WASHINGTON A bipartisan duo of lawmakers urged real estate agents Thursday to foster congressional and public pressure, rather than legislation, to block financial holding companies from engaging in real estate brokerage and management.
Im not sure you need legislation, Rep. Spencer T. Bachus, chairman of the Financial Services subcommittee on financial institutions, said in a speech to the National Association of Realtors meeting here. Were hearing from the Fed and Treasury that theyve really pulled back on this.
Spokesmen for the Fed and Treasury declined to respond to Rep. Bachus comments.
At issue is a proposal the Federal Reserve Board and Treasury Department issued in December to let financial holding companies and banks financial subsidiaries sell and manage real estate. Bankers, who argue that the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act permits them to engage in activities like real estate that are financial in nature, support the proposal as strongly as real estate agents oppose it. Realtors say that the law bars financial companies from engaging in commercial activities, and that real estate is clearly nonfinancial.
Rep. Bachus, R-Ala., and Rep. Paul Kanjorski of Pennsylvania, the top Democrat on the financial institutions panel, also addressed the conference. They criticized the proposal after it was released and held a hearing this month where lawmakers criticized regulators rationale for the proposal.
At the conference, Rep. Kanjorski said he hopes to get a majority of his House colleagues to sign a letter, which he is circulating now, that opposes the proposal and asks Financial Services Chairman Michael G. Oxley and Rep. Bachus to hold more hearings to awaken the Bush administration and the Fed that they have to pull back their horses.