Articles from The Massachusetts Focus
Newsletter of Stewart Title Guaranty Company, Massachusetts Offices
Winter 2006, Volume 5, Number 1
by Thomas M. Flynn, Vice President and New England Division Manager
New England Mortgage Company Settles with HUD, FDIC on Kickback Case
The Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation announced a $150,000 settlement with one of the largest mortgage companies in New England for RESPA violations. HUD and FDIC found that 1-800-East-West Mortgage Co. solicited and received tickets from closing attorneys, appraisers, and title companies to Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots events as well as music concerts and restaurant gift certificates, in exchange for the referral of business.
East-West agreed to pay $150,000 to the U.S. Treasury, to stop accepting kickbacks from settlement service providers, and to cooperate with the agencies’ ongoing investigation of the closing attorneys, appraisers, title companies and other settlement service providers who provided kickbacks to East-West.
Home Sales Peak in Third Quarter- 2005
Total state existing-home sales set a record in the third quarter of 2005 according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). NAR’s quarterly report on total existing-home sales, which includes single family and condos, shows that the national seasonally adjusted rate was 7.24 million units in the third quarter, up 6.5% from 6.80 million units in the third quarter of 2004.
The Northeast saw a third quarter existing-home sales rate of 1.20 million units, up 6.9% from the previous year. Massachusetts experienced the strongest increase in the region with sales activity 11.2% above a year ago.
Update on House Bill 904
As I am sure you are all aware, the above referenced House Bill has been proposed and, if passed, would allow non-lawyers to conduct residential and commercial real estate closings. Stewart Title recently hosted a teleconference along with members of The Real Estate Bar Association’s (REBA) Residential Conveyancing Committee to alert real estate lawyers and consumers to the threat posed by H 904. We are also planning on sponsoring a seminar relative to this matter in the first quarter of this year, once more detailed information is announced as to the status of this proposed bill.
In a related matter, the Association of New England Title Agents (ANETA) recently opened its doors in Boston; this trade association is aimed at educating its members and advocating for fair legislation.