I keep hearing about new RESPA rules that allow real estate agents to sell a buyer a home and earn a loan-origination fee from the lender. Others claim that their programs have been blessed by HUD. What are these new rules and have lenders received HUD approval for these programs?

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  • I keep hearing about new RESPA rules that allow real estate agents to sell a buyer a home and earn a loan-origination fee from the lender. Others claim that their programs have been blessed by HUD. What are these new rules and have lenders received HUD approval for these programs?

First, there are no new changes to RESPA. Information about real estate agent and mortgage broker compensation first appeared in a 1995 HUD informal advisory opinion issued to the Independent Bankers Association of America. This letter, often referred to as the Retsinas Letter (after the former FHA Commissioner who issued the letter), was later incorporated by reference in a March 1, 1999, RESPA Statement of Policy Regarding Payments By Lenders To Mortgage Brokers, 64 Fed. Reg. 10080. Under these guidelines, agents and brokers may receive fees for performing loan origination work on a lender’s behalf, such as taking a loan application, counseling borrowers, ordering credit reports and appraisals, and completing loan documents used to process the loan. The fees must be “reasonably related to the value of the services performed.” Finally, many of the promotional materials claim their compensation programs have received HUD “approval.” While HUD may provide general guidance, the department does not approve individual business plans, and generally does not opine as to what amounts constitute fair and reasonable compensation. Before accepting the claim at face value, ask to see a copy of HUD’s approval.

Source: TAR

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