ceiling roses and cornices, buffed up the Victorian wooden floors, saved the original bay window in the sitting room and refurbished the period tiled floor in the hall.
They were lucky, they say, in their choice of architect Paul O'Loughlin, who oversaw the structural works, as well as high-spec insulation, which means the house has a B3 BER rating, impressive for a period property.
Key to the refurb was adding a small extension to the rear that transformed the kitchen/dining room into a bright space opening on to a courtyard garden. "We love the industrial look, but were careful not to get carried away - we decided early on we would do the Crittall windows and door pane as a feature in the kitchen. It was actually really emotional when that went in, we had wanted it for so long - it completely transformed the space as well as marking the 'watertight' milestone."
The bespoke fitted kitchen is by Cillian Johnston, the floor is concrete, the worktops and splashbacks are quartz, wall-hung display cabinets are hand-painted. There is a five-ring Rangemaster hob and floor-to-ceiling painted cupboards for extra storage. It's a space designed for easy entertaining.
Upstairs, the two double bedrooms are pared back and simple. The floorboards in the master bedroom are painted white, and there is a built-in wardrobe and decorative fireplace. The bathroom is fitted with Villeroy & Boch sanitaryware, glass-fronted cabinets and subway tiles.
The attic provides extra storage space and has four Velux windows and is in use as a study.
No 19 runs to a compact 89sqm, ideal for downsizers or those without children. Sinead and Sean are "ready to do it all over again", but they will miss No 19 - "The house has soul, we felt it the first day and still feel it. It makes me feel safe and happy," says Sinead.
The property is close to the heart of Ranelagh village, but set in a quiet cul de sac a few metres from Ranelagh Park Gardens. "We are completely spoilt for choice," says Sinead, "if we had to choose a favourite spot, it would be Ranelagh Gardens Park (we can hear the ducks from our garden), Nick's Coffee, Kinara Kitchen, Birchall's and Humphrey's pubs."
The city centre is within walking distance, though the Luas passes through Ranelagh and there are a number of bus routes to the city and connecting to the Dart.
Agent: Moovingo (01) 516 9999
Viewing: April 14, 10-12.30pm