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Came across this item on the Real Town web site that Hillary Clinton is sponsoring a bill that bars commercial banks from hiring real estate brokers/agents. Some were shocked that Hillary would effectively turn on the powerful banking interests in New York City and side with real estate agents, but its probably a shrewd political move: While bank executives might have been appreciative if she supported their efforts to expand into the real estate brokerage business, most are rockrib Republicans and would still be apt to back the Republic nominee. And most bank employees aren’t going to reflexively vote for Hillary if she supported banks owning real estate brokerages. In the greater scheme, they probably couldn’t care less. But as for real estate agents, this is an important issue and one that might draw Hillary some of their votes — and their contributions, since agents tend to be particularly aggressive on the political front.
As for the fundamental question of “Should banks be allowed to offer real estate brokerage services,” I’d be interested in hearing what real estate agents and brokers actually think. I’m curious whether they actually care who the owner is — could they make just as much money working for Bank of America as for Coldwell Banker? Could they provide just as good service, or is there indeed a risk that banks might push their agents to close deals at all costs, and then to funnel the buyer to their own in-house mortgage subsidiary? I’d also be interested to hear what consumers think as well…
BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.