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Trulia’s Sales Surge as Real Estate Agents Use Mobile

Trulia Inc., the real estate-information website that sold shares to the public in September, said third-quarter sales surged 76 percent as agents and advertisers bolstered spending on mobile devices and the housing market showed signs of recovery.

Revenue climbed to $18.5 million from $10.5 million a year earlier, the San Francisco-based company said yesterday in a statement. The net loss widened to $1.69 million, or 19 cents a share, from $1.5 million, or 22 cents. Analysts predicted sales of $17 million, according to the average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Trulia is taking on larger rival Zillow Inc., which sold shares to the public in July 2011, by developing smartphone applications designed to reach prospective homebuyers on the move. That’s leading agents to buy mobile subscriptions so they can communicate with more consumers and luring advertisers who need to reach those users. The company is also benefiting from a recovery in the housing market after a six-year slump.

“Our business works well in a downturn, but we feel better in an upturn,” Chief Executive Officer Pete Flint said in an interview yesterday. “With momentum in the housing market, the amount of money in the ecosystem expands.”

Prices for single-family homes rose in 81 percent of U.S. cities in the third quarter, according to a report yesterday from the National Association of Realtors. U.S. home prices jumped 5 percent in September from a year earlier, the biggest increase since July 2006, data provider CoreLogic Inc. said this week.

Mobile Growth

Trulia forecast revenue in the current quarter of $18.8 million to $19.2 million, an increase of at least 60 percent from prior year sales of $11.7 million. Analysts on average predicted sales of $18 million.

The stock declined less than 1 percent to $21.46 at yesterday’s close in New York, and has jumped 26 percent since the IPO.

Zillow plunged 18 percent on Nov. 6 after forecasting fourth-quarter sales that trailed analysts’ estimates. The Seattle-based company said revenue in the third quarter rose 67 percent to $31.9 million.

Trulia generates revenue by selling subscriptions to real estate professionals that allow them to reach homebuyers and by selling ads on the Web and mobile devices. Monthly unique visitors rose to 25 million from 22 million as of June and average monthly revenue per subscriber rose 45 percent to $154 from a year earlier.

The number of mobile users more than doubled from the previous year to 5.8 million a month.

“Trulia’s mobile apps also drive engagement by arming consumers with detailed property insights regardless of location, and serve as a significant lead generation for agents,” wrote Kerry Rice, an analyst at Needham & Co., in an Oct. 15 report.

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