Despite a considerable amount of buzz this year about disruptors in the industry involving new technologies and startups, data from the 2018 NAR Home Buyer and Seller Trends Report gives our industry’s agents very encouraging news: A full 87 percent of all buyers surveyed reported having purchased their homes through an agent.
Of those, the millennial generation—who have emerged as the largest demographic of homebuyers today—rely on agents more than any other generation. For those selling their homes, nine out of 10 people across every generation relied on agents to cross the finish line.
Nearly 50 years in the residential real estate industry have given ERA Real Estate the perspective to recognize important new developments, many of which they invented and popularized. But it also gives the company’s leadership the wisdom to recognize a fundamental truth of the real estate business: that agents will remain the primary gateway to homeownership.
“Think about WebMD or LegalZoom,” says Simon Chen, president and CEO of ERA Real Estate. “Neither one replaced the need to go to a doctor or a lawyer. If anything, one could argue that they actually accentuated the need because all of a sudden, you’re an average consumer who is not trained as a doctor or a lawyer, but you have access to an immense amount of data that can be really confusing and difficult to decipher without the proper expertise. We’re seeing the same phenomenon in real estate.”
For ERA, looking ahead to 2019 means viewing technology as an agent enabler. This means equipping its vast network of 40,000 affiliated brokers and independent sales associates with the technology tools that enable them to achieve higher productivity and close more transactions. Being a subsidiary of Realogy—which spends over $200 million per year on technology—means ERA has the ability to give its agents cutting-edge tools, allowing them to focus on what’s truly important: the human component of the transaction.
Goal-Setting and Accountability
LevERAge® is a proprietary ERA tool that Chen likens to Fitbit. Similar to how Fitbit can help users track their progress toward meeting health and weight-loss goals, LevERAge® offers agents instant insights into whether or not they’re on track to meet their sales goals. The platform breaks it down, telling agents exactly how many transactions are necessary to meet their goal, how many listing appointments it will take for them to hit that number of transactions, and how many phone calls it will take to secure enough listing appointments.
But it’s more than a goal-setting platform.
“LevERAge® also contains a library of resources,” says Chen. “That way, agents have access to the best thinking across our entire network, right at their fingertips.”
Staying Organized and Connected Throughout the Transaction Lifecycle
Another ERA® tool, ZAP®, is a platform that allows agents to not only prospect new clients, but also to stay in touch with clients between purchases, which tends to be a seven- to nine-year period.
“Those years between purchases in the home-buying cycle are crucial,” notes Chen. “An agent’s ability to effectively follow up makes a huge impact on their future business, whether it’s working with the client again or gaining a referral. We’re one of the very few entities in the industry that provide this kind of tool to our agents as part of being affiliated with ERA. We’re seeing that it’s generating leads and helping brokers and agents run more profitable, scalable businesses, and a big plan for 2019 is to encourage more widespread use of the platform among our affiliates and agents.”
Confronting Constrained Inventory
One of ERA’s top concerns is helping their buyer’s agents succeed in the current inventory-constrained market.
A recent relationship with BDX (Builder’s Digital Exchange) does just that. Through this relationship, agents get unique access to 100,000 units of new construction across the U.S. This access gives ERA agents a leg up in a marketplace that’s getting increasingly competitive.
“BDX allows agents to sell brand-new home inventory, giving them significant options for their clients,” says Chen. “And since it’s a national partnership, an agent in Phoenix can sell a home to a client relocating to Seattle.”
Viewing a Home as Your Own
Virtual browsing has made the search for a home more efficient—but sometimes, things as simple as paint color or cabinetry can get in the way of a buyer being able to envision themselves in a home. ERA’s recent relationship with Showoff tackles this challenge by giving clients the ability to see a home with their personal touches.
“The practical reality is that the majority of human beings, myself included, lack the ability to envision something as anything other than how it appears in front of them,” explains Chen. “The advent of AR and VR allows clients to virtually walk into any home and say, ‘Hey, you know what? I don’t like that countertop, let me just change it right now so I can see what it would look like for me,’ or, ‘I don’t like those cabinets, let me change that.'”
ERA affiliated agents are now bringing their iPads to showings and giving their clients the best of both worlds. If a client is turned off by the carpets, they can quickly see an alternative reality, instead of letting one detail knock a house off their wish list.
Enabling Service and Disrupting Stress Lead to Success
ERA continues to be ranked among the highest in terms of number of transactions per agent. This is due in part to ERA’s recognition that what sets a brokerage apart and keeps clients coming back is the team of agents and the quality of the customer service they deliver.
“Buying or selling a home is one of the most emotional, complicated and stressful transactions a person will make in their lifetime,” says Chen. “But with a dedicated agent providing guidance and emotional support, the process becomes a lot more manageable. In 2019, we’ll continue our pursuit of technologies, data and best practices that help ERA affiliated agents achieve even more. As our decades of experience attest, and all of the recent customer data affirms, agents continue to be the heart and soul of this business.”
For more information, please visit www.era.com.