First American Files Affordable Homeownership Settlement Package Rates in California

—Bundled and Discounted Title/Settlement Services Available to Low-Income Homebuyers in January —


December 1, 2003, SANTA ANA, Calif.

The First American Corporation (NYSE:FAF), the nation’s leading diversified provider of business information and related products and services, today announced that its title insurance subsidiary, First American Title Insurance Company, has filed its rates for bundled and discounted title insurance and settlement services with the California Department of Insurance.  The new rate filings enable First American to make its Affordable Homeownership Settlement Package available in California beginning Jan. 1, 2004.

First American’s Affordable Homeownership Settlement Package, first introduced in October as part of a larger initiative to increase homeownership among low-income and minority families, will combine lender and owner title insurance policies with escrow closing services, a credit report, an appraisal, flood zone certification and home warranty coverage—all in a easy to understand, single-price product.  The package will be offered to eligible homebuyers in all California counties at an average discount of approximately 25 percent.  Discount eligibility is based on U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development definitions of income, which identifies any family with income less than or equal to area median income as a moderate-income family. 

“This is the first step in fulfilling our promise to deliver products and services designed to help narrow the homeownership disparity that currently exists between lower income minority and non-minority families,” said Landon V. Taylor, vice president of market development for The First American Corporation.  “We have received tremendous feedback and support from community groups and our peers in the lending and real estate industries since the October launch of this initiative, and we are pleased to report that we’re on track in bringing this product to market.”

In addition to the Affordable Homeownership Settlement Package, First American’s broader minority homeownership initiative will include the introduction of alternative credit-screening products, a targeted philanthropic giving program, a for-profit community investment program and an increased commitment to workforce and vendor diversity.  The five-year, multimillion dollar program, which is endorsed by The Greenlining Institute, a multi-ethnic coalition that promotes homeownership and inner-city economic development, was received positively at its introduction by representatives from Fannie Mae, the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals and the Asian Real Estate Association of America.

Robert L. Gnaizda, policy director and general counsel at The Greenlining Institute, said: “In Los Angeles County, for example, this package could trim close to $900 in closing costs for a prospective homebuyer, and the single-price design will help ensure that the costs overall are more in keeping with original estimates.  This is a big step forward in terms of transparency and cost reductions, and combined with the other aspects of First American’s initiative, shows a real commitment by the company.  We hope other title insurers will aggressively compete with comparable terms.”

The Affordable Homeownership Settlement Package is valid for owner-occupied home purchases up to $350,000.  After Jan. 1, 2004, California homebuyers can request this package from their real estate agent, mortgage lender or homebuilder.  First American expects to extend this program to areas outside of California in coming months.   

The First American Corporation, a Fortune 500 company and the nation’s leading diversified provider of business information, supplies businesses and consumers with information resources in connection with the major economic events of people's lives, such as getting a job; renting an apartment; buying a car, house, boat or airplane; securing a mortgage; opening or buying a business; and planning for retirement. The First American Family of Companies, many of which command leading market share positions in their respective industries, operate within seven primary business segments including: Title Insurance and Services, Specialty Insurance, Trust and Other Services, Mortgage Information, Property Information, Credit Information and Screening Information. With revenues of $4.70 billion in 2002, First American has nearly 25,000 employees in approximately 1,400 offices throughout the United States and abroad. More information about the company and an archive of its press releases can be found at www.firstam.com.

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