Articles Posted in Affiliated Business Disclosure Form

Marx Sterbcow will provide a RESPA Compliance and CFPB Update at the Minnesota Land Title Association “MLTA” 2020 Spring Conference at the Marriott Minneapolis Northwest hotel on Monday, April 6, 2020 from 10:15 to 11:15 AM.  The session will first focus on the “Do’s and Don’ts of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA)” covering such topics as marketing services agreements, affiliated business arrangements, real estate lead generation program compliance, referrals and gifts.  The second part of the presentation will discuss the latest in Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “CFPB” enforcement trends and outlook for the coming year.

Sterbcow Law Group’s Managing Attorney, Marx David Sterbcow, will speak at the 2020 27th Annual Real Estate Services Providers Council, Inc. “RESPRO” Conference in Phoenix, Arizona on April 24, 2020.  The RESPRO27 will be held at the Tempe Marriott at the Buttes.  The presentation “Top Down Affiliated Business Arrangement “AfBA” Compliance Demands:  The Impact of Principal and Client Compliance Demands on AfBAs and Other Recent Developments” will focus on the rapidly changing terrain of AfBA compliance demands originating from sources other than the government and the practical ramifications for adopting some of these demands into your affiliated business.

The seminar will discuss the benefits of having third parties Audit your affiliated business for Real Estate Settlement Procedure Act “RESPA” compliance based on new and evolving compliance expectations from banks, non-bank lenders, title insurance underwriters, and government regulators.  Joining Marx will be Trip Riley with Saul Weing, Arnstein & Lehr and Charles Cain with WFG National Title.

For more information on RESPRO27

Marx Sterbcow with the Sterbcow Law Group’s RESPA Law Resource Center has been invited to speak at the Real Estate Settlement Providers Organization’s “RESPRO” 26th Annual Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana on March 27, 2019 at 8:45 AM at the Ritz Carlton Hotel’s Carrollton Ballroom.  The presentation “Whither the CFPB: State Unfair Deceptive Abusive Acts Practices, Regulatory and Private Sector Compliance Issues, Activities and Requirements” will review the most recent federal and state mortgage, title insurance, and real estate brokerage regulatory actions.”  The session will discuss how the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and various state mortgage and title insurance regulatory agencies are interpreting UDAAP/RESPA.  The session will also discuss what compliance expectations the CFPB’s Enforcement division will have when a company is under investigation and the general outlook of what is going on or not going on at the CFPB.  The presentation will hit on issues involving private sector mortgage lending compliance involving Affiliated Business Arrangements and those how those expectations extend to class action mitigation risks.

Charles “Chuck” Cain from Cincinnati, Ohio (Executive Vice President Agency at WFG and Of Counsel to the Sterbcow Law Group) and Francis “Trip” Riley from Princeton, New Jersey (Partner with Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr, LLP) will co-present with Mr. Sterbcow in this session.

Marx Sterbcow of the Sterbcow Law Group has been invited to speak at the American Land Title Association’sALTA Large Agent Conference at the Boca Raton Resort & Club in Boca Raton, Florida on Tuesday, January 15, 2019.  ALTA’s Large Agent Conference is January 13-15, 2019.

The presentation “RESPA UPDATES” will discuss a variety of topics from the latest on RESPA Enforcement by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau “CFPB” to how the new political landscape in Washington, D.C. may put the CFPB’s current enforcement ideology in the spotlight.  The presentation will also provide the latest RESPA Best Practices tips involving: advertising services agreements & marketing agreements, co-branded website advertising, advertising & marketing practices, title agency affiliated business arrangements, title joint ventures, office leases, and the challenges involved with many lead generation programs.  Craig Haskins, the Chief Operating Officer, of Knight Barry Title, Inc. headquartered in Wisconsin will moderate the RESPA UPDATES session.

Marx Sterbcow, the Managing Attorney for the Sterbcow Law Group LLC, has been invited to speak at the 2018 RESPRO 25th Annual Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.  The session titled “CFPB Enforcement and Technology Monitoring Expectations for Affiliated Business Arrangements” is scheduled for 9:00-10:00 AM on April 11, 2018.  This presentation will discusses how a new technology oversight compliance software reporting tool helps RESPA governed Affiliated Businesses Arrangements “AfBA” stay compliant based on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Meridian Title Consent Order.  The session co-presented with Francis “Trip” Riley, Partner at Saul Ewing, and will be moderated by Charles “Chuck” Cain, EVP WFG National Title Insurance Company and Of Counsel to the Sterbcow Law Group.  Marx Sterbcow and Trip Riley are two members of the Meridian Title legal team who were involved in representing Meridian Title in connection with the CFPB Consent Order.

