Saturday 20 April 2019

In Pictures: Senior estate agent in south Dublin is selling his own home

What's different when an estate agent sells their own home? asks Celine Naughton

Andrew Rhatigan, the vendor, with his wife Jenny. Photo: Angela Mujica
Andrew Rhatigan, the vendor, with his wife Jenny. Photo: Angela Mujica
Breakfast room. Photo: Matteo Tuniz
One of the five bedrooms
The first floor living room
Walk-in dressing room
The hallway
Andrew Rhatigan, the estate agent
The exterior of 54 Roseland Avenue

Doctors aren't allowed to treat themselves and a lawyer who represents themselves in court is said to have a fool for a client. But according to Andrew Rhatigan, senior negotiator with the Janet Carroll estate agency, there is no one better qualified to sell his own home than himself - as his own estate agent.

Having recently put his five-bedroom house in the Cualanor development on the market, Andrew who works for the agency in South County Dublin, decided to forgo the usual estate agency practice of passing his own home to another professional to sell, and instead appointed himself the selling agent.

"Some agents use a separate firm if they want to maintain their privacy or put themselves at arm's length from any emotional attachment they might have, while those working in large firms often deploy colleagues in another section," he says. "I work in a small, boutique agency whose director Janet Carroll is collaborating with me on the sale, so I get the benefit of her objective opinion. Her involvement in the process is what gives me that important remove.

"However, when it comes to viewings, because I live here I feel I'm best placed to answer questions, to show how the technology in the house works and give people the inside track. So why not?"

Breakfast room. Photo: Matteo Tuniz
Breakfast room. Photo: Matteo Tuniz

On Saturday morning with the first big viewing due, Andrew the vendor gets up with his wife Jenny for last minute tidying. Then he puts on his suit - to become Andrew the estate agent - and Jenny heads out to leave him to it.

Andrew and Jenny bought the house in 2016, shortly after he decided to switch careers from car dealer to estate agent. He has a degree in psychology and reasons it a useful skill for a career in sales. "I was always interested in property and cars. My father was a builder and my extended family is involved in building in some shape or form.

"So today I'm following exactly the same procedure in selling my house as I would with any of our valued clients. Long before erecting a sales sign, I look for the story behind the property, put a campaign together, set a price - and let the market decide where it falls - and I get the very best visual imagery to showcase the house."

After that first vital viewing Andrew the agent is happy with how things went: "So we had six parties through. I introduced myself first as both the estate agent and the owner - I thought they should know that. Viewings can be like live theatre and things can sometimes go wrong. But with myself as client, I didn't have to worry so much and so I was probably more relaxed than usual. Of course it's been a big help that there's absolutely nothing I don't know about this house."

Following the same professional process also means his wife Jenny gets a client briefing right after the viewing.

"So on a bank holiday weekend with the rain coming down, we got six parties through. They all stayed longer than you might expect and all of them asked relevant questions and that's all very encouraging for the first viewing. There could be some offers coming. It's a very good start." Like most vendors, Jenny prefers to let her agent do the talking.


Andrew and Jenny chose 54 Roseland Avenue over all the other houses on the street for two reasons - its southerly orientation and the views from the upstairs living room.

"That room is my favourite part of the house, as it looks straight on to Dun Laoghaire bowling green and clubhouse," says Andrew. "Bowls can be hypnotic to watch and we've got a front row seat." Is he now being enthusiastic estate agent, home owner or both?

With estate agent's hat back on he gives me the tour. He shows how the couple made small modifications to the original plans during construction. Outside, they extended the patio and moved the shed a few feet from the back fence so they could keep the bins behind it. Inside, they widened the hallway to accommodate a bench for shoes and coats.

The tiled hallway leads to a family/sitting room, a guest wc, and to the back, a large open-plan kitchen-diner featuring an integrated Cawley's kitchen. Off this is a utility room.

Floor-to-ceiling glass doors running the length of the kitchen-diner make the most of the sunlight from the south-facing garden. Solar panels here convert light to energy for hot water.

On the first floor is the main living room with that view of the bowling green. Also on this floor are a family bathroom, two double bedrooms and a hot press with a high-tech heat recovery system that maintains a constant temperature throughout the house.

The exterior of 54 Roseland Avenue
The exterior of 54 Roseland Avenue

On the top floor are the main bedroom with en suite shower room and walk-in dressing room, two further bedrooms and a separate shower room.

Roseland Avenue is part of the Cualanor development where residents hold keys to access a park and two playgrounds. With its location close to shops and schools, Sandycove, Monkstown and Dun Laoghaire, it has plenty of family appeal. According to agent Andrew, it may also suit an investor as it's never been rented, or it could draw locals who enjoy the location but don't want to worry about house maintenance.

So why are the vendors leaving?

"We're moving because we want to be close to my mother-in-law," he says. "My father passed away when I was 19, as did Jenny's dad when she was 21. The experience taught us to cherish those around us."

And did he learn anything new showing his own house?

"While I wasn't pressured showing the house I certainly have a new appreciation about how much stress the owners experience when getting ready for that first viewing. So selling my own home has already given me a degree more of empathy and understanding to my work," he says.

So who gets the commission?

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