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HUD general counsel issues RESPA informal opinionsMortgagePress.comHUD, RESPA, National Association of Realtors The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has responded to questions regarding real estate agent compensation under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) posed by the National Association of Realtors. These responses do not represent a rule, regulation or interpretation by HUD but, instead, serve as informal guidance. HUD responded that: (I) Real estate agents cannot be compensated as loan originators if they do not provide loan origination services or provide only nominal loan origination services, such as merely collecting an application; (II) Lenders may compensate real estate agents who are bona fide employees of the lender for referral activities; (III) Whether an employee is "bona fide" will be determined by the actual work performed, specifically whether the work is "actual, necessary, and distinct" from which the services the employee provides in another capacity; (IV) A real estate agent affiliated with a lender must comply with RESPA regardless of whether the real estate brokerage is affiliated with the lender; and (V) Accelerated payment of compensation and charitable donations in exchange for referrals are "things of value" under Section 8(a) of RESPA. For a copy of the General Counsel's responses, click here.