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Lender Shutters Operations

SCME had originated $5 billion annually

October 2, 2007


photo of Patrick Crowley

A national lender that closed as much as $5 billion annually has closed its field operations and isn't talking about whether further business will be conducted from remaining operations at the California headquarters.

SCME Mortgage Bankers is shutting down the majority of its branch operation.

Branch managers at two of SCME's branches -- Denver and Milford, Conn. -- confirmed that the company was shutting down outside of its home base of southern California. It was unclear if the company will continue to operate in San Diego and elsewhere in California; company managers did not respond to's requests for a statement.

Callers to the SCME Denver office were greeted with a sobering message from manager Lynette Grunefeld, who says in the recording that the office is shutting down.

"As of Sept. 28 we have ceased doing business," Grunefeld says in the recording. "We do regret that."

Grunefeld then tells any brokers calling that loan documents will be returned so the business can placed "elsewhere."

Reached on her cell phone Grunefeld confirmed the closing but referred calls to SCME's home office in San Diego.

The same went for Jim Lynch, who answered the phone at the Connecticut branch office.

"Yeah, we're closing," said Lynch, who referred the call to SCME's main office. "If you want more information, talk to headquarters."

SCME funded $5 billion in loans in 2005 and "proves year after year to be one of the fastest growing full-service lenders in the country," according to its Web site., which tracks business activity, says on its Web site that SCME has 290 employees and posted sales revenue of $22.6 million last year.

SCME operated 11 branch offices in California, Connecticut, Florida, Utah and Colorado and did business in 29 states, according to its own Web site. The company was founded in 1984 by President and CEO Joe W. Davies and Executive Vice Presidents Doris Davies and Lili Houlihan -- who focused on government lending in San Diego.

In 2005, the company launched wholesale nonprime lender Clearpath Lending Solutions, which reportedly used an automated loan product and pricing engine.

At the time, an executive said it was the right time to get into subprime lending.

"Capitalizing on the growing mortgage market, the corporation gradually began to extend its services to offer retail, wholesale and correspondent lending," the company says on the Web site. "Proving to be a strategic move, Southern California Mortgage Exchange expanded its lending operations throughout California opening additional branch throughout the state in the late 1980's."

According to, which tracks mortgage activity under numbers from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, SCME processed about 35,300 loans in 2005. Nearly 22,000 of those loans were refinancings.

The company was recognized as the 25th largest U.S. wholesale lender during 2005, according to its Web site. SCME also claims to have been ranked as the 9th biggest option ARM lender and the 17th largest Alt-A lender in the fourth quarter of 2005.

Patrick Crowley is a feature journalist and blogger for He is also a reporter, blogger and columnist for The Cincinnati Enquirer.
e-mail Patrick at: [email protected]

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