Despite losses, scandals, investigations and faulty business models in recent years, online real estate is re-emerging with a fresh outlook that is quickly positioning it as the next major Internet growth category. This rebound closely follows the explosion of paid search marketing companies, largely responsible for driving consumer interest in online real estate. With more than 70 percent of home buyers now shopping online before inking a deal–almost double what it was during 2001–the category is expected to generate as much as $500 million in revenue during 2004.

Despite losses, scandals, investigations and faulty business models in recent years, online real estate is re-emerging with a fresh outlook that is quickly positioning it as the next major Internet growth category. This rebound closely follows the explosion of paid search marketing companies, largely responsible for driving consumer interest in online real estate. With more than 70 percent of home buyers now shopping online before inking a deal–almost double what it was during 2001–the category is expected to generate as much as $500 million in revenue during 2004.

Inman News will be tapping into the momentum surrounding online real estate at the 10th Real Estate Connect information and technology conference July 28-30, 2004, at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, where more than 1,000 industry leaders will huddle to plot the future of online real estate. Leading the way into online real estate is Barry Diller, Chairman and CEO of IAC/InterActiveCorp, this year’s Connect keynote speaker, and the business mogul who re-ignited capital investment in the category last year with his purchase of LendingTree for more than $700 million.

The segment has been heating up ever since then. Online lead generator HouseValues has secured $14 million in equity funding, online real estate broker zipRealty has filed to go public with the intent of raising $69 million, and neighborhood information compiler eNeighborhoods has announced it will take on a $5 million investment.

“What’s loud and clear is that capital investment is coming back to the category because online real estate companies are operating under stronger business models today that better serve the needs of their customers,” said Bradley Inman, founder and publisher of Inman News, the producer of Real Estate Connect. “In turn, we’re seeing an abundance of new entrants looking to capture a piece of this still-emerging category, while the more established online real estate companies are turning profits and finding widea cceptance from real estate brokers, agents and consumers.”

This year’s Real Estate Connect conference will feature an array of online real estate firms and technology vendors who are rapidly transforming the real estate landscape, from up-and-comers such as Reply! Real Estate, LendingTree, HouseValues, Mobilopia and REDTablet, to the more established real estate and mortgage companies, investors, technology providers and vendors, including Yahoo!, DataQuick, Bank of America, FNIS Real Estate, HomeGain, Stewart Title and NYTimes.com, among others.

The program will deep-dive into timely topics, including “Gaming the online real estate lead machine,” “Discount real estate: which models are working?” “New homes and apartments online: new business models that work” and “Investing in online real estate.”

“On the anniversary of our 10th Real Estate Connect, it seems appropriate that we’re experiencing a rekindling of enthusiasm around the category, along with stronger business models to drive industry growth well into the next decade,” Inman said.

Real Estate Connect is a networking, information and technology conference for the real estate industry at which more than 1,200 of the real estate industry’s most influential leaders, decision makers and opinion leaders gather each year to discuss traditional and cutting-edge topics within a dynamic forum for new business development, information exchange and debate. Real Estate Connect 2004 is sponsored by Reply! Real Estate, FNIS Real Estate Division, Bank of America, DataQuick, EXIT Realty Corp. International, First American Real Estate Solutions, HomeGain, LendingTree, the Newspaper Association of America, NYTimes.com, PR Newswire, Real Living, Rechannel Communications, RESPRO, Stewart Title Guaranty Co., Yahoo! Real Estate, Criterion Corp. and VREO Software.

Inman News is the nation’s leading independent real estate news source. Inman editorial content appears in more than 250 newspapers throughout the country and is featured on more than 10,000 Web sites. Inman News reaches millions of consumers and industry professionals each day through such clients and partner sas The Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Washington Post, Denver Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Yahoo!, Microsoft, The Wall Street Journal Online, CBS Marketwatch, and many more. Inman, an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur, created Inman News in 1983. More than 2.5 million pages are viewed on the Inman News Web site every month. 

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