The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued multiple enforcement actions for Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) violations, including two against real estate brokers. Prospect Mortgage, LLC, received a $3.5 million penalty for paying illegal kickbacks for mortgage business referrals. Re/Max Gold Coast and Keller Williams Mid-Willamette were each fined $50k and $180k respectively, for accepting illegal payment for referrals through agreements with Prospect. Planet Home Lending, a mortgage servicer, received a $265k fine for taking illegal kickbacks from Prospect.
Real estate brokers and agents must comply with RESPA, which prohibits receiving anything of value in return for the referral of settlement service business. RESPA, however, includes an exception that allows brokers and agents to receive reasonable payments in return for goods provided or services performed by brokers and agents. Thus, marketing services agreements, desk rental agreements, and co-marketing activities may be lawful under RESPA if carefully structured to comply with the Act.
The CFPB consent orders against Re/Max and Keller Williams related to their acceptance of payments for referrals from Prospect through lead agreements, marketing service agreements, desk licensing agreements, and/or steering of consumers to pre-qualify for mortgages with Prospect.
See the CFPB's press release, which links to the individual consent orders.
See NAR's topic page on RESPA for more information.
For best practices on MSAs, see NAR’s RESPA Do’s & Don’ts for MSAs.