The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (“CFPB”) has, for the first time, publicly expressed views on marketing services agreements (“MSAs”) under Section 8 of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act. After months of rumors regarding the CFPB’s investigation, it issued a consent order against Lighthouse Title, Inc., a Michigan title insurance agency that had entered into a series of MSAs with various settlement service providers (“Consent Order”). Although the Consent Order fails to describe the nature of the services performed under the agreements, it clarifies the CFPB’s concerns regarding methods used in determining the payments under such agreements. The Consent Order also raises troubling questions about how the CFPB interprets Section 8 of the Act, since many of those interpretations seem to be at odds with guidance previously offered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. This alert provides a brief background regarding MSAs, highlights issues raised by the CFPB Consent Order and discusses lessons learned for structuring new and existing MSAs.
To read the full alert, click here.