The Real Estate Settlement and Procedures Act (RESPA) is the enforcement tool of the new Consumer Finance and Protection Bureau (CFPB). RESPA is a consumer disclosure and anti-kickback law. However, with a one year statute of limitations, the prospect for meaningful enforcement or fines to act as a deterrent is non-existent.
For a business intent on paying illegal kickbacks it is only a matter of performing a cost benefit analysis to determine that it is a profitable proposition to violate the law. The cost of a potential enforcement action is far outweighed by the financial benefits of violating it. For example, in 2007 First American Title Insurance Company was fined $500,000 in Minnesota for operating what the Minnesota Department of Commerce said were “sham title agencies that provided illegal referral kickbacks to local real estate agents, mortgage brokers, developers and other industry players" (click here for the Star Tribune article).