The History of ERA Franchise Systems, Inc.
ERA Real Estate greets its 30th Anniversary year with a record of astonishing growth and a winning combination of unique products, affiliate support and entrepreneurial spirit. Looking back is unusual for a company defined by looking forward, but ERA Real Estate has as many accomplishments to take stock of as it has achievements ahead.
It all started with the ambition and imagination of a man named Jim Jackson, who saw the potential not only in selling property, but also in capitalizing on the fresh territory of technology. This was reflected in his new company's name, Electronic Realty Associates, Inc., which opened for business in 1972.
Long before the fax machine became a household word, ERA Real Estate was using it to sell homes. Known to ERA® customers as "The Moving Machine," it was an unprecedented national marketing resource, which could serve the burgeoning relocation market by transmitting listings from anywhere in the country to any ERA® location.
ERA Real Estate also broke new ground with the first nationwide home warranty program. Introduced as the Buyer Protection Plan and now called the Home Protection Plan, this program covers costly, unexpected repairs on a home's major working components — furnaces, wiring, plumbing and more — for a year after purchase of previously owned homes.
On such a forward-thinking foundation, the ERA® system's growth was dramatic, with member brokers in all 50 states by 1979. Shaping the course of real estate history by setting bold precedents, it was also around this time that the ERA® system introduced the Sellers Security® Plan, a unique program giving member brokers and agents a one-of-a-kind edge among national real estate networks. Assisting sellers whose current home needs to be sold to enable their next home purchase, the Plan advances the homeowner up to $100,000 equity for the new home, while guaranteeing that "We Will Sell Your House, or ERA Will Buy It!®"
ERA Real Estate has always prided itself on taking bold steps like these, which have included joining forces with other industry leaders. This began in 1981, when Commercial Credit Corp. (a subsidiary of Control Data Corp.) purchased ERA Real Estate, thus connecting it to the world of financial services and further establishing it in the technology industry.
The same year, the ERA® system went international, with the opening of ERA Japan. This was the first step in an ongoing expansion that currently embraces ERA® operations in 28 other countries and territories, where, as in Japan now, the ERA® franchise often rises to be the top real estate company.
The next great ERA® advance in the U.S. came in 1985, when ERA Real Estate was purchased by IMB Capital, further enhancing the stature of the brand. But landmark business achievements have never been the only way that the ERA® system measures success. Community has more than one meaning for ERA Real Estate. Just as the company has built its business from the local neighborhood to the global village, it has also built a reputation of being a good neighbor to those in need.
Since 1977, ERA Real Estate has been a national sponsor of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, helping give new hope to adults and children living with neuromuscular disease. Recently celebrating its 25th anniversary as MDA's exclusive corporate sponsor from the real estate industry, the system reached a landmark of nearly $30 million in donations for the charity, with its commitment set to grow all the more in the coming years.
ERA Real Estate continues both its dedication to giving back and its consistent drive to improve its business. The 1990s marked the introduction of top training programs and ongoing awards for customer service, which help the company maintain the best-trained Sales Associates, the most satisfied customers, and the greatest business growth.
These programs include the ERA® Top Gun® Academy, a rigorous course designed to take basic sales skills to a higher level, as well as the Beyond Excellence and President's Circle conferences for top-producing sales associates and brokers, respectively. At these events, participants enjoy first-rate vacation destinations and unsurpassed networking and professional development opportunities.
Always advancing its legacy of embracing new opportunities by adopting new technology, ERA Real Estate's variety of training programs, including AccelERAtion and other courses, are available through classroom instruction, on video and online. To also serve customers through the pioneering medium of the Internet, in 1994 ERA Real Estate became the first company of its kind to post all listings online, through an alliance with listings publisher Homes & Land. It then launched its own Web site, ERAonline.com (now ERA.com), in 1995. That same year, the company launched TeamERA.com, an information center focused on providing ERA® sales associates and brokers with timely data about the global franchise and the real estate industry. The Intranet site is home to training programs, customizable marketing materials and technology programs.
In 1996, ERA Real Estate was acquired by HFS Incorporated, and became ERA Franchise Systems, Inc. Keeping in step with change, the company welcomed Peter Burgdorff as its new President & CEO. Then in 1997, the company updated its image, while preserving its proven strategies and services, with a new logo and marketing look. In 1998, HFS became Cendant Corporation, offering the ERA® system an unparalleled potential for synergy and full service in Cendant's broad real estate, mortgage, financial and relocation divisions, and other holdings.
The affiliation with Cendant also introduced an array of preferred alliances, now marketed through ERA® Select ServicesSM. This program gives brokers and sales associates a competitive edge through the opportunity to offer value-added national services and local discount services to customers — from moving companies to neighborhood plumbers — for the lifetime of their homeownership. This represents the ERA® response to studies which show growing consumer demand for a "one-stop shopping" real estate transaction.
The ERA® system started the new century not just looking ahead, but observing essential American values. The future of America is in its heritage, both in culture and in years, as minorities become the fastest-growing segment of homebuyers and the population of mature Americans burgeons with the Baby Boomer generation reaching retirement age. As this future arrives, ERA Real Estate is well prepared. The company's entrepreneurial spirit, having driven its expansion into 28 countries and territories, positions it well to serve new markets, with tools such as its growing Hispanic marketing initiative and the ERA Sellers Security® Plan. The Plan helps put potential homebuyers at ease, and is tailor-made for the needs of seniors, who are interested in relocating to relatives' homes, smaller houses or retirement communities and need the confidence of a guaranteed sale for their previous home.
At the dawn of a new millennium, the ERA® system is an international neighbor, and to get to know its neighbors even better, the company launched the ERA® International Open Office weekend in 2000. Through this annual event, ERA® companies worldwide open their doors to their local communities, with civic-minded and fun activities that serve their areas and attract new customers.
In 2001 still more frontiers were crossed, as Brenda W. Casserly became ERA® President & COO, the first woman to lead a major real estate franchise network. The airwaves were alive with the ERA® message, as the system sponsored the popular nationally syndicated financial-advice radio show, "The Dolans." Services expanded into other crucial areas of the real estate transaction with the launch of ERA Mortgage. And ERA Real Estate achieved a 62 percent increase in core franchise sales for 2001, one of the most challenging years for both the nation and its businesses.
The year 2002 brought even further good news. The advantages of the ERA® brand identity were reaffirmed with the affiliation of Buffalo, NY-based Hunt Real Estate Corporation, one of the top 100 real estate companies in the U.S. The ERA® system changed its look again as it introduced sophisticated new marketing materials, and many other new tools designed to increase brokers' and sales associates' competitive edge.
A company that saw the future now enjoys a proud history. As more successes in the next 30 years and beyond beckon, ERA Real Estate is always growing, always evolving, Always There for You®.
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Each ERA® Office is Independently Owned and Operated.