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Industry News

Stewart Mortgage Information Acquires

August 7, 2002

HOUSTON, /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Stewart Mortgage Information (SMI), a wholly owned subsidiary of Stewart Information Services Corp. (NYSE: STC), has acquired, a company specializing in totally online auctions of bank-owned (REO) properties. The terms of the acquisition were not released.

"As a provider of outsource solutions to the mortgage lending industry, we saw this innovative firm as an ideal addition to the products and services that SMI currently offers," said Don O'Neill, SMI president. "We are pleased that we can assist lenders in their loss mitigation efforts by providing a cost-effective method to market and sell their properties in the REO inventory." is changing its name to RealtyBid International ( President and co-founder Tony Isbell will remain as president of the new subsidiary. "Joining the SMI family will make it possible for us to take our online bidding platform to an even higher level of success," said Isbell. " will further accelerate the sale of real estate assets and offer a wider array of services to an expanding list of clients."

Based in Gadsden, Ala., has sold more than 1,000 properties through totally online auctions since it first introduced its Internet platform in June 2000. More than 10,000 users from across the country have registered with the Web site. Residential properties in more than 20 states have been sold, ranging in value from $1,000 to $525,000.

"While mortgage lenders aggressively monitor their loan performance to minimize problem loans, they are seeing rising delinquency rates in light of the recent economic slowdown," said O'Neill. "Quick disposal of REO properties by auction reduces the lender's carrying costs because bidders are serious buyers, and marketing periods are shortened, as opposed to a conventional realty listing. An online auction platform provides even greater benefits to both the lender/seller and the buyer."

"By making these homes available over the Internet, more people than ever before can benefit from purchasing homes at auction," said Mike Keracher, AMSauctions co-founder and RealtyBid executive vice president for sales and marketing. "Investors are finding properties without having to travel to a 'ballroom-type' auction, and people who have been struggling to become homeowners are discovering a source where they can purchase a home at a good value."

Source: Stewart Information Services Corp.

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