Industry NewsTechnology

Real estate dot-coms find profit recipe

Private companies grow from consumers, agents migrating online

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In real estate, it's all about leads. And there's no shortage of leads on the World Wide Web. In fact, Internet-generated leads are what today's fastest-growing online real estate companies have in common. Private companies ServiceMagic, ZipRealty, HomeGain and HouseValues are among the real estate dot-coms that have figured out how to make money from online leads. Publicly traded online real estate companies Homestore and LendingTree had unprofitable first quarters, but their private counterparts have grown as much as 50 percent-75 percent a year since their inception, sources said. ServiceMagic, ZipRealty and HomeGain reported profits in the last year, and Deloitte & Touche named HouseValues the fastest-growing technology company in Washington State two years in a row. The private online companies won't disclose their financial statements, but evidence of their growth can be found in their expansion of services, product lines, markets and employees. The Internet as an...