Timing was right for Melissa Bond and United Real Estate

April 29 - May 5, 2024

By Jay Edwards


Six years ago, when Melissa Bond opened her United Real Estate office in Little Rock, the franchise ranked 189th in terms of brokerage size nationwide. Today they have moved to number six and Melissa expects by the end of the year to be higher. 


United grew faster than nearly all U.S. real estate companies within the past five years, as revealed by the 2024 RealTrends Verified ranking. This is the fourth consecutive year it ranked among the top 10 of the 500 largest real estate companies in America.


With 35 years of experience, Melissa says she’d come to a point in her career when she felt like the industry was moving into a period of many changes.


Some of those changes have come to the forefront of industry discussions in recent months, specifically about the six-percent commission and what the value of a real estate agent is.


“Things are moving faster than they ever have in our business,” Melissa says. “And there is so much more we do as agents than what is put down on a piece of paper.” 


“Now, if you want to put it into a nutshell, it comes down to getting people from point A to point B in the timeline they want. It sounds very simple in a sentence, but there are so many things that go into it to make it happen.” 


“There is so much information on the internet and so much of it is misinformation. Much of what is on the internet is generalized to what is going on over the entire country, there is very little information scaled down by neighborhoods and by cities. Those are the things, that as a real estate agent, we can provide value to. Not that we know everything about every neighborhood but we have the resources to get the true information, or to guide a potential buyer or a potential seller to get the information they need to make really great informed decisions.”


As she began her process seven years ago to find how to best position herself for her clients, Melissa started looking into ways to do things a little differently, which, she says, began with technology.


“I knew the impact and importance technology had on and for our industry,” she says, “but the more I looked into it the more I saw its enormity and I realized I had better know how to best utilize it or find people who could.”  


That led her to United.


“It was what they offered in training,” she says, “the depth of the education, and of course the technology that makes it all work most efficiently. I could see I’d have access to people who were much more knowledgeable than I was. It is hard to be all things to all people. If you are over here trying to put together a website, then you may be sacrificing time in another area. So I decided to partner with a company that I felt could give me the best financial, educational and technology support I felt I needed. I have been more than pleased.” 


A natural salesperson, Melissa says she remembers taking a test in high school that would give students ideas for careers based on their skills. 


“Mine came back and said I should be a farm implement salesman,” she laughs.


“My mom said, ‘Only my daughter!’” 


Melissa’s father, Tommy Bond, grew up in Little Rock and Jacksonville. When she was born they lived in the house her grandmother had built on Club Road in the Heights, back when her grandfather was flying planes in World War II.


“We all lived for a time there with my grandmother. Later we moved to Jacksonville.” 


Melissa’s mother Pat is from Lewisville, Arkansas, the original home of Burge’s. “My grandmother had a ready-to-wear store there. My parents met at the U of A. Dad’s parents had been in the development business, much of which took place around Greers Ferry Lake. Dad did some developments as well. He is a civil engineer and surveyor.”


At one time Melissa’s parents owned the Bagley Maps, which were volumes of detailed maps of city streets, subdivisions, lots, and blocks in Little Rock. They were developed by cartographer, real estate agent and newspaperman, Edward Orick Bagley in 1930. Bagley was later secretary and treasurer of the Beach Abstract and Guaranty Company of Little Rock.


“My family bought the maps from the Bagley’s,” Melissa says.  “We sold them to real estate and title companies. Mother would gather the changes and Dad, because he had draftsmen at the office, would do the maps. Then mother would have them printed and delivered. We had Benton, Little Rock, North Little Rock, and Jacksonville. 


“Mom ran the business and I helped her. We printed the books to sell and updated them once a year. When updated, we had to retype the information in the front showing what page the property was on. I helped type them until, finally, I hired someone else to do the job. The reason we sold the maps was dad felt we either had to computerize everything or get out.” 


The Bonds decided to sell, to Bill Rector, who is a former owner and publisher of the Daily Record.


“Mother was always very active,” Melissa says.  “She began pushing for Jacksonville to have its own school district when I was in the fourth grade. It took 35 years but it happened. She also served in the house of representatives. My brother (Will Bond) did three terms in the house and termed out. He then moved to Little Rock and ran for the Senate and served one term, choosing not to run for reelection. That is the seat Clark Tucker now has.”


Her parents, now 86, live in Jacksonville. “Dad still works,” Melissa says through a smile.


The United Real Estate office in Little Rock currently has 15 agents, with two new agents who just passed their test and are eager to get started.


“I train my agents to know what they are doing in their local market,” Melissa says. “Real estate is a business that is very local. By that I mean you have to really know the area you do business in and the rules and regulations that apply.  Central Arkansas is vastly different from how people operate in other places and we work a lot of different areas in the state and different cities have different customs. We have worked areas all the way to Fort Smith, where we have a property right now. We have an agent who primarily works Helena. She is from there and has a lot of contacts there and has been very successful.”


“There are good opportunities throughout Arkansas. Everyone knows what’s going on around Central Arkansas and in the northwest part of the state. The saying our President Rick Haase always uses is one JFK often used, which is, ‘A Rising Tide lifts all boats.’ It implies investing in economic development can benefit everyone who participates in the economy. So as Central and Northwest Arkansas continue to innovate, it will benefit other areas.”


“Just take a look, the northeast is also booming. My sister raised her kids there and she loved Jonesboro. And south of Little Rock the new casino in Pine Bluff is doing gang busters. Everyone I know who’s been had a great experience. It is bringing jobs. We are also a very friendly rental owner state and we have gotten a lot of interest in rental property from out of state investors, especially since our property values are lower than other places in the country. Pine Bluff is one of those places people are investing in.” 


“I tell my agents, no matter where you’re working, you have to learn to put a deal together, and trained professional agents are the master of the deal. As our pool of agents gets younger I have to remind them to pick up the phone and call. Everybody wants to text. I feel the changes that are happening now will push agents to be much more conversational and collaborative, not only with clients but with each other. It is going to be a good thing for our business.” 


“It’s an exciting time and I’m optimistic about it and about being with United.”  


You can reach Melissa at 501.960.0665 and mbondunited@gmail.com 


Photo Caption:


1. Melissa Bond

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