Articles Posted in REQUIRED USE: Section 9 under the new RESPA rule

The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act “RESPA” regulations set to take place on January 1, 2010 has purportedly been delayed by HUD for six months. We are now waiting for an official announcement to take place by HUD to officially confirm the six month delay which should make the new implementation date on or around July 1, 2010.

We don’t know what precipitated this possible delay by HUD but the real estate industry has stepped up their criticisms on the new rule, including a recent letter sent to HUD by numerous trade organizations, issues with the new Truth In Lending Act form “TILA” integration, and other federal enforcement agencies concerns about the transparency of the new HUD-1 have forced HUD to re-evaluate parts of the new rule. Of course one of the other problems is that many in the real estate industry are still very much unaware or uneducated on the new RESPA Rule.

UPDATED at 10:39 PM:

U.S. Rep. Barney Frank officially introduced legislation to create the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA). The legislation, which is backed by the Obama Administration, would consolidate the consumer protection powers of the fifty various federal financial regulatory agencies by creating a single regulatory agency. The creation of this single regulatory agency is the single most important aspect of the proposed 229 page Consumer Financial Protection Agency proposal.

The current financial governing system encourages abuses in the industry to take place because of the loopholes created by an inefficient and ineffective regulatory structure. The loopholes are exploited even further by the mass infighting that many of the governmental regulatory bureaucracies regularly display. The consolidation of these various federal agencies into one rule-making and investigative federal division should provide more uniform rules for those in the real estate industry and for consumers of real estate products.

The CFPA will have sole authority to draft and interpret regulations under the existing consumer financial services and fair lending statutes. The recent Good Faith Estimate/HUD-1 Settlement Statement forms developed by HUD and the Truth In Lending Act form is a prime example of decisions being made by one federal agency without input from a completely different agency. The biggest benefit consolidation presents to the industry and to the consumer is that this will increase the number of enforcement investigators. The consolidation of regulatory investigators is crucial because quite often investigators in one agency stop investigating abuses that relate to other agencies due to a myriad of reasons.
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The Obama Administration is pushing new legislation which would create a financial services regulatory commission. The commission would be called “The Financial Product Safety Commission” and it would regulate all mortgages, credit cards, and mutual funds. The Washington Post’s Zachary A. Goldfarb, Binyamin Appelbaum and David Cho wrote an article on May 20, 2009.

The Senate version of this bill under Section 10: Enforcement has some very strong criminal and civil money penalties that could further strengthen consumer protections against businesses. The current senate & house versions of the bill could add considerable consumer protections against loan servicing companies which under Section 6 of RESPA offer consumers very little protection from some mortgage servicing companies abusive practices. This is definitely one of those bills to keep an eye on as the ramifications could be huge for businesses and consumers.
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HUD new RESPA rule changes the definition of “Required Use” to read as follows:

“Required use means a situation in which a borrower’s access to some distinct service, property, discount, rebate or other economic incentive, or the borrower’s ability to avoid an economic disincentive or penalty, is contingent upon the borrower using or failing to use a referred provider of settlement services. However, the offering by a settlement service provider of an optional combination of a bona fide settlement services to a borrower at a total price lower than the sum of the prices of the individual settlement services does not constitute a required use.”

The new RESPA rule as defined would apply to the condition of the affiliated business arrangement exception to Section 8 that a consumer may not be required to use an affiliated business arrangement (AfBA) settlement service provider and the prohibition under Section 9 that a seller of the property may not require that title insurance be purchased by the buyer from any particular title company (whether affiliated or unaffiliated).

The proposed RESPA rule definition also places limits on incentives based on the use of one or more affiliated settlement services providers. The definition says that incentives can only be offered by settlement service providers, however the rule says that developers and/or homebuilders are not considered settlement service providers. Homebuilders and/or developers under this new rule are prohibited from offering incentives to borrowers to use their affiliated business arrangement companies.

The new RESPA rule says that any incentive must be limited to a reduction in the price for the settlement services. The rule also states that incentives can only be offered to borrowers which means that sellers or other third parties would be forbidden from receiving any sort of incentive.
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