SINGAPORE, 28 September 2023 – In bustling Toa Payoh, ERA Singapore (ERA) stands as a beacon of innovation and leadership. APAC Realty Limited, the parent company of ERA Singapore, joyfully commemorates a remarkable milestone – the sixth anniversary of its listing on the Mainboard of the Singapore Exchange (SGX). As ERA, a 41-year-old household brand that has gained the trust of generations celebrates its sixth anniversary of being listed on the SGX on 28 September 2023, it’s an opportune moment to reflect on the remarkable journey that has brought the company to the forefront of the industry.
Leadership That Inspires
At the helm of ERA’s journey stands Mr. Marcus Chu, a visionary leader and CEO of ERA Singapore, ERA Asia Pacific, and APAC Realty Limited. Into his third year of leadership, Marcus continues to chart a course that places innovation, technology, and excellence at the core of ERA’s values. He emphasises, “Innovation isn’t an option; it’s the key to our continued success. We must constantly challenge ourselves to find new ways to serve our clients and agents better.”
ERA Singapore’s unwavering commitment to leading with innovative technologies and pioneering new processes is a testament to the vision set forth by its leadership. Marcus firmly believes, “To lead in this industry for the long haul, we must be at the forefront of technological advancements. Our commitment to innovation is what sets us apart.”
A Driving Force: Deputy CEO Doris Ong
ERA’s success story is also deeply intertwined with the role played by Ms Doris Ong, Deputy CEO of ERA Singapore. Doris is the driving force behind ERA’s project marketing arm. Her strong ties with developers have been pivotal in driving revenue and sustaining ERA’s growth trajectory. Marcus acknowledges her impact, stating, “Doris’ dedication and expertise have been invaluable to our success. She is a driving force behind our profitability.”
Evolution from Family-Owned to Institution-Owned
ERA’s journey is one of remarkable transformation. It began as a family-owned business under Hersing Corporation, later transitioning to ownership by Northstar Group, and eventually being acquired by a fund managed by Morgan Stanley Private Equity Asia. Today, ERA stands proudly as an institution-owned business. This transformation has brought about a corporate governance structure that demands full transparency and accountability from its leadership.
To motivate and retain its most valuable people, APAC Realty Limited started the performance share plan (PSP) where key appointment holders and agency leaders of ERA Singapore are awarded shares in the listed company. This would enable them to participate in the growth and performance of the company. Marcus shared, “This practice deviates from the norm and is unique because it demonstrates our commitment to investing in and retaining talent, inclusive of independent contractors, besides employees. We are cognisant that ERA Singapore agency leaders are a key driver of our business and the Group would be better positioned with a highly motivated team of agency leaders.”
To this end, ERA Singapore then implemented a performance share plan which included key independent contractors as recipients in April 2023, positioning the Group as the first and only listed real estate agency in Singapore to date to do so. The first grant of 16 million shares to key management staff and 14 agency leaders took place on 18 August 2023.
Marcus continues, “Our corporate organisational infrastructure also reflects our commitment toward holistic and strategic growth. We were amongst the first organisations in our industry to establish a well-diversified C-suite management team to foster innovation, introduce new ways of thinking, and enhance our overall business performance.” ERA Singapore’s current C-Suite comprises its Chief Executive Officer, Deputy CEO, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Agency Officer, Key Executive Officer, Chief Technology Officer and Chief Marketing Officer.
A Home of Their Own
Beyond its commitment to innovation and excellence, ERA stands out as the only real estate agency with its own building, strategically located in the heart of Toa Payoh. This permanent and prominent location, featuring 365-day advertisements on HD LED screens, gives agents a strong sense of belonging. Marcus highlights its significance, stating, “Our building isn’t just brick and mortar; it’s a symbol of our unwavering support for our agents. It’s a place they can call home, a testament to our commitment to their success.”
Expanding Horizons into Australia
Under Marcus Chu’s visionary leadership, ERA continues to push the boundaries of its reach. Over the past few years, ERA has embarked on an impressive journey of expansion, solidifying its presence in regional markets with long-term growth potential across Asia-Pacific.
Today, ERA boasts offices in five of the top six largest economies in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam. The company has also ventured into markets with high-growth prospects, such as Cambodia and Laos. In total, ERA now operates in 11 countries across Asia Pacific.
The most recent addition to this impressive list is the grant of the ERA Queensland master franchise, marking ERA’s expansion into the Australian real estate market. This move reflects ERA’s strategic vision, recognizing Australia’s well-established real estate market and its significant long-term growth potential.
Marcus shared, “We are delighted with our foray into Australia as the well-established real estate market continues to hold significant long-term growth.” With an initial team of 17 agents across 3 offices in Brisbane, ERA Queensland will be led by two seasoned professionals, Mr Alex Caraco, CEO, and Mr Ben Collins, Co-Director and Chairman. Alex is a seasoned professional with an impressive 44-year tenure in Australia’s vibrant real estate brokerage and franchising industry. Previously at the helm of Coldwell Banker Australia as CEO, his extensive connections and developer relationships in Queensland are poised to offer ERA Queensland an exceptionally fertile foundation for expansion.
Marcus continues, “We expect the Queensland real estate market to thrive in 2024, driven by growing demand for quality properties from Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, and Hobart, as well as renewed emergence of strong enquiries from Asia. Furthermore, the Queensland Government is in the midst of a building boom which is well supported by a record 4-year capital program of A$89 billion.”
Technological Advancements and Industry Firsts
ERA’s commitment to innovation extends beyond the conventional. The company has been a trailblazer in the adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and proptech. Marcus notes, “In the age of digital transformation, we are harnessing the power of AI and proptech to revolutionise how real estate transactions are conducted. It’s about providing our clients with a seamless, tech-driven experience.”
One of ERA’s standout achievements is its SALES+ super app, a groundbreaking innovation that took the industry by storm. This all-in-one platform provides agents and clients with a suite of tools and services, from property listings to financing options, all at their fingertips. Marcus explains, “SALES+ is a game-changer. It empowers our agents and enhances the experience for our clients. It’s a testament to our commitment to staying ahead of industry innovation.”
ERA’s commitment to innovation also extends to the realm of entertainment and storytelling. The company’s partnership to sponsor a 130-episode drama series titled “My One and Only,” set against the backdrop of Singapore’s real estate industry, is an industry first. Marcus envisions, “We want to engage with our audience in a unique way, and ‘My One and Only’ is a way to bring the world of real estate to life. It’s another example of how we intend to continue establishing ‘firsts’ in our industry.”