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Fonville Morisey, Largest Real Estate Broker In Triangle, Bought By Va. Firm

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Fonville Morisey, the largest residential real estate brokerage firm in the Triangle, has been sold.

Long & Foster, a $10 billion real estate giant based in Fairfax, VA, has bought Fonville Morisey for an undisclosed sum, the companies said Wednesday.

While the ownership is changing, the management is not. Johnny Morisey, who co-founded the firm 33 years ago along with Tommy Fonville and Frank Robuck, will run the Triangle operation, and the Fonville Morisey name will be retained.

"I will be doing the same thing tomorrow that I was doing today," said Morisey, the firm's president and chief executive officer. "I'm very much at peace with this because the company that purchased us walks and talks just like us. They're just a lot larger."

While Fonville Morisey sold more than 10,000 homes with a value of more than $2.6 billion in 2005, Long & Foster sold more than 120,000 homes. The company, which was launched in 1968, is the largest privately held real estate company in the United States. Long & Foster operates in Maryland, Virginia, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Wet Virginia, and North Carolina

Fonville Morisey was not for sale, but Long & Foster approached the firm with an offer that the partners found acceptable, Morisey said.

"I have known Wes Foster (the chairman and chief executive officer of Long & Foster) for 30 years," Morisey explained. "He's a good friend."

Selling to Long & Foster made long-term sense for Fonville Morisey as a company and for its people, Morisey added.

"For us to plan for the future, I agreed to this," he explained. "I needed to know that there was a long-term future, a place for Fonville Morisey. I'm 63 years old. I will continue to work. But I still needed a plan for all my people. That's what this (sale) is."

Fonville Morisey maintains 12 offices in the Triangle and has an army of 550 sales associates. It also has 160 managers and staff.

The sale includes three companies operated by Fonville Morisey, the others being FM Lending for mortgage services and Guaranty Title Company for title services.

Two other companies were not included in the sale. Fonville Morisey also operates Community Properties. Run by Fonville, it focuses on land development.

The other company, FM Builder Marketing Group, is for the sale of new homes. Audie Barefoot, who is the fourth partner in that firm, runs it.

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