The National Association of Realtors opposes the acceptance of referral fees or "kickbacks" by its members for steering homebuyers to particular title insurance companies and did not seek the Reagan administration's proposal to repeal federal anti-kickback prohibitions, NAR spokesmen said yesterday.
The Realtors own code of ethics prohibits kickbacks, and the some states have outlawed the practice themselves, said NAR spokesman Bill Ellingsworth.
The administration has proposed repealing almost all of the Real Estate Settlement Practices Act, including anti-kickback provisions.
The law was passed in 1974 in an attempt to increase competition among title insurers and lower costs to homebuyers. But HUD and the Realtors say it hasn't worked.
The Realtors have supported repeal of RESPA entirely, saying it is ineffective and costly. Still the group yesterday distanced itself from the administration proposal.
The Reagan proposal "was a surprise to us. We never asked for it. . . . It is not our proposal," said Jack Carlson, NAR chief economist.
"The number of Realtors who would get into this program of accepting referral fees is tiny," Ellingsworth said, adding that there was little problem with kickbacks to realtors before RESPA.
HUD Assistant Secretary Philip Abrams said the decision to propose repeal was based on a HUD study last year that showed RESPA did not reduce costs to consumers.
Proposed changes in RESPA regulations that Realtors have supported would enable more real estate brokers to get into the title insurance business, a practice which the independent insurers charge would enable them to establish a monopoly because of brokers direct access to homebuyers.
But Abrams said the American Land Title Association, representing the independent insurers, oppose changes in RESPA because it wants to maintain a monopoly itself in the title insurance business.