Escrow Thursday: What is RESPA?

What is RESPA?

RESPA is the Real Estate Settlement Procedure Act. It  is the law which governs the closing settlement statement you will receive at the escrow company where you will sign the final documents for the purchase of your new home. It also sets forth all the rules and regulations governing an escrow account.

For instance, the RESPA statute and regulations do not require the lender to maintain a cushion in your escrow account. However, since 1976 the RESPA statute has allowed lenders to maintain a cushion equal to one-sixth of the total amount of items paid out of the account, or approximately two months of escrow payments. If state law or mortgage documents allow for a lesser amount, the lesser amount prevails.

The accounting method generally requires borrowers to maintain lesser amount in the account than the single-item method predominately used by lenders. However, many lenders have recently increased the escrow account cushion to the maximum allowed by law.

The regulations require lenders to reduce the size of the cushion in some accounts. Unfortunately, to avoid customer disapproval, some lenders may be giving their customers the impression that the HUD regulations require them to make this increase. This is a false impression. The lender, not HUD, has chosen to increase the cushion.

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