Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate Inc. has agreed to a $250,000 settlement with the Department of Housing and Urban Development for violations of RESPA.HUD had asserted that Coldwell Banker's Atlanta real estate brokerage offices paid higher sales commissions and offered gifts and other incentives to its sales agents for referring business to its Regency Title Co. affiliate. Charlotte Sears, president and chief operating officer for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Atlanta, said the company has complied with all aspects of RESPA. "We deny that our conduct violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and do not believe that HUD's allegations accurately portray our conduct," Ms. Sears said. After a year-long investigation, HUD found that Coldwell Banker offered its sales agents incentives such as trips, Atlanta Braves baseball tickets, and agent-of-the-month ads in local newspapers based on the number and volume of referrals to Regency. "Clearly, when companies create incentives and base compensation on referrals by their real estate sales agents to their affiliated businesses, that's against the law," said Federal Housing Commissioner Brian Montgomery.

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