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RESPA worries scuttle marketing agreement

How First American, RE/MAX went from allies to adversaries

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First American Residential Group Inc. backed out of a $600,000-a-year marketing agreement with RE/MAX International Inc. after Colorado regulators raised "the potential illegal nature of such agreements," lawyers for First American said in a court filing. After paying RE/MAX more than $2.4 million over four years to "exclusively market, endorse, support and promote (First American) products and services to RE/MAX franchisees," First American terminated the agreement in April 2007, withholding a final payment of $693,000. RE/MAX filed suit against First American in March, claiming the title insurer was obligated to honor the agreement through July 2008. RE/MAX's lawsuit prompted the Colorado Division of Real Estate to subpoena RE/MAX franchisees and staff members as part of an investigation into whether RE/MAX agents were provided incentives to steer consumers into title insurance policies underwritten by First American (see story). Although First Ame...