PNC Bank Corp.'s commercial real estate unit has developed a system for ordering property appraisals through the Internet.
The system cuts the time and cost for processing loan applications, giving PNC a competitive advantage, officials of the Pittsburgh banking company said.
When loan officers need a commercial property appraised, they e-mail appraisers, who can bid for the work by logging on to a PNC-controlled Web site and typing in the appropriate information.
PNC responds to bidders and awards the appraisal job by e-mail-usually within 24 hours of receiving the last bid, company officials said.
Previously the company ordered appraisals and selected vendors by fax and regular mail, said Paul E. Ping, vice president of real estate valuation services at PNC.
Mr. Ping estimated that the paperless system adopted this month would cut the cost of processing loans by 30%. Last year his department spent $4 million on fees and operational expenses, he said.
PNC's proprietary system is apparently the only in-house Internet appraisal ordering system of its kind. Valuation On-Line, which has since closed, used to offer a service in which banks could e-mail it appraisal requests. The New Canaan, Conn., company would then post the requests on an electronic bulletin board.
PNC did not use the service, mainly because Valuation On-Line kept information on the properties in its own computers and the bank did not want to lose control over its data, Mr. Ping said. And the vendor's fees were "egregious," he said.
Valuation On-Line folded last year. Its biggest client, Wells Fargo & Co., now uses a similar system developed by another vendor, Seagull Technology Inc. of Los Gatos, Calif.
For a while PNC "trudged along using our normal system," Mr. Ping said. This year it decided to develop an in-house system, which it began using May 10. PNC's Midland Loan Services unit, which originates commercial mortgages for securitization, plans to begin using the system in three weeks.
Mr. Ping said he envisions PNC's using the same technology soon to handle requests for environmental assessments, site inspections, legal services, and even construction-loan draws.
Meanwhile Alan L. Atterbury, chief executive of Midland, is retiring. Lee Bergman, Midland's chief operating officer, and Douglas D. Danforth Jr., executive vice president of PNC Real Estate Finance, were designated co-chief executives of Midland.
Mr. Atterbury, 56, founded Midland in 1991. It began as a servicer of commercial mortgages for the Resolution Trust Corp. but later diversified into originations. PNC bought Midland last year.