Norwest Mortgage Inc. and Long & Foster Realty are banding together in a venture to capture mortgage business generated by the real estate company.

The venture, called Prosperity Mortgage, is expected to handle mortgages for a significant portion of Long & Foster's customers, Norwest executives said.

Long & Foster, based in Fairfax, Va., is one of the largest independent real estate brokerages in the country. With 190 offices, the firm handled total sales of $7.4 billion last year.

The deal, slated to close in 60 to 90 days, comes as mortgage lenders across the country are exploring new ways to get business from realty brokers.

Norwest Mortgage, the nation's third largest originator, views the venture as "another extension of our retail business," said Pete Wissinger, a senior vice president at the Norwest Corp. unit.

The new company will be a restructured version of the Prosperity Mortgage currently operated by Long & Foster. The existing company, based in Fairfax, produced $250 million of loans last year.

Financial details on the venture were not disclosed, but Norwest and Long & Foster will reportedly be equal partners.

Source of Loans

The advantage to Norwest is a captive source of mortgage loans from a well-known and respected real estate firm. For Long & Foster, the arrangement provides access to Norwest's wide variety of loan products and competitive pricing to home buyers at the time of sale.

Many Prosperity loan officers will have offices in Long & Foster buildings. In effect, home buyers will be offered one-stop shopping for mortgages, Mr. Wissinger said.

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