Web Magic The home services portal run by Service Magic has emerged as an effective tool for small custom home builders. Rodney Rice, the company's co-CEO, says that of the 45,000 businesses Service Magic has screened, profiled, and rated, about 23,000 are contractors, 1,000 of which identified themselves as custom home builders. Rice says www.servicemagic.com logged 30 million site visits that generated more than 1 million service requests in 2003, 45,000 of which were for home builders. Service Magic charges builders $50 per sales lead.

Easier Leads Sales automation software Builder1440 now includes an XML interface that feeds sales leads automatically from a builder's Web site or builder-oriented portals such as homestore.com directly into Builder1440. In the past, builders had to print out a list of leads and re-key them into Builder1440. Now, Builder1440 sets up an XML link on the builder's Web site or a portal, and the lead goes directly to the company's sales manager or administrator, where it's then assigned to a salesperson. For more information, visit www.builder1440.com.

Rugged Nextel Nextel and Motorola have begun shipping the i530, a rugged flip-style phone that's geared to contractors and meets military standards for resistance to dust, shock, vibration, and humidity. The phone comes with Nextel's Nationwide Direct Connect walkie-talkie service, a 600-contact phone list, and the ability to download ring tones. The phone weighs about 5.2 ounces and is available in solid black or yellow and black. The i530 sells for $125 with a two-year service agreement. Go to www.nextel.com for details.

Voice Coach Honeywell's new LYNXR wireless security system comes with a voice prompt that walks the installer through setup. The unit delivers voice messages to homeowners about their alarms and pre-programmed reminders regarding personal appointments. The LYNXR sells for $180.20. To find out more, visit www.ademco.com.