The First American Financial Corporation acquires Ward Associates

December 17, 1996, SANTA ANA, CALIFORNIA

The First American Financial Corporation (NYSE: FAF) announced today that it has acquired Ward Associates, the oldest and one of the largest field inspection service providers in the country. The company delivers comprehensive inspection and property preservation services to leading mortgage lenders. Ward Associates processes more than 110,000 inspections per month, placing it second in national market share. Last year, First American acquired Lomas Field Services, number three in national market share. The two entities will operate as First American Field Services, and, when combined, will be serving seven of the nation's top 10 mortgage servicers. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

First American Field Services will have its headquarters in Lakewood, New Jersey, the current headquarters of Ward Associates. John Ward, former president of Ward Associates, has been named president of the company, which will operate as a subsidiary of First American Real Estate Information Services, Inc.

"We are very excited to be joining forces with Ward Associates," said John Long, president of First American Real Estate Information Services. "The company's vast experience and its significant market penetration, combined with First American's technology capabilities, will position First American Field Services as the leading field service provider in the marketplace. We will realize significant efficiencies in combining the companies."

First American currently offers a full menu of inspection and property preservation services through the industry's largest salaried field inspection force, all of whom are equipped with pen-based laptops. The company offers a unique, on-line mainframe system for customer inquiries, 24 hours a day. The addition of Ward Associates brings real-time access to data, direct satellite links to loan servicing databases, remote order entry and digitized photo and document imaging systems to First American.

"The field services industry is consolidating at a brisk pace," said Parker S. Kennedy, president of The First American Financial Corporation. "This product can be marketed very effectively and efficiently with the rest of our menu of services and will form the cornerstone to a group of products offered to mortgage lenders designed to streamline the foreclosure and loss mitigation process."

The First American Financial Corporation (NYSE: FAF) is the nation's leading provider of real estate-related financial and information services. Through its wholly owned subsidiary, First American Real Estate Information Services, Inc., it provides a variety of services to leading financial institutions nationwide, including credit reporting, flood compliance, appraisal services, real estate tax reporting and certification, outsourcing, property reporting and valuation, mortgage assignments and satisfactions, and mortgage servicing systems. The Information Services group has its headquarters in St. Petersburg, Florida. Through other subsidiaries, First American Financial provides title insurance, home warranties and trust and banking services. First American Financial, founded in 1889 and based in Santa Ana, California, has more than 10,000 employees in over 400 branch offices in the United States and abroad. Information about the company's subsidiaries and an archive of its press releases can be found at on the Internet.


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