Insurer Posts Rise in Title Activity

The latest evidence of a surge in mortgage activity came this week from Old Republic International Corp., a Chicago-based insurer that noted a turnaround in its title insurance business.

"Our title business has reaped immediate benefits from improvements in home sales in our major market areas," said A.C. Zucaro, Old Republic's chief executive officer, who announced a 24% gain in second-quarter earnings to $34 million. "Results in California, the Midwest, and selected parts of the Southeast have greatly improved profitability."

Premiums and fees by the title unit totaled $79 million in the second quarter, compared with $68 million in the 1990 period.

"This is the first upturn in the title industry in two years," said Jerry Miller, a publicist for the company.

Title insurance is a requirement for many mortgages, and a surge in the business is seen as a lagging indicator of mortgage activity.

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