Leach, Bliley Testify in Support of Real Estate Industry Competition
WASHINGTON - Two of the original three authors of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act - former House Banking Committee Chairman Jim Leach (R-Iowa) and former Commerce Committee Chairman Tom Bliley - were scheduled to testify June 15 before the full Financial Services Committee in support of competition in the real estate industry. A representative for GLB's third author - former Senate Banking Committee Chairman Phil Gramm - offered the former senator's testimony. The law's authors will provide testimony detailing the law's intent to remove barriers to competition among the various financial services institutions. The hearing titled "Protecting Consumers and Promoting Competition in Real Estate Services" will focus on a recent legislative proposal to ensure the participation of financial holding companies and national bank subsidiaries in certain real estate services. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Michael Oxley (R-Ohio) and Ranking member Barney Frank (D-Mass.) recently introduced H.R. 2660, the Fair Choice and Competition in Real Estate Act in 2005, which would allow banks to provide competition to their real estate counterparts in brokers and management services. At issue is whether banks should be allowed to participate in real estate brokerage. According to a release from the House Committee on Financial Services, "Regulations allowing full bank participation in these types of services would allow full competition in the one-stop shopping concept that GLB sought to fulfill, specifically allowing customers to find brokerage, lending and insurance services at the same institution. Several integrated real estate firms currently offer these types of packages. Thrifts, credit unions and state-chartered banks in more than half the U.S., are authorized to provided these services.Bank entry into an area such as real estate brokerage would provide an important advantage for consumers, as currently there is no market incentive for realtors to reduce their commissions." Among those scheduled to testify in the second panel are: Elizabeth Duke, chairman, American Bankers Association; Al Mansell, president, National Association of Realtors; and Sue Johnson, executive director, Real Estate Services Providers Council, Inc.