Real estate brokerage company ZipRealty Inc. (NASDAQ: ZIPR) on Wednesday reported a net loss of $3.1 million in the first quarter, which compares with a net loss of $800,000 for the same quarter last year and a net loss of $20.2 million in fourth-quarter 2006.

Net revenues for the first quarter were $23.4 million, a 22 percent increase compared with the $19.2 million in net revenues reported in first-quarter 2006.

The company has been ramping up its recruitment of agents — ZipRealty reported 1,875 agents employed as of March 31, up 26.6 percent from 1,481 agents at the end of first-quarter 2006.

“We are very pleased with our first-quarter performance given that the period is seasonally our weakest and that it’s typically characterized by significant investment,” said ZipRealty CEO Richard Sommer in an earnings announcement, and the company gained market share.

The rest of the year, Sommer said, is expected to be “unpredictable and choppy” for the real estate market.

The value of real estate transactions closed by ZipRealty agents totaled about $1.04 billion in first-quarter 2007 compared with $900 million in first-quarter 2006, the company reported, and the total number of closed transactions rose about 17.9 percent to 3,110 compared to the same quarter last year.

Average net revenue per transaction grew about 3.1 percent to $7,291 in the first quarter, compared with $7,069 per transaction in first-quarter 2006.

The price per share of ZipRealty stock fell 6 cents Wednesday to $7.10 compared to the previous day’s closing price.

Earlier this week, ZipRealty announced that David Rector, who had served as the company’s interim chief financial officer since December, was hired as senior vice president and chief financial officer. The position had formerly been filled by Gary Beasley.

The company also announced the hire of Richard Williams as vice president, controller and chief accounting officer.

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