The presentation will provide critical information which all affiliated businesses should be aware of as it pertains to the monitoring of AfBA disclosure forms in real time.  In addition we will discuss how the use of this new technology also adds operational value to any companies operational compliance and business development needs.  We will explain how the CFPB Enforcement division views this type of technology monitoring as a critical piece for all settlement service companies, especially those in the title industry, as a new expectation for medium to large-sized companies to adopt.  We will provide an in-depth look into how a growing number of title agencies across the United States are already utilizing this title production overlay software compliance and business intelligence technology, and how this technology will help companies stay RESPA compliant, and what the future holds for these types of applications as they enter the marketplace.

To Register for the 25th Annual RESPRO Conference click here

Marx Sterbcow, Managing Attorney, of the Sterbcow Law Group will present in two sessions at the 2017 Real Estate Service Providers Council “RESPRO” Annual Conference at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada on April 19, 2017.  The RESPRO Conference is from April 18-20, 2017.

The first session “Unfair Deceptive Abusive Acts Practices UDAAP: The Cloud Still Hangs Low” is from 1:30 PM– 2:30 PM in the DaVinci 3 Ballroom. Mr. Sterbcow is co-presenting with Francis (Trip) Riley with Saul Ewing. The presentation will focus on how UDAPP will continue to effect CFPB’s actions on settlement service providers and how RESPA regulated Affiliated Business Arrangements (AfBAs) need to be cognizant of their marketing and advertising efforts. We will address cases of interest and suggest tips that every company should incorporate.

The second session “RESPA: Stretching the Envelope on Prohibited Referrals” is from 2:45 PM – 3:45 PM in the DaVinci 3 Ballroom.  Mr. Sterbcow is co-presenting with Stan Gordon with Gordon & Associates and Francis (Trip) Riley with Saul Ewing.  The presentation will focus on the basic parameters of what is prohibited referral activity have expanded under CFPB which has resulted in a chilling effect on the financial settlement service industry.  The ambiguity in RESPA on defining a referral and the perceived risks in marketing activities in various circumstances will be discussed.  The presentation will provide some clarifications on when an endorsement of a service provider becomes a prohibited referral.  The session will also address whether it is a violation of Section 8 for a nationwide real estate brokerage group to promote a service provider throughout its owned or affiliated companies to their management and sales agents.  How considerations under PHH and RESPA exception Section 8(c)(2) need to be considered and is the exception absolute as implied by the current ruling.

The Legal Description and Dodd Frank Update have teamed up again to provide their 5th annual Regulatory Outlook Webinar on Wednesday, January 18, 2017 (2:00 – 3:30 P.M. EST) educating mortgage, title and settlement services professionals on the compliance trends and issues to expect in the New Year.  The yearly webinar series has quickly become one of the most important educational sessions each year to find out what in store for the State of the Settlement Service Industry in the coming year.

This webinar features instructors Francis “Trip” Riley of Saul Ewing, Loretta Salzano of Franzén and Salzano, and Marx Sterbcow of the Sterbcow Law Group. These nationally-recognized attorneys will join moderator Danielle Kaiser of NATIC in a discussion of the pressing political, regulatory and compliance issues to watch in 2017 and how to prepare your business.

Instruction will include:

A consumer class action RESPA lawsuit was filed on November 25, 2015 by Timothy L. Strader Sr., against PHH Corporation, REALOGY Holdings Corp., PHH Mortgage Corporation, PHH Home Loans LLC, RMR Financial LLC, NE Moves Mortgage LLC, PHH Broker Partner Corporation, REALOGY GROUP LLC, REALOGY Intermediate Holdings, Title Resources Group LLC, West Coast Escrow Company, TRG Services Escrow Inc., NRT LLC, REALOGY Services Group LLC, and REALOGY Services Venture Partner LLC in United States District Court for the Central District of California. (Case No. 8:15-CV-1973).

The allegations in this consumer class action lawsuit largely surround issues involving violations of Section 8(a) and Section 8(c)(4) of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act of 1974, as amended, 12 U.S.C. §§ 2601 et seq (“RESPA”), and its implementing regulations, 12 C.F.R. §§ 1024.1 et seq. (“Regulation X”). RESPA – and, in particular, the prohibition on referral fees and kickbacks in 12 U.S.C. § 2607 – was explicitly designed to protect consumers “from unnecessarily high settlement charges caused by certain abusive practices,” such as those described in this Complaint. 12 U.S.C. § 2601(a). As such, 12 U.S.C. § 2607(a) prohibits the giving or accepting of any “fee,” “kickback,” or “thing of value” in exchange for business incident to or part of a “settlement service” (as those terms are defined in RESPA and Regulation X) involving a federally related mortgage loan.

