Universal Settlements Announces Launch of Strategic Markets Division in Washington, D.C.

—Multicultural Homebuyers in Rapidly Growing D.C. Communities to Benefit from New Specialized Products and Services—


April 24, 2008, WASHINGTON, D.C.

Universal Settlements, a subsidiary of First American Title Insurance Company and a member of The First American Corporation (NYSE: FAF) family of companies, today announced the launch of its Strategic Markets Division in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. First American Title’s Strategic Markets Division provides culturally insightful business solutions for real estate practitioners to more effectively serve the region’s rapidly growing multicultural and new immigrant home-buying communities.   

“Universal Settlements is already recognized as one of the leading real estate settlement companies in the Mid-Atlantic region,” said Vivian Vasallo, vice president of First American Title’s eastern region Strategic Markets Division. “With their combined depth of experience, commitment to service and a culturally diverse staff  to provide clients with flexibility and convenience they can rely on, Universal Settlements’ addition of a Strategic Markets Division will foster the growth of homeownership and underscore the company’s unique ability to service the needs of this region.”   

Because Universal Settlements understands the need to offer customized solutions to the Mid-Atlantic region’s expanding multicultural community, this new Strategic Markets Division will provide numerous specialized services, including attorneys with multicultural backgrounds to answer consumers’ questions and in-language mobile services at closings. “Multicultural homebuyers can find the closing experience uncomfortable due to language barriers and unfamiliarity with the whole process,” said Marty Stanton, counsel for Universal Settlements.  “Our in-language mobile services provide experienced settlement officers who can accommodate particular language needs and alleviate anxiety by walking customers carefully through the closing process in the convenience of their home.  This is a tremendous opportunity to help strengthen our communities and to establish Universal Settlements as the company of choice among multicultural homebuyers and the real estate professionals who serve them.”

While recent U.S. Census Bureau reports indicate that national multicultural homeownership rates have lagged 12 percent to 28 percent behind the rate of 75.3 percent held by whites, the Washington, D.C. metro area is home to several of the largest multicultural markets in the country.  Diversity of immigrant flow makes this area especially unique, with more than 193 countries represented, according to the Immigration and Naturalization Service.  For example, the area had the ninth largest Latino population gain in the U.S. between the years 2000 and 2005.

A number of innovative business solutions made available for industry professionals include multilingual, consumer–oriented materials that will assist in the homeownership purchase process for multicultural homebuyers.  Universal Settlements will offer information in several languages, including Spanish, Korean, Chinese and Vietnamese.

The company’s new Strategic Markets Division will be applying the same well-received products and services that First American Title has successfully launched in several regions throughout the U.S.  The division helps breakdown the cultural and financial education barriers that often arise when members of ethnic communities enter the home-buying process.  In addition, the Strategic Markets Division’s products and services include consumer-focused outreach, educational events regarding the title and escrow process for the real estate professionals who assist program participants, and the training of key Universal Settlements staff to better service ethnically diverse communities. 

Enthusiastic endorsement of First American’s unique and uncompromisingly service-oriented programs has come from organizations such as the Greenlining Institute, a multiethnic coalition that promotes homeownership and inner-city economic development; and Operation HOPE, Inc., a social investment bank and a national provider of financial literacy and economic empowerment programs.

About Universal Settlements
Universal Settlements is a subsidiary of First American Title Insurance Company, one of the largest title insurers in the nation.  As part of the First American Family of Companies, Universal Settlements is a full-service title and settlement services company serving real estate and mortgage professionals in the support of residential and commercial real estate transactions. Universal Settlements has offices in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia. For more information, visit www.universalsettlements.netand for inquiries contact Vivian Vasallo at 202-223-7900.  

About First American Title Insurance Company
First American Title Insurance Company, the largest subsidiary of The First American Corporation (NYSE: FAF), traces its history to 1889. One of the largest title insurers in the nation, the company offers title services through its direct operation and an extensive network of agents throughout the United States and abroad. The company has its headquarters in Santa Ana, Calif. Information about The First American Corporation’s subsidiaries and an archive of its press releases can be found on the Internet at www.firstam.com.

 

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