What's Considered a Kickback?

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Determining what is an illegal kickback is pretty straightforward, Schulman said. An illegal kickback occurs when a thing of value is given pursuant to an agreement to provide referrals for settlement service business on a federally related mortgage loan. If any of the five elements are missing — the thing of value, the agreement, the referrals, the settlement service, or the federally related mortgage loan (a purchase-money loan or refinance but not a commercial or investor loan) — there’s no RESPA violation. A thing of value could be a bottle of expensive champagne, tickets to a sporting event, or payment of a real estate practitioner’s continuing education fees. HUD sets no bottom limit on what’s acceptable, Schulman said. But there is a rule of reason, he added. “No one’s going to prison over a holiday gift of an inexpensive bottle of wine.” There’s also a difference between giving a real estate practitioner tickets to a sporting event and taking a real estate practitioner to a ... more
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