An estate agent in Hong Kong has spent $10 million developing, promoting and operating its World-Wide Web site on the Internet and is looking at ways to set up an intranet to cover its 230 branches. The figure for the Internet project covers hardware costs, software, consultation fees and television advertising expenditure. Centaline's Web site operation is based on a Compaq Proliant server running on Windows NT. The company plans to shift to a Unix platform, which would also support its intranet. It is testing a Silicon Graphics system and a Web server from Sun Microsystems, but has already placed an order for more than 200 routers from Cisco Systems. Associate director of Centaline's systems and marketing department, Ivan Ho, said a major advantage of a private network linking the company's 230 branches was to create a complete property catalogue in the headquarters' Web server. 'This allows staff in different branches to access easily and quickly all the company's classified listings, and hence information is no longer isolated within individual branches,' he said. He added the company's investment in its Web site was not high compared with its annual advertising expenditure of $60 million to $70 million. 'If our Web site can help gain publicity, it is worthwhile because company goodwill, together with a sales workforce, are two major resources of a property agency for making money,' he said. Since Centaline launched its Web site ( www.centa net.com) six months ago it has received two million hits. Centaline's Web site includes transaction records, classified listings, market analysis, developers' projects, an on-line property-related lifestyle magazine and a corporate profile. Not all are fully developed. So far, the company has focused on compiling a comprehensive record of property transactions in the secondary market in the past six months - with 10 million records having been put on the Net service. Centaline also collects information from the Hong Kong Government's Land Registry and Midland's Web site. It is estimated that Centaline and Midland each has a 20 per cent market share. As it takes four to six weeks to have a transaction completed and recorded in the Land Registry, Centaline plans to put information of its own transactions - which have only preliminary sales and purchase agreements signed - on the Net to offer the public the latest market information and price trends.