A new batch of Texas lawyers was sworn in this past November, and I realized that now would be a good time to share some pointers and direct my fellow colleagues to three key websites in the real estate law field.
First, the Texas Real Estate Commission, or TREC, website at trec.texas.gov is your home base. TREC is a consumer protection agency based in Austin whose mission is “protecting consumers through programs of education, licensing and industry regulation.”
Attorneys will appreciate the tab labeled “Forms, Laws & Contracts.” Here, the commission keeps its promulgated contract forms, which are used in the majority of real estate transactions, and information about the Real Estate License Act. TREC plans to launch a new website this month, and the forms will be included on the homepage under a box titled “Popular Forms.”
The tab labeled “Complaints, Consumer Info” and “How to File a Complaint” on the new site—is where you’ll find information about grievances. Your client may need your assistance to file a grievance with TREC. There’s also a convenient list of required documentation that needs to be included with a grievance.
The next entity that may be helpful is the Texas Association of Realtors, a professional membership association based in Austin that “advocates for Texas realtors and property owners and promotes and protect[s] private-property ownership and rights.” While TREC is a consumer protection agency whose duty is to protect the consumer, the association of realtors’ focus also protects private-property rights on behalf of consumers.
The For Texas REALTORS© tab on the association’s website includes sections labeled Legal Tools, Ethics, Forms, Governmental Affairs, Business Specialties, and Education. An important distinction between TAR and TREC forms is that TREC’s are promulgated for use by licensed agents whereas the association’s are copyrighted for use only by its members. Thus, you will not be able to access the forms unless you belong to its membership. Sometimes both entities will have a document for the same purpose, but one is preferable to the other due to scope.
Finally, the Texas A&M Real Estate Research Center at recenter.tamu.edu is a useful place to learn about many areas affecting real estate using free resources. The center “conducts research on financial, socioeconomic, public policy, trade, legal, land use and local market analysis issues related to real estate,” according to its website.
Articles in the center’s quarterly publication, Tierra Grande, break down the Texas real estate economy into legal issues, demographics, and land values. There are also podcasts, an online research library, an English-Spanish glossary of relevant terms, and my favorite: quizzes! They cover subject matter areas like wills, water law, landlord-tenant Law, oil and gas Leasing, and private property rights.
Good luck on the path of becoming an excellent attorney!
Jason B. Supplee graduated from Oklahoma City University School of Law and obtained a certificate in real estate law practice. He is a licensed attorney in Texas and Oklahoma and currently resides in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. You can find him on LinkedIn.