Making home in Ireland for generations
Forty years ago, FitzGerald & Partners teamed up with Sherry & Sons to create Sherry FitzGerald, opening their first Dublin office together in 1982. This laid the foundations for a team that has moved with the changing times in Ireland, embracing and championing innovation, while holding to our core values of honesty and integrity, hard work and trust.
In fact, our story starts more than a generation before that, as Sherry & Sons date their origins to back 1949. Meanwhile FitzGerald & Partners had been going strong since 1972, giving the new company a combined experience of more than forty years before we even opened our first doors together on Merrion Row.
That experience, coupled with our family approach, which joins a reputation for welcoming friendliness, with expertise and excellence, has stood the test of time. Today, we are proud to say we are Ireland’s largest, fully diversified property advisory firm, bringing people together with their present, future and forever homes the length and breadth of the country.
Our ethos and values, which have led our growth and success are perhaps best summed up by Sherry FitzGerald founder and first company CEO, Mark FitzGerald:
The 1980s: Market Influencers with Integrity
While 1980s Ireland was experiencing considerable economic difficulty, the fledgling Sherry FitzGerald company recruited for the future, forming a team of young property professionals who shared a common vision of a new type of auctioneering company. From the start, we practiced a strong gender balance philosophy, a philosophy we have continued to champion to this day.
We also always understood the absolute importance of having a strong ethical foundation, combined with a sense of exceptional customer service. With this in mind, we introduced a strict rule of not allowing anyone in the company to buy a second-hand house off our own books – a move which may have surprised some! We also introduced opening 7 days a week into what had traditionally been a ‘9.30 – 5.30 & closed for lunch’ industry.
Our strapline in those early days was ‘the new generation of estate agents’ which has subsequently evolved into ‘the agent you’d recommend to a friend’.
We closed the decade by investing in our belief in a brighter future by opening a second office in Terenure in 1989.
The 1990s: Leadership and Growth
Looking back, it is amazing how much has changed in the way houses are bought and sold in Ireland, and how much of those changes for the better were down to the leadership of Sherry FitzGerald’s company policies.
In 1992 we were the first organisation, outside the Department of the Environment, to provide clear house price information to the general public; this led to the launch of our Dublin House Price Index in 1996. Today we continue to employ economists: through all the challenges of the Europe-wide property crash, we remained committed to research and transparent information by not only retaining this function, but by further resourcing it. Our National Property Index, launched in 1999, is a benchmark in terms of accurate reporting of house price trends and is published every three months.
Opening further offices in the Dublin area, including in Drumcondra, Dun Laoghaire, Templeogue and Sutton, we also began our nationwide expansion, opening in Galway, Limerick and Cork before the decade was out.
As the 1990s came to a close we looked forward to the new Millennium with a series of innovations that were to prove key to how people would come to buy and sell homes in the future.
In 1998, we launched one of Ireland’s first property websites – www.sherryfitz.ie. The following year, we launched Ireland’s first ever national property franchise organisation. Today there are over 70 Sherry FitzGerald franchise offices, providing property advice throughout Ireland.
Continuing to grow, in 1998, we also consolidated our growing commercial presence by forming a joint venture company with the global property advisory firm DTZ Holdings – DTZ Sherry FitzGerald. Rebranded in 2016 to Cushman & Wakefield, it is Ireland’s most successful, and only nationwide commercial property advisor, with offices in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick. In 2018, Cushman & Wakefield acquired our shareholding in the company. In the same year (1999) the Group acquired the Ross McParland New Homes business which was subsequently rebranded Sherry FitzGerald New Homes.
The 2000s: Innovation and Community Support
Kicking off the new Millennium, we acquired Cork’s leading residential estate agency, Burton Crowley O’Flynn, later rebranded Sherry FitzGerald and now occupying a flagship office on Lapps Quay in the heart of Cork City. Recognising our clients’ need for sound financial back up when taking the step of buying a house, we launched Mortgage Insight DAC in the year 2000, later rebranded Sherry FitzGerald Financial Services, providing independent mortgage and financial advice.
While the year 2000 may have begun with concerns about the Y2K Millennium Bug (remember that?!), our CEO, Mark FitzGerald also saw the huge future of the internet in making property searches smooth, efficient and most importantly, fully accessible. As the century turned, he came up with the idea of launching a national property portal and led the process of putting together the team, the partners and the investors that made it happen.
www.myhome.ie was successfully launched 2001. It quickly became Ireland’s largest and most innovative property website and, 5 years after its launch, it was acquired by the Irish Times.
In 2006 we launched two community initiatives supported by the Sherry FitzGerald Foundation. "Your Home Away from Home" saw us underwrite the purchase of 5 Fontenoy Street, Phibsboro, Dublin for Temple Street Children´s Hospital to use as parents’ accommodation for two families 365 days a year. We subsequently organised two successful Walkathons to raise funds for the project.
