ZipRealty has shed about 900 agents this year as it closes down operations in some markets and moves agents in all remaining markets to independent contractor status, the company said in reporting a $4 million fourth quarter loss.

The Emeryville, Calif.-based brokerage said it had about 2,500 agents at the end of February, working in 23 markets in 18 states and Washington, D.C.

That’s down more than 26 percent from the 3,403 agents ZipRealty engaged at the end of December, the company said.

The company announced in January that it was closing offices in 11 markets that accounted for about 13 percent of the company’s revenue in 2010. The move will reduce annual operating costs by more than $20 million, the company said Tuesday.

Even before those closures, ZipRealty’s net revenue was down 20 percent during the fourth quarter from a year ago, the company said, to $27 million.

The total number of transactions dropped 22 percent from a year ago, to 4,930, and the average revenue per transaction was also down slightly, to $5,155.

ZipRealty posted a $15.5 million loss for 2010, higher than the $12.9 million loss in 2009.

"The residential real estate market had a volatile year in 2010, and ZipRealty’s financial performance, particularly in the second half of the year, was disappointing," said CEO Lanny Baker in a statement.

"We anticipate similarly challenging market trends in 2011, and we have taken steps to reduce costs, shutter underperforming operations and focus resources on our most attractive opportunities."

Baker was named CEO and president in September, succeeding longtime ZipRealty executive J. Patrick Lashinsky.

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