ZipRealty Inc. on Tuesday announced a net loss of $7.5 million in the first quarter, or 38 cents per share, with revenues growing 5.3 percent compared to the same quarter last year and real estate transaction volume up 33.6 percent.

The quarterly net loss was larger than the $7.3 million loss in first-quarter 2008. Revenues totaled $21.7 million in the first quarter, compared with $20.6 million in the same quarter last year.

ZipRealty, which has operations in 36 market area in 22 states and Washington, D.C., reported 4,171 closed real estate sale transactions in the first quarter, up from 3,121 in first-quarter 2008.

The average net transaction revenue per sale decreased about 20.6 percent though, from $6,447 in first-quarter 2008 to $5,119 in first-quarter 2009. The total value of real estate transactions closed grew from $884 million in first-quarter 2008 to $909 million in first-quarter 2009.

As of March 31, ZipRealty had 2,989 agents — which the company refers to as "ZipAgents" — this number is up 30.8 percent from the same date last year.

ZipRealty reported $45 million in cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments, with no long-term debt as of March 31.

Pat Lashinsky, ZipRealty president and CEO, said in a statement that "economic conditions and the housing market correction continue to pressure average home sales prices," though "we are encouraged by the share gains we have achieved in many of our markets and believe we are seeing preliminary signs that the downturn in some markets is finally running its course."

The company had experienced 42 percent growth in closed transactions in fourth-quarter 2008 compared to fourth-quarter 2007 (see story), and ZipRealty has been climbing in market share among the nation’s top brokerages, according to an annual Real Trends report (see story).

While we continue to expect that 2009 will present a challenging operating environment for the residential real estate industry, we are investing in technology and our agent force to further build ZipRealty’s unique position in the marketplace and to fuel the company’s long term growth."

The company plans to limit its expansion to one or two new markets this year, including Portland, Ore., its latest addition that opened last month, "while it focuses resources on optimizing the return on investment in all of its markets."

According to its latest earnings report, the company expects its full-year net loss in 2009 to be lower than its net loss in 2008. A replay of ZipRealty’s latest earnings calls is available through May 12 at (888) 203-1112, password: 3854978.


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