OpinionIndustry News

Recommendations fall short for affiliated-business troubles

Perspective: More enforcement won't solve problems of bad law

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A new report from the federal government presents a useful overview of the inner workings of the title insurance industry, but falls far short of good recommendations to solve systemic problems in the way real estate settlement services are sold to home buyers and sellers. The usual unimaginative remedies, which again include more law enforcement and more consumer education, won't be any more effective in the future than they have been in the past because they don't fix the core problem, which is the conflicts of interest created by affiliated business arrangements, or ABAs. ABAs are permitted by federal law, but these kickbacks disguised as referrals seem purposefully designed to hoodwink consumers into mistakenly thinking that such referrals are unbiased and impartial when, in fact, ABAs legalize the very anti-consumer behavior that the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) was supposed to outlaw. The report, "Title Insurance: Actions Needed to Improve Oversight of the Titl...