It has been another year of growth and expansion for one of Houston's top real estate firms, John Daugherty, Realtors.

I recently visited with Anne Incorvia, executive vice president, who discussed the importance of increasing the company's local footprint to best assist relocation clients who are buying and selling homes in Houston.

Incorvia said that much of the company's focus during the past year has been on investing in technology, creating the right infrastructure for its agents, and extending its agent base to support the needs of both their local and relocating clients.

Following are excerpts from our conversation:

MS: How has the overall footprint of your company expanded over the past year?

AI: We have had growth over all areas of the city. We have added agents who are strategically placed throughout the city, because our clients have asked us to expand our marketplace. So, we have expanded into the outlying markets into The Woodlands, Kingwood, League City, the Bay Area, Sugar Land and Katy. We now have agents in all of these areas, and we have opened offices in The Woodlands and in Memorial.

Not only have we grown our agent base, which is very diversified, but we are also bringing in the next generation of agents.

MS: In what ways do you see your company's expansion being of benefit to your relocation buyers and sellers?

AI: By expanding our footprint, we are able to help buyers and sellers in all areas of the Houston market. We are also able to extend our global footprint with great global exposure through our affiliations with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World (LeadingRE) and Luxury Portfolio International.

What we are doing differently is that we are not opening offices throughout Houston. Instead, we have strategically placed agents who live in different areas of the city, who also work from their homes.

MS: What role has technology played in your company's recent growth?

AI: We spent a lot of time and energy on technology over the past year. We built up an infrastructure for our agents so that they can work from anywhere, which makes it easier for them to assist their clients.

We also launched our new website (www.JohnDaugherty.com) at the beginning of January, which has a lot of information regarding Houston.

MS: How has your agent training program evolved to incorporate the changes in the local market, as well as the trends within the real estate and relocation industries as a whole?

AI: We have a very strong agent training program, which we are very proud of. We know how important it is for our clients that we stay abreast of what's happening in today's ever-changing industry. We need to know the latest trends in our local market, but we also need to know what the trends are throughout the whole real estate industry. So, we keep our agents abreast of the latest trends. We have a full training program that incorporates the LeadingRE Institute Program, which is ranked among the top training programs nationwide.

Another good thing is that we are going to the Leading RE Conference next week, and we have a large group of agents who are attending the Luxury Portfolio Summit.

MS: What is the main value of attendance and participation in those conferences, in terms of your agents and the clients they serve?

AI: Our agents see the value of LeadingRE, which is comprised of 565 affiliate broker firms. They also see the value of attending these types of conferences, because it is a network of top agents throughout the globe. There will be 2,500 attendees, so the agents will be able to meet, visit and discuss the latest trends, technology and tools available. They learn from each other about the latest techniques for assisting buyers and sellers, and they come back really excited about what's happening in the industry.

As a company, we really see the benefit of having our agents attend the conference. It is great exposure for them.

MS: What message do you have for buyers and sellers about the current Houston market?

AI: We're trying to educate buyers because we feel that interest rates are going to creep up this year. So, we are trying to educate them that this is a good time to buy. We also feel that this is the time for sellers to put their homes on the market, because there are buyers out there who are ready to buy. A lot of people think that the best time to put their home on the market is the spring, but the best time is now.

Michelle Sandlin is an award-winning writer, journalist and global mobility industry expert. Her work is frequently featured in Worldwide ERC's Mobility magazine, and in various business and industry related publications and corporate blogs. Follow her on Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheMichelleSandlin and on Twitter: @MichelleSandlin. Also visit "On the Move" at blog.chron.com/onthemove.