Marx Sterbcow will be presenting on Thursday, December 7, 2023, at The 33rd Annual Robert C. Sneed Texas Land Title Insitute Conference in San Antonio, Texas at the Hyatt Regency Hill Country. The session at the Texas Land Title Association‘s annual event will discuss the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act “RESPA” and affiliated business arrangements.
The Sterbcow Law Group’s Marx Sterbcow will be speaking at RESPRO’s 2023 Fall Conference on September 12, 2023, in Bachelor Gulp, Colorado at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Marx will be presenting two different sessions. The first topic “State Attorney Generals Have Declared War Against Illegal Affiliated Business Arrangements” with RESPRO President & Executive Director Ken Trepeta will discuss what the state attorney generals are analyzing to see whether a title or mortgage affiliated business arrangement is properly structured and operating legally. They will discuss areas of compliance which some may overlook until they receive a subpoena from a government agency. The second session will be a “Fair Lending Update” with Richard Andreano, who is a Partner at Ballard Spahr, LLP in Washington D.C. This session will discuss the continued focus of regulators and elected officials on fair lending in the mortgage space, including redlining (both traditional and digital), appraisal bias, reconsiderations of value, and automated valuation models.”
The FDIC examiners identified significant consumer compliance issues during its supervisory activities in 2022 according to its March 2023 issue. The Spring 2021 issue of the Consumer Compliance Supervisory Highlights discussed Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act “RESPA” Section 8(a) violations and the difference between paying for a lead (which is generally acceptable) and paying for a referral (which is prohibited). True leads permissible under RESPA are often lists of customer contacts that are not conditioned on the number of closed transactions resulting from the leads, or any other consideration, such as endorsement of the settlement service. While a service may be characterized as a lead generation service, the activity could actually be a referral arrangement depending on the facts and circumstances. If the payment for the lead is in exchange for activity directed to a person that has the effect of affirmatively influencing the consumer to select a particular lender, then it becomes a referral fee. Banks often contract with third parties to provide what are characterized as lead generation services, but in some cases, the FDIC has found that the banks are actually paying for referrals. While the FDIC Supervisory Highlights demonstrate what banking regulators are looking at, it provides a good roadmap for other settlement service providers who are engaging in these types of marketing efforts.
In 2022, the FDIC identified RESPA Section 8(a) violations where a bank contracted with third parties that took steps to identify and contact consumers in order to directly steer and affirmatively influence the consumer’s selection of the bank as the settlement service provider. In some cases, this process involved the third party calling identified consumers and directly connecting and introducing them to a specific mortgage representative on the phone. This process is often referred to as a “warm transfer.” In other cases, the process involved operation of a digital platform that purported to rank lender options based on neutral criteria but where the participating lenders merely rotated in the top spot. Although each case is fact specific, indicators of risk in these arrangements include a third party that does one or more of the following activities:
Marx Sterbcow, Managing Attorney of the Sterbcow Law Group, is speaking at RESPRO‘s 30th Annual Conference at the Ritz Carlton Resort in Lake Tahoe on May 23, 2023. The topic “The Evolving AfBA Model–Compliantly Transforming Fixed Costs Into Variable Expenses In An Uncertain Market” will discuss how this challenging real estate market is driving title insurance agents and business owners to adapt, and transforming fixed costs into variable costs, especially in a volatile environment, is at the top of almost every operator’s “to-do” list. This session will examine the evolution of the traditional JV and ABA business model in the face of the existing down cycle. Panelists will discuss how successful JV operators are not only transitioning their expenses into variable costs, but doing so compliantly. The panel will consider such things as offering back office support for JVs while staying on the right side of the “core services” consideration. Attendees will hear not only about compliance strategies for the evolving JV models, but practical, operational considerations as well. Mr. Sterbcow will be joined with Mike Larosa (Chief Operating Officer for the Florida Agency Network), Aaron Davis (CEO of ClosingSuite.com), and moderated by Chuck Cain (SVP of National Agency Division at FNF).
Marx Sterbcow, Managing Attorney of the Sterbcow Law Group, is speaking at the Southeast Land Title Association‘s Mid-Year Conference in Birmingham, Alabama on Monday, April 24th at the Ross Bridge Resort & Spa. Mr. Sterbcow will speak on CFPB and RESPA compliance matters including an in-depth discussion on how to properly set up and operate Affiliated Business Arrangements so you comply with federal and state RESPA regulations.
The Federal Housing Administration “FHA” published Mortgage Letter (ML) 2022-22 on December 15, 2022, which provides new clarifications on its Conflicts of Interest Policy and Dual Employment Policy for most Title II Single Family FHA-Insured Mortgage Transactions.
The new Mortgage Letter revisions have taken a dramatic change in that FHA Policy now permits individuals who do not have a “direct impact on the mortgage approval decision” to have various compensated positions for services performed and allowed by the Department of Housing and Urban Development “HUD”, provided that the transaction complies with all applicable federal, state, and local laws, rules, and requirements.
The 2022-22 Mortgage Letter now consolidates various conflicts of interest and dual employment subsections in the Single-Family Housing Policy Handbook 4000.1 into one subsection and provides clarification on FHA policy regarding prohibited conflicts of interest by individuals that directly impact the mortgage approval decision and permitted dual employment for other individuals who perform services in a single FHA-insured transaction. FHA believes the policy consolidation and clarification will help facilitate an easier understanding of existing FHA requirements given feedback from the real estate industry and from confusion internally at FHA with how to apply the past Policy.
Marx Sterbcow, Managing Attorney of the Sterbcow Law Group, will be presenting at The National REO Brokers Association‘s (“NRBA”) Business Development Seminar in Orlando, Florida on October, 7, 2022. The topic of the session will be “You are a CFPB target! Regulation, Liabilities & Politics” which will focus on the impact of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s lawsuit against Townstone Financial and how the CFPB’s regulation by political enforcement is now taking aim at the real estate brokerage and title insurance industries. The Seminar is at the Lowe’s Portofino Hotel at Universal Studios.
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.
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