Real estate lead generation and management company Market Leader Inc. reported a $3.4 million net loss for the first quarter, as revenue declined 11.2 percent from a year ago to $5.8 million. Revenue was up $200,000 from the fourth quarter, however — the first quarterly revenue increase since the beginning of the real estate downturn, CEO Ian Morris said in a press release.

Market Leader generates leads through consumer websites including JustListed.com, HouseValues.com, HomePages.com, and localized sites it operates for real estate professionals.

Founded in 1999 as HouseValues Inc., the company changed its name to Market Leader in 2008 after acquiring most of the assets of lead generation and management company Realty Generator LLC.

Market Leader then used Realty Generator’s technology and business model to develop additional software-as-a-service "Vision" products: Growth Leader for real estate agents, and Team Leader for agent teams.

Market Leader builds personalized websites optimized for lead generation and provides customer relationship management tools that are integrated with the websites. Administrative features in the team and broker version of the Vision products provide agent performance monitoring, partner integration and other virtual assistant tools.

The latest release of the Vision products provides services for all clients on a single platform, the company said, and includes new tools for brokerage company and team customers.

Market Leader has posted four consecutive years of net losses, and revenue had been in decline as a result of the real estate downturn and the company’s move from its traditional lead generation offerings to its Vision products.

According to the company’s last annual report to investors, revenue for 2009 was down 38 percent from the year before, to $23.9 million, and the company downsized by 45 employees in 2008, finishing 2009 with 145 workers at its Kirkland, Wash., headquarters.

Revenue from Growth Leader outpaced attrition from the company’s traditional agent products for the first time since it was introduced in November 2008, Market Leader said, helping boost total Vision revenue to $3.2 million. Customer retention set a record going back three years, and average revenue per customer was the highest in two years, the company said.

Market Leader, which raised $56.1 million in a December 2004 public offering, reported $49 million in cash, cash equivalents and short-term investments at the end of March. The company also owns a one-third interest in the ActiveRain Real Estate Network, a blog site for real estate professionals, which it acquired in 2007 for $2.75 million. 

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