On July 15, 2011 FTC DECLARES:

  • real estate brokers can conduct short sales and
  • can collect advance fees if they follow their own state guidelines.
  • real estate brokers do not have to make several disclosures required by MARS.
  • that as more and more American homeowners seek short sales, it is especially important that MARS not inadvertently discourage real estate professionals from helping consumers with these types of transactions.

I am keeping track of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS) Rule.  My previous post proposing that MARS did not apply to the real estate profession from May 4, 2011 is here Advance Fees – Short Sales – FTC II.  As stated prior, I believe MARS should not affect licensed real estate sales persons, rather is directed at individuals and companies that do not already have a structure in place to police their conduct.

As of July 15, 2011 the FTC has stayed enforcement of many of the provisions of MARS against real estate professionals helping consumers obtain short sales.  The FTC declared the stay on enforcement includes a stay on the collection of advance fees.  Therefore brokers can conduct short sales and can collect advance fees if they follow their own state laws and regulations. See the July 15, 2011 FTC press release here:  http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2011/07/mars.shtm The FTC has ruled on a unanimous vote the following:

FTC will not enforce most of the provisions of the MARS Rule against real estate professionals who are engaged in obtaining short sales for consumers. The stay applies only to real estate professionals who:

1) are licensed and in good standing under state licensing requirements;

2) comply with state laws governing the practices of real estate professionals; and

3) assist or attempt to assist consumers in obtaining short sales in the course of securing the sales of their homes.

The stay exempts real estate professionals who meet these requirements from the obligation to make disclosures and from the ban on collecting advance fees. These professionals, however, remain subject to the Rule’s ban on misrepresentations. As a result of the stay on enforcement, these real estate professionals will not have to make  several disclosures required by the Rule that, in the context of assisting with short sales, could be misleading or confuse consumers. As more and more American homeowners seek short sales, it is especially important that the Rule not inadvertently discourage real estate professionals from helping consumers with these types of transactions.”

See my earlier blogs on Advance Fees

Advance Fees – Short Sales – FTC II May 4, 2011
Advance Fees Continued and the FTC 01.06.2011
Short Sale Advanced Fees 12.3.2010
Charging for negotiating short sales/Negotiators 10.1.2010

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