From time-to-time I have identified a practice as “a violation, but a low-risk violation.” That’s kind of like driving 58 miles per hour in a 55 miles per hour zone. It is “a violation of law, but a low-risk violation.”
Recently I was asked if it was OK to take a realtor to lunch to build a better relationship that should lead to more referrals of loan applications. I responded that the practice is… You know what I responded.
The banker explained that in her bank’s last compliance examination, “the examiner saw something in our policy manual that made her question the MLOs about anything of value they provided to realtors. The MLOs replied that they never expensed anything they bought. The examiner made the MLOs list everything they could remember they had paid for and the dollar value, which consisted of dropping off donuts on occasion and paying for a luncheon for a realtor even. The regulator sent the list to her supervisor. She made us conduct training on RESPA section 8 for the MLOs. She stated an MLO couldn’t even give an ink pen to a realtor (although I did get her to back off of that as long as we were giving ink pens to everyone else.) While her biggest concern was that the MLOs thought it was okay if they paid for expenses out of their own pockets, it seemed this regulator took “thing of value” to mean anything. As it relates to your response, I’m not sure how to handle when we train on RESPA section 8 and an MLO asks if it is okay to take a realtor to lunch. Say it is a violation but it’s low risk so okay to go ahead and do it? ”
Actually the only safe practice is to not violate the law, even when it is just a low-risk violation.