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Why Whitehouse Real Estate Went Boutique

Updated: Mar 1

It’s been a two-year journey for one Sydney-based family business to break away from the franchise model: Here’s why they did it.


REB recently reported on the launch of Whitehouse Real Estate in Sydney’s Northern Beaches, previously known as LJ Hooker Balgowlah. 


In conversation with REB, director Angus White revealed that while the 20-year span with LJ Hooker “was a really good adventure and journey”, it was time for the father-son team of Tony and Angus White to branch out on their own.


“LJ Hooker, for a long time on the Northern Beaches, was a really strong brand — a force to be reckoned with,” Mr White considered.


“I’ve had a long history with my family in real estate — I’m third or fourth generation now — to be honest, because we’ve been in this area for so long, we didn’t need it anymore [the franchise association].”


Restriction also played a role in the separation, with Mr White highlighting that while they did get along well with surrounding offices, “you get to a point where you’ve got so much repeat and referral business and network connection among the community that you can branch out and go on your own”.


Calling the two-year journey to where the business is now “a handover of sorts”, Mr White has outlined just how much of a family affair real estate is for the boutique agency: “My parents have been in it for over 30, 40 years and my brother, my mum, my dad, we’ve all been in it together for a long time.


“But my brother’s out, my mum’s out, and now it’s just my dad and I, and he’s only doing two or three days a week now, so it’s me taking the business forward and taking the next chapter on.”

Now, he said, “we can really customise”.


“We’re not restricted on templates and areas,” the director highlighted.

“I’ve got the opportunity now to really cement this brand and business in this local area and then I’ve got the opportunity to reach other markets and other suburbs and I’m not restricted on that.”


Overall, it took approximately two years for Mr White’s team to enact the change.


Mr White admitted to REB that at the onset of COVID-19, they even considered delaying the launch.


“But when COVID looked like it was going to go on forever, [and] we weren’t sure of the end result, we launched. We hit the go button and went for it,” he said.


It saw plenty of background changes take place, from employing an agency to assist with the rebrand to sorting marketing and the website.


“With regard to the look, it’s really a more coastal, community, family [feel] — it fits the area quite well!” he commented.


It was “all those sorts of things which took the time”, Mr White stated, acknowledging that the workload had been “tremendous”.


“I’ve got a great team and they’ve all dug deep,” he added.


In saying all that, it’s a rebrand that appears to be paying off so far, with the director highlighting that “the feedback we’ve had from the community, family, friends, has been phenomenal”.


“Just people saying ‘good on you, you’re backing yourself, you guys will go really well’,” he commented.


He noted that for the first few months of Whitehouse Real Estate’s existence, the focus will be on cementing the new brand in the area.


“We’ve been up and running for so long and people are choosing me and the team because they’re just recognised faces now among the community,” he said.


“One thing we really pride ourselves on at Whitehouse is just being genuine, good people — down to earth and part of the local community.”


Apart from continuing the local success, Mr White said “who knows what the future holds”.

It didn’t stop him from alluding to the potential for “another office or two along the Northern Beaches for sure”.


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