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From the beginning, Simon Chen has abided by a clear credo: to enhance, not replace.

“It’s all about using technology in the right way to make the agent that much more productive,” Chen, CEO and president of ERA Real Estate, says. “The focus for us is to use technology as an enabler, and less as a disruptor.”

Fueled by that mission, and the mammoth shortage of supply, ERA Real Estate has announced two new functionalities: access to in-development and listed new-home supply, and augmented reality on the ERA Distinctive Properties luxury site. To implement the initiatives, the brand collaborated with Builders Digital Experience (BDX), NewHomeSource.com operator, and AR platform Showoff.com. As antidotes to the inventory shortage, both encapsulate what homebuyers are lacking: options.

“As an agent, new homes are fantastic inventory to show clients—and this leads into augmented reality, because everybody has very specific ideas of what they want their ideal home to be,” says Chen. “The great thing about new homes is that you can make them into whatever you want…and, what a lot of agents don’t realize is that new-home developers are not only willing, but also eager to pay them a commission.”

Connecting to the Source
According to the Commerce Department, there were less than 300,000 new homes for sale this spring. With BDX, ERA is delivering more than 130,000 new-home units to its professionals—the first to do so nationally, according to Chen.

“ERA is the only real estate company to offer the New Home Source Professional platform to its affiliated brokers and agents on a national level,” Chen says. “This technology is brand-new; we’re the first to roll it out. [This is an] example of how ERA is marrying innovation and high-touch agents to be the most compelling brand for buyers and sellers.”

Through BDX’s hundreds of builders and developers, ERA is providing a robust snapshot of supply—a bargaining chip when conditions are tight, says Frank Malpica, senior director, Product Development and Brand Engagement at ERA.

“In an inventory-constrained market, we’re providing affiliated agents and their customers with one-click access to tens of thousands of unencumbered properties nationwide,” Malpica says. “By providing a digital connection where one didn’t previously exist, homebuyers have access to a range of new-construction choices, from a vast network of builders ready to streamline the process.”

According to Malpica, the connection—which includes information like pricing, schools and taxes—is live, and onboarding has started.

Expanding Perceptions
Buyers can easily envision themselves living in a property if it’s staged, according to 77 percent of REALTORS®. Through its partnership with Showoff.com, ERA is offering a virtual visualization, with the ability to change cosmetic features on its Distinctive Properties in the luxury market.

“There are statistics out there that suggest 60 percent of people can’t visualize a physical structure beyond what they can see with their eyes,” says Malpica. “What this type of technology affords them is the ability to really personalize and customize the property to suit their lifestyle and their needs—something that just isn’t available today.”

“ERA has always been committed to showing the best properties available, but now clients can tailor those properties to their unique lifestyles with one of the most robust programs available,” says Chen.

With comprehensive decor and styles—from 3D furniture and cabinetry to exterior landscaping—common deal-breakers are eliminated at the outset, opening up options previously ruled out.

“We can’t underestimate the impact even the smallest of details can have on how willing or interested a buyer is,” Chen says.

With AR, there are advantages for agents on both sides of the transaction.

“We see this technology as allowing the agent to immediately expand the buyer pool for each individual property,” Malpica says. “The tool allows the agent to handle objections in real-time, and allows that buyer to really dream-build as they’re walking a property. What this tool allows a homeowner to do is provide that environment where the home can be staged professionally, and redesigned without that added investment.”

With the AR and BDX capabilities—two of many innovations in the works, according to Chen—agents and brokers with ERA are not only equipped for inventory shortages, but also solidifying their stake in the transaction. As a brand that has had “electronic” in its moniker (the “E” in “ERA”) from the start, the initiatives are a natural, and necessary, progression.

“The premise behind everything that we do is, ‘How do we take the best practices of the best of the best agents and automate what they are doing as much as possible?'” says Chen. “Whatever the market conditions, we’re trying to innovate at a much faster pace, so that people get reacquainted with our brand and our 45-year history of technology leadership.”

For more information, please visit www.era.com.

DeVita_Suzanne_60x60Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.