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Why Banks Should Stay Out of Real Estate



A survey released today by Bankrate.com that shows banks are boosting their fees faster than the interest rates they offer customers illustrates why banks should not be allowed to broker real estate, the president of the National Association of Realtors® said today.

“Banks have once again demonstrated their incredible ability to find ways to charge customers record fees. Banks that once touted warm, fuzzy customer relations now are brazenly charging nearly $3 to use an ATM and more than $26 for a bounced check. Imagine what they will do to the real estate customer if they are allowed to broker real estate. Banks will control the real estate transaction end-to-end, creating virtually unlimited opportunities for extra charges and add-ons,” said NAR President Thomas M. Stevens of Vienna, Va.

The Bankrate.com survey found that:

· The fee for using the "wrong" automated teller machine—one owned by a bank where you don't have an account—hit an all-time record high. You’ll be hit twice for a single withdrawal—once by that other bank's ATM fee and once by your own bank, for a total average fee of $2.91.
· Bankrate.com estimates that American consumers will pay more than $4.3 billion in withdrawal fees for using ATMs not owned by their own bank in 2005.
· Bounced-check fees have gotten sneakier. While the average insufficient funds fee fell a few cents, from $27.13 to $26.90, Bankrate found more banks are instituting tiered fees that ramp up the more often you bounce a check or leave a check uncovered. Even at $26.90, the bounced-check fee remains the second-highest recorded since Bankrate began surveying checking accounts in 1998.
· Interest-bearing checking accounts remain an unattractive option, where you have to pay a lot more to open an account and lock up a lot more money to gain a pittance in interest.

Since 2001, NAR has successfully opposed a rule promulgated by the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department that would allow federally chartered banks to enter real estate brokerage and property management. Some 250 members of the House and 27 senators support the Community Choice of Real Estate Act, which would bar federally chartered banks from entering real estate.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.






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