Real Estate Gets Territorial as Long & Foster Sets Sights on Patterson Schwartz’s Top Spot in the New Castle County Market
As the two real estate moguls battle for the top spot, the drama in the New Castle County market grows. Who will come out on top?
R.T. Christopher (left) and Gary Scott are sold on the idea of taking Long & Foster to the top.
Photo by Ron Dubick
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Act I: The Deal
Gary Scott, who left Patterson Schwartz in 1998 to join the Allen Tate Co. in Charlotte, N.C., is now president of the Long & Foster real estate behemoth, based in Chantilly, Va. He came back to Wilmington late last year to set up a Long & Foster operation in New Castle County.
His first big move: hiring Dick Christopher’s son, R.T. Christopher, away from Patterson Schwartz to run Long & Foster’s new Greenville office. And for good measure, he brings two more Patterson Schwartz veterans into the fold, Maggie Colman and Cathleen Wilder, who just happen to be Dick Christopher’s daughters. Colman is running Long & Foster’s Pike Creek office.
The announcements came six months after Dick Christopher retired, ending a 51-year career at Patterson Schwartz.
“It’s crazy,” says veteran real estate pro John Laursen, a ReMax Associates affiliate who has his office on Concord Pike. “It goes much deeper than Patterson Schwartz and Long & Foster.”
Indeed, by early February, Scott had recruited 40 agents for Long & Foster, including the top-producing Levy Wilson team, which had been affiliated with Prudential Fox & Roach, the successor to Prudential Preferred Properties. In March, the company announced the addition of “top producers” Buzz Moran and Jeff Derp to its Greenville office.
By mid-year, Scott aims to have seven Long & Foster offices (in Delaware), with 225 to 250 agents staffing them. “That would put us No. 1 in office count, No. 2 in agent count,” he says.
Patterson Schwartz now has eight offices, five in New Castle County, one in Dover, and two just over the state lines in Fairville, Pa., and Elkton, Md. Counting sales teams as a single unit, it has about 320 agents, and counting each licensee, it has about 380, says Joe Pluscht, who succeeded Christopher last summer as the company’s president.
“This is much more than Patterson against Long & Foster,” Laursen says. Long & Foster is “taking people from ReMax, from Prudential, from Keller Williams. They’re taking from all the bigger companies.”
Scott is doing so by offering agents a better split on sales commissions, Laursen says. He quotes a fellow agent who wished to remain anonymous, and was recently recruited by Long & Foster. “They basically bought me,” Laursen’s friend told him. “They made it easy for me to go there.”
Scott wouldn’t talk about the specifics of commission splits—nor would anyone else interviewed for this article—other than to note that the amount of the split can vary, and that top-producing salespeople usually get a larger share.
Both Scott and Pluscht insist that agents consider more than commission splits when deciding to change firms. When a company has a strong brand, strong support services and a foothold in the upper end of the market, they say, it becomes more appealing to agents. That’s why Scott says he’s been successful in recruiting a new team for Long & Foster. But it’s also why Pluscht believes the future remains bright for Patterson Schwartz. There’s no mistaking the strengths of the brands.