Remembering P. Wesley ‘Wes’ Foster (1933-2023) 


P. Wesley “Wes” Foster, Jr., founder and chairman of the Long & Foster Companies, parent company of Long & Foster Real Estate, died March 17 at his home in Alexandria. Foster, who was 89, started the real estate firm in 1968 with then-partner Henry A. “Hank” Long.

Long and Foster first met when Long toured a home Foster was showing. The two hit it off and soon realized they had common interests. The duo invested in a real estate company overseeing the firm’s commercial real estate business with Foster focusing on sales of residential properties. The company began in a 600-square-foot office in Fairfax, Virginia.

Legend has it Foster was quoted as saying a coin toss determined Long’s name first in the company’s brand name and Foster the role of president. Both men were in their 30s and relatively new to real estate at the time.

Foster bought out Long in 1979 and over the next 40 years, built the business into what it is today. In 2017, Long & Foster was sold to HomeServices of America, an affiliate of Berkshire Hathaway. According to The Washington Post, at the time, Long & Foster was the country’s biggest independent real estate brokerage by sales volume. The company had 11,000 agents throughout the D.C. Metro area, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Delaware, North Carolina and New Jersey.

Foster oversaw plenty of ups and downs, having survived multiple recessions and a pandemic. In fact, in 2020, Long & Foster real estate sales reached $34.5 billion.

In his spare time, Foster enjoyed international travel and spending time with his wife Betty at their summer home in Connecticut

Foster received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the now defunct Georgetown Business Association’s Leadership Luncheon in July 2015. You can read more about that event and see photos here.

“I found him to be such a consummate gentleman, a sort of father figure, so characteristic of his generation — I just adored him. He was such a positive, humble and down-to-earth gentleman. And he was so supportive and encouraging in his whole demeanor. He supported The Georgetowner by doing campaigns with us for years. We just had a lovely relationship,” Sonya Bernhardt, The Georgetowner’s publisher recalled.

In 2013, Long & Foster celebrated 45 years in the real estate industry and Foster’s 80th birthday. You can read more about that here. Foster was also interviewed by The Georgetowner’s editor-in-chief Robert Devaney in 2013. Foster ended the interview with a poignant quote:

“I grew up fairly poor and went to college on a scholarship, and my brothers went to college on scholarships. We’ve had a fair amount of drive. Two were lawyers and one is a developer now in Atlanta. I am truly humbled by the success of the company and my team. It is an honor that so many clients put their trust in Long & Foster and our team of agents.”

Wes and Betty Foster. Photo by Philip Bermingham.

Foster is survived by his wife, Betty, two sons, one daughter, six grandchildren and many extended family members and countless friends.

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