Question: I recently had lunch with a real estate agent to talk about doing some co-marketing. We discussed the potential RESPA concerns and decided to not move forward at this time. At the end of lunch, the agent picked up the check. Did we violate RESPA’s Section 8?
Answer: Since the purpose of the lunch was to discuss co-marketing and not as payment for the referral of business, you’re likely okay. Section 8 restricts the payment of anything of value in exchange for the referral of a settlement service. So, if it looks like business is being referred and something of value (e.g. lunch) is being exchanged, a reviewer could infer from all of the circumstances that there is a kickback occurring.
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