MixStar Inc. has started a new service that allows lenders to shop for loans on-line.

LoanVault stores loan applications taken by mortgage brokers. Lenders, who pay for access to MixStar, can browse through the loan applications and select the ones they would like to fund.

MixStar is not involved in the actual funding.

"We are the public utility," said Kirk Hoiberg, assistant vice president of the Newport Beach, Calif., firm. "We provide the space and the place for this information to be exchanged."

MixStar's service could amount to a first step toward total on-line loan funding - a development predicted by some mortgage industry observers.

Mr. Hoiberg did not know how many loans would likely be available for browsing in LoanVault. But he said the service has unlimited computer capacity.

Loans submitted to the LoanVault must be Contour Software loan application files.

"Many systems have been developed which allow originators to search a data base of lenders and loan programs. These data bases have proven to be hard to maintain, particularly as relates to niche products," said Joel Packer, MixStar president, in a press release. "We believe (LoanVault) provides a better way to find a home for niche loans."

MixStar and LoanVault can be accessed only through America Online, one of the nation's largest providers of on-line commercial information. More than 1,500 lenders are signed up to the MixStar on-line service.

MixStar customers can access the Internet through the mortgage information system. But MixStar allows only those who pay its fee to use its on-line information.

A major barrier to full, on-line loan funding is security. Lenders are concerned that loan documents will not be safe from public view.

MixStar officials are particularly sensitive to security regarding LoanVault. America Online bars public access to MixStar and other restricted service. Only MixStar can say who can use LoanVault and its other services.

MixStar provides mortgage industry information, loan-pricing updates, directories, and other services for lenders.

Several lenders have begun to develop a presence on the Internet and on- line services used to access it. Most have targeted potential borrowers.

MixStar is one of the few on-line services for lenders. It has been operational since March.

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