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Patriot Act puts a chill in real estate

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Editor's note: Privacy and real estate are intertwined in many ways. This three-part series explores the Patriot Act and its impact on real estate companies, what the industry is doing about privacy compliance, and how realty professionals are protecting their businesses and clients. (See Part 1: Your home vitals on the Web and Part 2: The real estate privacy scare.) The stories are out there, even if they're just whispers: The man whose mortgage refinancing was held up because of the U.S. Patriot Act; home buyers being charged fees to have their names checked against a list of terrorists and private data being passed to the government after a home sale. But there's one that's more than just a whisper–confusion abounds when it comes to the Patriot Act and, in particular, its impact on real estate. Even those within the industry aren't sure exactly how it applies to them and how it affects consumers' private information shared during the home buying or refinance process. "A...