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Our marketing department brought up the idea of handing out $50 coupons to our customers to entice them to refer folks to get a mortgage loan with the bank. The idea is that if a customer refers someone for a mortgage loan and it closes, the customer can redeem the $50 coupon for cash. I reviewed 1026.36 but it only seems to cover MLO compensation. RESPA's 1024.14(b) seems most applicable but i'm not sure if that just pertains to the parties involved in the transaction. This would be a referral for our customer who told someone to get a mortgage with us. Are there any regulations on a $50 referral ‘bonus/compensation’ to our customer for referring someone to one of our MLO’s to close a mortgage? It seems similar to what the big banks do with something like a $200 bonus to open an account with them.

It would violate RESPA: You cannot pay referral fees on a consumer mortgage loan.

1024.14—Prohibition against kickbacks and unearned fees.
(a) Section 8 violation. Any violation of this section is a violation of section 8 of RESPA (12 U.S.C. 2607).

(b) No referral fees. No person shall give and no person shall accept any fee, kickback or other thing of value pursuant to any agreement or understanding, oral or otherwise, that business incident to or part of a settlement service involving a federally related mortgage loan shall be referred to any person. Any referral of a settlement service is not a compensable service, except as set forth in §1024.14(g)(1). A company may not pay any other company or the employees of any other company for the referral of settlement service business.

First published on 02/25/2024

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