Stewart Mortgage Information Acquires

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HOUSTON (Aug. 5, 2002) - Stewart Mortgage Information (SMI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Stewart Information Services Corp. (NYSE-STC), has acquired, a company specializing in totally online auctions of bank-owned (REO) properties. The terms of the acquisition were not released.

"As a provider of outsource solutions to the mortgage lending industry, we saw this innovative firm as an ideal addition to the products and services that SMI currently offers," said Don O'Neill, SMI president. "We are pleased that we can assist lenders in their loss mitigation efforts by providing a cost-effective method to market and sell their properties in the REO inventory." is changing its name to RealtyBid International ( President and co-founder Tony Isbell will remain as president of the new subsidiary. "Joining the SMI family will make it possible for us to take our online bidding platform to an even higher level of success," said Isbell. " will further accelerate the sale of real estate assets and offer a wider array of services to an expanding list of clients."

Based in Gadsden, Ala., has sold more than 1,000 properties through totally online auctions since it first introduced its Internet platform in June 2000. More than 10,000 users from across the country have registered with the Web site. Residential properties in more than 20 states have been sold, ranging in value from $1,000 to $525,000.

"While mortgage lenders aggressively monitor their loan performance to minimize problem loans, they are seeing rising delinquency rates in light of the recent economic slowdown," said O'Neill. "Quick disposal of REO properties by auction reduces the lender's carrying costs because bidders are serious buyers, and marketing periods are shortened, as opposed to a conventional realty listing. An online auction platform provides even greater benefits to both the lender/seller and the buyer."

"By making these homes available over the Internet, more people than ever before can benefit from purchasing homes at auction," said Mike Keracher, AMSauctions co-founder and RealtyBid executive vice president for sales and marketing. "Investors are finding properties without having to travel to a 'ballroom-type' auction, and people who have been struggling to become homeowners are discovering a source where they can purchase a home at a good value." will focus on allowing users to bid and purchase real estate owned by financial institutions. The site will introduce other property auction categories in the near future, including luxury residential properties, ranches and other rural land, commercial properties, builder and developer properties and international properties. In addition, will partner with parent company Stewart to offer title insurance, escrow and closing services through its Web site, as well as technology products such as digital signatures for online contracts.

Additional printable media information including About the Company, Online Bidding Process and AMS in the News (Baltimore Sun, Detroit Free Press, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and others) is available at

Stewart Information Services Corp. is a technology driven, strategically competitive, global real estate information company. Stewart provides title insurance and related information services through more than 6,100 issuing locations in the United States and several international markets. Stewart meets the needs of the real estate and mortgage industries through the delivery of information services required for settlement using e-commerce. These services include title reports, flood determinations, property appraisals, surveys, document preparation, property reports and background checks. Stewart also supplies post-closing services to lenders, automated county clerk land records and GIS for governmental entities. Stewart provides expertise in tax-deferred exchanges. More information about Stewart can be found at


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