The Texas Association of Realtors is still butting heads with the state’s discount realty licensees over a controversial state regulation that would require licensees to provide home sellers with a minimum level of service.

The Texas Real Estate Commission held a meeting yesterday to discuss whether proposed versions of the rule would be fair to all real estate brokers and consumers. The meeting was the latest in an ongoing battle over whether real estate brokers should be required to offer specific or minimal services. 

The commission hasn’t yet released a finalized proposal that will come to a vote. Its next meeting is slated for April 19, when it is expected to discuss the issue again and possibly vote on a proposed rule.

Aaron Farmer, broker/owner of Austin-based Texas Discount Realty, said he’s prepared to fight any rule that would eliminate consumers’ right to choose the level of realty brokerage service they want. Farmer last year won a court order that halted implementation of a prior version of the proposed rule.

“We don’t know for sure which rule (the commissioners) will vote on, but if TAR’s (proposed) rule passes, I will contest it,” he said.

The Realtors group in September asked the state agency to consider reinstating a rule that would require brokers to provide assistance developing, communicating, presenting, accepting and understanding purchase offers and counter-offers.

The commission adopted the first version of the rule because of “concerns raised by various real estate industry organizations regarding limited service listing agreements,” according to documents released at the time. Sellers who opt for limited service arrangements often lean on the buyer’s agent for advice or assistance, according to the documents. That scenario is at the heart of the debate.

Farmer and fellow discount brokers who attended Monday’s meeting argued that no consumer complaints have been filed in Texas regarding discount brokerage services.

Several versions of the rule have been proposed since the state commission repealed the first one. Commissioner Paul Jordon proposed a rule that would require brokers to offer certain services to their clients, but permit clients to refuse those services.

Farmer met with Realtors association representatives last month to discuss a compromise, but he said the association’s stance hadn’t changed much.

Association representatives didn’t immediately return telephone calls seeking comment on the controversy or their proposed rule.


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