The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) was established in 1974 and impacts individuals involved with providing settlement services in connection with the real estate transaction.
RESPA is currently receiving increased attention both locally and nationally because HUD, the federal agency responsible for enforcing RESPA, has increased its enforcement efforts over the last 18 months. New staff has been hired and HUD has entered into a contract with an investigative firm in Arlington, Virginia, to conduct on-site reviews to monitor conformity with RESPA. Numerous investigations are currently underway nationwide.
Violators of RESPA may receive penalties including triple damages, fines and even imprisonment.
RESPA covers, among other professionals:
- Real Estate Brokers and Agents
- Mortgage Bankers and Mortgage Brokers
- Title Companies and Title Agents
- Home Warranty Companies
- Hazard Insurance Agents
- Flood and Tax Service Providers
- Home and Pest Inspectors
Among other things, RESPA requires that lenders provide consumers with a good faith estimate, a booklet on the nature and costs of settlement services, and a HUD-1 which itemizes the costs paid in connection with the purchase of a home.
RESPA also regulates the levels of funds held in escrow accounts along with requiring that escrow statements are provided to consumers.
Section 8 of RESPA prohibits a real estate broker or agent from receiving a "thing of value" for referring business to a settlement provider (SSP), such as a mortgage banker, mortgage broker, title company, or title agent.
Before you undertake any activity with a Settlement Service Provider or accept any payments, goods, or services from a SSP, you should speak with an attorney familiar with RESPA and make sure the activity complies with state and local laws.
The following links will take you to vital resources to assist you with RESPA compliance:
Frequently Asked RESPA Questions & Answers Provided by NAR's Legal Counsel (PDF)
RESPA Dos and Don'ts For Real Estate Brokers and Agents (PDF)
For more information, contact MIBOR Professional Services Director Debbie Fairfax
at (317) 956-5000 x241.