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Late-Night Homestore News

In a move possibly calculated to reap minimal exposure, troubled Homestore.com Inc. put out a release well after business hours last night, announcing "additional disciplinary actions related to the previously announced internal accounting inquiry."

In a terse release, issued at 9:46 p.m., Homestore said it has terminated, or accepted resignations from seven employees, including three who had previously been placed on administrative leave.

And the company said it may take additional disciplinary measures before the inquiry into financial irregularities is complete. No further explanation was given.

The inquiry is a probe of accounting practices at the Westlake Village, Calif.-based real estate play, which has said it may have overstated its earnings for the first three quarters of 2001 by as much as $95 million.

The employees placed on leave earlier were members of the finance department and business development department, Homestore said.

Trading in Homestore stock was halted in late December, and resumed Jan. 7 when the company named a new management team and saw its CEO depart. The stock this morning was down 18 cents a share to $2.28. At one time it traded for more than $100 a share and was a Wall Street favorite.

The company said earlier that an audit committee investigation of its finances showed that it had accounted for barter advertising deals as regular ad sales transactions. A number of shareholder lawsuits have been filed.

Homestore's network of Web sites includes the flagship Realtor.com; HomeBuilder.com; Homestore Apartments & Rentals; and Homestore.com, a home information resource.