Long & Foster co-founder Wesley Foster dies at 89

Wesley Foster (Long & Foster Companies)

Wesley Foster, co-founder of Long & Foster, one of the largest independent real estate companies in the nation, died on March 17, the Washington Post reported.

He was 89; no cause was given.

“Wes was an extraordinary leader, businessman and person, and my heart goes out to his family and all those he touched through his caring and generosity,” Patrick Bain, president and CEO of The Long & Foster Companies, said in a statement on the company’s website. “[W]hat stood out the most was his appreciation and attention for everyone he met. Wes always treated you as the most important person and knew it was the agents and employees who chose to work here, who were the heart and soul of the company.”

Foster teamed with Henry Long in 1969 in Fairfax, Virginia, to found Long & Foster, which grew to more than 200 offices, employing more than 8,500 sales agents and staff, and offering real estate, mortgage, settlement, and insurance services, according to the company’s website.

Both men had served in the military, were in their 30s and knew little about real estate when they formed the company, according to the outlet. A coin flip decided whose name appeared first for the brand. 

In the early going, they opened a 600-square-foot office, employed one real estate agent and split their duties, with Foster focusing on residential, while Long handled commercial, the outlet reported.

The partners almost sold Long & Foster to Merrill Lynch in 1979, with Long more enthusiastic about the offer than Foster.

“I told him, ‘Gosh, I liked this crazy business,’” Foster told the Post in 1988.

Foster bought out Long instead and the company expanded further throughout the mid-Atlantic and Southern states by hiring top agents from other firms as well as keeping the brokers of the smaller brokerages the company acquired. The company, which was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway’s HomeServices of America in 2017, is headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia.

Foster believed the best agents were driven and had empathy, characteristics he read about in Harvard Business Journal’s “Mystique of Super Salesmanship,” according to the company website. 

He was born in Georgia and attended Virginia Military Institute on a partial football scholarship, earning a bachelor’s in English in 1956, according to the Journal. He served in the U.S. Army and was stationed in Germany. Upon his return to the U.S., he went to work for Kaiser Aluminum as a salesman, then began selling homes. That’s when he met Long and, realizing their common interest in real estate, started their partnership. 

The company sold $36 billion of real estate in 2021, according to its website.

Foster is survived by his wife, Betty Foster; son Paul Wesley Foster III, daughter Amanda Foster Spahr and a stepson.

Ted Glanzer

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