More than 8.8 million unique visitors cruised by Classified Ventures’ three real estate sites in January, according to internal statistics reported Tuesday. The sites include Apartments.com, HomeGain.com and Homescape’s network of more than 150 national newspaper real estate sites.

The total number of unique visitors represents a 71 percent increase over unique visitors to the sites in January 2005, the company said.

Classified Ventures is a joint venture owned by six leading media companies, including Belo Corp., Gannett Co., Knight Ridder, The McClatchy Company, Tribune Company and The Washington Post Company.

Classified Ventures real estate sites saw a combined 12.1 million visits during January, according to CEO Dan Jauernig.

According to the National Association of Realtors, 77 percent of all buyers cited in a 2005 survey used the Internet in their home search, an increase of 12 percentage points from the 2003 data.

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