First American accepts VISA cards for Escrow and title services in California New ...


September 8, 1998, SANTA ANA, CALIFORNIA

Anyone who has bought or sold a house knows how trying the closing process can be. Now, California consumers who are buying, selling or refinancing homes will have one less thing to worry about. Beginning today, prospective homeowners can streamline the closing process by using their Visa cards to pay for selected escrow services at more than 100 First American Title Insurance Company locations throughout Northern California.

First American is the first title insurer in the United States to accept payment cards for closing costs. The Northern California launch is the first phase of a planned national rollout of this service. Consumers now can use their cards for non-recurring costs, such as title insurance, escrow fees, miscellaneous fees for document preparation and notarization, and home protection plans. First American will accept credit and signature-based debit cards for up to 2 percent of the sales price or loan amount.

The card-payment option eliminates the inconvenience of securing last-minute funds, obtaining certified checks, or paying costly wire-transfer charges. It also gives consumers flexibility to pay these costs in full or schedule payments to fit to their budgets.

"With today's strong economy and interest rates at all-time lows, more and more people are purchasing homes for the first time or refinancing their current loans," said Richard P. Pauletich, chairman and chief executive officer of Walnut Creek, Calif.-based First American Title Guaranty Company. "One of the most challenging parts of the process is determining the exact closing costs and quickly securing those funds for closing. Having the ability to charge these varying amounts will take the stress and delays out of closing and make the entire process a lot easier."

"Our cardholders have told us they want and expect the option to use their Visa cards anytime and anywhere they're making payments," said Armen Khachadourian, senior vice president of new and emerging markets, Visa U.S.A. "By accepting Visa credit cards for closing costs, First American is not only simplifying the escrow closing process, but also demonstrating its commitment to customer service. We're pleased to work with First American on making this option available to consumers."

The First American Financial Corporation (NYSE: FAF), based in Santa Ana, Calif., is the nation's leading provider of real estate-related financial and information 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, property data services, flood certification, field inspection services, appraisal services, mortgage loan origination and servicing systems, and mortgage document preparation nationally; First American Home Buyers Protection Corporation, a home warranty company; and First American Capital Management, an investment advisory firm. The corporation also operates First American Trust Company and First Security Thrift Company in Southern California. First American Financial has approximately 15,000 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 http://www.firstam.com on the Internet.

Visa is the leading card brand and the largest consumer payment system worldwide. It plays a pivotal role in advancing new payment products and technologies to benefit its 21,000 member financial institutions, their cardholders, and the global economy. Visa is the only consumer payment system to facilitate $1 trillion worth of purchases of goods and services in a fiscal year. Visa's nearly 600 million cards are accepted at more than 15 million worldwide locations, including more than 400,000 ATMs in the Visa/PLUS Global ATM Network. Visa's Internet address is www.visa.com.

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