The National Association of Realtors is again pushing for legislation aimed at permanently prohibit big banking companies from entering real estate brokerage and property management, and a group of senators signed on this week.

For the past three years, Congress has barred national banks from taking over local real estate companies by denying annual funds to finalize a proposed federal rule. The legislation is identical in language to legislation introduced last year that won support from 28 senators and 255 House members. Association officials said they expect the list of cosponsors will grow to a majority of Congress for the third consecutive year.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., and Sens. Wayne Allard, R-Colo.; Conrad Burns, R-Mont.; Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y.; Russell Feingold, D-Wis.; Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.; and Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.; reintroduced the Community Choice in Real Estate Act, Senate Bill 98. A companion bill, H.R. 111, was introduced in the House of Representatives by U.S. Reps. Ken Calvert, R-Calif., and Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa. on Jan. 4.

Banking conglomerates have requested permission from the Federal Reserve Board and the Treasury Department to sell and manage real estate under the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. The bill clarifies congressional intent and amends the Bank Holding Company Act to preclude national bank holding companies and their subsidiaries from entering the real estate business.

“Al Mansell, association president and CEO of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Salt Lake City, said, “We continue to see tremendous support from members of Congress for keeping big banking conglomerates out of real estate, which has served as the pillar of our economy. We will not relent until national banks are permanently prohibited from taking over local real estate businesses that are part of the fabric of our communities.”

Advocates for the legislation suggest that the entry of large banking entities into the real estate world would leave home buyers and sellers with fewer choices, higher loan fees and reduced customer service.

Organizations that have voiced support for the Community Choice in Real Estate Act include the Building Owners and Managers Association, CCIM Institute, Consumers Union, Institute of Real Estate Management, International Council of Shopping Centers, National Affordable Housing Management Association, National Association of Home Builders, National Association of Industrial and Office Properties, National Auctioneers Association, National Fair Housing Alliance, National Federation of Independent Business, National Leased Housing Association and the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to glenn@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 137.

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