First American Title Company

Humble Beginnings: A One-County Abstract Company

The First American Corporation traces its roots to 1889, when Orange County, California—a rural, undeveloped area at the time—split off from the county of Los Angeles. Two firms opened to handle title matters in the brand-new county. Five years later, C.E. Parker, a local businessman, succeeded in merging the two competitors into a single entity. He was named president of the resulting company—Orange County Title Company—the immediate predecessor to today’s First American Title Insurance Company, the largest subsidiary of The First American Corporation. During its first 70 years, the company’s growth paralleled that of Orange County—modest but steady. It earned a reputation for diligence, thoroughness and friendly, personal service. In 1924, it became one of the first abstract companies in California to qualify to issue policies of title insurance. Donald Parker Kennedy, grandson of the founder, joined the company after finishing law school in 1948. He soon realized that the company needed to expand beyond the boundaries of the county in order to survive. In 1957, the board of directors authorized an expansion plan with the intent of becoming a powerhouse in the Southern California market. However, the decision to provide services where its existing customers had operations soon led the company far beyond California’s borders. In 1963, D.P. Kennedy was named president of the company, taking over for his uncle, George Parker. By this time, the company had changed its name to First American and was operating in four states.

Industry Leader: First American’s Place on Wall Street and in the Marketplace

As First American began to grow, and title offices were established outside of California’s borders, the company had its initial public offering on the over-the-counter market in 1964. Two years later, First American was restructured into a general holding company, The First American Financial Corporation, which conducted its title operations through First American Title Insurance Company and a trust business through First American Trust Company. By 1982, First American Title served every region of the country. On December 3, 1993, the company moved its shares onto the prestigious New York Stock Exchange. In May 2000, the company changed its name to The First American Corporation to more accurately reflect the company’s diverse business mix, which includes a number of non-financial services. Today, First American continues to expand into businesses that operate independent of, or counter to, real estate cycles. The company also continues to draw different products and services from its various business units to offer customers innovative product combinations that meet the customer’s needs without the hassle of working with several independent companies. As the nation’s largest data provider, First American is able to use the vast information resources that the company currently houses to predict market trends and create solutions that can guide customers’ businesses. By looking at the data for patterns, First American is able to see through all of the data and provide customers with long-term solutions that help them to run their businesses more productively and with less risk. First American’s state-of-the-art technology makes this new level of service possible. In each business unit, and at every level, First American is committed to providing innovative solutions that serve the customer’s needs.

Going Global: First American’s International Services

In addition to a comprehensive presence across the United States, First American Title has pioneered operations in nearly 70 countries. In 1988, First American approached Canadian officials with a request to open title insurance offices in Canada. Since that time, the company has revolutionized the way title insurance is used and viewed by Canadian consumers and lenders. With the success of its endeavors in Canada, First American used a similar business model to develop international operations around the world. First American was the first title insurance provider in Mexico, Korea, and Hong Kong, and has the leading market share in Australia and England. Today, First American continues to explore new international opportunities, as well as work with government officials and community leaders in developing nations to help these leaders create legislature that protects landowner rights and secures a stronger local economy.

Growing the Business: First American’s Major Acquisitions, Mergers, and Developments

Adding to the success of its title insurance and trust businesses, First American has sought out ways to provide the complementary services and products that its customers need. Beginning in 1984, First American has incorporated several new companies, including a home warranty subsidiary, a real estate tax service, a credit reporting company, and a flood certification company. This proactive approach to service goes beyond just being a vendor, who offers products. First American understands that the only way to bring out the greatest value of the company’s products, and the customer’s business, is to partner with the customer. In response to working alongside its customers, listening to their needs and anticipating what products will be a good fit, First American is able to acquire the companies that will meet its customers’ current and future needs. In recent years, a large part of First American’s development has centered on a multiple brand strategy. First American recognizes that one size doesn’t fit all—each customer has his or her own expectations and needs. By acquiring companies that have a strong reputation and client base, First American is able to increase market share and develop these individual companies into strong brands that offer consumers a wide array of products at competitive prices. With the transfer of First American’s Credit Information Group to First Advantage Corporation, a majority-owned subsidiary of The First American Corporation, First American and First Advantage now have distinctly individual focuses: First American is the leading provider of real estate information and First Advantage is one of the leading providers of risk mitigation and business solutions. No matter what the future holds, First American is committed to providing the highest quality of information, developed with insight and delivered with integrity.