Mark Foreman – ‘A lot of satisfaction’

In founding Fairfield-based Cornerstone Capital Mortgage and Real Estate Services in 1990, Mark Foreman, the president-elect of the Connecticut Association of Realtors, and his wife and business partner Wende Foreman combined their individual skills of banking and real estate to create one company that could assist homebuyers through the complicated process of buying and financing homes.

While studying at Yale University, Foreman decided that he wanted to pursue a career as a real estate attorney. After graduating in 1987, he took some time off before law school in anticipation of the strenuous years ahead and decided to dabble in real estate to make some extra money.

“I’d never had any other job and needed to take the time off after college, so figured if I sold real estate I’d have a head start,” he said.

Foreman quickly realized that he had found a career in the real estate industry.

“That’s how I ended up at Coldwell Banker in Bridgeport for two years. Then I worked for a small property management company in a commercial real estate firm. But after the market crashed Wende and I decided to open up Cornerstone. She’s a good partner,” he said. “She has her mortgage broker’s license and since we were getting married, we thought might as well start our own company and combine the two things.”

By combining mortgage financing and real estate sales, Cornerstone has been a quietly successful business since its start.

“We went through a period where we grew a lot up through 1997-1998,” he said. “We decided that we weren’t cut out to run a large company. We employ two residential agents and seven mortgage originators. Right now, we’re comfortable with the size of the company, but I think as the market changes and as technology changes, business owners are able to control things more. We might consider venturing out further in the future, but for now very happy with where we are.”

Foreman has applied much of what he has learned in creating his own business to his position of leadership at CAR. Having been involved with the association for six years, Foreman spent his first three years on its board of directors and the next three working as treasurer.

Since his initiation into the association, he has developed a greater understanding of the industry, both at home and abroad.

“Working with CAR has definitely increased my level of professionalism. I have a much greater understanding of the real estate industry in not only Connecticut but nationwide. And really my awareness of the industry is much stronger on a global level. [Due to our resources] and effective communication with NAR, we become immediately aware of information in terms of legislation as it happens that will affect the business.”

Foreman’s vision for CAR’s next year focuses on continuing to improve the association’s communication and sense of community. He is working on a number of small steps that come together to improve the association’s greater picture.

“Many of the changes that I’d like to see made are already in process of happening,” he said. “The last three or four presidents of the association had a common theme in trying to make a better arena for communication with our members at CAR. We’re making improvements to the Web site; making sure that the e-mail system for our members works well so that we can get up-to-date information to them. I’m not going to make any major changes but, rather, improvements on what our past presidents already started.”

Since Foreman’s involvement with CAR, he has only seen the association garner strength. “There are 17,000 Realtors in Connecticut and a great percentage are involved with CAR,” said Foreman. “In the years that I’ve been involved the association has definitely grown. We’ve got some good leadership across the state with Realtors who serve on and chair committees. And who are involved with national committees.”

In a position of leadership, Foreman has learned the intricacies of the different sides of the industry.

“There is a lot of satisfaction in helping first-time buyers,” said Foreman. “In commercial real estate you’re dealing with people who are much more focused on numbers and on the bottom line. With residential real estate there is a huge emotional contingent. That look of joy and happiness when they get that buy is completely different than in commercial real estate. Working on the residential side of things is 24-7 commitment, whereas commercial real estate is much more structured and you hardly ever have to work at night or on weekends.”

A respected entrepreneur and industry leader, Foreman is proud that he has been able to achieve success in a manner that allows him to help others.

“It’s always good to give something back. The fact that I haven’t had to report to anyone in the morning since 1987 and that I’ve been able to do my own thing while in the process of helping families who need to get into homes, that feels good,” he said. “I’m grateful that I have a level of independence and am still doing something good at the same time.”

Although in the next year much of Foreman’s free time is bound to be spent on his responsibilities as president-elect, he is eager to focus on following in the footsteps of his predecessors by continuing to make the association even stronger.

“We’ve got a really good association,” he said. “The president this year, Bob Fiorito, did a terrific job, as did Leanne Spletzer the year before and Denise Robillard the year before that. I could go on to the last 10 presidents who’ve all done great jobs in making sure that CAR stays on solid footing. I plan to pay attention to the needs of our members and be mindful in making sure the work our association always benefits our members’ needs.

“I just hope to do the best job I can as the president-elect of the association.”