Commercial real estate continues to serve LoopNet (NASDAQ:LOOP) well. Despite the moribund state of the residential real estate market, LoopNet's role as its sector's leading online marketplace -- with 479,000 listings -- is paying off.

First-quarter revenue soared 52%, to $15.5 million. The bottom line clocked in 50% higher, at $0.11 per share. LoopNet closed out the quarter with 2 million registered users. Sure, a lot of those aren't active accounts, but the company is still drawing 880,000 unique monthly visitors.

Most LoopNet users take advantage of the site's free listings, but the heart of the company's model beats in its premium subscription service. Its 84,483 paying members account for nearly 79% of LoopNet's total revenue.

That's a pretty important subset of users -- typically brokers and commercial real estate professionals, who have no problem paying roughly $50 a month for access and exposure on the heavily trafficked site.

Clearly, the commercial real estate market is marching to a different beat than the housing sector. LoopNet points to falling commercial vacancy rates and rising monthly rents as a healthy reaction to positive job growth and other corporate-friendly indicators.

Like other Rule Breakers recommendations, LoopNet has made a lucrative online niche its own. The Knot (NASDAQ:KNOT) is cornering the wedding-planning market, while Blue Nile (NASDAQ:NILE) is the stand-alone leader in engagement rings.

LoopNet's success may spawn clones, but it's more likely to inspire buyout offers instead. I mean, who wouldn't be surprised to see eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) buy LoopNet by the end of the year? The online auction giant hasn't previously shied away from buying other prolific niche specialists like StubHub.

On its own or as a high-margin appendage elsewhere, LoopNet knows the art of the deal.

If you want to read David's original buy report for LoopNet, and all of the updates along the way, take advantage of a 30-day guest pass that will grant you a trial subscription of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers service. Yes, the buy reports for The Knot and Blue Nile are there, too.

eBay is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection, and LoopNet and Blue Nile are also Hidden Gems picks. 

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has never dabbled in commercial real estate outside of the Monopoly board, though he wants you to know that he can hand you Boardwalk and Park Place at the beginning of the game and still beat you. Rick does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.