First American Helps Bridge the Homeownership Gap With New, Nontraditional Credit Score

—MassHousing is First to Fully Implement New Credit Scoring Program for its MassAdvantage and MI Plus Mortgage Products—


April 25, 2005, SANTA ANA, Calif.

The First American Corporation (NYSE: FAF), the nation’s largest data provider, today announced the availability of a new type of credit score specifically designed to address mortgage lender and investor needs for a reliable way to assess the credit risk of loan applicants with little or no traditional credit history. Compiled using the industry’s most widely accepted nontraditional credit policy standards, First American’s Anthem Score is expected to help significantly increase loan approval rates in under-served communities and narrow the gap between minority and nonminority homeownership rates.  The first lender to implement Anthem Score is MassHousing, a Massachusetts public authority that provides affordable mortgage loans to low- and moderate-income homebuyers who are under-served by conventional lenders.

The latest addition to First American’s Anthem (Assisting Nontraditional Homebuyers in Emerging Markets) Suite of services, Anthem Score offers a fast and simple way for loan officers to determine whether an applicant can be approved for a loan accepting of nontraditional credit data.  Low-to-moderate income families, first-time homebuyers and recent immigrants are among the applicant groups often rejected for loans based upon insufficient credit history.  Generated from the credit information contained in an Anthem Report, First American’s nontraditional credit report, Anthem Score helps mortgage lenders address many of the credit challenges these potential homebuyers face, while sufficiently managing the risk to the lender and the secondary market/investment community.  Anthem Score is included at no charge with every Anthem Report ordered.  

“The industry has traditionally assumed very high risk through a rather informal collection and verification process for nontraditional credit, making it virtually impossible to score the information,” said Mark F. Catone, senior vice president of First American’s Credit Information segment.  “The key to our ability to deliver a nontraditional score is the rigorous verification standards and consistency we apply in compiling the data.  Anthem Score not only represents an accurate and reliable score for loan applicants that lack traditional credit histories, it is the first to exceed existing lender and investor standards for preventing fraudulent information from being used in establishing credit.”

“This new and innovative credit score will give more low-to-moderate income homebuyers—and immigrant homebuyers in particular—a better chance to qualify for an affordable mortgage loan,” said Thomas R. Gleason, executive director of MassHousing. “Too often, consumers who don’t have a traditional credit history fall prey to predatory lenders and end up paying higher interest rates and fees.  But thanks to First American’s Anthem Score, we can now offer these buyers loans with more reasonable terms, helping them to achieve the dream of homeownership at a price they can afford.” 

Offered through First American CREDCO, the leading provider of specialty credit reports to the mortgage industry, the Anthem Suite of services includes the Anthem Report with its integrated Anthem Score; Rapid Recheck, a service that expedites credit file corrections and then “re-pulls” the credit report; and a free Consumer Assistance and Disputes service staffed by specialists who work with the consumer to explain credit issues, recommend credit improvement strategies and help resolve profile discrepancies with the national credit bureaus. For more information, please visit www.credco.com/anthem or call (800) 203-8757.

About MassHousing
The Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency, now doing business as MassHousing, is the leading provider of affordable housing in Massachusetts. Since 1970, MassHousing has provided more than $8.7 billion in financing for more than 80,000 units of mixed-income rental housing and over 43,000 mortgage loans for first-time homebuyers. For more information, visit the MassHousing Web site at www.masshousing.com.

About The First American Corporation

The First American Corporation is a Fortune 500 company that traces its history to 1889. As the nation's largest data provider, the company 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 six primary business segments including: Title Insurance and Services, Specialty Insurance, Mortgage Information, Property Information, Credit Information and Screening Information. With revenues of $6.72 billion in 2004, First American has 31,000 employees in approximately 2,000 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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