CFPB Agrees to Consent Order With Real Estate Settlement Services Provider Over Alleged RESPA Violations

​On September 27, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced that it had entered into a consent order with a real estate settlement services provider for allegedly steering consumers to an affiliated title insurer without disclosing the relationship, an alleged violation of the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), 12 U.S.C. 2607, and its implementing regulation, Regulation X, 12 C.F.R. Part 1024.

The CFPB alleged that three of the provider’s owners also owned a title insurance company whose services were used pursuant to an affiliated business arrangement.  The CFPB further alleged that this relationship, which was not disclosed to consumers, enabled the provider to “deviate from its contractual terms and to keep money beyond the commission allowance outlined in its agency contract” when securing title insurance from this third-party company.  This money “beyond [the] contractual commission allowance,” according to the consent order, was a “thing of value” paid for a “referral,” and thus a violation of RESPA.​

Under the terms of the consent order, the provider must provide $1.25 million in redress to affected consumers.