George's great-uncle, Jack White, started Blue Ridge Properties (BRP) in 1970. Then, in the late 70s, George's mother, Valerie Joh - managing broker of the company - bought it from White. In 1992, George joined the company, along with her brother, Ted Glynn. Their sister, Jenne Deason, came on board two years later. The company grew from one office to its current three locations - one near downtown Kingsport on East Center Street, one on Lynn Garden Drive, and one on Fort Henry in Colonial Heights.
BRP has 48 agents and serves a widespread area, including the local Tri-Cities as well as Greeneville, Rogersville, Telford and Limestone. Because some agents are licensed both in Tennessee and Virginia, the company also serves the Gate City and Bristol areas. Aside from working with real estate, the company has a full-service rental department that manages approximately 450 properties for landlords.
"We work with most of the human resource departments of local industries to help their relocating employees," George said. "Plus, most people in this area know several realtors. When someone new moves to town, locals suggest, ‘Oh, you should work with this realtor.’ The majority of our business is repeat customers and personal and company referrals."
Agents at the company's offices range in experience from those hired within the past year to those who have been with the company for more than 35 years. And each one offers something different to potential clients. Because issues often arise during the buying or selling of properties, George stressed that clients should talk to several realtors before deciding upon one to find a good fit.
"You might want someone who is super energetic. Or you might work better with an agent who is more calming," she said. "Our newer agents are more into Internet advertising and marketing, while our longtime agents have a substantial list of past clients, and when a house goes on the market, the agent might think, ‘This is perfect for that certain person.’ It's a good mixture. We all help each other. We feel like part of a family here."
The company encourages its agents to pursue continuing education opportunities to constantly increase their knowledge of the business. Many of the agents and all of the brokers have earned designations from the National Association of Realtors and the Tennessee Realtors Institute.
"All our agents are doing this as a full-time career," George said. "They aren't in this business to make quick money and then get out. That doesn’t work."
And instead of operating from home offices, agents at BRP work primarily out of the company’s three locations, interacting with fellow agents and sharing information about properties. The company holds weekly sales' meetings as well as weekly property tours to view newly listed homes.
"We owe that to ourselves and the client," George said. "If we are going to market and represent a property, we should at least see it. All homes are special in some way. When we see them, we can think of who will best fit that home."
Professional realtors don't consider themselves sales people, according to George.
"This is about helping people," she said. "It's about more than opening the door for a buyer who wants to look at a house. We have to listen to what they want. It's a little like counseling. If a buyer says they want acreage, we need to find out if they really want to maintain all that land, or are they just looking for privacy. And sellers need to see they can trust you enough that they'll listen when you give them tips that can help their homes sell quicker.
"We aren't just a key to get you in the door; we're here to offer you our knowledge to get you through the process."
For more information, visit www.brphomes.com. To receive the latest listings, you can also "like" Blue Ridge Properties' Facebook page.