The Inman Innovator awards will be presented July 28 at Real Estate Connect in San Francisco.

Six real estate companies will compete for the Inman Innovator Award this year in the brokerage category, which recognizes excellence, innovation and success in real estate business.

The 2004 finalists for real estate brokerage include ZipRealty, Real Living, Intero Real Estate, Windermere, Prudential Real Estate Affiliates and Help-U-Sell.


Emeryville, Calif.-based ZipRealty was established in 1999. The full-service residential brokerage firm has broken ground in the online real estate world, surviving the dot-com crash and reporting profitability last fall.

Zip leverages the Internet and proprietary technology to offer services at lower costs to consumers. The company has operations in 15 cities nationwide. Based on its projected revenue this year, Zip would be one of the top 50 real estate brokers in the United States. In May, Zip made its initial move to go public with the Securities and Exchange Commission, a rare step for brokerage companies. The initial public stock offering could raise as much as $69 million. That will give Zip the capital to invest in new technologies, more online leads and new markets.

Real Living

Ohio-based Real Living has 5,000 sales associates and employees, and more than 100 offices in the Midwest and Florida. The company has experienced continual growth since its inception in 2002, and reported $1 billion in closed sales during the first quarter this year.

Real Living offers consumers a full range of affiliated business services, including home financing, title, relocation, corporate relocation management, auctions and home warranties. Industry veteran Harley Rouda, Jr., heads the company.

Intero Real Estate

Intero Real Estate is an independent upstart real estate brokerage in Northern California’s Silicon Valley and East San Francisco Bay Area. The company has grown from one office with 40 salespeople when it opened its doors in October 2002, to 14 offices with more than 800 salespeople today. Bob Moles, former president and CEO of Cendant Corp’s Real Estate Franchise Group, in April joined Intero as chairman, director and shareholder.

Windermere Real Estate

Windermere Real Estate is a residential real estate network with nearly 6,000 associates and more than 220 offices serving neighborhoods in Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia. Windermere’s business structure allows offices to operate independently while retaining brand benefits, such as advertising and technology tools.

The company recently added a new tool to its Web site that enables home buyers and sellers to browse listings using map coordinates and visual landmarks. Site visitors can “click and zoom” to identify listings in a favorite region, neighborhood or one single block. They also can take a virtual drive through selected search areas and view homes that match their personal criteria on a map.

Prudential Real Estate Affiliates

Prudential Real Estate Affiliates has more than 50,000 real estate agents nationwide. The company is the first franchise to launch an aggressive strategy to capture Internet customers. In January, it purchased eRealty, an online real estate brokerage with attractive technology assets. And in June, Prudential inked a deal with Yahoo! that connects the popular portal’s real estate visitors directly to Prudential brokers in their specified market area.


Help-U-Sell is known for its fee-for-service concept of real estate brokerage. The organization today has some 500 franchisees, and intends to expand to 1,800 franchises nationwide by 2008. Help-U-Sell’s new consumer-centric Web site is part of the package for home sellers who want to maintain control of the sales process while they work with a Help-U-Sell office in what the company calls a “for-sale-with-owner” capacity. One feature of the Web site allows sellers and buyers to set showing appointments online without the assistance or intervention of a realty salesperson. The Web site also provides instant updates to sellers regarding home-sale transactions.

The most innovative real estate and mortgage industry companies will be honored at Real Estate Connect, July 28-30 in San Francisco. Real Estate Connect brings together the top leaders from the real estate industry, including mortgage lenders, technology firms, industry analysts and news media.


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