Cecille Weldon with her Banksia award for the Liveability program.

Last year LJ Hooker’s Liveability Real Estate program won the Banksia award for sustainability education, but this year the company that awed the industry with its progressive views and commitments to sustainability property marketing, has pulled back on the race, parting ways with Liveability’s creator Cecille Weldon.

According to a spokeswoman for LJ Hooker, the company remains committed to supporting more than 400 of its residential real estate agents who have already trained to understand and use Liveability to market sustainability elements in residential property.

As for a planned expansion of the training to agents in other companies, it may all bets are off, though LJ Hooker declined to comment on this aspect of our enquiries.

Ms Weldon, who joined the company as a consultant and then took an executive leadership position before being appointed chief executive of the Centre for Liveability Real Estate, was guarded in her comments.

She confirmed she was no longer attached to LJ Hooker except to complete a pilot program in the ACT to trial the Liveability framework for leased property.

Ms Weldon said the arrangement changed when company chairman L Janusz Hooker, a descendant of the company founder, moved to take full ownership of the LJ Hooker company in July.

She claimed that Liveability was then “no longer a current strategic priority” for the company and that she continued to work unpaid for the next four months, on the understanding that a new platform could be formed to enable the framework to be shared with agents in other networks, in line with its original intention.

After four months, however, Ms Weldon decided to cut her ties and move back to her original consultancy business.

A statement from LJ Hooker said it was “completely committed to Liveability and supporting our 400+ trained Liveability Real Estate Specialists”.

“LJ Hooker sees helping buyers, sellers, renters and investors identify sustainable elements in a property as a unique value add and a key point of difference,” the statement said.

“Cecile Weldon has decided to return to her own consultancy business. In this capacity she will continue to support the ACT Government Pilot Project Liveability was engaged for to its conclusion.

“We thank her for the key role she has played in helping bring Liveability to fruition as a property marketing framework for eligible properties. To date we have sold and rented in excess of 270 properties under the Liveability banner.”

The company’s commitment to continue with the plan to extend the training to agents from other networks is unclear.

The statement said: “We will look to kick start our Liveability Real Estate Specialist training at the end of Q1-16.”

But asked if this specifically would include agents from other companies, a spokeswoman said she would make no further comment.

Ms Weldon said she was “excited that LJ Hooker, for its part, has now decided to continue to support its existing Liveability Real Estate Specialist agents who are passionate about Liveability and professional in their support of owners renters and investors.

“I have personally trained over 425 agents within LJ Hooker and it has been incredibly inspiring to see residential real estate agents become change agents to drive a new market in homes with Liveability Features,” she said.

“I am proud of what I have achieved in the creation of the award-winning Liveability Real Estate Framework.”

Ms Weldon specifically mentioned the support she received from sustainability expert, the late Dr Chris Reardon and more recently from Envirotecture’s Dick Clarke and Andy Marlow.

She said there was widespread passion among many of the agents who undertook the program and says that some were highly dismayed that the program might be withdrawn.

But it’s not been easy. As a specialist in linguistics, Ms Weldon focused on language and messaging and concentrated on the concept of “liveability” and specific features of a property in the marketing, rather than green or sustainabiilty concepts which, as many sources in the industry have said, were under sustained political attacks during the past six years.

“All those who worked with me or championed this features-based framework – an innovation in property marketing – know how tough it has been to communicate the opportunity and value for this approach both within real estate and within sustainability.”

Envirotecture’s Dick Clarke said in a company blog that: “Until Cecille Weldon started the Liveability program, there was no link between any investment made in sustainability design or building materials and components, and any subsequent sales process – and thus no way to justify the investment with a complete business case. In short – the value proposition was hampered.

“Initially under the LJ Hooker umbrella, CLRE has now trained over 450 agents around Australia, and these agents are now reporting a changed – read “much improved” – relationship with their customers, and a changed business model, which not only reduces their eco-footprint but also improves their bottom line.”

One reply on “LJ Hooker and Cecille Weldon part ways”

  1. Good to hear that Hooker is committed to it with the agents already trained – they have been having such success with it. And that is testament to how well it was designed and delivered – so much credit is due to Cecille on that score.

    But rolling it out beyond the Hooker brand was always part of the vision – it would be good to hear something on that from Hooker management.

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