Working to protect our members and their clients

by Russell Berry

It was a historic year for Texas real estate. We experienced record-breaking home sales, more people chose to relocate to Texas and new Realtor-backed legislation was passed to protect Texas property owners — all this in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As an association, we are constantly advocating for Realtors and the private property rights of all Texans. In 2021, 47 bills supported by Texas Realtors were signed into law; 81% of Realtor-supported local candidates won or moved to runoff in the May 2021 elections; and 100% of bills opposed by Texas Realtors failed to pass.
We also held our first virtual Realtor Day at the Texas Capitol. Taking place over four weeks, we had over 181 online meetings with members of the 87th Texas Legislature. Legislators told us that no other groups even attempted such an ambitious feat, and Im proud to say that we made our voices heard.
These Realtor victories wouldnt have happened without our members. With many new bills coming into effect this year, here are the changes you and your clients need to know.
Changes to HOA laws
In 2021, Texas Realtors supported Senate Bill 1588, legislation to bring transparency and accountability to homeowner associations. As part of our efforts, we called on Realtors across the state to urge their representatives to support HOA reform, resulting in more than 12,500 supportive messages to elected officials.
We also launched myhoastory.com as a platform for Realtors and homeowners to share the challenges theyve faced with HOAs. These testimonials were a pivotal part in illustrating the scope of the issue and will remain a way to hold HOAs accountable.

With the passing of this legislation, Texans will receive enhanced property rights and a clear understanding of their HOAs structure and practices. This includes transparency in HOA management, provisions to protect homeowners involved in
HOA disputes, limits in fees for resale certificates and more.
Property tax transparency
In 2019, Texas lawmakers passed the Texas Property Tax Reform and Transparency Act. This legislation gave taxpayers a stronger voice in the process, more information about their tax rates, as well as a requirement for every county appraisal district to have a database for citizens to learn about their tax rates and send feedback to their local elected officials.
As part of our work to make property taxes fairer and more transparent, Texas Realtors launched the What to Know: Property Taxes 101campaign to help homeowners understand their property taxes. We launched the knowyourtaxes.org website to serve as an all-in-one resource for Texans to learn the basics of property taxes, look up their central appraisal district and learn more about new property tax laws.
To date, we have received more than 72,000 page views on knowyourtaxes.org and 18 million impressions on the You Deserve to Know digital ads.
Eminent domain reform
Effective Jan. 1 of this year, this legislation ensures the eminent domain process is fairer and expands the information a property owner must receive from entities looking to acquire a property.
Any initial offers from a condemning entity are required to include more information, such as a landowners bill of rights, list of negotiable terms and an appraisal that includes the portion of the property not being condemned.
Property owners will also be able to file complaints with TREC if they are not supplied the required disclosures in the eminent domain process.

Other real estate measures
A new law known as The Senator Royce West Act provides property owners with a simpler option to remove any unconstitutional or discriminatory language — including those that prohibit homeownership based on race, religion or national origin — from their real estate deeds through a local county clerks office.
Expanded appraisal legislation will allow appraisers to perform evaluations without having to comply with the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice, particularly when the lending guidelines do not require a full appraisal. This law will provide buyers with more options and will improve the overall loan process.
Landlords are now required by law to provide a flood disclosure notice to all prospective tenants. The flood disclosure outlines if the property is located within a 100-year floodplain, if the landlord is aware of recent flooding, as well as information about tenant insurance policies and FEMA flood maps.
Final thoughts
By supporting changes to HOA laws, property tax reform, eminent domain reform and other real estate measures, we are continually working to protect our members and their clients across the state of Texas. This also includes opposing legislation that would have negative outcomes for Texas property owners.
To share your HOA testimonials, visit myhoastory.com. For an all-in-one resource on local property taxes, visit knowyourtaxes.org.

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