Update From Commissioner Lowe – MARS & Short Sales

On Monday, January 31, 2011, Commissioner Lowe traveled to Tucson and delivered a presentation to update members on regulatory changes and new legislation affecting our industry. Commissioner Lowe shared lots of information including:

  • New rules pertaining to education instructors and course approval
  • Statistics on licensees in our industry
  • Insights for completing the Broker Audit Declaration
  • Short Sale & Third Party Negotiator Practices Affected by MARS

If you have not heard of MARS, you need to be aware of this important change in federal regulations. MARS stands for Mortgage Assistance Relief Services and is part of a new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Rule that bans providers of mortgage foreclosure rescue and loan modification services from collecting fees until homeowners have a written offer from their lender or servicer that they decide is acceptable.You can read more about the rule directly on the Federal Trade Commission website. THE FINAL PROVISIONS OF THE RULE BECAME EFFECTIVE JANUARY 31, 2011!

The rule has large ramifications for short sale listing agents who are assisting homeowners with loan modifications. Commissioner Lowe made it very clear that this rule in conjunction with the opinions of the Arizona Department of Real Estate (ADRE), the Arizona Department of Financial Services (DFI), and the Arizona Attorney General that:

1. Listing agents should not participate in loan modification with a lender on behalf of the homeowner unless the licensee has a loan originator license.

2. Licensees are precluded from collecting fees or charging additional amounts for loan modification services.

3. Entities acting as third party negotiators on short sale transactions must possess an Arizona Real Estate License.

The new FTC rule requires new disclosures and contains a number of prohibited claims which must be addressed in all advertising and marketing. Commissioner Lowe indicated that the Department of Real Estate is currently drafting some advisories and disclosures to help licensees deal with the new MARS provision. In the meantime, we encourage you to read the rule referenced above on the Federal Trade Commission website.

Some additional information regarding the impact of the Rule on real estate licensees can be found on the Real Solutions Network blog post.

Thank you Commissioner Lowe for the insight. We appreciate the attention and time you provided to update our industry regarding these important changes.

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