Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA)

Definition of "Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA)"

Jeffrey Owens real estate agent
Jeffrey Owens, Real Estate Agent Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty

The Real Estate Settlement Procedure Act (RESPA) is a piece of law passed by the US Congress in 1974 to protect homebuyers and home sellers against bad settlement practices.

The Real Estate Settlement Procedure Act (RESPA) regulates mortgage loans by requiring the lender to disclose certain information about a loan, including the estimated closing costs and annual percentage rate (APR). Its objective is to bring uniformity in real estate settlement practices when “federally related” first mortgage loans are made on one-to-four family residences, condominiums and cooperatives, and also to educate homeowners and prohibit abusive practices like referral fees, kickbacks, and the limitless use of escrow accounts.

Here are some of the things the Real Estate Settlement Procedure Act (RESPA) forces lenders providing mortgages that are secured by federal programs like Ginnie Mae:

  • Providing disclosures like the Mortgage Servicing Disclosures, Special Information Booklet, HUD-1/1A settlement, a Good-Faith Estimate of Settlement Costs (GFE), and the ability to compare these last two statements at closing
  • Following certain escrow accounting practices
  • Prohibiting the payment of kickbacks and referral fees to settlement service providers like appraisers, brokers and title companies
  • Stopping foreclosure when the borrower submits a complete application for loss mitigation options.

Enforcement and Administration of the Real Estate Settlement Procedure Act (RESPA) was originally done by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) but since 2001 became part of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).


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Real Estate Advice:

For Sale By Owners (FSBO) will usually be unaware of the Real Estate Settlement Procedure Act (RESPA) and become easier prey to people that take advantage of loopholes. So beware!

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