Weyerhaeuser Mortgage Co., Woodland Hills, Calif., has acquired a regional mortgage lender.

The purchase of Southwest Colonial Mortgage Co., San Diego, will help the unit of Weyerhaeuser Co., a Tacoma, Wash.-based lumber and paper manufacturer, strengthen its business relationships with home builders. Southwest Colonial has six limited partnerships with home builders.

Lenders have been scrambling to develop relationships with builders as a way of capturing mortgage customers early in the homebuying process.

Terms of the deal, which closed April 25, were not disclosed.

Weyerhaeuser, which has developed its own mortgage business, had never bought one before. In an interview with American Banker earlier this month, Thomas Grainger, chief operating officer of Weyerhaeuser Mortgage, said its parent company was committed to the business.

He said his unit was determined to build its volume by expanding its originations and loan servicing on behalf of other companies.

Five retail branches acquired in the Southwest Colonial deal are in California and two in Nevada. The branches will operate as a district of Weyerhaeuser Mortgage. Headquarters will be Southwest Colonial's former headquarters in Del Mar, Calif.

Two wholesale branches in California were also part of the deal, as were the limited partnerships with home builders.

Steven Buehler, who with his wife, Lauri, founded Southwest Colonial in 1989, was named a senior vice president at Weyerhaeuser Mortgage. He will manage the integration of the new branches. About 85 of Southwest Colonial's 140 employees will join Weyerhaeuser.

Weyerhaeuser Mortgage was No. 41 among the nation's loan originators last year, with $2.2 billion of fundings. That was down more than 19% from 1994's total, a decline about in line with that of the rest of the industry.

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