LaSalle National Bank has registered with Property Information Exchange, making it the first commercial bank to post information on the nation's largest data base of commercial properties.
New York-based PIX links properties for sale with financing sources by posting the properties on the Internet. It enables lenders to market their services to borrowers as soon as the borrowers are in the debt market.
LaSalle, a Chicago-based unit of ABN Amro Holding, joins a handful of nonbank real estate lenders, including Aries Capital, Heitman Finance Group, Heller Financial, and Berkshire Mortgage Finance, that already post information on the data base. LaSalle's move reflects its ambition to lend money beyond its home market.
"PIX will complement LaSalle's outstanding lenders and our well- developed network by helping us pinpoint deals with deal-ready investors and sellers," said Breck Hanson, group senior vice president and head of commercial real estate lending at LaSalle.
LaSalle makes term mortgage loans ranging from $2 million to $25 million, for three to seven years. The bank has made $600 million worth of real estate loans since 1991, the last time the real estate cycle bottomed out. It also makes fixed-rate construction and permanent loans.
PIX, which began in 1994, connects investors with properties, sellers, and brokers. The data base lists over $2.9 billion of investable properties for sale with an average sale price of $7 million.
"There are a lot of banks coming into the market, looking for efficient ways to get the word about what they are willing to lend to," said Philip Wharton, chief executive officer of PIX.
The collection and distribution of information by third parties has only hit the commercial real estate market in the last 10 years. Observers say PIX is unique because it has a symbiotic relationship with traditional real estate service providers.
"For mortgage brokers and bankers, it's absolutely clear that the use of the Internet will dramatically redraw that landscape," said Peter Pike, who operates Pikenet, a directory of commercial real estate data bases. Banks like LaSalle "are looking at PIX as a type of service that crosses a lot of boundaries."
David Weissman, a principal with ReDirect, another real estate finance data base, said that as more information becomes accessible, "the greater chance that the market is going to be able to see problems early and correct them."
Still, Mr. Weissman said that listings and research are not enough to counteract the cyclical booms and busts inherent to real estate.
"There's a lot of money, regardless of how much information provided," Mr. Weissman said. "You don't pay people to avoid doing bad deals, you pay people to close deals."