ERA Realty launches Apac headquarters in Singapore

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/ EdgeProp Singapore
|
April 14, 2022 2:16 PM SGT
Chee Hong Tat (second from right), Senior Minister of State for Transport and Member of Parliament for the Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, was the guest-of-honour at the event held on April 11. (Picture: Samuel Isaac Chua/The Edge Singapore)
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SINGAPORE (EDGEPROP) - ERA Realty Network officially launched its Asia Pacific headquarters building on April 11. The event also included a handover ceremony which saw Marcus Chu take over the helm as CEO of ERA Asia Pacific from Jack Chua, who remains as executive chairman of ERA Asia Pacific. ERA Asia Pacific holds the master franchise rights for ERA in the region, including ERA Realty Network in Singapore.
ERA is also celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, having been in Singapore since 1982. The guest-of-honour for the opening ceremony was Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State for Transport and Member of Parliament for the Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.
The revamped building in Toa Payoh serves as the regional centre for more than 20,300 ERA real estate agents and service staff in the Asia Pacific region. As the headquarters for its real estate operations in Asia Pacific, the refurbished ERA Apac Centre manages 653 offices across 10 countries.
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The building used to be the Hersing Centre and prior to that, Toa Payoh Entertainment Centre. The building had originally been the Toa Payoh Cinema in the 1970s. In 2018, Apac Realty, the Singapore-listed parent company of ERA Realty Network, purchased the property for $72.8 million and renamed it ERA Apac Centre.
ERA decided to refurbish the building instead of redeveloping it as “it’s more environmentally sustainable”, says Chu. Sustainable features in the building include 261 solar panels on the rooftop to provide 33% of the energy needs for the entire building. Other new features include co-working spaces and services specifically catered to the needs of salespersons, such as a photo studio, sound-proof podcast studio and videoconferencing booths.
“Over the past few years, we have taken bold but measured steps to build a strong foundation to enhance our resilience and ability to deliver quality growth over the long term,” says Chu. “For our next three-year roadmap, we have established several objectives and initiatives which will see us strengthen our core and competitive edge, and augment our market leadership.”

Regional expansion strategy

Over the past two years, ERA has secured a foothold in key regional markets such as Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia. This provides the company with a strong geographical presence, and access to more than 470 million potential consumers, says Chu.
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As most economies in the region recover from the pandemic, ERA expects business to grow, as it banks on its established brand name and the strength of its sales force.
ERA APAC SUCCESSION CEREMONY - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
Marcus Chu (front, left) officially took over the role of CEO of ERA Asia Pacific from Jack Chua. (Picture: Samuel Isaac Chua/The Edge Singapore)
ERA targets to grow its agent count in the region to 25,000 over the next three years, up from 20,175 as at Dec 31, 2021. It has identified Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Cambodia as key growth markets, and has plans to eventually enter new markets like the Philippines and Australia.
ERA Indonesia was listed on the Indonesian Stock Exchange on June 30, 2021. It is the first, and so far only, real estate agency listed on that stock exchange. ERA Vietnam also signed three sub-franchises last year which set the company on the path to becoming a leading player in the Vietnamese real estate market.
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In Singapore, ERA has a strong market position with 8,459 out of a total of 33,664 licensed agents around the region, as at April 10. Chu shares that while ERA’s agents make up 25% of the overall sales force in Singapore, the agency has captured a 40% market share, in terms of all property transactions in the city state, for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2021.
ERA targets to increase its local agent headcount to 10,000 over the next three years.
Outgoing Asia Pacific CEO Chua says: “I am very happy to appoint Mr Marcus Chu as my successor to the position of CEO for ERA Asia Pacific. He will officially take over the reins and will work closely with the ERA Apac country heads in 10 countries to continue to drive innovation and value-add to the agents across the Apac region as we continue our regional expansion.”

Identifying opportunities

The event concluded with a panel discussion that included ERA country chiefs from Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, as well as Chu. The discussion was moderated by EdgeProp Singapore’s CEO, Bernard Tong.
Each country head shared how Covid-19 had affected their business at home, and how they overcame the challenges by encouraging their agents to adopt technology in order to maintain contact with their clients.
Lee Ville, president of ERA Malaysia, shares that real-estate transaction volume in Malaysia has not yet recovered to pre-Covid levels, but he expects market activity to pick up in 2H2022. In Johor, the reopening of the land border between Singapore and Malaysia has caused residential prices in Johor Bahru to increase overnight as business activity rebounds.
EDGEPROP CEO BERNARD TONG - EDGEPROP SINGAPORE
EdgeProp Singapore’s CEO, Bernard Tong (far right), moderated a panel discussion that involved ERA country heads from Indonesia, Malaysia (as well as the section head for Johor, Malaysia), Cambodia, Vietnam and Singapore. (Picture: Samuel Isaac Chua/The Edge Singapore)
Ville says that investors should consider freehold landed developments in Malaysia as property prices in this segment have lagged behind rising material costs over the past few months. Savvy investors may also consider industrial assets as economic activity picks up, he says.
In Johor’s Iskandar region, the focus will be on landed property as the region faces an oversupply of high-rise condominiums. The region will also benefit from spillover demand for industrial assets from manufacturing activities in Singapore and the rest of Malaysia.
Tuan Pham, CEO of ERA Vietnam, says that the country was particularly hard hit by the pandemic, especially in Ho Chi Minh City, which endured a four-month lockdown. “It was literally a war against the pandemic, with military presence in the streets to enforce the lockdown,” he relates.
Naturally, property transactions died during those months. “This was a very discouraging time for our agents as they could not go out to conduct their business,” says Pham. However, the market has rebounded strongly over the past four months and he expects residential sales to exceed 2020 sales volumes.
“In Cambodia, the residential market is one of the hottest in the region,” says Khorn Kung Kea, CEO of ERA Cambodia. The residential market in the country has seen average price growth of 15% to 20% over the past few years, and strong annual average rental yields of about 6% to 12%. Local Cambodians are increasingly turning to condominiums and high-rise residential projects, and are contributing to the growth in investment sales, he adds.

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