Stewart Title Guaranty Co. sponsors study assisting Native Americans to improve homeownership

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HOUSTON (Aug. 28, 2007) – Stewart Title Guaranty Co. is sponsoring the Tribal Land Title and Recordation Office Study, a research partnership between First Nations Development Institute (First Nations) and the National Congress of American Indians’ (NCAI) Policy Research Center to offer a set of options for Native nations seeking to improve homeownership rates.

The project has been made possible through a grant from NeighborWorks America. The study committee includes representatives from various Native American tribes, Fannie Mae, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Stewart Title Guaranty Co., a range of government agencies and other national organizations such as the National American Indian Housing Council.

“Stewart Title firmly believes increased prosperity and social stability are byproducts of homeownership,” said Michael B. Skalka, president, Stewart Title Guaranty Co. “With this sponsorship, we are pleased to assist in increasing the volume and depth of information considered in the course of this study.”

A primary recommendation of the May 2007 National Native American Economic Policy Summit called for burdens on development to be removed through reforms to the trust land system:

“Land is the primary asset in Indian country, but reservation economic development struggles under an antiquated and complex federal trust management system that moves slowly and uncertainly on land transactions and leasing. Indian tribes are committed to retaining the federal trust responsibility, but want to reform the system to increase tribal management authority and streamline processes that support economic transactions.”

“Research studies like this are critical to supporting Indian Country in shaping its own future,” said Joe Garcia, president of NCAI. “This partnership between two respected Native research centers will assist tribes in making informed policy decisions about the foundational issue of developing homeownership and economic development on Indian lands.”

Stewart Title senior underwriting counsel Edward D. Hellewell is participating on the study committee and initiated the request for Stewart to sign on as a sponsor.

“It is crucial for tribal economies and Native American homebuyers that we learn how best to overcome impediments to mortgage-financed homeownership through reducing the time it takes to receive title information,” said Hellewell. “This study project will provide a range of options for tribes to provide better access to mortgage financing for their tribal members.”

Stewart Title Guaranty Co. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Stewart Information Services Corp. (NYSE-STC), a customer-oriented, technology-driven, strategically competitive, real estate information and transaction management company. Stewart provides title insurance and related information services required for settlement by the real estate and mortgage industries through more than 9,500 policy-issuing offices and agencies in the United States and international markets. 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 http://www.stewart.com/.

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