NU Online News Service, Feb. 19, 2004, 2:39 p.m. EST – Real estate agents are asking the government to protect them from national banks.[@@]

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency recently adopted a regulation that exempts national banks from complying with state lending laws.

The National Association of Realtors, Washington, has asked the OCC to block federally chartered banks from entering real estate brokerage and property management unless the OCC rescinds the preemption regulation.

Thousands of association members have filed formal complaints opposing the OCC preemption regulation, the association says.

State banking officials, state attorneys general and many consumer groups also oppose the regulation, the association says.

The association notes that federal law will prevent the OCC from letting national banks enter the real estate brokerage and property management industries until Oct. 1.

Once the OCC adopts a regulation that lets national banks enter the real estate brokerage and property management industries, the OCC could exempt the banks from state real estate licensing laws, the Realtors association warns.

“Should that happen, real estate brokers and agents employed by bank-owned brokerages might not be required to obtain state real estate licenses,” the association says.

The biggest banks could end up controlling large segments of the real estate industry without having to comply with state regulations, the association says.