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"How do we raise the bar of professionalism?"

"We need more broker responsibility."

"I work with people on the other side of a contract who don’t know what they are doing. They don’t even know the name of their broker!" 

These are comments I have heard personally, and professionalism in the industry is a frequent topic of conversation when I talk with license holders. This is a very worthy topic of discussion. It also creates an opportunity for me to explain the function of the Texas Real Estate Commission.

As a regulatory agency—we are an executive branch agency—we answer to the Texas governor through a governing body of nine appointed policymakers. The Texas Legislature decides what types of licenses the Commission regulates. TREC implements the laws passed by the Texas Legislature through the rulemaking process. Additionally, TREC educates, licenses, and disciplines license holders—no more, and no less.

The current regulatory climate in Texas is the same climate that is drawing businesses to Texas. In fact, agencies like ours have been directed to avoid stifling the climate that makes Texas “open for business.” To do so requires the least restrictive means for regulation.

We regulate a minimum standard, based on rules and law. We can also teach best practices, but we cannot regulate and discipline based on best practices.

As we look for ways to increase broker responsibility and manage professionalism of the industry, we do so with an eye toward opportunities for entry and paths to entrepreneurship.

We continue to look for ways to address license holders’ concerns around professionalism. There is no one easy fix, so the Commission is considering a multifaceted approach to address these concerns. For example, the Broker Responsibility Working Group has recommended response times for brokers and sales agents and increased oversight of sales agents' first-time brokerage activity. The Education Standards Advisory Committee is reviewing ways to incorporate more education on broker responsibility and the broker-agent relationship in course outlines.

I know how important professionalism and integrity are in your business, and you have the power to make a difference. I’d like to challenge you to think differently about your role in elevating professionalism among license holders. Coming alongside those who need kind professional corrections is always an option. Talking to the individual’s broker is another option. Filing complaints when there is wrongdoing or harm to consumers is also important. Each approach is an act of professionalism that reflects our shared commitment to consumer protection.