A new study from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business and its Tayloe Murphy Center shows that by better serving underbanked consumers, banks and credit unions can effectively raise property values.

Focusing primarily on unbanked Latino households in Virginia and North Carolina, the year-long study zeroed in on the impact of services offered by Latino Community Credit Union. The credit union's membership soared from 917 depositors in 2000, when it was established, to 53,073 in 2009.

The study found that each time an LCCU branch opened in North Carolina, the number of robberies dropped by an average of 57 per year, or almost 4% in each of the five counties that were surveyed.

That decline in crime led to a significant boost in property values in those same counties.

"We estimate that between 2000 and 2008 in North Carolina, the opening of credit union branches with explicit strategies to serve Latinos contributed $9.8 billion in property appreciation, representing nearly a 3.8% increase in property value for the counties in which these branches were located," wrote the authors, Gregory Fairchild and Kulwant Rai.