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by CareyBot

Real estate technology company Homeseekers has emerged from bankruptcy protection nearly one year after it filed a voluntary petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company has secured $1.75 million in financing from hedge fund Aspen Capital Partners and now will operate as a privately held company, Realigent Inc.

Homeseekers has been doing business as Realigent for the last two years. The company will continue to operate the Homeseekers.com Web site, but the Homeseekers name “is effectively dead,” Realigent CEO Thomas Chaffee said.

The company will continue to focus on its core products, which include real estate data aggregation technology, multiple listing service software, Web site technology and realty agent productivity systems.

“It’s business as usual, but business is better,” Chaffee said.

The bankruptcy process began in November 2003, though Chaffee said the company planned for nine months prior to the filing. Chaffee described the process as “grueling,” but said it was “not an act of desperation.” The company’s financial troubles were mostly due to previous mismanagement, he said.

Brea, Calif.-based Realigent continued investing in product development and support for its current customers during the bankruptcy proceedings, and plans to launch new real estate technology products in coming months.

“We expect to shortly announce one of the most significant advances in real estate technology since we first put property listings on the Internet,” Chaffee said.

The CEO wouldn’t release details about those products.

The original Homeseekers was among the earliest real estate dot-coms to display MLS listings data the Internet. Others included the National Association of Realtors’ Realtors Information Network, Moore Data’s Cyberhomes, the California Association of Realtors’ California Living Network and Microsoft Corp.’s HomeAdvisor.

Homeseekers was unprofitable from the outset, yet acquired a number of other companies during the dot-com mania days. Those companies came with existing debts and overhead costs, and Homeseekers generated a $20 million working capital deficit over its history and only about half of that debt has been worked off through negotiation or settlement. The company raised $8.7 million in a private placement in early 1999, went public later that year, then announced a big jump in revenues.

The company sustained a $51 million loss in the fourth quarter of 2001, then turned a profit in the second quarter of 2002. Chaffee said at that time that the company had “effectively completed its operational turnaround.”

A proposed merger characterized as a hostile takeover of the company derailed more than two years ago.

The largest secured debt holder is Fidelity National Financial, which helped Homeseekers fend off the takeover. Fidelity National Information Solutions, a subsidiary now wholly owned by Fidelity National Financial, purchased Realigent’s MLS hosting operations in a deal that put both working capital and debt on Homeseekers’ books.

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