Wes Foster, a long-standing industry veteran, has died at 89.
P. Wesley Foster Jr., co-founder of Long & Foster (one of the largest independent brokerage companies in the country), died March 17, according to the Washington Post.
Foster was 89 years old and no cause of his death was reported.
“Wes Foster was truly one the most influential Americans in the brokerage business over the past 50 years.” He started the company in 1968 as a standing firm and grew it to nearly 12,000 agents,” Steve Murray (co-founder of RealTrends Consulting) said. His firm was the largest privately-owned residential brokerage in the country year after year. He was also a man of great dignity who had strong entrepreneurial instincts. We will all remember his great stories and great sense of humor, even though he is gone.
Foster, who co-founded the firm with Henry A. was the chairman emeritus at the time of Foster’s death. “Hank” Long, Fairfax, Virginia 1968.
Patrick Bain, president & CEO of The Long & Foster Companies said that Wes was an exceptional leader, businessman, and person. “W]hat stood out most was his appreciation for and attention to everyone he met. Wes treated you as the most important person, and he knew that it was the employees and agents who chose to work here who were the heartbeat and soul of the company.
Foster attended Virginia Military Institute on a partial soccer scholarship. He received a bachelor’s in English in 1956 and served as an artillery officer in Germany. Long met Foster shortly after he switched from his career as a Kaiser Aluminum salesman to real estate. Both men were in their 30s at the time they founded the firm. They were both relatively new to the real-estate industry.
Foster spoke out to the Washington Business Journal about how he and another man “flipped a coin” in order to determine who would be first. Foster was elected president of the fledgling company as the loser in the coin toss.
The firm initially had one agent employed by Long. He died in 2020. Long specialized in commercial real estate, while Foster specialized in residential real estate.
Long & Foster opened its first office in Maryland in 1974. Three years later, it expanded into Washington, D.C.
After Merrill Lynch offered to purchase the firm, Foster purchased out his business partner. Foster was not in favor of selling the firm.
Foster said to the Washington Post that Foster had told him that he liked this crazy business in 1988.
Foster, however, agreed to an acquisition in 2017, selling The Long & Foster Companies, to HomeServices of America.
According to Long & Foster’s website, the company has more than 200 offices across Virginia, Maryland, D.C. and Pennsylvania. They also have more than 8,500 sales representatives and staff.
Foster was a firm believer in the importance of attracting successful real estate agents to his business. Foster’s ideal agent was a combination of empathy and ego.
He stated that if you have a lot empathy but not ego drive, you might be a good priest. However, you won’t make a great salesperson or manager. This was his opinion to American Executive in 2005. “If you have equal ego drive and empathy, you’re a great person. However, you’re also aggressive and make things happen.”
According to the firm’s website, Long & Foster had $27 billion in sales volume for 2022.
Foster is survived by Betty Foster, his son Paul Wesley Foster III and daughter Amanda Foster Spahr, as well as Rod Lawrence, his stepson.