I'd like to resurrect this topic to see if anyone else is familiar with it - it's just come across my desk today as something one of our markets wants to get in on with realtors who consider the bank a "preferred lender" - apparently there's no set criteria on this, it's just that the realtor has already worked with us on several deals in the past (so I'm being told). I realize that to some degree, the answer on whether or not this could be a Section 8 issue is subjective, especially coupled with the current state of the CFPB. RatePlug Home Page
This page explains why they feel they are compliant: RatePlug Compliance
This is how I understand it. RatePlug enters into agreements with both mortgage originators and real estate agents. Each participating MORTGAGE ORIGINATOR pays a fixed annual license fee that doesn't vary based on the number or volume of mortgage loans. This gives the mortgage originators the ability to communicate their product and rate information to participating realtors who will then provide it to their home-buying clients on the site. From what I can tell, mortgage originators are the only ones who pay for RatePlug - neither the MLS nor the realtors pay anything to RatePlug.
Participating realtors pay an annual fee to the MLS system. The MLS is incorporated into the RP software - there is no fee from the MLS to the realtor for this, and the realtor doesn't pay a fee to RatePlug ("RP"). This software is just a part of the services the MLS provides to realtors as part of their annual fee to the MLS. (RP also doesn't assess a fee to the MLS.)
Participating realtors provide RP the names of mortgage originators who are interested in having their mortgage product info displayed in connection with the participating realtor's listings. RP says there's no limit to the number of mortgage originators whose information may be displayed to a given agent. Additionally, participating realtors can generate and print listing flyers with their information and the mortgage originator's information that can be printed and taken to open houses. It would be up to the realtor and the mortgage originator to determine the cost of printing the flyers and splitting that cost equally as there's no cost from RP to create the flyer from the software.
So, mortgage originators are basically paying for realtors who consider them "preferred lenders" to advertise on their listing with them is what I'm gathering. They aren't paying the realtor - they are just paying one flat fee annually to RP for the ability to have their products show up on any realtor listings where the realtor determines its okay for them to (so, one flat fee whether 1 realtor or 1000 realtors have your product info listed).