Data General will supply the computer hardware to run Virtual Realty Network Inc.'s soon-to-be-released video conferencing system.

Now being tested in the offices of 25 major real estate agents in California's San Fernando Valley, the conferencing network will bring together borrowers, real estate agents, lenders, and Virtual Realty loan facilitators. Virtual Realty, based in Newport Beach, Calif., hopes to launch the system nationwide by the beginning of next year.

Personal computers from Data General Corp., Westborough, Mass., will carry the video images using Intel's ProShare Video 200 technology. Virtual Realty's LoanMaker origination software processes the mortgage application information.

The computers will be available only in real estate agencies, but agents won't pay a fee for the service. Virtual Realty pays for installation, phone service, and other expenses of the network on the theory that a minimum of two originations a month at each location will make the effort profitable.

Virtual Realty plans to install the machines in as many as 10,000 offices within the next 18 months. The rollout will begin in California and other western states and then move to other parts of the country.

"The system enables homebuyers to evaluate and analyze different loan products from our lender network, based on the homebuyer's needs," said Michael A. Barron, president and chief executive.

Personal computers, Mr. Barron said, "are the vital link between VRNI and the real estate offices and financial institutions that is essential for our on-line loan selection and approval service."

Using the computers, real estate agents connect potential borrowers to Virtual Realty representatives, who then collect the information needed to apply for a mortgage.

With that information in hand, the Virtual Realty loan facilitator can scan mortgage data bases and display the different options available to borrowers on the computer screen.

Countrywide Credit Industries, Pasadena, Calif., Mellon Bank Corp., Pittsburgh, and PHH US Mortgage Corp., Mt. Laurel, N.J., are among the participating lenders.

After a lender is selected, the real estate agent can arrange a video conference with the lending institution, using forms transferred electronically by Virtual Realty. The software also enables Virtual Realty's facilitators as well as lenders to gather other data from additional on-line sources, such as title information, lot descriptions, and credit histories.

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