Heather Parness: Right Woman, Right Job, Right Time

Everyone is talking about the dynamism
of Washington, D.C.; its new growth in
neglected neighborhoods, the influx of
the younger generation and of investors’ money.
There is opportunity all around, whether for
jobs, in politics — or in real estate.
Such an opportunity is why the largest
independent residential real estate company in
the United States hired Heather Parness in July.
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc., went across the
country to get its regional senior vice president
for the Washington, D.C., market. It created that
new position for Parness.

The 40-year-old native of Greeley, Colorado,
now lives in a very Washingtonian place —
Washington Harbour in Georgetown — next to
very Washingtonian neighbors, such as House
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Washington
Nationals’ owner Mark Lerner.

Parness, who began working in real estate
in 1992 at the age of 18, says the reason she
got into real estate was that she was raised by a
single mother and had to pay for college. “I got
a job in a real estate office and fell in love with
the industry.”

More specifically, she says, “I fell in love
with the entrepreneurial spirit of real estate
agents. … You can do what you want … how
you want to do it … and make as much as you
want. The sky’s the limit.”

“I am more personally drawn to the management
side of the company,” says Parness, who
adds she is methodical and loves the legal side
of the business. She has done everything in real
estate — “I have grown up in it,” she says — from
being an assistant to an agent, to doing office
technology and moving into management.
In Denver, she headed up Perry & Co. Real
Estate and then Fuller Sotheby’s International
Realty. As a number one, she got the attention
of Long & Foster.

“I have a huge amount for respect for Wes
Foster and the company he built,” Parness
said. Long & Foster Real Estate president Gary
Scott first contacted her. Then, she came to
Washington to meet him, Jeff Detwiler, president
of Long & Foster Companies, and Wes,

Parness is well aware of the “amazing
opportunity” to learn from them. “You don’t
get that opportunity very often,” she says. “You
do not often get access to a position like this.”
In the Washington, D.C., region, there are 13
offices, including W.C. & A.N. Miller Co. But
it is the Logan Circle office, which is about to
open, that has her excited. “There are amazing
parts of Washington, D.C.,” says Parness, who
sees smaller-scale offices opening down the line.
“After all, it is all about servicing the agent.”
There will be more luxury events via
Christie’s International Real Estate. It is also
about art, she says. Someone buying such an
expensive home will likely have quite an art collection.
Art shows, wine tastings and appraisal
events are planned for March or April and the
months ahead.

Meanwhile, Parness has adapted to East
Coast traffic, D.C.’s easily called snow days
and the pleasant surprise of “a diverse, educated

“D.C. is an exciting, growing town” — with
a younger crowd, too. “People are pleasant and
fun to talk to,” she says. “As you might expect,
there seem to be more political discussions here
than elsewhere.”

Parness is studying the changing and
improving demographics of D.C. — checking
out downtown, City Center, Capitol Riverfront
Business Improvement District and all the way
to Anacostia. She is part of the plan of growth
that Long & Foster perceives as being ahead of
the curve.

“There’s a lot of strategic pieces that we’re
putting into place right now,” she says. And
Parness seems like the perfect member of that
strategic team for Long & Foster, fitting in well
with its energy and ambition.


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