First, you find the home of your dreams, and then you make SURE that the party selling it is really entitled to sell it -- that's where First American Title steps in to help. First American Title Insurance's products protect real estate buyers and mortgage lenders with coverage against any title "defects" such as outstanding liens or other encumbrances. It is one of the largest title insurance providers in the US with offices in all 50 states nationwide. While the US accounts for the bulk of its business, it also operates directly and through joint ventures in countries around the world. First American Title is the largest subsidiary of First American Financial.
The US subprime mortgage market meltdown affected First American Title in several ways. Naturally, as the real estate markets sagged, fewer titles needed to be cleared, pinching the company at its main business. However, there have been other points of pain as well. Lawsuits have been ping-ponging between First American Title's parent company, information management provider Fiserve, and Bank of America that contend proper title searches weren't conducted on subprime mortgages back in the fast and loose days leading up to the meltdown. Now that many of those mortgages are in default, fingers are pointing every which way.
First American Title responded to the market conditions by cutting back employees, consolidating offices, and centralizing its administrative and claims handling. It also made an effort to boost its commercial transactions, which bring in higher profits than residential transactions. By late 2011 the company was feeling sufficiently robust to announce plans to acquire Hexter-Fair Title Company, with 21 offices in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
To simplify its operating structure and increase liquidity, parent First American Financial merged another title insurance underwriter, First American Title Insurance Company of New York, into First American Title in 2010. (The parent company changed its name from The First American Corporation to First American Financial earlier that year when it spun off its information services operations into CoreLogic as part of a larger restructuring program.)