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James and Margaret

The successful Willoughby business credits family ties for success.

Over the decades, Forsyth Real Estate has been a constant presence in the Willoughby community. Hundreds of local families have trusted them with one of the most important milestones in life – buying and selling a home.

Principal James Snodgrass is the great grandson of the company’s founder, Robert Todd (RT) Forsyth who started the business in 1898. When he was just 21, RT opened the first real estate agency in Willoughby, RT Forsyth on Penshurst Street.

Robert Forsyth
Robert ‘RT’ Forsyth

James says the 124-year milestone is special in many ways.

“It’s a long time, the company has a great reputation, it’s still in the same family, it has evolved over the years, it has always put clients first, it has always given back to the company the industry and team and client,” he said.

“Forsyth has pioneered some of the most important changes, like the first female agent, first agency to drive people to inspect properties, first agency with a telephone on the North Shore, first agency in the entire world to offer properties for sale via bitcoin.”

A mainstay of the company is James’s mother Margaret Forsyth-Snodgrass, and they’ve been working side by side at the business for more than 20 years.

“Margaret is a tireless worker for the community, clients, team, and family.  She is loved by all.  She has achieved Willoughby Council Citizen of the Year, and an Order of Australia. She is the gel that holds everything together.  She is an amazing mum, business partner, and friend.”

Forsyth Real Estate
Mother and son duo James and Margaret Snodgrass celebrating Forsyth Real Estate’s recent birthday

Fifteen members of the Forsyth family have been involved over the decades, and the business today includes a management team who have all had more than 30 years experience in the industry.

James says they’ve had to be innovative and adapt to recent changing conditions.

“We have survived world wars, depressions, boom times and great social, family succession and business changes. The market would take 12 months to change in the past and now it changes in a week. The area has changed, the people have changed but the way we do business really hasn’t changed that much,” he said.

Have you spotted this zipping around the North Shore yet? Says James, “My grandfather Jim Forsyth used to collect rents on a motorcycle with sidecar. He and my grandmother would go for picnics to Kirribilli on it”.

Forsyth has made a significant impact on the local community during its 124 years. It was a founding member of the Royal North Shore Hospital, the Tresiilian Hospital of Mothers, and the Real Estate Institute of NSW.

“We’ve donated land for parks, churches, sporting clubs, and have produced Willoughby Council Mayors more than 18 times in total.  We have received countless industry and other awards. The list goes on and on. The company and the family have a very proud history,” James said.

But it’s not just about house sales. The property management side of the business where people trust the company with their multi-million-dollar assets is a very important part of Forsyth’s operations, and one that is close to James’s heart.

Forsyth Real Estate old building“I started out as a 17-year-old in property management and learnt so many valuable real estate, business, people and life lessons on the job. It is very fast paced job. People skills, problem solving and attention to detail are a must. During COVID we saw 30% of the property managers leave the industry because of the trying times, but we not only kept our team but grew by two property managers.  I truly believe we have one of the best property management teams in the business.”

But it’s the legacy to the community that James says sets Forsyth apart from other estate agents.

“There are 14 clients we know about who have put in their wills that only Forsyth’s can sell their property. I also know of three generations of the same family that have only used Forsyth, and many properties have only ever been sold through Forsyth. And of course, many family and team members have worked their entire lives with Forsyth’s,” he tells proudly.

Every year the Forsyth team celebrates its anniversary somewhere special, to commemorate and celebrate the family legacy in our wonderful community.


Forsyth Real Estate

236 Penshurst St
North Willoughby 2068
Ph: (02) 9419 7411

Email: info@forsyth.com.au
Website: www.forsyth.com.au
Facebook: www.facebook.com/ForsythRealEstate