An exodus of executive- and management-level talent from a national brokerage’s local offices has created a new player in Richmond’s residential real estate scene.
Scott Shaheen, Scott Ruth, John Martin and Mahood Fonville have left Long & Foster to start their own brokerage, called Shaheen, Ruth, Martin & Fonville, or SRMF.
The group announced the venture Wednesday after leaving their respective offices on Monday. Shaheen was a regional senior vice president for Long & Foster, overseeing 46 offices and 1,500 agents, while Ruth, Martin and Fonville were managing brokers at the company’s Tuckahoe, Short Pump and Strawberry Street offices, respectively.
Shaheen and Fonville each were with Long & Foster 20 years, Ruth nearly 15 years and Martin five years.
Shaheen said there was no one thing that prompted their exit.
“I know a lot of people are shocked that I would leave a company job, but at the end of the day, I like a challenge and I’m excited about doing something for ourselves,” Shaheen said. “I’m only 51 years old; I’m not ready to retire anytime soon, and I’m looking forward to getting back into sales myself.”
Martin said there was no dissatisfaction with Long & Foster, but rather a desire to break out on their own.
“I have no hard feelings of Long & Foster,” Martin said. “Us four together, we’ve become really close. We just know the market, we know what people want, and we just want to do it ourselves.”
A call Wednesday to Long & Foster regional senior vice president Jackie Thiel was not returned.
Shaheen said SRMF, while focused on Richmond, will sell real estate from Williamsburg to Wintergreen, taking advantage of the group’s experience in different territories. Martin has maintained a client base in Williamsburg, and Fonville is active in the Wintergreen area. At Long & Foster, Shaheen oversaw a region that included Richmond, Charlottesville, Hampton Roads and southwestern Virginia.
They’ll also look to take advantage of the Commonwealth MLS Co-op platform that last year connected Richmond’s and Williamsburg’s multiple listing services.
Martin plans to open a satellite office in Williamsburg, and Shaheen said the company will open offices in Richmond and Midlothian in addition to its home base at 420 N. Ridge Road, on the second floor of a building across from Tuckahoe Shopping Center.
The group signed a five-year lease for the 3,000-square-foot space, which Shaheen said the firm plans to open by the end of this week.
Shaheen, a Radford grad, said he has known Fonville since they were teenagers. Fonville and Ruth attended Collegiate School, while Shaheen attended St. Christopher’s. Fonville and Martin are both Hampden-Sydney grads, while Ruth is a College of Charleston alum.
Shaheen noted Fonville’s father was behind the Bowers Nelms & Fonville brokerage, which later was absorbed by Long & Foster, while his own father, the late Arthur Shaheen, was with Joyner & Co., now Joyner Fine Properties.
“We’re four guys who talked about it off and on for 10 years, and we’ve all known each other, we’re all Richmond people,” Shaheen said. “John lives in Richmond now, and Mahood and Scott and I have all grown up together.
“We want to open up our own firm that can service Richmond – a new, homegrown firm – and cater to the agents.”
The four are equal partners and owners in the new firm. Shaheen said they’re putting in their own seed money to start the business. He did not specify a startup cost.
SRMF adds to a growing residential real estate market in Richmond. Hampton Roads-based Liz Moore & Associates moved into the market last year with an outpost in Midlothian. Coach House Realty launched in October with several agents from Jefferson Properties. And national online brokerage eXp Realty has planted its flag in Richmond with the addition of local agents.