Promoting

The Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS) rule regulates how one promotes short-sales or loan-modification business activities.

February 8, 2012

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  Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS) rule

Summary:
Companies or practitioners that fall under the definition of a mortgage assistance relief services (MARS) provider must meet certain disclosure and compensation requirements.  A MARS provider is one that helps financially troubled home owners renegotiate the terms of their mortgage or sell their house as a short sale or otherwise helps home owners who are having trouble paying their mortgage. However, enforcement of the MARS rule is stayed for real estate professionals who are assisting consumers in their licensed capacity with a short sale transaction; the stay does not apply if services are being performed outside of the real estate professional’s licensed capacity.   

Regulators:
Federal Trade Commission
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Original statutory authority:
“Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009,” Public Law No. 111-8

Penalties:
In general, enforcement is stayed against real estate professionals.  However if the CFPB or FTC brought an enforcement action, civil penalties of up to $11,000 per violation could be sought State attorneys general or any other officer of a state authorized by the state also may bring an action. There is no private right of action.

More information:
NAR MARS page on REALTOR.org
When does the MARS rule apply to real estate practitioners? Q & A

This summary is not a comprehensive analysis of how the law applies to you.  Consult a qualified real estate attorney to determine how the federal law and laws in your state impact you in this area.

Robert Freedman

Robert Freedman is the former director of multimedia communications at NAR.