August 31 marked the end of our fiscal year, and a lot has happened in this last year. Since September 2018, the agency has gone through Sunset review, a legislative session, and changes in the leadership team. The agency has been busy implementing the Sunset recommendations and statutory changes. The new leadership has been instrumental in revamping the agency’s front line communications, and the rollout of several new online tools has resulted in significantly shorter hold times and an overall better experience for people contacting the agency.
Several inspector-related rules were adopted at the Commission meeting in August, including rules related to when an inspector must provide an inspection report, rules authorizing CE credit for attendance at any Inspector Advisory Committee meeting, and rules establishing term limits for the committee members. Additionally, rules were adopted to strengthen settlement service providers’ independence and add consistency for all license holders subject to TREC’s jurisdiction when paying or receiving funds to/from other real estate settlement service providers. Finally, the Commission proposed rules to implement new regulations resulting from the legislative session for license applicants married to active military service members. All of these adopted rules are available on the TREC website.
At its July 15 meeting, the Inspector Committee recommended that a transition period is advisable to implement the new inspector education requirements. Accepting this recommendation, the rules proposed at the May Commission meeting were proposed again by the Commission at its August meeting to include proposed language to accommodate a timeframe allowing a transition from the current education requirements to the new requirements. That transition period will conclude next summer and it is designed to be long enough for an applicant in the middle of training under the current requirements to conclude their studies before the new training requirements become mandatory.
Also at its July meeting, the Inspector Committee addressed industry concerns regarding contractual limitations of liability. Chair Lee Warren clarified that it is neither the intent of the Committee nor staff to get involved in the contractual agreement between an inspector and his or her client. Based on the discussion at that meeting, TREC staff will bring a modified Consumer Protection Notice for the Committee’s review and possible recommendation at its October meeting that will include verbiage about the statutory requirement to carry liability insurance.
Finally, our long-serving Executive Director, Douglas Oldmixon announced his intent to retire from the agency. He has served in this role for ten years, he has led during a period of record growth of new license holders and has helped meet the accompanying challenges this brought while moving the agency into the modern era. He will continue in his present role until March of 2020, to allow time to find a successor and to provide for a smooth transition.
The next meeting of the Inspector Committee will be on October 7 at 10 am in Austin. Meeting dates and times, agendas and related materials are posted on the TREC website and the full committee meeting is always videotaped and archived on the website for your review. As always, thank you for your continued involvement.