Robert Zahn

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Realtors, a strong voice at the Capitol

March 31st, 2019

This article was originally published in The Galveston County Daily News on 3/30 as part of my weekly 2019 column.

This week, a chartered bus of your Galveston Realtors® joined Associations from the entire state in converging upon Austin and the Texas Capitol. In order to have a “seat at the table” during the 86th Texas Legislature, 21 Galveston Realtors® and Affiliates felt that property rights were worth a crazy bus ride to Austin and back in order to spend time with our State Representatives.

Traditionally, during Legislative Sessions, Texas Realtors® schedule a “Realtor Day” when buses bring in thousands of Realtors to remind our representatives of Texans' interests in property rights and taxation.

We were scheduled to meet on our arrival, with Texas Sen. Larry Taylor, but due to traffic, we missed that opportunity. Fortunately, we were able to run into him in the Capitol Annex halls later and voice our concerns and our appreciation for his service.

While there, we met with State Rep. Mayes Middleton and his aides and were able to discuss our local concerns with statewide impact, and advocated for legislation that will benefit property owners, which include property taxes, home equity, and eminent domain.

We specifically discussed our concerns as Galveston Realtors® about school funding and the “Robin Hood” tax.

We, as local members, feel our visible presence makes a difference in protecting consumers and our industry as well.
And this brings me to my initial thoughts for today's column. The laws require that at the first substantial discussion of buying and selling, or leasing, real estate, that the licensed agent must discuss representation and responsibilities. There is usually a link on a Realtor's email leading to a form about Brokerage Services or it is often presented in paper form. This outlines the minimum responsibilities that an agent of a broker has to their clients. First, the client's needs supersede the needs of the agent. Second, any material knowledge of the property under discussion must be shared, and third, the agent must treat all involved parties to the transaction honestly and fairly.

Additionally, and most importantly, it explains that a Realtor® or any licensed agent must identify who he represents. In listing a property for sale or lease, the agent promises to work in his clients' best interests at all times. An agent may also work as a buyer/tenant agent through a representation agreement signed by all parties which outlines everyone’s particular responsibilities. An agent who represents both parties involved in a transaction must request permission of each party in order to become an intermediary. In this form of representation, the agreement must outline who is to pay commissions and what the broker obligations are. An intermediary must treat all parties impartially, may appoint a different license holder from the brokerage to each party to communicate with, provide opinions, and carry out the instructions of each party.

These agency responsibilities are similar to the responsibilities our elected officials have to the public. Chief among them, the responsibility to put the interest of the client (voter) first before their own. And that’s why we visit the Capitol. To share our knowledge and experiences with our elected officials so that they may better represent you - our clients.

In order to avoid any misunderstandings, all agreements between clients and brokers should be in writing. This is not always the case with our elected officials so we will continue to speak up on behalf of our clients, our industry and the great state of Texas.

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Disclaimer : The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Houston Association of REALTORS®

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