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Mason-McDuffie Mortgage celebrates its 125th year of service

SAN RAMON, CA—As Mason-McDuffie Mortgage celebrates its 125th year of service to the real estate industry in the Bay Area, it continues to build on the legacy that founder Joseph Mason established when he opened the firm in 1887 on Shattuck Avenue in what was then rural Berkeley.

Mason’s core value was integrity in all of his business transactions and that value continues to this day. Another attribute of the firm he founded is consistent innovation to respond to changes in the marketplace. That led Mason to start buying lots and building homes and led to developing subdivisions and eventually company leadership established a mortgage division.

Today, the third iteration of the mortgage firm is recalibrating and fine tuning its expansion plan to reflect the ever-changing market conditions across the country.

“Mason-McDuffie was founded 125 years ago with the core value of integrity and the recognition that its leaders would have to continually innovate to compete in the marketplace,” said Marilyn Richardson, president and CEO.  “That’s still our focus—integrity and innovation.”

In the third quarter of 2011, the mortgage firm launched an aggressive national expansion plan that has resulted in record loan volume in 2012. The plan required substantial growth and training in the operations department in San Ramon and spurred a move to a paperless environment—an effort that paralleled the growth in loan volume.

As the year progressed, the firm refined its growth goal. Mason-McDuffie will maintain its presence across the country, but will focus more tightly on growing in selected markets where the firm already has branches such as Southern California and Northern California. Last year, the company opened an office in Lafayette headed by Vice President Jim Black and expanded the Oakland office with a sister operation in Berkeley.  It also opened up an office in Roseville managed by Vice President Tom Engwer and a Southern California branch in Irvine managed by Vice President Suzy Dukelow.

It also has a growing operation on the eastern seaboard with two offices in the Richmond, Virginia area and a new one in White Plains, a suburb in Maryland south of Washington D.C. Senior Vice President of Production Mark Lynch oversees those offices and is charged with continuing the growth in key markets on the Eastern Seaboard.

Mason-McDuffie is continuing to hire, both highly qualified loan officers as well as members of the support team to allow newly arrived loan officers to transition effectively and continue to build their businesses.

“We’ve focused on more profitable offices because the avalanche of new state and federal regulations has dramatically reduced our profit margins. We expect the regulatory environment to continue to tighten, ” said Richardson. “We have successfully recruited some very high producing loan officers and will continue to recruit that type of professional and structure our operations to support them with excellence.

“This is a company founded by and run by executives who have been loan officers so concentrating on what it takes for loan officers to be successful has been and will continue to be a Mason-McDuffie trademark,” she continued.

One key initiative to improve efficiency for loan officers was the establishment of the Prime Services Group headed by Executive Vice President Jason Frazier. The group handles all information technology and social media services as well as training across the company. The one-stop concierge service for loan officers and other employees was specially designed to speed the integration of newly hired loan officers into the day-to-day business flow.

Another area of growth will be the homebuilder/credit union division as the firm strives to develop more affiliate relationships. Mason-McDuffie is the preferred lender for Benchmark Homes’ Vantage at Harlan Ranch development in Clovis. It has affiliate relationships with nine credit unions in California and Nevada.

“We’re doing the things that the original Mason-McDuffie did—build neighborhoods and innovate. We have a legacy of quality service and integrity—both in the real estate industry and in the mortgage business that is more than 60 years old,” Richardson said.