The complaints states the Defendants violated RESPA and distorted the market for title insurance and other settlement services in at least two different manners:

First, PHH and Realogy created an affiliated business arrangement called PHH Home Loans, which the Plaintiffs contend was a sham joint venture carefully engineered to facilitate and disguise the payment of unlawful referral fees and kickbacks in exchange for the referral of title insurance and other settlement services to Realogy’s subsidiary, Title Resource Group (“TRG”). The allegations further state that prior to October 21, 2015, PHH was bound under a Strategic Relationship Agreement to refer all title insurance and settlement services to TRG. The consumers referred by PHH Home Loans paid approximately $1650 to TRG for title insurance and other settlement services. If this allegation is accurate it would violate Section 8(c)(4) under RESPA* which prohibits the “Required Use” of an affiliate if the consumer paid for those services.

Pursuant to the Strategic Relationship Agreement, PHH Home Loans is the exclusively recommended mortgage lender for Realogy’s real estate brokerage network, which is operated by NRT, LLC (which operates such brands as Coldwell Banker, Sotheby’s International Realty, ZipRealty, The Corcoran Group, and Citi Habitats.

The Plaintiffs also state that PHH receives a right of first refusal for the purchase of the mortgage servicing rights for PHH Home Loans originated mortgages, which permit PHH Home Loans to sell the servicing rights to PHH “on terms no less favorable” than those that could be obtained from an independent third party and that PHH owns a disproportionate share of the servicing rights for those mortgages relative to PHH’s overall market share of residential mortgage servicing. The complaints states that the details of this relationship have not been publicly disclosed to consumers.

Second, the Plaintiffs allege that under a related Private Label Solutions (“PLS”) model–in which PHH manages all aspects of the mortgage process for various large banking institutions that PHH directs the PLS Partners to refer title insurance and other settlement services to TRG without disclosing to consumers the existence of PHH’s affiliation with TRG, nor the fact that PHH was required to cause the PLS Partners to refer title insurance and other settlement services to TRG under the terms of the Strategic Relationship Agreement.

The complaint further states that the undisclosed mandatory referral arrangement existed for over 10 years until October 21, 2015, when PHH and Realogy amended the Strategic Relationship Agreement to delete the mandatory referral provision. PHH filed their latest Form 10-Q with the SEC on November 5, 2015 and based on the exhibits it did not include the mandatory referral provision language. The Plaintiffs contend the reason that PHH deleted this provision is due to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau v. PHH Corporation enforcement action where the CFPB fined PHH $109 million dollars for its relationship with Atrium Reinsurance Corporation, an affiliate of PHH.

This is a RESPA class action case worth monitoring given the allegations, parties involved, and the CFPB’s related case against Atrium now pending in Federal District Court. Judge Fernando M. Olguin is presiding over the case.

If you have any questions about how your company’s affiliated businesses are structured please contact us to set up a consultation.
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The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued their 24 page Opinion today, August 24, 2015, in the Denise P. Edwards versus The First American Corporation; First American Title Insurance Company class action lawsuit. No. 13-55542 D.C. No. 2:07-cv-03796-SJO-FFM.

The Edwards v. First American class action lawsuit was originally filed on June 12, 2007 and has spent over 8 years bouncing from federal court to federal court.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed in part and vacated in part the United States District Court for the Central District of California’s order denying class certification in a case where the Plaintiffs alleged that First American Title engaged in a national scheme of paying title agencies things of value in exchange for the title agencies’ agreement to refer future title insurance business to First American in violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act “RESPA”.

Marx Sterbcow, Managing Attorneyat Sterbcow Law Group, and Charles Cain, Of Counsel to Sterbcow Law Group and Senior Vice President to WFG National Title Insurance Company, will speak at the 2015 National Settlement Services Summit“NS3” Conference in Atlanta, Georgia on June 9, 2015. The presentation “Who’s Your Vendor? Vendor Management for Title Agents” will provide in-depth analysis and guidance on how title agents can understand and monitor the risks associated with their vendor relationships. We will discuss third party vendor management expectations originating not just from the OCC/FFIEC/FDIC/CFPB but from the secondary market on closing and settlement providers.