Articles Posted in RESPA SECTION 8(a) Kickbacks

Today, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced it has rescinded the highly controversial Compliance Bulletin 2015-05, “RESPA Compliance And Marketing Services Agreements” and issued new  the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) guidance on Section 8 on the topics of “Gifts and Promotional Activities” and “Marketing Services Agreements“.  The rescission of Compliance Bulletin 2015-05 clears up the widespread confusion that former CFPB Director Richard Cordray created when he issued the MSA bulletin.  The CFPB’s Brian Schneider wrote the “CFPB provides clearer rules of the road for RESPA marketing service agreements” on the Bureau’s blog “[I]n order to provide clearer rules of the road and promote a culture of compliance, the Bureau is publishing guidance in the form of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the RESPA Section 8 topics.  The FAQs provide an overview of certain provisions of RESPA Section 8 and respective Regulation X sections,  and addresses the application of certain provisions to common scenarios described in Bureau inquiries involving gifts and promotional activities, and marketing services agreements (MSAs).”

Schneider wrote “the Bureau determined that Compliance Bulletin 2015-05, Compliance and Marketing Services Agreements, does not provide the regulatory clarity needed on how to comply with RESPA and Regulation X and therefore is rescinding it.  The Bureau’s rescission of the Bulletin does not mean that MSAs are per se or presumptively legal.  Whether a particular MSA violates RESPA Section 8 will depend on specific facts and circumstances, including the details of how the MSA is structured and implemented.  MSAs remain subject to scrutiny, and we remain committed to vigorous enforcement of RESPA Section 8.”

One of the biggest takeaways in the MSA guidance is in the Bureau’s use of a real estate agent entering into a MSA agreement with a lender.  In the past MSAs where lenders entered into MSAs with individual real estate agents or real estate teams was considered off limits due to the direct consumer interaction that real estate agents and real estate agent teams had so MSAs were largely limited to real estate brokerages since this was seen as a business to business arrangement due to the brokerages limited interaction with consumers.

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.

The Federal Deposit Insurance CorporationFDIC” on November 30, 2019 entered into a Consent Order FDIC-18-0142k which ordered HomeStreet Bank, a Seattle, Washington based bank to pay a civil money penalty of $1.35 million dollars.  The FDIC alleged that HomeStreet Bank’s now discontinued Home Loan Center-based mortgage banking business line violated Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, 12 U.S.C. § 2607, and its implementing regulation, Regulation X, 12 C.F.R. Part 1024, by entering into certain co-marketing agreements using online platforms and desk rental agreements which resulted in the payment of fees to real estate brokers and home builders for their referrals of mortgage loan business.  The FDIC also stated that all of HomeStreet Bank’s agreements with those real estate brokers and home builders have been terminated.

The FDIC’s Consent Order stated that HomeStreet Bank entered into the settlement without admitting or denying any charges of unsafe or unsound banking practices or violations of law or regulation.

Unfortunately though, the FDIC’s Consent Order did not provide any industry guidance on what it found objectionable in the co-marketing agreements using online platforms or the desk rental agreements.  The Sterbcow Law Group hopes the FDIC will in the future provide more detail in its enforcement actions in order to help provide more clarity to the real estate and mortgage industry.

Marx Sterbcow of the Sterbcow Law Group will speak at the 2019 Tennessee Land Title Association’s 75th Annual Meeting and Convention on April 4, 2019 at The Martha Washington Inn in Abingdon, Virgina.  The presentation is titled “The Ethics of Referral Relationships Under RESPA Section 8.”

For more information about The TNLTA’s 75th Annual Conference from April 3-5, 2019 please click here: TNLTA.

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