Hard on the heels of its recent merger, Dime Bancorp has begun streamlining its mortgage unit with a new client-server system.

The New York-based bank holding company, which merged with Anchor Bancorp two months ago, is using a Unix-based system to handle all aspects of the mortgage lending process, including prequalification, origination, registration, processing, underwriting, closing, and secondary marketing. Before the switch, the Dime's mortgage unit was operating these functions on System M software - supplied by the defunct Saddlebrook Computer Corp. - and using Digital Equipment Corp. minicomputers.

The new in-house software, called Control Z, is provided by Lakewood Corp., a Greenfield, N.H.-based maker of mortgage products and systems. The new system has helped the bank reduce the time it takes to process a loan from 50 or 60 days to 20 or 30, according to Jack Wagner, Dime's chief information officer.

"The client-server platform, compared to the minicomputers, is much easier to customize," Mr. Wagner said. "It gives us more of a competitive edge."

The new system provides a relational data base to aid in marketing and product development. This gives the Dime, which was originating $1 billion of loans annually before the merger, more flexibility and faster results, Mr. Wagner said.

Using the new system, the bank recently developed new split loan and interest-only products in one-third the time it would have taken, he added.

Whether the new system will become the standard for mortgage operations of the merged holding company is still in question. Anchor runs MortgageFlex software on a non-client-server platform.

Teams are analyzing the operations of both banks, Mr. Wagner said, to decide which system will be kept and expanded. The integration decisions will be made later this month.

Control Z was initially sold to small mortgage operations. Now after six years in its fourth generation, it suits mainly banks originating at least $1 billion in loans annually, according to Len Tichy, Lakewood's president.

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