HOUSTON (July 25, 2005) - The "Road to a Million" closing files for the SureClose online transaction management system is about to reach its destination, announced Stewart Realty Solutions.
"In just three years, SureClose has helped thousands of buyers and sellers participating in nearly one million closings discover a better real estate transaction experience," said Kelly Hawkins, vice president and chief operating officer, Stewart Realty Solutions. "We wanted to recognize the Stewart office or independent agent who opens the one millionth closing file in SureClose, and that's how our 'Road to a Million' contest was born."
The "rules of the road" are very specific for the campaign.
"SureClose files generated for an actual transaction by a Stewart direct, partially-owned or independent title office are the only closing files that count toward the million," said Hawkins. "Generic and template files are not counted.
"The winning file will automatically be selected and identified with a system-generated, unique ID," said Hawkins. "We are not manually designating a specific winning file.
"This is an historic event, not only for Stewart, but also for consumers who can now participate in a better closing experience with SureClose," he added. "Our title offices have worked very hard to implement SureClose, which has become the centerpiece of their title production process flow. It has not been an easy road to get to this point."
To put this event in perspective, the earliest computerized transaction management systems (TMS) are less than 10 years old. In October 2002, real estate industry technology expert Stephen Bedikian discussed TMS offerings that had "matured over the last two years."
Adoption of SureClose was gradual - only 765 SureClose files were opened in May 2002 by Stewart offices and agencies. In June 2005, a little more than 68,000 new SureClose files were opened.
"Stewart Title had the vision to use SureClose within its offices with a focus on enhancing the closing process for our home seller and buyer customers," said Hawkins. "It was Stewart Title President Stewart Morris Jr. who had that vision."
Morris said, "SureClose began as our effort to take the closing file online to be accessible by all parties to the transaction, with communication on the status of the transaction to be easy and always available. Now, SureClose has become Stewart Title's fundamental technology for production and archival storage. We also have added e-signature so the consumer can more easily execute documents for closing. This enhancement also opens the door to a practical solution for lenders to obtain an e-mortgage."
Stewart's Prize Award Team will visit the winning office which originated the one-millionth file. Stewart Title Chairman Malcolm Morris and the participating real estate agents, buyers and sellers will all be invited to share the historic moment. Commemorative certificates, limited edition T-shirts and a special commemorative award will be presented. Stewart Realty Solutions expects that announcement in early August.
"The significance of the millionth SureClose file is that we are participating in a fundamental shift in the way the real estate transaction of the future will occur," Hawkins said. "Just as consumers have grown accustomed to the convenience of online banking, they are looking for the same convenience in their homebuying experience. In fact, once thought to be impossible, the vision of an electronic transaction is now becoming a reality due to SureClose."
About Stewart Realty Solutions
Stewart Realty Solutions, a wholly owned subsidiary of Stewart Information Services Corp., provides paperless transaction management solutions to the real estate, closing and mortgage industries. In January 2004, Stewart Realty Solutions acquired RealtyAssist, which had partnered with Stewart Title for four years to provide the private-labeled transaction management system for Stewart Title agents. The SureClose system is already installed in more than 850 Stewart-affiliated and independent title agency offices and real estate offices.
Stewart Title is a wholly owned subsidiary of Stewart Information Services Corp. (NYSE-STC), a technology driven, strategically competitive, real estate information and transaction management company providing title insurance and related information services through more than 7,800 policy-issuing offices and agencies in the United States and a number of international markets. Stewart delivers via e-commerce the services required for settlement by the real estate and mortgage industries. Stewart also provides post-closing lender services, automated county clerk land records, property ownership mapping, geographic information systems, property information reports, flood certificates, document preparation, background checks and expertise in tax-deferred exchanges. More information can be found at www.stewart.com.