SureClose® transaction management service by Stewart is working nationwide for home sellers, buyers and refinance customers

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HOUSTON (July 25, 2003) – With 266 locations and more than 75,000 files in the system, the SureClose transaction management service is changing the way home sales and refinances are handled by Stewart Title offices and agents across the country.

SureClose transaction management allows all parties to a real estate transaction – sellers, refinance customers, buyers, real estate agents and brokers, builders, lenders, title agent and other settlement service providers – access to the transaction via a secure, password-protected Web site. In addition, security is set so that buyers cannot view seller-related documents and vice versa.

Stewart Title Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of Stewart Information Services Corp. (NYSE-STC), started rolling out SureClose to its affiliates and independent agents last fall, following a two-year development period and successful beta testing. The transaction management service now integrates with Stewart’s AIM® title production systems (both VAX AIM and AIM for Windows®), offering a seamless contract-to-closing solution for real estate transactions.

“Increasing numbers of homebuyers are using the Internet to shop for a home,” said Stewart Morris Jr., president of Stewart Title Co. and president and co-chief executive officer of Stewart Information Services Corp. “After consumers have found their dream home, SureClose provides the method for them to continue on the Web in the closing process.”

With SureClose, the Stewart affiliate or independent title agent acts as the transaction manager, setting up the closing file and appropriate levels of security for online viewing of the status and documents. Access to SureClose is available through any PC with Internet access, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, regardless of time zones or office hours. There is no special software needed.

“All 18 of our offices are using SureClose now,” said Marcy McCain, director of training, Stewart Title North Texas. “We placed the resales on the system first, so we could bring the real estate agents on board, and we will be adding builder sales and refinance transactions soon.

“No one else in the Metroplex has a product like SureClose, and we’ve had an overwhelmingly positive response to it,” said McCain. “Our real estate agents have been calling and asking for us to come out and train them on it.” Stewart Title North Texas covers six counties in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

“Some title companies and other providers charge real estate brokers or home seller/buyer customers a fee to use a transaction management service,” said Morris. “Stewart’s philosophy is different. We believe that as the true transaction manager, we are providing SureClose as our delivery, communication and closing tool to our customers – and that SureClose will differentiate our service in the marketplace.”

“Transaction management represents a significant opportunity to enhance the role that title insurance companies and title agents play beyond the traditional roles of title insurance and settlement services,” said Dave Smessaert, chief information officer, Metropolitan Title Co. “We have deployed SureClose to 11 offices – over 80 percent of our Indiana region.

“We are now achieving many of the benefits we envisioned during the planning stages, including workflow efficiencies, paperless files and customer access for file status,” said Smessaert.

In the Stewart Title of California, Major Accounts office in Anaheim, approximately 95 percent of the SureClose files are refinance transactions from lenders. “We started entering our internal paperwork on SureClose, and when lenders called for their payoff statements, we sent them online to the appropriate file,” said Dan Duffy, operations manager. “We’ve loaded our opening documents into SureClose, and everything that’s faxed in automatically goes into the SureClose file. The large lenders that we’re working with can pull up their prelims, payoffs and estimated HUD-1 statements online. It’s been a huge help for us during this latest ‘refi’ crunch.”

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 6,800 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, background checks and online property auctions. 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 http://www.stewart.com/.

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