At BlackWidowNetwork.com,members can specify the type of property they want, where they wantit and how much they want to invest. The objective is to pairinvestors who think it's a good time to sell with those who see itas the right time to buy, and even give buyers access tocredit.

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"The very minute they post their unique investor profiles to thenetwork, killer deals flood their inbox, their PDA or even theircell phone," the site boasts. Once investors find a deal, "they canquickly find funding through a private lender via Black Widow'sexclusive Hard Money Hub."

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Kevin Skarritt, the self-described "chief arachnid"--or managingpartner--of the Laconia, NH-based venture, says he developed thesite to encourage interaction between investors and simplifysearching for deals.

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"Once our members get into the process of building their social'webs'," he explains. "They'll be adding other investors, hardmoney lenders, contractors and professionals from the onlinedirectory of investor-specific service providers. Suddenly, theirnetworking world grows from 45 people to 350 industry experts."

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Skarritt created the site with Richard Dale-Mesaros, foundingboard member of the Manchester, NH-based New Hampshire Real EstateInvestors Assoc. While he acknowledges there are problems in thereal estate market, Dale-Mesaros views them as opportunities ratherthan obstacles. "Investors have been waiting for this turn in themarket for the past four to five years," he adds.

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Now, with prices down, inventories up and many property ownerseager to sell, there is an abundance of deals for everything fromvacant land and small multi-family units to office, retail andindustrial space, he continues.

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Since its soft launch in January and official start in March,the site has generated as much buzz about its name as its purpose.The founders concede the black widow may be an unusual mascot for areal estate site. "A lot of people find it a little crazy,"Skarritt notes.

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However, he and Dale-Mesaros say they wanted a name that wasboth recognizable and memorable. Ultimately, they decided the BlackWidow Network made perfect sense: the poisonous spider is ametaphor for real estate investors, a group known for strikingquickly and acting aggressively to take advantage of opportunities,they say.

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"The nature of the investment business is that a deal is only adeal for 24 hours," Skarritt says. "Real estate investors are veryaggressive with marketing and their reaction to opportunities."

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But some, like broker Joe Cline of Affinity Properties inAustin, think the analogy is a little too intense. "Therationalization is centered on being 'aggressive,' but it is thinlyveiled when the site's mascot is a venomous spider." And SeanO'Toole, founder/CEO of ForclosureRadar.com, noted, "First sharks,now black widows. I suppose everyone wants to make a 'killing' inreal estate, but I find these themes a real turn off. Is it justme?"

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The founders of the site concede the theme has received mixedreactions from users. Some like it, they said, although the imagemakes others uncomfortable. The goal was just to have a nameunusual enough to be memorable, Skarritt said. Dale-Mesaros saidthe Black Widow name only reflects the fact that investors need tobe prepared to move quickly. "None of our brand effort has anythingto do with taking advantage of folks in an unfortunate position,"he added.

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But the name doesn't seem to be an overwhelming issue, at leastto the 1,400 or so the founders say have already signed up formembership. "We developed a site that answers the question 'Howdoes an investor think?' and provides the information for them todo their jobs. That doesn't mean mountains and mountains ofgarbage. It means specific, targeted information about deals, suchas price, taxes, after repair value and related data," Skarrittnotes.

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