First American Financial agrees to acquire Strategic Mortgage Services


The First American Financial Corporation (NYSE: FAF) announced today that it has agreed to purchase all of the operations of Strategic Mortgage Services, Inc., (SMS) of Irvine, California, and its subsidiaries, other than SMS' flood zone certification business. The acquisition is scheduled to close in early May.

SMS is a leading provider of real estate information services to the U.S. mortgage and title insurance industries. The business to be acquired employs 820 people and recorded revenues of approximately $80 million in 1996. Included are SMS' credit division, which is the nation's third largest provider of mortgage credit information; its property appraisal division, which holds the number two national market position; its title division, which provides title and closing services throughout the United States serving primarily second mortgage originators; its settlement services business, which provides title plant systems and accounting services, as well as escrow closing software, to the title industry; and a controlling interest in the nation's largest mortgage document preparation firm.

This acquisition, when completed, will reinforce First American's position as the nation's leading provider of real estate-related financial and informational services. SMS will be absorbed into First American's operations through its two largest subsidiaries: First American Title Insurance Company and First American Real Estate Information Services, Inc.

"We're pleased to join the First American team," said Joe Reppert, president of SMS. "First American's acquisition signals a true commitment to each of our business lines and the value that our employees bring to its overall operation."

First American is the industry leader in real estate-related financial and information services. This transaction will not only expand the company's lead in these vital services, but will provide immediate national presence for First American's appraisal company. The acquisition will also provide First American with a new business line – mortgage document preparation.

"The combination of these two companies creates tremendous economies of scale," said Parker S. Kennedy, president of The First American Financial Corporation. "This acquisition further advances our strategy of investing in real estate-related businesses, a market which we believe has significant growth and profit potential."

"This acquisition, our ninth purchase since January 1995, enhances our ability to provide a complete and unparalleled package of services to our clients, the leading mortgage and real estate companies in the country," said John Long, chief executive officer of First American Real Estate Information Services, Inc. "We are now ranked either first or second in seven core businesses."

The First American Financial Corporation, based in Santa Ana, California, is the nation's leading provider of real estate-related financial and informational services. The corporation's subsidiaries include First American Title Insurance Company, a national and international title insurer; First American Real Estate Information Services, Inc., which offers tax monitoring, credit reporting, flood certification, mortgage loan servicing systems, appraisal services and field inspection services nationally; First American Home Buyers Protection Corporation, a home warranty company; and First American Capital Management, an investment firm. The corporation also operates First American Trust Company and First Security Thrift Company in Southern California. First American Financial 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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