Voters are overwhelmingly opposed to a ruling by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency that pre-empts states' regulatory authority over national banks, according to the a poll commissioned by the National Association of Realtors.The rule, which has been so far unsuccessfully contested by the million-member NAR as well as all 50 states, exempts national banking institutions from all state real estate lending laws. In a telephone survey of 1,000 registered voters by Public Opinion Strategies, 84% said they didn't like the idea that loan companies don't have to abide by their state laws. And 82% thought the regulation is likely to eliminate competition and lead to a mortgage market dominated by just a few large banks. That position is strikingly similar to the NAR's. Realty brokers, some of whom have formed their own mortgage subsidiaries, are "at a significant disadvantage when compared to national banks and their operating subsidiaries," NAR president-elect Al Mansell said at the group's Midyear Legislative Meeting in Washington. The NAR is also against any attempt by banks and other financial institutions to form their own real estate divisions. "National banks -- huge companies that already enjoy the advantages of a federal charter -- will dominate, costs will rise, service will decline ... and competition in real estate will go the way of competition in banking itself," Mr. Mansell maintained.

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