Reps. Michael Oxley and Barney Frank have introduced HR 2660, the "Fair Choice and Competition in Real Estate Act of 2005." The bill would amend the Bank Holding Company Act to clarify that real estate brokerage activities and real estate management activities are authorized financial activities for national banks and their subsidiaries. In recent years, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has successfully lobbied Congress for budget riders that prevented the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Board from implementing the 1999 Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in a way that would have allowed national banks and their subsidiaries to engage in real estate activities.
The potential for success of HR 2660 is uncertain, particularly in view of the fact that an NAR-favored bill (HR 111), which would prevent national banks from engaging in real estate activities, has 221 sponsors (more than half of the membership of the House). Nonetheless, introduction of HR 2660 may facilitate the issue being argued in the open, rather than through the vehicle of annual budget riders.
For a copy of HR 2660, visit www.house.gov.