Investors looking to purchase discounted real estate may start to find thawing credit lines in and around Chicago. Edward Wehmer, CEO of Wintrust Financial Corp., told the Chicago Tribune general demand for loans is “pretty good.” He added a lot of money is waiting on the sidelines to invest in real estate, but buyers aren’t sure when the market will hit bottom. The company yesterday formally opened its Chicago office, with a dozen commercial lenders on staff at the South LaSalle Street office. "We are excited to see our new downtown lending office unfold," said Wehmer, whose team of managing directors at the office will oversee the separate segments of lending. While commercial lending remains a core operation, Wintrust is keen on offering credit specifically in the real estate space. “If a buyer can get a property at 60 percent of replacement cost, and you lend them 50 percent of that, and he's a strong borrower, we're doing that all day long," Wehmer told the Tribune. “So there is a good opportunity in the rebound real estate area that we're playing in.” Wintrust Financial Corp. holds $13bn in assets and controls 15 banks in the US, including nine in Illinois. In the May issue of HousingWire magazine, Jon Daurio at Kondaur Capital outlined how his firm is forging new profits in the real estate space. Kondaur buys distressed assets from banks. Because he makes bids on loan-by-loan basis, each investment, according to his due diligence, is a good one. “To us, every loan is juicy based on the price that we bid,” Daurio said. Write to Jon Prior. Additional reporting by Jacob Gaffney.