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Many factors contribute to the growth potential of your company. In the following interview, Michael W. Pugh, President/Broker of Old Dominion Realty, a member of Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® in Harrisonburg, Va., talks best practices, market trends, tackling challenges and more.

Mike_PughRegion served: Western Virginia and Eastern West Virginia
Years in real estate: 42
Number of offices: 5
Number of agents: 90
Motto/work philosophy that you live by: We have a golden rule that we have used in our marketing for quite some time: We are built on integrity with proven results. Beyond being just a slogan, this statement demonstrates our attitude that we always put our clients’ interests first.
Best advice for new agents: Concentrate on all the educational opportunities that you can possibly obtain.

Please describe some of your best practices.
We have every contract reviewed by three different individuals to ensure compliance and accuracy. When I started out in the industry, a residential contract was a single page. Recently, I saw one that was 60 pages. All of that paperwork reflects increased regulations and carries an increased risk for the agent who authors the agreement. This system of cross-checks allows us to better protect our agents, clients and company.

What are the current trends in your market?
We’re seeing steady growth in the $300,000-plus market, which had been fairly flat since the recovery started. With the growth in the move-up market, we’re seeing a decrease in the percentage of first-time homebuyers.

What are the most significant challenges agents face today?
There’s a real learning curve for new agents. Even after they pass the state exams, many are not prepared for the challenges of marketing themselves and developing a business plan.

How do you work to solve these challenges?
To help new agents become more productive more quickly, we implemented a mandatory new agent training program. We have a paid, licensed agent head our educational division, which also offers continuing education and post-license classes for experienced agents. The program is so robust that it qualifies for six hours of post-license education in Virginia. We also have weekly sales meetings with training sessions and recently started a mentor program for new agents, which has become a marketing differentiator. In fact, I recently had a new associate tell me this was the reason he joined our firm.

What is the most significant trend positively affecting your business right now?
There’s been a marked decrease in days on market, a reasonable increase in average sales price and strong growth in sales volume within our footprint.

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