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Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnanehttps://www.thatsfarming.com/
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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‘I grew up immersed in auctioneering and fell into property after I got an internship’

That’s Farming editor, Catherina Cunnane, in conversation with Josh Pim, Co Laois, in this week’s Career Focus segment. We discuss his equine roots, “falling” into a career in property, securing a position with Savills, and selling a property for 32% above its guide price of €1.6 million. 

“Property was never really on my radar growing up or even studying in college. After graduating from NUI Galway with a bachelor’s degree in commerce and specialising in marketing in my final year, it was my ambition to explore a career in marketing.

You could say that I fell into property after I got an internship in Savills as a marketing intern.

This was my first-time coming face-to-face with the property world, but I enjoyed seeing deals being sealed and negotiations happen.

I decided from there that I wanted to get into the agency side of property. I grew up immersed in selling and auctioneering, albeit in the bloodstock industry, as my father and grandfather were bloodstock auctioneers for Tattersalls.

You could say that I was destined to end up in the auctioneering industry somehow or another.

Stud farm

I grew up on a stud farm in Mountmellick, Co. Laois, where we breed national hunt racehorses.

I loved growing up on the farm. I spent my youth travelling the country every Sunday riding ponies and horses.

Eventing was my passion, and I was lucky enough to represent Ireland in three European teams at Ponies (u16), Juniors (u18) and Young Riders (u21), where I won a silver and two gold medals.

Growing up on a farm, I loved the outdoors and always said that I would never work in a desk job.

However, my mother always tried to deter me from riding horses/farming as a full-time career and to get, what she would say, ‘a real job’.

I will continue to help with the farm at home and hope to have my own farm in the future. However, I feel it will be a hobby rather than a full-time gig.

Josh Pim, Co Laois, grew up on a stud farm and has carved a career in the property field after landing an internship with Savills.

Internship at Savills

After graduating from NUIG, I went straight into the working world, and after speaking and meeting people within the business of marketing, I was introduced to Savills, head of marketing & communications, where I managed to secure an internship.

This internship lasted three months, and in the end, I was offered a job within residential client services.

It was here where my passion for property began, working alongside the Country Homes and City departments.

Having grown up on a stud farm, I was especially intrigued by the Country homes, farms and estates team and began to look at the different routes I could pursue to obtain my property license.

Having spoken to the head of residential about my ambitions of becoming licenced, I was then approached by hr in Savills with a proposal of undertaking the Apprenticeship in Auctioneering and Property Services course at Ballsbridge College.

This course would run for two years and consist of working four days a week and one day in college. I accepted without hesitation and began in September 2018, which coincided with me joining the Country Homes, Farms & Estates Team.

I secured my property licence in 2020, having graduated from Ballsbridge College.

Negotiator within Country Agency Team 

Currently, I am a negotiator within the Country Agency Team at Savills Ireland since 2020.

Savills is one of the world’s leading property agents with 700+ offices globally. Savills offers a wide range of specialist services from sale, acquisition and investment advice to valuation, planning and property management.

I am in the Savills Dublin office on Molestreet full-time, although I am usually on the road about twice a week visiting sellers and viewing properties all over the country.

My responsibilities include sales preparation and marketing across a diverse range of rural properties. This includes handling viewings, negotiations and dealing with clients and potential buyers daily.

No two days are the same in this job. On any given day, I could be down the country visiting sellers or viewing country houses, large farms and estates, as well as liaising with clients and negotiating with prospective buyers.

Also, I am closely involved in preparing marketing material for launching a property to the open market, including writing brochures, arranging press advertisements, social media campaigns, photographs and floorplans.

There are six team members within the country department, and we all work closely together daily. I would particularly work closely with my colleague, James Butler, head of country in Savills.

We would primarily deal with the farms and estates side of the business and our Savills country agents in the UK.

A great part of this job is the diversity of daily tasks, meeting and speaking to some very interesting people and viewing some of the country’s most amazing properties.

Josh Pim, Co Laois, grew up on a stud farm and has carved a career in the property field after landing an internship with Savills.

Emotional attachment to property 

One of my favourite parts of the role is bringing my passion for horses and farming into the job daily.

