October marks six months since I began with the Commission. I am grateful for the warm welcome and generosity shown to me by our staff team, our policymakers and our license holders. In my short time here, I have observed many remarkably positive aspects of our agency processes: diligence in rolling up sleeves for committee work; passionate comments related to proposed rules; a desire to teach well by understanding the nuances of the law that are sometimes tedious to grasp; inquisitive questions about the completion of promulgated forms; and people, both in the industry and on staff at TREC, who work hard toward success. It is a pleasure to be part of this team.
I recently returned from the annual Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (ARELLO) conference in Denver, where it was confirmed for me that everything truly is bigger in Texas. More license holders, more industry leaders, more new ideas and cutting edge business models. Other states look to Texas as a successful example, which is not at all surprising.
I started this job just in time to participate in the rulemaking process after the Sunset Advisory Commission review. By the end of the year, that process will be nearing completion, with much of the heavy lifting for rule changes coming at the May and August meetings. As you know, this includes the elimination of branch office licenses, changes to how qualifying and continuing education instructors are approved, the removal of the state residency requirement for obtaining a license, and the change from a “moral character” determination to a “fitness” determination.
As I have found in other stages in life, being in a season with a steep learning curve is exciting. With each question I receive, I still go to our rules and law to find the answers. I recently had the pleasure of doing just that, to draft an article of the recent changes made to §535.148 and §535.220 related to the paying and receiving of funds by settlement service providers. While TREC has determined that preferred provider lists are acceptable if they fall within the exceptions found in the rules and if very strict disclosures are followed, I want to make sure it is clear that this determination applies only to our rules. I do not claim to be an expert on the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), nor is it the business of TREC to enforce this federal law. It is best to consult an attorney and review the many RESPA requirements prior to paying or receiving funds to settlement service providers for access to a brokerage and its agents. For TREC purposes, the bottom line focus is on one’s fiduciary duty to represent the interests of one’s client, rather than one’s own interests.
This is a time of transition for TREC and our sister agency TALCB. Our Executive Director, Douglas Oldmixon, has announced his retirement, which will occur in March of 2020. A search committee of policymakers is moving forward to find the next executive director for TREC and continue to accept applications. TREC is also completing the Sunset implementation process and moving on to strategic planning. Even the TREC office is in transition, as we make room for additional staff and updating our facilities, we will remain under construction for the next few years. With transitions comes the unknown but great opportunity. I am reluctant to move forward too quickly and I am happy and grateful for Mr. Oldmixon’s mentorship and contribution to what makes TREC successful. I am also focused and ready to march into the future with great expectations for the agency.