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2007-04-19 09:50:00

REALTORS Express Dismay at Supreme Court Ruling in Favor of Banks

WASHINGTON, April 17, 2007 - Pat Vredevoogd Combs, 2007 president of the National Assn. of REALTORS® released the following statement, expressing disappointment with the opinion issued today by the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Watters v. Wachovia:

“Any persons or organizations that are concerned with state statutes and regulations, and the ability of the federal government to preempt these state regulations, should find today’s opinion disconcerting.

“The Watters v. Wachovia decision validates the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s preemption of state banking laws with regards to bank operating subsidiaries. NAR continues to believe that Congress did not authorize the OCC to exempt these mortgage lenders and other state-chartered corporations, wholly owned by national banks, from complying with certain state laws.

“The Court’s ruling to the contrary gives a tremendous competitive advantage to federally chartered banks over financial and non-financial competitors, increasing the value of the federal charter at the expense of state licensing, marketplace competition and potentially even consumer protection measures. The problems consumers face in the subprime mortgage market illustrate why it is important to retain and strengthen, rather than weaken, state consumer protection laws.

“With national banks now operating in the insurance and securities industries, and continuing their push to enter into real estate transactions, I am concerned about the implications of this ruling for our industry. This could mean that, should banks ever be permitted to broker real estate, which Justice Stevens’ dissent identifies as a possibility, the OCC may likewise claim a similar exemption from state real estate regulations for operating subsidiaries engaged in brokerage.

“NAR and its 1.3 million members pledge to work with Congress to ensure that the rights of states are upheld in all industries, and that consumer rights are protected.”

The National Assn. of REALTORS® , “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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