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Stewart announces national release of SureClose transaction management service

November 7, 2002

HOUSTON ) ­ Stewart Title Co., a wholly owned subsidiary of Stewart Information Services Corp. (NYSE-STC), has announced the national release of its SureClose transaction management service.

Following a two-year development period and a successful beta test, Stewart now has installed 78 active SureClose locations nationwide, and recently introduced an enhanced consumer interface. Stewart will deploy SureClose nationwide to its affiliated title offices and selected independent agents, taking the real estate transaction process to the Internet.

Transaction management allows all parties to a real estate transaction ­ sellers or refinance customers, buyers, real estate agents and brokers, builders, lenders, title agents and other settlement service providers ­ access to the transaction through a secure, password-protected Web site.

³Our goal with SureClose is to provide consumers, real estate professionals, lenders and all the parties to the real estate transaction 24x7 access to the status and documents of their transaction as it progresses,² said Stewart Morris Jr., president, Stewart Title Co. and president and co-chief executive officer, Stewart Information Services Corp.

³SureClose becomes the place on the Internet where parties to a transaction can conveniently be updated, and review their documents before closing,² said Morris. ³This is a great advance in the real estate transaction process. We are committed to making SureClose our primary method of delivery and communication of our products and services.²

³With SureClose, sellers and buyers have peace of mind, knowing that they can check on their sale anytime, regardless of office hours or time zones,² said Kelly Hawkins, Stewart director of realty technology. ³Because SureClose is on the Web, there is no special software to access the transaction. It¹s available through any PC with Internet access, and provides secure access to documents. The new SureClose consumer interface is very intuitive ­ if you¹ve worked on a Windows-based PC and browsed the Internet, you¹ll navigate it with ease.

³An important benefit of SureClose is the automatic notification to transaction participants when critical documents are received and events are completed,² added Hawkins. ³With SureClose, Stewart is the true transaction manager, allowing real estate professionals more time to work with their customers rather than spending time checking up on the closing.²

Stewart Title Services of Indiana found that SureClose has helped them give better service during the recent refinancing boom brought on by low mortgage interest rates. ³We are aiding lenders in streamlining processes for their customers,² said Steve Hargrove, chief executive officer, Stewart Title Services of Indiana. ³One example ­ rather than faxing closing instructions and conditions back and forth, SureClose allows the loan processor to view the requested conditions online and e-mail us the appropriate information for loan approvals and funding.²

In addition, Carla Rezabek, sales and listing agent at Carpenter GMAC Real Estate in Indianapolis said, ³I list approximately 150 homes a year. I use Stewart Title for closings exclusively when these listings sell. Time is very crucial to me. Stewart Title¹s product SureClose provides valuable closing information any time I need it. It enables me to provide top of the line service to my clients and to all parties to a transaction.²

At Stewart Title of Vail, customers like the online accessibility of SureClose. Manager Sandy Capell, Colorado Mountain District, talked about SureClose with a local developer whose customers are mostly first-time homebuyers.

³This is great,² said Ray Neilsen, manager, Fieldstone Development LLC in Vail. ³This will show our buyers that we are working with a title company who is being proactive with their transaction. SureClose will give them access to their title and closing file online and will break down their transaction to manageable steps, making it easier for the buyer to follow the closing process.²

Capell said, ³Since real estate is one of the biggest investments for our customers, it is beneficial and important to us and our customers that SureClose is available online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It simply makes it better, faster, easier and more convenient for the consumer.²

Jo Ellen Nash, president and broker of realty company Jo Ellen Nash & Company in Vail, said, ³Stewart Title and the SureClose system have streamlined our communication and closing process tremendously! I now have more time to focus on my clients and dollar-productive activities, which takes my business to even greater levels.²

Source: Stewart Information Services Corp.



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