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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It’s the same situation young Gary Scott had encountered two decades earlier when his father sold to Prudential Preferred. No longer tied to the family business, he could make the move to Patterson Schwartz.
On the surface, Gary Scott’s success in bringing the 18-member Levy Wilson real estate team into the Long & Foster fold looks like a raid on Prudential Fox & Roach. But, like so much in Delaware, personal connections run deep.
Carol Wilson, one of the group’s principals, started her real estate career in the 1980s, working for B. Gary Scott. Judy Levy, her partner, spent 18 years with Patterson Schwartz. In a little over 10 years, they built their team into one of the top 250 in the nation, based on rankings by the Wall Street Journal, Levy says.
“I started with B. Gary Scott 30 years ago, so it’s like coming home, with his son heading the company instead of the father,” Wilson says.
While finances played a role in their decision to move to Long & Foster, Levy says, what’s more important is that the company has the leadership to make it a “hometown team.”
And that, according to the real estate professionals interviewed, is what could make Long & Foster’s challenge to Patterson Schwartz far more powerful than those of Weichert, Keller Williams, Prudential Fox & Roach, ReMax and any of the other regional and national firms that have entered the New Castle County market in the last 25 years.
None of those firms, they said, ever thought of making Delaware their primary market. Long & Foster, of course, is far too large an operation for Delaware to become its primary focus. However, with Gary Scott, a Delaware native, running the company, and members of the Christopher family guiding two key sales offices, there’s no doubt that Long & Foster, which opened offices in Bethany and Rehoboth several years ago, will have its fingers on the pulse of the entire Delaware market.
In describing his goals, Gary Scott minces no words. “Our clear objective is to be the largest real estate firm in the state—in offices, in number of quality agents and in production,” he says. “ Our goal is to be No. 1 in January of 2014.”
Act III: The Opposition Speaks
Not so fast, the competition says.
“They’re a long way from dominance,” says Dick Christopher. “Dominance is a dream when you have 1 percent of the market.”
“Everyone aspires to be No. 1 in the market within the shortest period of time,” says Tucker Robbins, a 25-year real estate veteran who heads the Robbins Team, affiliated with Prudential Fox & Roach. To Robbins, “Long & Foster is just another competitor in the area,” and it’s too soon to tell what its impact might be.
“For Long & Foster as an organization to have any less of a goal, I’d be shocked to hear it,” says Pluscht of Patterson Schwartz. “Any franchise that enters this marketplace will not do so with the thought of failing. Nobody enters the marketplace saying, ‘We’ll give this a shot. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.’”