Homestore’s Distribution Expands With Yahoo

Real estate listings site Homestore has strengthened an alliance with Yahoo , in the move that helps the media company carve out more space in the online real estate market and the real estate concern expand its distribution pipeline.

The deal will place some 6.4 million Homestore Apartments & Rentals listings and its affiliate’s 100,000 new home listings on Yahoo’s Real Estate section.

Homestore’s deal with Yahoo comes just days after it struck a similar multi-year relationship with Microsoft’s MSN network, which will pipe new home and apartment content for MSN’s House & Home channel.

On July 16, the Westlake Village, Calif.-based Homestore said MSN’s House & Home channel receives more than six million unique users per month, making it the second most popular site in the real estate audience segment. But Homestore said its listings are not part of that arrangement.

Homestore will provide listings for MSN’s House & Home channel, which registers more than 300 million users each month, the company said. Homestore is expected to begin posting its listing on the MSN network within the next few months.

Primedia’s also provides apartment content to MSN, and Builder Homesite Inc, the consortium of homebuilders, which provides home-oriented content through its Website to MSN.

On July 10, Homestore also announced a strategic relationship with ImproveNet, a value chain management software provider and online contractor matching service.

ImproveNet said it would be the exclusive provider of its branded Find-A-Contractor service to Homestore consumers visiting and using Homestore’s Home and Garden Channel to find contractors in the categories that include: air conditioning, attics and basements, bathroom remodeling, cabinets, carpentry, countertops, custom home building, decks, drywall and plastering, electrical, fencing and perimeter walls, framing systems, garages and outbuildings, glass and screens, gutters and sheet metal.

Homestore is still under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding alleged irregular advertising swap accounting practices, along with AOL Time Warner . Despite the uncertainty while the probe is ongoing, speculation has started to bubble that Homestore may be a takeover candidate, given its strong traffic and listing numbers, and low stock valuation. The company’s stock has climbed to just over $1 to more than $3. On Friday, following the Yahoo announcement, Homestore stock surged nearly 15 percent.

Last September, federal prosecutors filed charges against three former senior executives of Homestore for “perpetrating an extensive scheme to fraudulently inflate Homestore’s online advertising revenues in 2001. The complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, charges that John Giesecke Jr., Homestore’s former chief operating officer; Joseph J. Shew, its former chief financial officer; and John DeSimone, its former vice president of transactions, caused Homestore to overstate its advertising revenues by $46 million (64%) for the first three quarters of 2001.

“This action was brought in coordination with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, which simultaneously announced related criminal charges against the three defendants. Giesecke, Shew, and DeSimone have each agreed to settle the Commission’s lawsuit, to plead guilty to the criminal charges, and to cooperate with the government in its continuing investigation,” according to an official SEC statement.

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