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Libby Gatewood began working as a real estate agent in 1979. She’s been working at Napier REALTORS®, ERA in Central Virginia for nine years, as both an agent and the company’s managing broker at the Colonial Heights branch.

“The only thing constant in this business is change. You have to keep up with the changes so that you can be successful,” Gatewood says.

With 40 years of experience, she’s seen a lot of changes in the industry. Gatewood, who started her career before there were cellphones, iPads and laptops, has noticed a drastically different relationship between consumers and their phones.

“There are so many robocalls these days, and people are reluctant to answer a call from a number they don’t know,” says Gatewood. “As an agent, we know that the No. 1 thing people do with their smartphones is text, and 97 percent of text messages are opened and read.”

TextERA allows potential clients to immediately access the listing agent, pricing, video and details about the property by texting a number listed on the yard sign.

“Now we have a way for people to get information they want instantly,” explains Gatewood. “But it’s more than that. Through texting, you’re opening the door to a long-term relationship in a way that feels less invasive to the consumer.”

Many times, Gatewood says, the texts that come in from the TextERA platform turn into leads that end up being longer, more strategic relationships. “People get in touch via TextERA when seeing a specific house for sale. Once the texted information is provided, they can decide if they want to make an appointment to get a closer look or additional information. They may decide they aren’t interested in that particular house, but many times, they’re still interested in pursuing other properties, so you’ve just started a new relationship from that initial text.”

For consumers who want to speak on the phone immediately, TextERA now has a new IVR (integrated voice response) system, which ensures that even when an agent is too busy to answer the phone, the call gets rerouted via criteria set by the agent, allowing them to send the call to another team member or the main office. The client automatically receives a text with listing information, and the agent receives a text that alerts them of the missed call, eliminating any missed opportunity.

“Agents using the IVR feature saw three times as many leads, propelling TextERA to the No. 1 lead-generating system within our network, surpassing all industry portals,” says Simon Chen, CEO and president of ERA Real Estate. “We believe that the leads that come through TextERA, when people are actively driving through neighborhoods in search of a home, are more qualified than the leads that come from online browsing. Sixty percent of TextERA leads convert into actual showings, proving that the online portals may own the couch, but ERA owns the driveway.”

Lee Williams, who has been working at Napier ERA for two-and-a-half years, has seen this work firsthand. “TextERA generates leads for you, plain and simple. And as a new agent just entering the business, that’s crucial. In the beginning, you need a volume of leads in order to compete.”

Jim Napier, president and owner of Napier ERA, explains that TextERA has been instrumental in helping agents secure buyer leads, as well as seller leads. “We’re experiencing a tight inventory market, and TextERA is proving to be a key differentiator in the eyes of people who are trying to sell their home. When we sit with prospective sellers and our agents demonstrate TextERA—showing them that we can connect with prospects in real-time—it really sets us apart.”

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Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at