Today it was announced that David H. Stevens, the President of Affiliated Businesses for The Long & Foster Companies would be stepping into the role of President and Chief Operating Officer. The announcement was made this morning by Founder and CEO Wes Foster in a company wide managers meeting at Long & Foster's new corporate headquarters in Chantilly, VA.
The move was a surprise to some of the company's managers, and will likely be received with equal surprise by some of the other leading brokerage firms around the country. Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc. is the largest privately held real estate company in the country, founded in 1968 by P. Wesley Foster, Jr. and his partner at that time, Henry A. Long. The company has offices throughout the greater Mid-Atlantic region of the United States from New Jersey to North Carolina and has upwards of 15,000 real estate agents.
David H. Stevens is only the third person to hold the title of President in the company's 40 year history. The fact that his background is not general brokerage but mortgage and finance may cause some to wonder if this signals a greater shift in the real estate industry as a whole. Since arriving at the company in July of 2006, Stevens has demonstrated his grasp of the real estate industry on numerous occasions. And he has been active in working directly with Long & Foster managers and agents out in the field on initiatives to generate more real estate business - even while overseeing the management of the company's affiliated business units: Prosperity Mortgage Company, Long & Foster Insurance Agency, Inc., Long & Foster Settlement Services and the Home Service Connections program.
A shift to more fully integrate ancillary business units, which can create substantial revenue, into the core business model of real estate is not unique to Long & Foster. Many other brokerages have adopted this model as well. As the industry contracts and consolidates during this down cycle, these ancillary business units take on a greater importance to the health of real estate companies both large and small.
In a recent Inman News article, columnist and Realtor® Kris Berg lamented on the future of existing brokerage models in her column "Big brokerage model is 'on the roof'" giving voice to what many agents are feeling about the value of large brokerage firms to their business. The appointment of David H. Stevens to this critically important post at Long & Foster might very well indicate that at least one big brokerage firm is willing to step outside the box to look for new ways of doing business that benefit both the agents and the company. It will be interesting to see how it is received by those inside the company who are being asked to open their minds to change.
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