Rent-a-Desk; The Latest Kickback Trick?

RE-Insider is investigating what may be the “latest” real estate kickback trick. It seems that at least one Real Estate service provider is renting space — a desk — from a real estate broker. The owner of the real estate company becomes a landlord and the service provider is a tenant. Is this practice a RESPA violation?

We are investigating a Home Mortgage company and a Home Warranty company, both of which appear to be renting space, comprised of a desk, in a real estate office. It seems that in one interesting situation, the compensation to the landlord is $700 per month! Wow!!

What we would like to know:

1. Did the real estate brokerage offer the space/desk to all other Home Mortgage and or Home Warranty Companies before leasing the space?

2. Do the rental charges exceed the actual square footage cost of the brokerage’s rent cost?

3. Does the Real Estate brokerage favor its “tenants” in providing access to the agents? Does the Real Estate brokerage provide the same access to agents to other Home Warranty and Home Mortgage companies?

4. Does the Real Estate brokerage favor its “tenants” in allowing them to participate in company events while preventing or discouraging other Home Warranty and Home Mortgage companies from participating?

5. Does the Real Estate brokerage encourage their agents to use the services of the “tenants,” or does the broker make clear that the agents may use the Home Mortgage company or Home Warranty company of their choice?

6. Is it legal for Real Estate agents and vendors of Home Mortgage and Home Warranty to share the same office space?