On November 6, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) announced a settlement with HomeStreet Bank, Seattle, Washington, for violations of Section 8(a) of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). HomeStreet stipulated to the issuance of an Order to Pay Civil Money Penalty (“Order”) in the amount of $1,350,000.
The FDIC determined that HomeStreet Bank, through its now discontinued Home Loan Center-based mortgage banking business line, entered into co-marketing arrangements in which the bank and real estate brokers agreed to market their services together using online platforms. The FDIC also determined that the bank entered into desk rental agreements under which the bank rented space in the offices of real estate brokers and home builders. These arrangements and agreements resulted in the payment of fees by the bank to real estate brokers and home builders for their referrals of mortgage loan business, in violation of RESPA.
While co-marketing arrangements and desk rental agreements are permissible where the fees paid bear a reasonable relationship to the fair market value of marketing or rental costs, such arrangements and agreements violate RESPA when the amounts paid exceed fair market value and the excess is for referrals of mortgage business.