The venture capitalists are back, and they are looking hard at the mortgage and real estate sectors."This is a great time to be an entrepreneur in real estate and mortgage," Mark Sherman, a partner in Battery Ventures, said at Real Estate Connect in San Francisco, a conference that seeks to marry the real estate and technology businesses. "We're very excited about the mortgage business especially," said Mr. Sherman, whose firm recently provided funding for Loan Page, an online lead generation firm for brokers and lenders. "The capital markets are very active." The venture capitalists cautioned investors not to be worried about a real estate market slowdown -- or worse. "Look through the downturn," he advised. "The real estate market has decades of legs to it, so look at the long term." He also predicted that "numerous changes" in technology platforms are ahead, and said current incumbents are open to start-ups and new programs. The next wave of new technology is being driven by consumers who are turning more and more to the Internet, he added. "There has been a huge shift in consumer behavior," he told the meeting. "Everyone is now using the Web to start and sometimes conclude high-dollar purchases."

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