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Americans View Banks, Real Estate Market Positively For First Time Since Recession

But they don't like them that much, either.

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Americans do not hate the banking and real estate industries. Well, at least not the majority. According to survey data released by Gallup today, the net perception of the banking and real estate industry — basically whether more people have positive than negative views — are more positive than negative for the first time since 2007, the year before the collapse of the housing and banking industries plunged the world into a financial and economic crisis and required hundreds of billions worth of taxpayer-funded bailouts.

The banking industry's "net positive ranking," however, remains low, at 8, even though it increased some 18 points in 2013, while the real estate industry came in at 12, up from -1 last year. The net positive rankings are determined by subtracting the negative ratings from the positive ratings by the survey's respondents.

The average industry comes in at 18, with the restaurant and technology industries leading at 60 and 56, respectively. Banking has an equal perception to the movie and TV industries, and is far ahead of health care, law, oil and gas, and the federal government, all of which are still negative.

The real estate industry saw the most precipitous fall off in public perception, dropping to negative 40 in 2008 as trillions of dollars of household wealth evaporated in a massive, nationwide decline in home prices and as millions of homeowners saw their homes go into foreclosure.

The rise up into positive territory for the banking industry comes as the biggest banks' pre-financial crisis misdeeds were exposed in public again in the process of paying out multi-billion dollar settlements to the Justice Department and other regulators. Three of the nation's largest banks — JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Bank of America — have all reached settlements of $7 billion or more for misleading investors about the quality of mortgage-backed securities they packaged and sold.

That more Americans than not have a positive view of the banking and real estate industries hasn't necessarily led to increased participation in the housing market or enthusiasm for what the banking industry offers the typical consumer. Sales of existing homes have slipped slightly from last year, while sales of new homes were up. In a survey done earlier this year, a quarter of Americans and Canadians said they wanted to bank with Amazon, Google, or Apple.

Matthew Zeitlin is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Zeitlin reports on Wall Street and big banks.

Contact Matthew Zeitlin at

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