FTC Issues New Rules for MARS

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued new rules that might impact real estate practitioners who represent clients involved in short sale transactions. The Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (“MARS”) regulations define anyone providing services which assist or attempt to assist the consumer in negotiating a short sale as a “MARS” provider. Depending on certain factors, the so-called MARS rules (Mortgage Assistance Relief Services) could require members to make certain disclosures to consumers if they negotiate a short sale with a lender or advertise their short sales experience.

The MARS rules took effect on Jan. 31, 2011.

Florida Realtors has created a MARS Information Center on floridarealtors.org where you’ll find four disclosure forms. Florida Realtors attorneys advise you to begin using these immediately if you are involved in short sale transactions. You’ll also find a primer on the new disclosures (document titled Roadmap to the new FTC disclosures for Short Sale transactions), a link to the actual FTC rules and an interpretation of the rules by the National Association of Realtor’s legal team.

Florida Realtors attorneys will operate a special MARS Legal Hotline on Mon., Feb. 28 and Tues., March 1 from 5-7 pm. Members should call a special designated phone line: 407-587-1401. Three attorneys will be available to answer your calls. Next week, Florida Realtors will post a compliance guide to provide information on record-keeping and internal controls required by these regulations. The National Association of Realtors is asking the FTC for some clarifications on these issues, and Florida Realtors will keep you updated on the progress. Meantime, they recommend that all members incorporate the disclosures into their business practices immediately.

Please keep checking the MARS Information Center for updates.

Written by the Sarasota Association of Realtors
Posted by Erin McWhorter, Business Development Coordinator for Berlin Patten

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