We were also instrumental in the establishment of Amawele: a national charity which grew to twin 100 schools in Ireland with schools in the Eastern and West Cape of South Africa with the aim of opening the minds of children to the human race beyond their immediate environment. More details around our Corporate Social Responsibility program can be found here
The 2000s: Volatility, Diversification and Expansion
The 2000s were a volatile period in property, as many of us learned all too well. In 2005, we successfully diversified into the U.K. market with the acquisition of the 150-year old, Central and West London estate agency of Marsh & Parsons. In the following year, Marsh & Parsons acquired another London estate agency, Vanstons, and in the subsequent 5 years we grew this network to 14 London offices employing over 200 people. In 2011 we successfully sold the Marsh & Parsons business.
The timing of the acquisition and sale helped to protect the Sherry FitzGerald parent business during the depths of the property crash, enabling us to keep all our own offices open, and 200 people directly employed through the difficult times. This made us the largest Irish property business to emerge from the crash.
In 2008 we were chosen by Christie’s International Real Estate to be their exclusive affiliate in Ireland. This partnership gives sellers of prestige homes in Ireland access to international markets. It also offers the owners of luxury property abroad access to local expertise when they come to sell, via the global Christie’s International Real Estate network.
2010 and into the Teens: Recovery, Growth and Digital Transformation
As the new century got into its stride, we continued to innovate. In 2018, we launched a new platform, mySherryFitz, which gives buyers 24hour access to booking viewings, following properties of interest, and a huge range of other functions to guide them through the buying process, including registering offers on a property, which allows for full transparency throughout.
Of course, even as we launched all these digital innovations, we continued to open branches nationwide, and our team of agents remain available in person, by phone, email or via online messaging. After all, digital transformation enables us to give our buyers and sellers every advantage in the market place, but we still firmly believe that people are at the heart of everything we do. In 2018, we underlined this commitment to personal service, by opening five new franchises: Sherry FitzGerald Brady O'Flaherty in Maynooth, Sherry FitzGerald Stack in Abbeyfeale, Sherry FitzGerald Hanley in Claremorris and Sherry FitzGerald Madden in Loughrea and Portumna.
There was continued growth in 2019 when Sherry FitzGerald Cumisky in Balbriggan joined the franchise network, opening their second office in Rush in 2020. 2020 we gained 3 new members Sherry FitzGerald Dillon, lettings specialist in West Dublin, Sherry FitzGerald Farrell in Carrick on Shannon and Sherry FitzGerald Durcan in Castlebar. 2021 will see SF Hanley opening their second office in Swinford and SF Cumisky Kelly will be opening in Skerries.
Sherry FitzGerald Today, and Looking to the Future
In 2017, after more than 40 years in the estate agency business, Mark FitzGerald stepped down as Chief Executive of Sherry FitzGerald. He was succeeded by Steven McKenna, who previously held the position of Chief Financial Officer.
A Galway native, and now Dublin based, Steven joined the Sherry FitzGerald family in 2008. He quickly became Group Finance Director, working closely with Mark on ensuring the company could emerge safely and strongly as part of Ireland’s overall economic recovery. During this time, he oversaw steady expansion and growth, while all the time remaining a champion of Sherry FitzGerald’s core values.
These values have served us well throughout our first forty years, and look set to carry us well into the future, committing to continue to be the most trusted property advisors creating exceptional value for our clients.
The second decade of the Millennium has brought its own challenges, which Steven has safely shepherded us all through. Our strategy of investing in cutting edge technology meant that we were able to continue to support our clients during Covid-19 with state-of-the-art virtual viewings. In fact, during full lockdown in early 2020, and despite the branch network being physically closed and in-person viewings suspended, we remained open for business in a safe and virtual environment through the support of mySherryFitz, where we sold a thousand properties. We have also recently launched a new online mortgage application procedure, making the process more accessible than ever before.
In 2022, we celebrated our 40th birthday, and a new chapter began when we announced that the company had been sold to Castlegate Investments. Our new chairman of Sherry FitzGerald, Roy Barrett said “We have decided to make this investment because Sherry FitzGerald is one of the foremost brands in the country, a brand that has been built through widespread respect from consumers nationwide over a number of decades. We believe that there is great scope to further develop what is already a successful business and provide excellent career opportunities along the way. We’ve been very impressed by the management team and their vision for the future and we are excited to be part of that journey."
Sherry FitzGerald Group comprises five key divisions including residential, new homes, commercial, lettings and financial services. This year marks the company’s 40th anniversary. It is Ireland’s largest estate agent with 103 offices across the State, including 73 operated by countrywide members, employing over 550 people nationwide.
As the housing market in Ireland remains volatile, we continue to believe that our fundamental belief in integrity, personal service, hard work and trust, coupled with our sheer love of connecting people with their future homes, will keep us at the heart of your own property journey – wherever that may take you next.