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QUESTION: May a real estate broker maintain an escrow or trust account in a savings and loan association?
OPINION: G. S. 93A-6 provides that a real estate broker’s or salesman’s license may be suspended or revoked for certain acts, among which is:

“(12) Commingling the money or other property of his principals with his own or failure to maintain and deposit in a trust or escrow account in an insured bank all money received by a real estate broker, acting in said capacity, or as escrow agent, or the temporary custodian of the funds of others, in a real estate transaction.” (Bold added.)

The term “bank” has a statutory definition. G. S. 53-1 (1) provides:

“Bank. – The term ‘bank’ shall be construed to mean any corporation, other than building and loan associations, industrial banks, and credit unions, receiving, soliciting, or accepting money or its equivalent on deposit as a business.”

Likewise, the term “savings and loan association” has a statutory definition. G. S. 54-1 provides in part:

“The terms ‘building and loan association’ and ‘savings and loan association,’ as used in this subchapter, shall apply to and include all corporations, companies, societies, or associations organized for the purpose of making loans to their members only, and of enabling their members to acquire real estate, make improvements thereon and remove encumbrances therefrom by the payment of money in periodical installments or principal sums, and for the accumulation of a fund to be returned to members who do not obtain advances for such purposes.”

These two terms are not used interchangeably, the laws relating to banks and savings and loan associations being contained in separate chapter of the General Statutes and the rights, powers and duties of each being different in a myriad of ways. G. S. 93A-6-is clear and unambiguous- in-its-use of the word “bank”.

The Supreme Court of North Carolina has held repeatedly that a statute must be construed as written and that if the language of a statute is clear and unambiguous, there is no room for judicial construction and the courts must give it its plain and definite meaning. See STATE v. WIGGINS, 272 NC 147; STATE v. ROSS, 272 NC 67, and DAVIS v. GRANITE CORPORATION, 259 NC 672. Many other North Carolina cases are cited in 7 N. C. Index 2d, Statutes, sec. 5.

This article came from the June 1970 Vol1-2 edition of the bulletin.