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Daily Real Estate News  |  October 10, 2003  |   More REALTORSŪ than Ever Oppose Banks in Real Estate WASHINGTON – An overwhelming 97 percent of REALTORSŪ continue to support efforts by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORSŪ to prevent banking conglomerates from entering real estate brokerage and property management, and 96 percent of NAR’s members want to see even greater efforts to stop a proposed rule that would allow big banks to take over the real estate business, according to a new survey conducted by NAR’s economic research division. NAR and its members oppose a pending rule before the Federal Reserve Board and the U.S. Treasury Department that would lead to widespread industry consolidation and higher costs to consumers. A whopping 97 percent of REALTORSŪ believe that the real estate industry is already competitive, and 82 percent don't believe that adding banks would create a more competitive market for consumers. A representative sample of more than 750 REALTORSŪ responded to an online survey conducted in two phases in August and September 2003. “This survey shows that REALTORSŪ are united and steadfast in their concern about the negative impact on their industry and on consumers should big banks be allowed to enter the real estate business,” said NAR President Cathy Whatley, owner of Buck & Buck in Jacksonville, Fla. “REALTORSŪ have sent over 350,000 letters to Congress and the Fed on this issue and are prepared to do even more to stop banking conglomerates from gaining through regulation that which they obviously cannot get through legislation.” Banking conglomerates are seeking permission to sell and manage real estate via a proposed rule before the Federal Reserve and the Treasury. However, the proposed rule is contrary to what Congress intended when it passed the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. For the second consecutive Congress, a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives has cosponsored legislation known as the Community Choice in Real Estate Act (H.R. 111/S. 98) that would permanently prohibit big banks from entering the real estate business. Over 240 members of the House and 23 U.S. Senators have signed onto the bill since it was reintroduced last January by Reps. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., and Paul E. Kanjorski, D-Penn., and Sens. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., Wayne Allard, R-Colo., and Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y. At the behest of Rep. Anne Northup, R-Ky., a budget provision barring the Treasury from finalizing the rule was included in the fiscal year 2003 spending package passed by Congress and signed by President Bush earlier this year. A similar provision prohibiting the Treasury from moving forward with the rule in fiscal year 2004 passed the House last summer. A number of consumer, community and small business advocates have voiced their support for the bill--they agree that if big banks were allowed to take over local real estate businesses, there would be a negative impact on communities across America, leaving home buyers and sellers with fewer choices, higher loan fees, and reduced customer service. Organizations that have voiced support for the Community Choice in Real Estate Act include the Building Owners and Managers Association, CCIM Institute, Consumers Union, Institute of Real Estate Management, International Council of Shopping Centers, National Affordable Housing Management Association, National Association of Home Builders, National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, National Auctioneers Association, National Fair Housing Alliance, National Federation of Independent Business, National Leased Housing Association, and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. --NAR

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