Homestore.com Plays ‘Fair’ For $85 Million

Homestore.com (Nasdaq: HOMS) added another member to its family of real estate-related sites today by announcing an agreement to buy Homefair.com from Central Newspapers (NYSE: ECP) for $85 million (US$).

The Thousand Oaks, California-based Homestore.com said the acquisition — which is expected to close in 30 to 60 days — will give it three of the top five most visited real estate sites on the Internet.

Scottsdale, Arizona-based Homefair.com is a content and service site aimed at an increasingly transient American public. The site offers features such as School Report, which provides information on school districts around the country; Salary Calculator, which compares cost-of-living differences in hundreds of U.S and international cities; the Moving Calculator, which provides estimates on shipping household goods; and City Report, a comparative analysis of cities around the globe.

“We’ve had a long and successful relationship with Homefair.com and this acquisition further enhances the full range of services we offer consumers on our Web sites,” said Homestore.com CEO Stuart Wolff. “Homefair is the number one player in the moving and relocation category and we now expect to be able to leverage their successful track record to increase traffic and attract more revenue throughout the Homestore.com family of sites.”

Real Estate, All the Time

Homestore.com’s family of sites already consists of Realtor.com, the official Internet site of the National Association of Realtors, Homebuilders.com, which offers available new homes and plans from 12,000 builders, Remodel.com, a home improvement site, SpringStreet.com a resource guide for apartment hunters, and CommercialSource.com, a site aimed at the commercial real estate market.

The company said the acquisition would give it some 2.7 million unique visitors a month, making it the most-visited real estate destination on the Internet.

Originally known as NetSelect, the company changed its name in June, the same month it filed for an initial public offering with the SEC. That offering raised an estimated $140 million. Offered at $20 a share, the company’s stock soared to a high of nearly $60 in August before settling back down to its current level of $47.

Before changing its name, Homestore.com inked a multi-million dollar, multi-year deal with AOL to become the exclusive home listing provider across AOL properties. It also signed a multi-million dollar, multi-year deal with the GO network to provide real estate information to the Infoseek real estate center.

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