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WASHINGTON – The National Association of Realtors is continuing its ad campaign to ensure its bill to block banks from getting into the real estate brokerage business is passed, and now it’s kicked that campaign up a notch with a new ad that criticizes banks’ aggressiveness and cites credit unions as another group that’s been the target of banks’ tactics. NAR ran a series of full-page ads in two area newspapers – the July 20 and July 22 editions of the Washington Times and the week of July 19 edition of Roll Call. The headline of the ads read: “The Big Banks Want It All,” and the following copy read, “First the Big Bank Conglomerates moved into insurance and securities. Then they went after not-for-profit credit unions. Now they are trying to take over local real estate! If the Big Bank Conglomerates get their way consumers will lose the local, personalized serve they now receive from America’s 1 million REALTORST. Perhaps the Big Bank Conglomerates should spend more time and money providing better service to their customers instead of trying to take over local real estate. How much is enough?” NAR Policy Representative Edward Miller said the association used the credit union connection “because it went with the theme of where we’re going with the ad, which is big banks want it all. “Thev’re been able to get into securities and insurance. They’re continuing to try to do away with credit unions’ tax exemption. It always seems banks are aggressively looking to get into everyone’s business, but they don’t want any one else to expand their offerings. They talk out of both sides of their mouth,” he added. Miller explained that the association has been running ads in area newspapers “on and off” since 2001 that “took a positive approach” by thanking members of the House of Representatives and the Senate who have signed on as co-sponsors to H.R. 111 introduced by Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), and S.98 introduced by Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.) in January 2003 – the “Community Choice in Real Estate Act” that would bar the Federal Reserve and Treasury from allowing banks to get involved in real estate brokerage. At press time, 253 members of Congress had signed on to H.R. 111 which was referred in February 2003 to the House Financial Services Committee Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit. Meanwhile 98 Senators signed on as co-sponsors to S. 98. That measure was referred to the Senate Banking Committee and “it’s just sitting there,” said Miller. “The NAR leadership has been successful in gaining a majority of members of the House on the bill, but we can’t get action from the House Financial Services Committee on it. Our latest ad is a way of us saying, `enough is enough. We need a vote on this bill. Congress should take it up and debate it.” What’s holding up any movement on the bill? Miller said the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Michael Oxley (R-Ohio) is opposed to the measure. “That means we just have to keep on pushing,” said Miller. “The committee chairman isn’t in danger of losing his seat any time soon, so we have to keep putting up the pressure,” adding that one of the reasons NAR decided to run the ad in the Washington Times instead of the popular Washington Post was because “the House Republican leadership reads the Times more than they do the Post.” Although NAR still hasn’t seen movement on the measure on either the House or Senate side, it recently secured for the third consecutive year a one-year prohibition on funding to finalize the rule from the House Appropriations Committee. “A majority of the members of the House Appropriations Committee, 43 of the 64 members, are co-sponsors of the legislation including committee Chairman Bill Young (R-Fla.),” said Miller, adding that in the absence of the bill’s passage, “this is another way to go.” Miller pointed out that “it’s not uncommon when a bill is bottled up in committee” for the appropriations committee to pass prohibitions. He said there’s no limit to the number of times prohibitions can be passed on specific initiative, noting that the first two times the prohibitions were offered on it was as amendments in committee. This year though the prohibition was included in the original chairman’s draft. “That’s a positive sign,” said the NAR staffer. “Real estate is one of the most competitive markets, but we believe in fair competition,” said Miller. “We’ve watched the banks go after credit unions, and we think credit unions and realtors have a lot in common – both are very involved with their communities. Banks are always looking to take the next step up the ladder and that usually means moving out of the community.” Miller said NAR met with CUNA a couple of months ago, and “we decided to continue the dialogue to see if there are things we can work on together.” He stressed that the two have no formal plans yet, “but we want to keep the dialogue open.” – [email protected]

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