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Benham Real Estate says SunTrust listings restored

Benham Real Estate said late Friday that its property listings with SunTrust Banks had been restored – hours after the Concord-based realty company announced that the bank had pulled all of its property listings.

The Benham company gained attention last week after HGTV said it was pulling the plug on “Flip It Forward,” a new home improvement show featuring twins Jason and David Benham. The network’s announcement followed reports by a lobbying group that David Benham had led or participated in protests against homosexuality.

Benham Real Estate, which markets and manages homes that banks repossess, said SunTrust informed the bank Thursday that the listings were being pulled. The company said SunTrust is also pulling listings from some of the company’s franchises across the U.S.

Reached for comment, SunTrust said in a statement that it doesn’t “make choices on suppliers nor base business decisions on political factors, nor do we direct our third-party vendors to do so.”

Last year, SunTrust consolidated the management of some of its residential real estate assets with a third-party vendor that contracts with Benham, the bank said in its statement. The bank did not identify the vendor, or say whether the vendor had discontinued a relationship with the Benham company.

SunTrust “supports the rights of all Americans to fully exercise their freedoms granted under the Constitution, including those with respect to free speech and freedom of religion,” it said.

Later Friday, the Benham company said the listings had been restored by the vendor, which it did not identify. SunTrust spokesman Michael McCoy said in a statement: “As of this afternoon, this issue has been resolved.”

HGTV had said “Flip it Forward” would feature the Benhams transforming a fixer-upper “into their forever home – with a healthy dose of sibling rivalry between the brothers along the way.”

On May 7, HGTV tweeted: “HGTV has decided not to move forward with the Benham Brothers’ series.”

In a statement at the time of HGTV’s announcement, the Benhams said: “Our faith is the fundamental calling in our lives, and the centerpiece of who we are. As Christians we are called to love our fellow man. Anyone who suggests that we hate homosexuals or people of other faiths is either misinformed or lying.”

On Friday, Jason Benham said in a statement that if the brothers’ faith costs them their business, “then so be it.”

Roberts: 704-358-5248; Twitter: @DeonERoberts
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