Industry Representatives Urge Slowdown on RESPA
Industry representatives are urging officials at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to slow their planned November publishing of a new Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act regulation. The remarks came at conference panel during this past week's Real Estate Services Providers Council (RESPRO) annual conference in Washington, DC. Many in the industry feel that the public comment deadline of May 13 isn't enough time to effectively reflect public reaction or forecast the proposed rule's impact. "A 60-day comment period is too short. We need time to figure out the ramifications," said Ken Markison of the Mortgage Bankers Association. "This will need a lot of thought, a lot of work. We have to talk about what consumers need to know." HUD's Director of RESPA enforcement, Ivy Jackson, later told attendees at the conference, "Keep your letters and comments coming," but confirmed HUD's timetable nonetheless -- a likely signal that HUD officials are no longer content to play the waiting game. In her remarks, Jackson also said the HUD is looking to get tougher on existing RESPA enforcement. "We'll litigate until the end," she said, referring to recent court rulings that said the agency lacked the authority to scrutinize prices of services ultimately charged consumers. Jackson also backed "delinking" builders from offering incentives to buyers to use an affiliated mortgage or title company as part of the proposed RESPA changes. More than $1 million in overcharges was returned to consumers last year as a result of HUD's investigations, said Jackson. She also noted HUD will be looking closely at situations in which a real estate agent is hired by a mortgage company to perform mortgage origination services, to ensure the agents are bona fide employees of the mortgage company. The staff's current 22 regulators will increase to 35 inthe next few months, as a result, she said.