ATTENTION REALTORS!!! RESPA KICKBACKS: KNOW THE LAW AND BE PROTECTED

RESPA can be a very tricky statute to understand. If you are not familiar with RESPA kickbacks we urge you to take the time to review Section 8 of the Act. As real estate attorneys, we have seen an overwhelming amount of kickback violations as of late here in Florida.

Section 2607(a) of RESPA, also known as Section 8, prohibits kickbacks in exchange for referrals. Specifically, the section states, “No person shall give and no person shall accept any fee, kickback or thing of value pursuant to any agreement or understanding, oral or otherwise, that business incident to or part of a real estate settlement service involving a federally related mortgage loan shall be referred to any person.”
The term,” business incident to or part of a real estate settlement” refers to any service necessary to close a real estate transaction, including but not limited to surveyors, appraisers, home inspectors, exterminators, title companies, mortgage lenders and lien search companies.

Most recently we have seen an overwhelming amount of RESPA violations being prosecuted involving the realtor/title company relationship. Often times the relationship may not even be with the agent but rather with the broker and the title company. If you are receiving something of value from a title company you are probably in violation. If the title company is paying for your advertisements, you are in violation. If the title company if giving you money, you are in violation. If the title company is giving you gifts, you are probably in violation.

If you are a Realtor agent that works for a Realtor Broker that has an “affiliated business agreement” with any of these types of service providers we urge you to look closely at the agreement to make sure you are not inadvertently in violation of the law by referring your clients to the company in which there is an affiliated relationship. The disclosure and signing of an Affiliated Business Agreement by your clients does not release you from liability if there are RESPA violations taking place.

Remember, your broker is not responsible for your license. You are. It is your responsibility to make sure each of your real estate transactions is being done in accordance with the law. It is not a matter of “if” you will get caught, it has now become a matter of “when” you get caught.

If you have any questions or concerns about RESPA compliance please feel free to contact the lawyers at Palma Law Group. We can discreetly review the facts and circumstances surrounding your situation, and we can provide you with the necessary guidance to help protect your license and your livelihood. Don’t wait until it is too late. If you have questions now is the time to get the answers so you can have peace of mind.

You can send us an inquiry through our website at www.palmalawgroup.com or over the phone at (727)669-3909. If you prefer, you can also personally reach out to our Managing Attorney, Jonathan Palma at jmpalma@palmalawgroup.com
Knowledge is power!

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