London House

The Knowledge

Our London House: Meet the Founders

October 6th 2022

The London House rebrand, is a departure from the more traditional London Estate Agent. It is centred around our founders', Alex Bourne & Richard Douglas. Their love of London, its people, and its ever transforming and growing culture. Find out more about our founders and the story of London House by reading their story below.

After meeting at drama school over 20 years ago, Alex and Richard quickly became friends and years later, business partners and founders of the luxury real estate brand, London House. Venturing into the Prime Central London real estate sector might seem like an unlikely move for a budding actor and successful screenwriter. Still, for Alex and Richard, it was their calling.

The story of Alex and Richard’s meteoric rise to property success is not altogether serendipitous – perhaps more incredulous. In 2001, Richard landed a role in the TV series, Murder in Mind, in which he played an estate agent. “After that, I realised my true calling was estate agency,” he jokes. In addition, Richard’s mother was an interior designer while Alex’s father worked in commercial property. Property’s not exactly in their blood but it was definitely on the periphery.

“Acting teaches you how to sell yourself so I’ve always felt comfortable doing big property deals,” explains Alex, referring to the £450m in property sales the pair have amassed since swapping the creative arts for the often cut-throat world of Prime Central London real estate.

For all the brash, big suited bluster that so often envelopes this niche of estate agency, a budding actor and a successful screenwriter wanted to ‘shake up the status quo’. From day one, Alex and Richard have brought integrity, honesty, humility and kindness to luxury sales and lettings, refreshingly delivered with a sense of fun and admirable transparency.
The nirvana for Alex and Richard is London House – their co-founded boutique agency. It’s a result of 25 years of combined property experience, lashings of networking, a passion for people and the desire to create a lifestyle brand rather than a device to merely buy and sell property.

Despite representing the very top tier of London’s market, Alex and Richard are not career estate agents and they have never been driven purely by money. “We just like working and working hard,” comments Richard. “We respect people, don’t judge and work hard to stay true to who we are.”

While keen to avoid being labelled as ‘career estate agents’, both Alex and Richard cut their property teeth in a traditional fashion. After leaving acting behind and arriving back in London, Richard made a new and life-changing entrance - walking into one of London’s leading agencies and requesting employment. Within five months, he became Assistant Manager of the branch and a year later, he was running his own office and managing 40 people.

The cast quickly found a new member, with Alex looking for some professional stability after marrying his childhood sweetheart and arriving back in London. Inspired by Richard’s success in real estate, he reached out to his friend and joined the team after a dabble in trading didn’t suffice.

“I already knew lots of people in property,” says Alex. “Even when treading the boards, I was putting together off-market deals and matchmaking people with properties that weren’t openly for sale.” Candidly, Alex confesses he really didn’t want to work for a corporate company but he took the plunge for the greater good, with the intention of one day starting his own agency.

From the onset, Richard & Alex's, mission was to learn the very opposite of mass corporate and perform a deep dive into the world of smaller, boutique agency. “I think our plan was always to focus on high-end properties,” explains Richard, “If you’re going to get into the property sector, you might as well work on the most expensive properties you can find.”

After a year at a prime central London boutique agency, Alex and Richard kept their partnership intact and together joined Hamptons International in St John’s Wood. The first glimpses of their fresh approach and earnest ethos emerged, transforming the office culture and elevating the company back to the top end of the market with their impressive sales. It was as close to a property sector standing ovation as you could achieve, and their turn in the spotlight hadn’t gone unnoticed.

Alex and Richard’s friends were impressed enough to give them their backing to open a West End branch of another agency, Hanover Residential. It was a real taster for how the pair could shape and mould their own agency, as well as fittingly parachuting them back into the heart of theatreland.

Their honest and humble ways found favour within illustrious circles, with one of their first clients a Saudi prince who felt compelled to buy a £17 million Knightsbridge property from the duo. “After that, people started to sit up and take notice of us, and I think the reason we did so well is because of the number of things we’ve done and people we’ve met,” adds Alex.

A host of poaching attempts from some of Britain’s largest real estate companies ensued but the end result reflected their passion for property in a very succinct style. Within just six months, Alex and Richard bought Hanover Residential out with the proceeds of their sales success and had laid down the blueprint of how to run a successful boutique agency.

Together they had developed a property brand that they themselves were the very essence of. Purchasers bought into their personal service, rather than a company name, so it came as no surprise that one of London’s most respected estate agents came knocking at Hanover Residential’s door.

The rather persuasive Gary Hersham at Beauchamp Estates eventually persuaded Alex and Richard into selling half of their business to rebrand as Beauchamp. “We’ve never been ‘corporate’ but we saw an opportunity to make further inroads in London’s prime market under the Beauchamp banner and Gary was very generous with his black book,” explains Alex “but for us, working as part of a much larger machine didn’t fit our very bespoke, personal approach. In fact, we were being drawn into the ‘status quo’ that we so wanted to shake up!”

After three years with Beauchamp, the pair extracted their business in May 2021 and rebranded as London House. It enabled Alex and Richard to fulfil a long-held ambition to start an agency from scratch – one that reflected their shared values, and where their business code of conduct - ‘treat people how you want to be treated yourself’ - could flourish.

So, what is London House? It’s an intimate agency of just nine team members, with Alex and Richard firmly at the helm. They infuse everything with their affable, authentic and ‘at ease’ qualities – something that’s expressed in every detail, right down to their invitingly-decorated Marylebone office.

“Prime property can be separatist and elitist but we’re trying to create a warm, friendly, informal and giving company that celebrates everyone’s successes,” explains Alex, “it can be a very straightlaced industry and I like challenging that. Buying a home at this level is such a hard transaction so why add an uptight nature to it?”

It’s clear there is true balance at London House. Rather than cold-heartedly sell houses through perfunctory transactions, there’s a tangible feeling that every sale represents a new lifestyle created, with a collective sense of team satisfaction. Tellingly, Alex and Richard view themselves as matchmakers and problem solvers, rather than salesmen motivated by profit.

While Alex and Richard still rack up a few column inches thanks to their celebrity connections, screenwriting activity and ability to network in the most celebrated circles, the double act are far happier gaining press coverage for their successful property sales and ambitions for London House’s future. If London House was a play, we’re just getting started on act one and the reviews from the critics are already five stars.