Selling a property can be one of the biggest transactions a person makes in their lifetime, whether that be buying or selling and in the case of a lot of country homes and estates, the property has been in the family for generations, and there is a lot of emotion attached to it.

The challenging part of the job is managing this emotional attachment a client has to a property. They can start thinking with their hearts rather than their heads when we get into the business part of the sale.

Although challenging, it is extremely rewarding when we sell the property and our client goes away happy, having had a good experience selling their home.

Sale prices of over €1m 

I have been lucky enough to have been involved in many very high-profile sales throughout my time in Savills, but if I were to pick a specific one, it would have to be the sale of The Derrypark and Glenbeg Portfolio, Co. Mayo.

This was a residential, agricultural, and sporting portfolio with exceptional scenery and lough frontage extending to about 517-acres in total that we offered for sale in 6 lots and as a whole.

This property was the first sale. I managed myself fully with the help of my team and dealt with all of the negotiations. I had constant contact with our client, and dealing with his expectations.

It was great to get this exposure on such a high-profile property so soon after securing my property licence.

We had a lot of interest in the property, with 58 viewings parties and 27 offers. It sold for 32% above the guide price of €1.6 million.

I am enjoying working in the Country Homes, Farms and Estates market within Savills. Growing up, I always said I never wanted to be stuck to a desk 9 to 5, and in this role, you are not.

I get to speak to new and interesting people every day and travel the country, viewing some of the country’s most amazing properties and farms.

Covid-19 pandemic

Like everyone, we worked from home when the pandemic hit first and this took some time to get used to. However, we were lucky that the property market continued running throughout the pandemic.

Although we could not perform viewings at the start, we were kept busy preparing marketing material for properties that were due to launch when viewings returned and were able to close deals of properties that were on the market pre-pandemic.

Like everyone, Zoom and Microsoft teams meetings became the new normal. However, we are now back in the office full-time; I am very glad that the face-to-face meetings are back.

Succeeding in this field

Communication and personal skills are two of the biggest traits I believe you need to have in this field.

We deal with various people every day. It is about using your personal skills to build a relationship with that person, whether they be a buyer or seller.

I also believe that having a background in farming is hugely beneficial when working in the country homes, farms, and estates market, due to the fact that it is a lot easier to sell something that you know a lot about.

Farmers tend to trust you more when you can build a rapport around farming with them, and you can show them you know what you are selling.

Josh Pim, Co Laois, grew up on a stud farm and has carved a career in the property field after landing an internship with Savills.

Career advice

The best piece of career-related advice I have ever received is this: It is not what you know; it’s who you know. i.e., networking within the business is a key factor.

This is my advice to aspiring property agents/auctioneers: Get involved, if you like variety and speaking/meeting new people, the property industry could be a great match for you.

It is a tough but enjoyable industry to work in. While working in Savills, I have been able to develop and grow within the industry.

Competition

In February, I participated in the IPAV’s Novice Rostrum Auctioneer Competition 2022 in Tattersalls Ireland, Ratoath, Co. Meath.

All participants sold four lots; each comprised of a painting, a house, a horse and a tractor in front of an audience and judging panel.

From here, three finalists were chosen to sell one lot each in a charity auction at a dinner that evening.

I made it into the final three and finished runner up. It was a great experience auctioning live as I had never had the opportunity to do it before. I would highly recommend this competition to aspiring auctioneers.

I do not intend on doing further studies at present. My intention is to continue to grow my career and profile within Savills and the property industry over the coming years.

Future of the property market in Ireland

I believe the future of the property market in Ireland is bright. In the farmland and country homes market, there continues to be a lack of supply to keep up with the current demand. This will continue to drive prices upwards in 2022.

In the farmland market, we can see that land prices shot up by 16% last year due to the lack of supply.

I believe that land prices will continue to increase this year again. It is exciting to see that new buyer types are entering the land market and are looking at buying large parcels of land but for environmental and conservation reasons rather than solely for food production.

Reflection

Some might say that I took the scenic route into the property world, starting in marketing and then entering a part-time course to secure my property licence.

However, I am enjoying my role in the country department within Savills at present. It has been a great platform for me to learn and develop within the property industry.”

To share your story, email – [email protected]

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