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National Branch Operation Consolidates

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A California-based mortgage company that, at its peak, employed more than 1,500 people, maintained a network of more than 100 branches and operated a national wholesale operation, will consolidate down to just two production offices. The company did, however, find a new home for its remaining branches and some wholesale employees.

ComUnity Lending announced today it will consolidate down to two California production offices and a central support office in Morgan Hill, Calif. All new loans will be moved to the production offices on Sept. 1. Branch loans in the pipeline will be closed until Sept. 14.

New locks and submissions will occur through the two consolidated production units, according to the statement.

Spokesman Jayson Stebbins said only 60 employees will remain at the company, which will focus just on California.

In 2005, ComUnity reported 1,600 employees and claimed to rank among the top 100 U.S. mortgage originators. The spokesman noted the number of employees had recently dwindled to 140.

“ComUnity Lending has decided to mitigate the risk of the market by reducing our volume and moving to the sidelines while we wait for sanity to return to the market,” today’s announcement said. “We plan on a short period of rest and re-structuring, after which we will re-enter the business aggressively.”

ComUnity noted a currently disruptive market, tightened guidelines and aggressive collateral review in the statement.

Founded in 1980 by Darryl Fry with only one San Jose, Calif., office, the company grew to 108 retail offices nationally, archived Web pages indicate.

By this year, however, the branch count dropped to 50, Stebbins said.

“We will be working with friendly competitors to find homes for our retail offices and other production units,” today’s press release said.

Stebbins noted only 30 branches remained, and they will all be transitioned to another company — which he would not identify.

ComUnity also reportedly ran 40 Mortgage Master sites that served retail branches and independent mortgage brokers. Stebbins said 30 wholesale employees were also transitioned to the same company.

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