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Housing Rebound Lifts Real Estate Startups—for Now

The U.S. housing market seems to be on the rebound, and it’s bringing the online real estate startup industry with it. AngelList currently shows some 1,400 real-estate related companies crowding every conceivable niche; more than 100 of them match buyers and renters to potential homes, for example, while dozens of Airbnb wannabees promote everything from Airbnb for houseboats (Floating Lofts) to Airbnb for gay men (misterbnb). Crowdfunded investment platforms and data analytics companies are cropping up, too.

Yet recent indications that the housing recovery could be faltering outside of a handful of prime markets that attract a lot of overseas money raises questions about whether the real estate economy will be robust enough to support the new wave of players. At a minimum, sharp consolidation is in the offing, investors say.

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While companies like Amitree might create elegant software solutions, they’re likely to generate less interest (and less revenue) if the housing recovery falters.