Growing its offering of online real estate marketing services, Reply! Inc. has purchased Connecting Neighbors, a network of neighborhood Web sites, which are sponsored by a local real estate agent and dedicated to a single neighborhood.

“They have about 8,000 neighborhood or community Web sites in North America and work with about 4,000 agents,” said Payam Zamani, CEO of Reply!, a Web portal that includes consumer information for residential real estate, automotives, home improvement, moving services, insurance and financing.

Reply.com owns and operates two separate online real estate lead generation services: AgentConnect and RealtyNow. The Connecting Neighbors purchase steps up Reply’s real estate agent network to more than 10,000 accounts.

The deal provides Connecting Neighbors’ members with access to Reply!’s consumer referrals in their local markets, and Reply!’s existing agent members will have access to Connecting Neighbors’ local neighborhood marketing programs.

The details of the acquisition were not disclosed. Specifics for how the two brands will integrate on the Web are still being worked out, Zamani said.

The Connecting Neighbors’ sales force, which regularly meets with real estate brokers and agents in person to discuss their product, will immediately start offering Reply!’s lead generation services, he added.

Reply! has been searching for a complimentary business for the past year, according to Zamani. The company is not actively looking to acquire more companies, he added, but continuously looks at compatible business partnerships.

“Realtors want a complete online marketing solution, and that is really what we are trying to get to,” Zamani said.

Last fall, Reply! launched a program to qualify all of its consumer real estate leads by phone to find out whether the phone number provided by a potential home buyer is legitimate before handing it off to its agent and broker members. If the phone number is invalid, the company will discard it.

Connecting Neighbors was founded in 1999 by real estate agents Jay and Lynn Otlewski, who were searching for a new way to connect with residents in their target market. The Web sites provide residents with up-to-date information about everything from local babysitters and handymen to garage sales, community meetings, school information and home and family-centered resources.

Agents using Connecting Neighbors receive a neighborhood Web site, newsletter, a personal neighborhood marketing specialist and inclusion in the network of neighborhood experts on ConnectingNeighbors.com.

The company, based in Walled Lake, Mich., is lead by Sean Fox, who has held senior management positions with numerous real estate marketing companies, including Bamboo.com, iPix, Homestore and Access Technology Services. Fox will join Reply! as executive vice president overseeing Connecting Neighbors.

***

Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to jessica@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 133.

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