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AUSTIN-An online meeting of a developer and equity investor–both based in Dallas–has given new meaning to the speed of the Internet, says Denver-based EquityCity, which has partnered the two for an $8.1-million, 31-unit luxury condominium project in Austin’s Westlake area.

In a record-breaking six days, Limestone Inc. had been linked with Winston Capital Corp., which is putting up $200,000 for Lake Austin Condominiums, a one-year-old development plan that can now break ground in 45 days. Dave Martin, EquityCity’s vice president of operations, tells GlobeSt.com that Limestone principal Jim Whitehead had sourced the deal Aug. 29 and sealed it Sept. 5 after the opportunity had been discovered by Winston principal Richard Barge. The irony of the six-day deal is both the developer and investor are located in the same town, knew of each other, but didn’t realize their compatibility until Barge saw the investment opportunity and realized it met his company’s criteria for backing.

“By clearly outlining our deal parameters to EquityCity we were able to far more efficiently prescreen deals prior to our own screening process. This resulted in a very clean and quick transaction,” says Barge.

According to Martin, Whitehead had raised all but $200,000 to move ahead on the three-acre project. The bulk of the funding had been accrued through traditional off-line methods before Whitehead turned to EquityCity. “EquityCity was very easy to work with and did exactly what it claimed it would do … find us equity quickly,” says Whitehead.

Whitehead, who will be building his fifth multi-family project in Austin, is serving as the general contractor and developer of the Archon-designed project. He tells GlobeSt.com that he also has another four deals under option in Austin, with hope of breaking ground on those in six months, and one due to break ground in 60 days in Dallas.

Since EquityCity’s launch in August 1999, the only on-line real estate equity investment site has been shaving the length of time it takes to consummate a deal. The average life span of deals, acquisition and development, is now 90 to 120 days, David Martin says. “I think we’re seeing the timeframe begin to shrink. I think six days is really, really fast,” he says, adding a Denver deal had been signed in two months while it took about four months for a New York transaction. In the past 13 months, EquityCity has sealed six placements, each less than $1 million, but has another “three or four,” each over $1 million, in its pipeline that are expected to close in two months.

Martin points out this kind of deal typically would take a while to complete using traditional networking methods. “The real power of the Internet is that meaningful information can quickly and efficiently be disseminated between the two potential parties to a deal, thereby giving those parties the opportunity to proceed with a transaction in a far more rapid timeframe,” Martin notes.

EquityCity links developers and buyers to private equity capital while enabling investors to screen, research, filter and analyze opportunities on a nationwide level. The site has 1,000 investor members.

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