A longtime residential real estate brokerage is moving further into the digital age with the recent acquisition of one of its newer competitors.
Midlothian-headquartered Napier Realtors ERA has acquired the local operations of California-based ZipRealty, a national, Internet-focused residential brokerage that has had a presence in Richmond for about 10 years.
The deal brings ZipRealty’s 33 local agents into the Napier fold, with their office at 1 Park West Circle in Midlothian now operating as a Napier “Powered by Zip” staff.
The deal closed on Jan. 20. Terms were not disclosed.
Jim Napier, president and principal broker of Napier Realtors ERA, said the deal followed ZipRealty’s acquisition in 2014 by Realogy Holdings Corp., a publicly traded company whose brands include Better Homes and Gardens, Century 21, Coldwell Banker, Sotheby’s International and ERA Real Estate, of which Napier Realtors is a franchise.
Napier said he inquired about Realogy’s plans for the ZipRealty office when that deal was announced. He said the company reached out to him last fall and entered into negotiations that led to the acquisition.
“Anytime you have an opportunity to attract a group of good agents and grow your market share, you certainly want to take advantage of that opportunity,” Napier said.
The deal gives Napier Realtors access to ZipRealty’s technology, including a website and a customer relationship management platform called “Zap.” ERA Real Estate has already implemented the platform across its entire U.S. network, but Napier said the deal gives his brokerage a head-start with the addition of agents experienced with the software.
Napier said the technology will help the brokerage track potential buyers’ interest in certain properties and have better intel on when to hone in on a potential client.
“This gives us an opportunity to predict when would be a good time to send strategic messages to them, which can hopefully increase our opportunity to turn them into an active client.”
Overseeing Napier Realtors’ transition to the platform is Linda Noronha, the former principal broker of ZipRealty’s Midlothian office. She said the office benefits from Napier’s name recognition in the community.
Founded in 1957 by Napier’s father, Napier Realtors has grown to include nearly 150 agents in four offices in Central Virginia. In addition to its corporate office in Midlothian, it also has locations in Glen Allen, Powhatan and the Tri-Cities.
Noting ZipRealty’s single office in the Richmond area, Noronha said: “The branding with Zip was not as marketable and powerful as the Napier ERA name. And they have several different avenues for the agents to get into the real estate business, versus, with Zip, we were kind of limited.
“We have great technology, we have the leads that come in, but we were really concentrating on the buyer side, versus the listing side. Napier’s one of the stronger listing agencies in the area, so that opportunity opened up another avenue of business for the team.”
Since hoisting the Napier banner in late January, Noronha said the office has seen an immediate effect, including one of its best months in February, with transactions increasing 160 percent over the previous year and listings increasing 200 percent.
The acquisition is the latest for Napier Realtors, which most recently picked up Prince George County-based Tetterton and Associates in 2010. Napier said he plans to continue to grow the company and remains on the lookout for potential acquisitions.
Napier joined the company in 1976 and took over as principal broker in the late 1980s, replacing his brother, Rich Napier, who went on to lead the company’s homebuilding arm, Powhatan-based Napier Signature Homes.