Industry NewsTechnology

Who’s the customer?

Tech execs debate best online real estate business model

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SAN FRANCISCO -- It's not always an either-or proposition, but some of the most successful online real estate businesses tend to cater either to consumers, or to real estate agents and their brokers.Executives of two popular Web sites -- Trulia and HomeGain -- debated which business model is best positioned to succeed in the world of Web 2.0 at the Real Estate Connect conference in San Francisco.Provide consumers who are looking to buy or sell a home with the information they want -- listings and market data -- in a free and user-friendly setting, and they will flock to your portal in droves, goes the consumer-centric school of thought.But as is the case with any number of popular, free sites -- YouTube comes to mind -- the question then becomes how to turn all that traffic into revenue.Concentrate on generating leads and traffic for real estate agents and brokers' own Web sites by asking consumers to provide their contact information, on the other hand, and you have a clear-cut source...