United Press International is partnering with two former National Association of Realtors staff members on a new residential estate section on UPI.com, UPI Real Estate.

Former NAR chief economist David Lereah and former vice president of public affairs Steve Cook will oversee and provide content for the site, UPI said.

"UPI is pleased to offer our readers a new source of news and intelligence about residential real estate assembled by experienced professionals who know the real estate markets," said Nicholas Chiaia, UPI president, in a press release. "Freshness, readability and information you can use will set UPI Real Estate apart from the competition."

Lereah and Cook are the principals of Reecon Advisors Inc., an independent real estate economics and information company that publishes Real Estate Economy Watch, a Web site that provides information and commentary.

When UPI Real Estate debuted Tuesday, it was populated with stories from Real Estate Economy Watch. The sites will continue to share content, although much of the commentary and analysis Lereah produces for Real Estate Economy Watch will not appear on UPI Real Estate, Cook told Inman News.

While Real Estate Economy Watch is geared for real estate professionals, UPI Real Estate’s primary audience will be consumers, Cook said. …CONTINUED

"We’re going to be expanding our news hook a little bit from what we are doing with Real Estate Economy Watch" to provide more coverage on topics of interest to consumers on UPI Real Estate, Cook said.

UPI has had one other partnership with an outside content provider, Cook said, and "everything else they do is produced internally. So for us it’s very exciting — they have traffic of 3 million to 3.5 million visitors a month, and we’re hoping a portion of that will come over to check out the real estate" site.

The open-ended agreement between UPI and Reecon Advisors is a "very simple arrangement that’s based on traffic," Cook said. UPI will contribute video and photographs to the site, which will be updated with new stories daily, he said.

Reecon Advisors is the latest of several career moves for Lereah in recent years. In April 2007 he announced he would leave his position as NAR’s chief economist to become a partner and executive in a "transformational" business venture being developed by Move Inc. (see story).

Less than a year later, Move — the company that operates the NAR-affiliated Realtor.com property-search site — announced it was canceling the secretive venture before its launch.

Before joining NAR, Lereah’s resume included stints as chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association, managing principal and CEO for Vantage Financial Group Inc., chief economist for Sovran Bank, and bank regulator and financial economist for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.


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