London House

The Knowledge

A very special edition

June 18th 2024

For a very special edition of the Knowledge, we sit down and speak to one of our founding partners, Richard Douglas.

1. Let's start from the very beginning, can you tell us about your experience in prime central London real estate, and the path that led you there?

After completing a degree in Drama and Theatres Studies and a Post Graduate diploma in acting I spent a number of years being cast as an Estate Agent in everything from BBC dramas such as ‘Murder in Mind’ to ITV show’s such as Footballer’s Wives! Once I realised my calling was clearly in property, I began a new career at one of London’s leading corporate agencies in my early 30’s and quickly rose through the ranks. I was promoted to Assistant Manager after 5 months and was given my first office to manage after two years. In all the areas that I worked, I always made a point to get involved in the top end of the market and successfully sold prime properties in Hampstead, Totteridge, Harrow on the Hill and Northwood. I left after five years having successfully launched two brand new offices and headed straight for Prime Central London. I decided that if I was going to create a career for myself in Real Estate then it felt natural for me to get involved in the Prime Central London market.

2. What is your ethos and approach and how is this now reflected at London House?

The Agency I trained with always had a large office in a central location and covered a very wide area. I always felt comfortable valuing and selling properties in many different areas and realised quickly once I became involved in the central London market that most agents work their entire career in one location and don’t cross territories. Don’t get me wrong, there is value in becoming an expert of an area but having the ability to feel comfortable in different areas with very different types of property is a unique skill and has served me well over my 15 years in agency. That was without question the best training I could have gained as it set me up to offer our buyers very different options in locations they may not have initially considered. It gave me a more rounded view of the market and gives me knowledge that the local agent wouldn’t have access to. We have built a very successful business on that ethos. We’re selling lifestyles and neighbourhoods, not just properties.

3. What is your favourite thing about running London House with Alex?

Mainly that we’re close friends and spend a lot of time together. We complement each other well as I enjoy the operation and planning side of the business and Alex is a fantastic networker. Since we set up our business, well over ten years ago, I don’t think Alex has ever walked past a single person without saying hello that he even vaguely recognises. That has led to us gaining instructions and creating relationships all over the world. So for that reason we are almost always out and about grabbing breakfast or lunch and networking and when we’re not talking business we’re debating the best football team in North London. Which, obviously, is not actually much of a debate. Although he continues to try to formulate an argument none the less.

4. Do you have any predictions for the housing market for the next 12 months?

It is so difficult to predict the market as there are so many factors that we have faced since setting up, such as Covid, that no one could have predicted. I think the only way to look at the market is to take a long-term view. If you’re buying a home and planning to be there for 5 or 10 years, it is completely irrelevant whether you manage to squeeze every penny out of the purchase on the way in. Long term, properties in London will inevitably increase in value as London is not getting any bigger. When I began my career in property you could look back at the land registry and see property prices doubling every 6 to 8 years in London. Everything in life follows a cycle, especially property. There was crash the year I was born in 1974, another in 1990, I worked through the 2008 crash and for me, the latest happened during Covid. So when should you buy? Right now in my opinion.

5. How do you attract seasoned talent to London House?

All we can do and have done is to provide a great brand, strong and clear ethics and an enjoyable working environment. We have always treated everyone equally, no matter who we meet and only want to work with people with similar values. We both had careers before we entered this industry and when looking for people to work with, we always gravitate to people who have had some life experience outside of agency and possibly a career in something interesting such as the arts. Life is not about making as much money as possible, it’s about enjoying each moment and spending your time doing the thing you love the most. Nobody lies on their death bed and thinks ‘if only I had worked longer hours and made more money!’

6. You are also a screenwriter, can we check out your work soon?

I truly hope so! I’ve always enjoyed writing, ever since I was young, but even though I completed several screenwriting courses over the years, I never really took it seriously until the first lockdown. I was determined to finally finish writing a feature film over those months and after completing my first, I wrote my second in the second lock down. That screenplay ended up winning awards in every competition and film festival I entered, and I haven’t stopped writing since. For now, it’s a hobby, but I’ve now completed five features, two pilots and almost twenty short films and have continued to win awards with my work. Once the business allows me more time to write, I plan to approach some screenwriting agents, so watch this space!

My London -
Favourite coffee shop – Hagen in Marylebone. It really is the best coffee in town.

Favourite restaurant / or somewhere you are keen to visit – Olivomare in Belgravia is delicious and you’ll often find Alex and I there grabbing a quick lunch.

What three words would you use to describe your area to someone who has never been – My area is London so, best city ever!