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Earnest money deposits play an important role in real estate transactions. While youā€™ve had several options for establishing escrow accounts for earnest monies, traditionally, credit unions havenā€™t been included in your options because of federal legislation prohibiting them from offering escrow accounts. That recently changed, however, thanks to efforts on behalf of real estate agents by the REALTORSĀ® Federal Credit Union, a Division of Northwest Federal Credit Union.

ā€œWhenever we talked to real estate professionals about our services,ā€ explains Victoria Gillespie, senior vice president, REALTORSĀ® Division and Enterprise Marketing, ā€œthe question kept coming up, ā€˜Can I open an escrow account?ā€™ā€ Recognizing that there was clearly demand and interest in this service, the Credit Union decided to challenge the status quo on behalf of its members and the real estate industry.

Rewriting federal laws, however, is never easy. As a first step, the Credit Union approached and gained the support of the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU), a direct membership association that provides federally insured credit unions with advocacy, education and compliance support. Once NAFCU was on board, the next step involved lobbying efforts with the industryā€™s governing body, the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA).

Finally, earlier this year, the Credit Unionā€™s efforts paid off and legislative changes went into effect. ā€œWe listened to our members and made it happen,ā€ says Gillespie. Now, eligible Credit Union members have the option to open a Real Estate Escrow Checking Account with no minimum balance, no monthly fee and no per-item charges to house clientsā€™ earnest money deposits. Fees are often associated with these accounts at other financial institutions.

Comprehensive Banking Services Exclusively for REALTORSĀ®
Created by the National Association of REALTORSĀ® (NAR) in 2008, the REALTORSĀ® Federal Credit Union, a Division of Northwest Federal Credit Union, was formed to address the unique savings, lending and credit needs of NAR members.

Federal credit unions are not-for-profit cooperative financial institutions that are owned and operated by their members. Unpaid volunteers comprise the Credit Unionā€™s Board of Directors, including two NAR representatives. All profits are reinvested in the co-op, keeping costs as low as possible for members.

In addition to the new availability of Real Estate Escrow Checking Accounts, members have access to a full complement of business banking services, including traditional and money market savings, competitive certificate investments, business loans (including commercial real estate loans and lines of credit), and much more.

The Credit Union also offers a full suite of personal banking products, making it simple to separate your personal and business expenses for easier record keeping while enjoying across-the-board cost savings. Members can also apply for two different REALTORĀ® Credit Cards, further simplifying efforts to separate business and personal records.

Convenient Access
REALTORSĀ® Federal Credit Union is available 24/7 online, via mobile banking and through its bank-by-phone services. Members can make remote check deposits (using mobile technology) up to $250,000 per day for business accounts or $25,000/day for personal checking. In addition to over 30,000 ATMs nationwide, members receive personal assistance at more than 5,000 shared branch locations, or by contacting a Member Care representative at 866-295-6038.

Support the REALTORĀ® Family
By supporting REALTORSĀ® Federal Credit Union, you support the entire REALTORĀ® family and help members get better borrowing rates, earn higher rates of return, and keep their banking costs as low as possible. New Real Estate Escrow Checking Accounts, along with all the other services offered by REALTORSĀ® Federal Credit Union, serve as another example of the many ways NAR members can save money and gain special privileges through the REALTOR BenefitsĀ® Program.

Benefits of Credit Unionā€™s Real Estate Escrow Checking Accounts

  • No minimum balance
  • No monthly fee
  • No per-item charges

For more information, visit