In the News Presented by Prairie Title
Commentary by Frank Pellegrini, Prairie Title CEO
June 24, 2015 – There was a real estate-related article in the Jacksonville (FL) Daily Record recently that caught my attention. It discussed the illegal practice of agents being paid to refer business to title companies. It’s a practice that has become more widespread in Illinois recently and plagued other areas of the country as well.
To quote the article: “When a TV ad shows a man in a lab coat promoting a new prescription drug, viewers realize the ‘doctor’ is being paid to recommend it. But, when a Realtor recommends a lender or title company to their client, the client likely assumes the Realtor isn’t being paid to give that advice. Sometimes he or she is, and the consumer is often the one paying for it. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is pursuing title, mortgage and real estate companies that give or receive incentives for customer referrals. The practice is illegal under Section 8 of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.”
In New York State recently, Gov. Andrew Cuomo sparked quite a bit of discussion as he led the charge to impose new “anti-inducement” regulation upon the real estate business in his state.
As the Insurance Journal reported: “The regulation outlines categories of expenditures which — when provided as an inducement for title insurance business — are improper and violative of the New York Insurance Law. These expenditures include meals, entertainment, vacations and gifts that are provided to attorneys, real estate professionals, and others, who represent consumers and order title insurance on their behalf.” In other words, title professionals will not be able to use “inducements” to secure business.
In my opinion, these developments are overdue. I have long been perplexed by the lax enforcement of Section 8 rules at the federal and state level. Section 8 exists for a reason – to keep kickbacks from determining who gets real estate business. When Section 8 is violated, it creates a bad situation for real estate professionals and does consumers no favors.
As an aside, when you’re faced with customers who have questions about the value of title insurance, show them Title Insurance: A Friend in Deed, published in the Wall Street Journal. It’s one of the best independent articles on the subject that I’ve read.
Let’s keep the conversation going. Call or email me: 708-386-7900; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other stories we’re following:
Beige Book: Housing Continues to Expand. Lenders, Title Professionals Prepare for TRID.
Most economists say no Housing Bubble. Largest Monthly Home Price Gain in two years.