When Simon Chen joined ERA Real Estate as chief operating officer in May, he learned that the company’s acronym stood for “electronic realty associates.”
In his new role as CEO, Chen plans to get back to those roots — even if the electronics referenced in ERA’s name at the time referred to a fax machine — and focus ERA on its future and technology.
Chen took over as president and CEO from Sue Yannaccone, who led the Realogy brand in that role for a year-and-a-half before taking a position overseeing Realogy’s residential brokerage business.
Before joining ERA in 2017, Chen served as COO at Realty One Group, founded the brokerage and tech consulting firm Century Pacific Group, worked as a licensed broker in California and worked for realtor.com.
“We’re getting back to our roots and being more entrepreneurial again,” Chen told Inman in an interview. “We’re reclaiming that aggressiveness an entrepreneurial organization would have so we can benefit from the trends going on in the industry and the next generation of ERA.”
Within that plan, Chen is pushing ERA’s Leverage platform, which lets agents closely track their progress and goals day by day. Chen is also putting muscle behind Zap, the tech platform used across Realogy.
Longer-term, Chen hopes that ERA will work to make its agents’ websites home to the entire real estate transaction and beyond by featuring neighborhood and related recommendations for when clients are settled in their new homes.
“That’s the chasm the industry hasn’t really crossed over yet,” Chen said. “They’ve toyed with it a bit, but no one has a platform that can maintain the relationship with the client.”
All of this, Chen hopes, will bolster perceptions of 47-year-old ERA Real Estate as a more modern brand.
“One of the misconceptions out there is that we’re a traditional brokerage company — how do we compete against the hybrid companies out there?” Chen said. “We can compete very well because we own the tech platform.”
Chen’s background in real estate and real estate tech makes him even more determined to build ERA’s technology platforms.
“It stems from frustration,” Chen said. “I was in the technology world doing a lot of development during the dot-com generation. When I started a real estate company, I was frustrated with the lack of tech available.”