Thursday, October 07, 2010

mortgage broker advertises interest rates tied to affiliated title insurance

A friend showed me the mortgage rate section of the Tribune Review last weekend and pointed to a mortgage company listing that had asterisks next to a few interest rates.  These asterisks pointed to a note that the rates were only available if the transaction was a purchase and the borrower used a particular title provider.

Clearly the mortgage broker sought to avoid Pennsylvania's discounted refinance title premiums as part of this package deal.  Only purchases transactions are eligible so there's enough cash in the pot to subsidize the rates.  The consumer appears to be getting a deal with the package.

What do you think about this offer?  Is it a problem under RESPA or PA lending or insurance law?

I've pondered on it and I'm really not sure.  It's very much like the deals offered to buyers in construction transactions.  You get the good price if you use the affiliate.  If you don't use the affiliate, you pay higher than market.  As far as I could tell these interest rates weren't especially low.

What's also interesting is that I did some checking around and found that the mortgage broker is an attorney who is operating the title services business through the law firm and not as a title agent.  He's working under the approved attorney program.  That means that TIRBOP rates do not apply.  So what's the deal with purchase versus refinance?  This fellow can charge whatever he wants when he wants to. 

Anyway, in the days of a more compliant and aware marketplace, this was oddly red flaggie.  ;)


Art Oswald said...

Hi Diane,
It's still a red flag. Offering a special rate if you use a specific title company is an inducement and illegal.

Diane Cipa said...

Thanks, Art. I was thinking that, too, so I gave a courtesy heads up to the agent through which he is running his business. I've known him for a billion years and figured he probably didn't know what the attorney was doing. ;)