Realty firm says partnership means dawn of new ‘ERA’

By Don Kirkland

As a young college graduate pondering a still uncertain future, Jeff Lucas may have had an epiphany similar to the one immortalized by Dustin Hoffman in the 1967 screen classic The Graduate. 

No, not plastics. 

To Lucas, the future lay in real estate, and the road he followed to get there became a rite of personal and professional passage, one that would lead him to endeavors in Denver and, eventually, the Valley.

Now, 25 years later, Lucas has made what he considers another career-altering decision: To convert the thriving family owned brokerage known as Lucas Realty Group to ERA Lucas Realty, officially denoting the company’s new relationship with one of the world’s real estate giants.

Although the transition was announced only recently, it had been in the works for almost three years, according to Lucas.

The decision came after some of the original Lucas Group family members moved into other venues earlier this year, paving the way for Lucas, daughter Erika Lucas-Goff and son-in-law Randy Goff, a onetime ski instructor-turned real-estate marketing mogul, to set off on their own.

The ERA affiliation, Lucas says, was a perfect fit with his vision of the future. 

“The (business) models we used 25 years ago aren’t the same as they are today,” says Lucas. “We’re now in a consumer-concentric market, where the customer has access to the same tools we do.”

The ability of prospective buyers to use the Internet to seek out and pre-select potentially desirable properties has resulted in “better educated, more hands-on consumers who have done their homework,” Lucas says.

Thus, he says, the customer who walks into a real estate office today “knows where the schools are, knows the crime statistics, knows the infrastructure—is a confident buyer or seller.”

Instead of being a detriment to Realtors, that’s a benefit, Lucas insists.

“It is much more of a collegial and counseling relationship than the old student-teacher relationship,” Lucas says. Today’s real estate transaction is, in many ways, he says, “a meeting of equals.”

The result of these emerging changes has been good for both sides of the equation, says Lucas.

As customers have become better informed, he says, Realtors have had to become better qualified.

“In our agents today, we demand a high level of competence—agents who are more informed and more sophisticated,” Lucas says. After all, he suggests, the complexity of real estate contracts, coupled with the dynamics of an explosive, unbalanced market, leaves little room for amateurs.

As to Lucas’ new business partner, the relationship would appear to have a promising future.

ERA greets its 30th anniversary year with what Lucas says are a record of growth and a combination of unique products, affiliate support and entrepreneurial spirit.

The company was launched with the concept of not only selling property but 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 was using it to sell homes. Known to ERA customers as "The Moving Machine," it became 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 also broke new ground with what it says was the first nationwide home warranty program. Introduced as the Buyer Protection Plan and now called the Home Protection Plan, the 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 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 these kinds of precedents, it was also around this time that ERA introduced the Sellers Security Plan, a 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 "We Will Sell Your House, or ERA Will Buy It."

Says Lucas:
“These are the strengths we considered (when the decision to affiliate with ERA was made). We could tap into a vast, international support system and still maintain the integrity of all that we have been able to accomplish in our own community.”

In that sense, he says, the ERA-Lucas relationship has the potential to be “a very good marriage.”

ERA Lucas Realty offices are located at the northwest corner of Ray and McClintock roads and at Ray and Rural roads. Information: (480) 496-7100.