Stewart Title, First Republic Mortgage and Trustcorp Mortgage Revolutionize the Real Estate Transaction Process with First e-closings in Indiana

June 13, 2006

HOUSTON-- It took a simple "click-to-sign" process for several Indiana consumers to close their mortgage loans on June 6 and 7, as Stewart Title teamed up with First Republic Mortgage Corp. and Trustcorp Mortgage Co. for three electronic closings using Stewart's SureClose® online transaction management system and eClosingRoom(TM).

The closings also included Stewart's first electronic notarization of a closing transaction.

Jane Ratliff, a 73-year-old Indianapolis widow, said the decision to be involved in the state's first e-closing was simple. "It was going to be quicker and I would only have to sign once," said the admitted non-computer user. This was the seventh home purchase for Ratliff, but she said, "I'm nervous about getting another house, but not about the closing."

First Republic Mortgage co-owner David Richey was the loan officer for Ratliff's conventional loan. The Indianapolis-based independent mortgage banking operation held the first closing in its historic reproduction office in the Fort Harrison area. The company's Fort Wayne office held the second e-closing handled by Mary Travis, the branch manager and company's chief operating officer. Robin Lee Robinson, a single man, used the e-closing process to purchase a new construction home with an FHA loan.

It has been 10 years since First Republic teamed with Trustcorp Mortgage to be the first lenders in the state--and two of the first lenders in the country--to roll out Fannie Mae's automated underwriting systems, Desktop Originator and Desktop Underwriter.

"Our commitment in 1996 was technology and it continues to be our corporate vision," said Richey. "We see e-closings as the wave of the future.

"It gets back to customer service," he added. "Jane had already reviewed the documents in SureClose and had no anxiety about signing the papers today."

For the third closing, Barry and Bethanie Bowles did an FHA refinance of their home loan through South Bend-based Trustcorp Mortgage, a major regional lender.

"Because we're a regional lender instead of a national, we can move faster and can lead in getting technology out to our customers," said Diana Ringer, CMB, senior vice president and chief operating officer for Trustcorp Mortgage. "It also makes our lives easier all the way around. We can review the closing documents ahead of time and discover if something needs to be corrected."

Stewart Title Services of Indiana coordinated all three closings, with Krystal Hunter acting as closing officer and e-notary. The closings were done on a Toshiba M400 tablet PC, using a stylus to sign on the computer screen within the Internet browser. The buyers and refinance customers then signed additional documents using the "click-to-sign" method.

"Our lender solutions director, Nancy Pratt, worked with David Richey at First Republic and Derek Ringer at Trustcorp to coordinate these closings," said Thomas Fickle, vice president and state agency manager for Stewart Title. "We are proud to work with these visionary lenders to take this exciting step, and look forward to continuing e-closings with them on a production basis."

Source: Stewart Title and Stewart Title Services

Contact ALTA at 202-296-3671 or