Expert advice on buying and selling property in the Covid-19 era
Estate agents Jillian McGuirk and Sinead Beggan have more than 40 years’ experience selling homes on Dublin’s southside
"We’ve been inundated with requests for viewings and now is definitely a good time to consider selling as housing stock is low and demand is high,” says Sinead Beggan of McGuirk Beggan. Photograph: Getty
After a decade of working for real estate giants, friends and colleagues Jillian McGuirk and Sinead Beggan felt they wanted to offer a more bespoke approach to the very personal business of buying and selling homes, so in 2010 they joined forces and launched McGuirk Beggan Property. Now, with over 40 years’ combined experience, this year also sees the pair celebrate 10 years in business.
“Our first office was out on Whitehall Road in Dublin 12, and we worked night and day to establish ourselves as a key player in the south city centre and south county Dublin property market. But it was always our aim to move into a premises on a high street for better visibility and local presence,” says Beggan.
In October 2019, they realised their goal and opened a boutique agency in the heart of Terenure village, which at first glance, looks more like an inviting living room than your typical estate agents. “We are two women at the helm of a real estate business, which is rare enough and we wanted to find our own lane and set ourselves apart from your typical agents. We purposely styled the front of the office to be relaxed and inviting, so when clients and local business owners pop in, they feel at ease and know they are in for a more unique and personal experience than you might expect with an auctioneer,” says McGuirk.
Now with lockdown lifting, both McGuirk and Beggan have observed a huge surge of activity in the market. “Covid-19 has created a pent-up demand of buyers and sellers. People have spent more time than ever in their homes and many have discovered they’re not suitable for their current needs: be they too small; too large; too expensive to run or simply not suitable for working from home. Lockdown has been the impetus for many to take the leap to seriously consider buying or selling,” says McGuirk.
“We’ve been inundated with requests for viewings and now is definitely a good time to consider selling as housing stock is low and demand is high,” says Beggan.
For those considering either buying or selling right now, McGuirk and Beggan have the following advice.
According to Beggan, “it is critical to check in with your broker or your mortgage provider to confirm that your original loan value and terms are still approved. We’ve found some lenders have reduced the amount they initially offered, and if you or your employers availed of the Covid-19 wage subsidy scheme, this can affect the original offer too,” she states. “For any (non-cash) parties putting in an offer, we’re requesting a letter from the broker or lender to confirm the loan is not affected.”
Expect how you view a property to have switched up. “Virtual viewings and video tours are a great way for buyers to get an initial sense of a property, but we find serious parties still want to see the property in person to get a proper sense of it,” McGuirk says.
“Open viewing are no longer feasible with social distancing, so we now offer 10-minute viewing slots per party at specific times, so that buyers can inspect a property without anyone else inside. For both buyers’ and sellers’ safety, we help minimise contact with surfaces by making sure all light switches are turned on and all internal doors are open,” she says.
The pandemic has definitely encouraged buyers to hone their living priorities
“Handrails are sanitised every 10 minutes and viewers are asked to disinfect their hands before entering. We request they avoid touching surfaces – opening wardrobes for instance. Should it accidentally occur, most people have been very upfront in informing us on the way out, and we simply sanitise the surface before the next person arrives. We typically wait at the front of the property, and after a walk-around, people can chat and ask us questions outside,” says McGuirk.
What you want from your home should be given consideration too. “Now is a good time to rethink previous non-negotiables: do you really need to be as close to the office if working remotely is now a viable option,” asks Beggan. “Is open-plan living no longer suitable if you need to work from home, or will you need a specific room for an office? Could you look at converting the attic or installing a Shomera or similar in the garden? What is the connectivity like in the area? The pandemic has definitely encouraged buyers to hone their living priorities,” she says.
McGuirk firmly believes “there is still a shortage of stock on the market and we’re witnessing a strong demand for family houses at the moment, especially those in the €300,000-€600,000 bracket. Apartments are seeing a resurgence in demand from investors, housing bodies and private buyers too.”
Expect to give up more time to sell your property. “Because we can’t accommodate open houses, viewing windows are taking much longer – often up to three hours - so sellers need to be prepared to vacate the property for longer stretches,” Beggan points out. “We also ask that sellers sanitise their properties to the best of their ability before each viewing and leave out sanitising spray and kitchen towels. We will be the only people touching the front and back doors.”
Space may trump location right now too. “Houses with a granny flat, a large shed or space for a garden office have a huge competitive advantage at the moment as the working remotely movement continues to grow,” says McGuirk.
Lastly, great virtual assets rule in a world where social distancing has become the norm. “We will organise a video tour of your home to be shot at the same time as photographs of your property are taken,” Beggan says. “The virtual video tour is sent to all interested parties first, to help buyers decide if they are really interested in attending a physical viewing.”
To find out more about buying or selling with McGuirk Beggan Property, visit mcguirkbeggan.ie