Is real estate brokerage a financial or a commercial activity? The importance of this question was highlighted once again when the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency released its letters permitting Bank of America to build a hotel, PNC Bank to build a mixed-use project, and Union Bank to take an equity position in a wind energy facility.
After five years of being the primary engine for economic growth in the United States, the housing sector is likely to move to the back burner and could actually contribute to a slowing in economic activity this year.
The United States economy has displayed a powerful resiliency over the last several years, with home sales hitting records and commercial activity reaching robust levels despite a steady stream of big shocks like hurricanes Katrina and Rita. That same resiliency will keep real estate activity strong in 2006.
It’s real estate’s turn to get rained on, with the U.S. Department of Justice filing an antitrust lawsuit against NAR’s Internet display policy, Hurricane Katrina, and a blue ribbon tax commission appointed by President George W. Bush eyeing potentially disruptive changes to the mortgage interest deduction and capital gains taxes.
Lawmakers tend to become concerned with competitiveness when an industry consolidates and the number of companies servicing customers shrinks. That’s why talk in Congress about the level of competitiveness in residential real estate is as puzzling as can be.