May 24, 2012 / 4:37 PM / 7 years ago

Supreme Court limits reach of 1974 real estate law

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Supreme Court on Thursday made it harder for home buyers to sue mortgage lenders for certain overcharges at settlement, limiting the reach of a provision of a 1974 federal law on real estate settlement procedures.

The Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling was a defeat for three couples in Louisiana, who claimed that Quicken Loans overcharged them as much as $1,100 at their mortgage closings for a “loan discount” or “processing” fee. The borrowers claimed they received nothing for the fee.

The Detroit-based privately held company has denied charging unearned fees in the three residential mortgage loans in 2007, and has said it never will charge such fees. It has said the claims in the lawsuit were baseless.

The opinion, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, upheld an appeals court decision for Quicken in the dispute.

At issue was a provision in the law that generally barred lenders for collecting fees for settlement services they do not perform. Scalia said the provision only applied when a settlement service provider split the fee with another party in the transaction.

The American Bankers Association, the National Association of Realtors, title companies and other settlement service providers supported Quicken before the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court case is Freeman v. Quicken Loans, No. 10-1042.

Reporting By James Vicini; Editing by Tim Dobbyn

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