RealTime IT News

Homestore on The 'Move'

Online real estate advertiser Homestore is undergoing a corporate makeover. The Westlake Village, Calif., company plans to change its name to Move Inc. with a new focus on consumers.

The company also plans a new real estate search engine. The Move.com search engine will replace current sites Homestore.com, HomeBuilder.com and RENTNET.

The new search engine, expected to launch during the second quarter, will feature free text listings, virtual tours and an upcoming real estate auction service.

The changes are "pivotal to growth and development of our company," Mike Long, Homestore's CEO, told investors during a webcast Wednesday. The goal of the change is to "connect consumers to any point in their moving cycle," he continued, adding that the new name signals the company's commitment to the consumer.

As part of the shift toward consumers, Homestore recently purchased Moving.com, an online service assisting consumers with truck rentals and qualified movers.

Moving.com will become a part of Move.com. The site's apartment finder function will use the new Move.com search engine, according to a statement.

A community feature will be added to the home and apartment listing found at Realtor.com, another Homestore property. The community function will allow neighbors to interact and provide comments.

Long told investors the new Move.com wants to become known as "the friendly, trusted resource" for moving consumers.

The company also announced it will take a $5.9 million charge as part of an $11.85 million settlement with Peter Tafeen, a former vice president of business development. Tafeen and former Homestore CEO Stuart Wolff are charged with a 2001 plan to overstate advertising revenue. Both have pleaded not guilty.

The name change still must be approved by shareholders at a company meeting in June. Homestore, which began NASDAQ trading again in 2004, will change its stock symbol from HOMS to MOVE.