REALTORS® in Austin this past weekend were treated to expert speakers, awards ceremonies, networking events, continuing education, and more at the 2019 Texas REALTORS® Winter Meeting.

The event’s opening session was headlined by an all-star economic panel: National Association of REALTORS® Chief Economist Lawrence Yun, Real Estate Center at Texas A&M Chief Economist Jim Gaines, and University of North Texas Real Estate Professor John Baen.

“Whatever you see in the national figures, Texas will be doing better,” Yun said. But a steady flow of affordable homes is important. Even in a good economy, Yun said, consumers will take a step back if there’s a lack of reasonably priced homes for middle-income families. (Download Yun’s presentation slides.)

Gaines predicted that home sales in Texas will be steady in the upcoming year but not significantly higher than past years. “We’re going to do fine in 2019 as long as the U.S. economy is doing alright,” Gaines said. (Download Gaines’s presentation slides.)

Still, Baen told attendees that they’d be astounded by what’ll happen to Texas housing prices in the future. The problem isn’t demand, he said, it’s supply. Baen also encouraged REALTORS® to talk to their clients about the benefits of rental properties. (Download Baen’s presentation slides.)

Award Winners Honored

Leslie Rouda Smith was named the 2018 Texas REALTOR® of the Year at the STARs Reception on Monday night. At the Awards Luncheon on Monday, the following members and local associations were honored:

  • William C. Jennings Commercial Transaction of the Year: Wheeler Commercial
  • Education Program Awards:
    • Innovation Program of the Year: San Antonio Board of REALTORS® for the Historic Home Specialist Certification Course
    • Marketing Program of the Year: Houston Association of REALTORS® for Member Focus Monday
    • Series or Short Program of the Year: Houston Association of REALTORS® for Surviving Disruption
    • Legal Program of the Year: Bill Evans for Service, Therapy or Emotional Support
    • Educator of the Year: Lori Solecki of the MetroTex Association of REALTORS®
  • Tom D. Morton Award: Kim Lambert of the Greater Lewisville Association of REALTORS®
  • Texas REALTOR® Good Neighbor Award: Nelvin Adriatico of the Houston Association of REALTORS.

Actions Taken at Board of Directors

During its meeting February 12, the Board of Directors took the following actions:

  • Approved election of 2020-2021 regional vice presidents:
    • Region 1 – Jinger White, Amarillo
    • Region 3 – Michael Langford, Greater Fort Worth
    • Region 4 – David Alan Cox, Collin County
    • Region 4 – Nick Kline, Collin County
    • Region 8 – Jack Stapleton, Williamson County
    • Region 10 – Gail Robinson, Brazoria County
    • Region 12 – Cathy Mitchell, MetroTex
    • Region 12 – Bill Jordan, MetroTex
    • Region 12 – Sid Thom, MetroTex
    • Region 13 – Kim Young, San Antonio
    • Region 13 – Jan Hicinbothom, San Antonio
    • Region 13 – Terry Tremaine, MetroTex
    • Region 13 – Mary Ann Jeffers, San Antonio
    • Region 14 – Jo Ann Stevens, Houston
    • Region 14 – Mario Arriaga, Houston
    • Region 14 – Shannon Cobb-Evans, Houston
    • Region 14 – Richard Miranda, Houston
    • Region 14 – Cathy Tevino, Houston
    • Region 14 – Chaille Ralph, Houston
    • Region 14 – Shae Cottar, Houston
    • Region 14 – Troy Cothran, Houston
    • Region 15 – David Burton, Austin
    • Region 15 – Bill Evans, Austin
    • Region 15 – Teresa Scott-Tibbs, Austin
    • Region 16 – Jennifer Stroh Viescas, Greater El Paso
  • Approved election of Nick Cantu as interim RVP for Region 11
  • Approved the election of the 2020 Texas REALTORS® Leadership Team: Secretary/Treasurer Russell Berry, Chairman-Elect Marvin Jolly, and Chairman Cindi Bulla.

Government Affairs Events

During the Public Policy Forum on Saturday, Texas REALTORS® heard from Senate Education Committee Chairman Larry Taylor, who discussed how the 86th Texas Legislature will address reforming the public school finance system. Taylor highlighted how school finance and property taxes are related and thanked REALTORS® for leading the discussion.

On Sunday, the Governmental Affairs Forum featured keynote speaker Ross Ramsey, executive editor and co-founder of The Texas Tribune. Ramsey provided insight into new dynamics at the Texas Capitol after the November elections and a change in leadership in the Texas House. Attendees also heard from National Association of REALTORS® Senior Vice President of Governmental Affairs Shannon McGahn, Texas REALTORS® Vice President of Governmental Affairs Mark Lehman, and Brett Finley, governmental affairs director of policy for the San Antonio Board of REALTORS®. The panelists discussed the important role REALTORS® play in advocacy at the local, state, and national levels on topics such as local ordinances, statewide legislation, and federal tax policy.

Texas REALTORS® leaders recognized several deserving members with Governmental Affairs awards during Winter Meeting.

The Political Involvement Committee awarded the 2018 Grassroots Advocate of the Year to Kristy Wages from the Palestine Board of REALTORS®. Her work on the successful campaign to elect fellow Texas REALTOR® Cody Harris to represent House District 8 was a great example of on-the-ground engagement.

The 2018 Governmental Affairs Outstanding Achievement Award went to the Greater Metro West Association of REALTORS® for its dedication to fundraising and grassroots political advocacy.

Forums and Classes Highlight Pressing Topics

At the Leasing and Property Management Forum, attendees were keen to hear about what to expect in the way of potential legislation to limit or prohibit short-term housing rentals. And Ed Hill of the Texas Workforce Commission gave a presentation about assistance animals and the difficulties inherent in proving or disproving a need for such an accommodation.

Texas REALTORS® partners CRES, Pearl Insurance, Mondics Insurance, and Preferred Guardian Insurance spoke about risks not covered by E&O insurance during the Risk Reduction Forum. “Auto liability is your greatest risk exposure,” said John Mondics of Mondics Insurance. Chad Wenzelspratt of CRES said cyber liability is a threat to consider and suggested brokers add it to their E&O policy, while Barney Schwartz of Preferred Guardian counseled attendees to stay out of the wiring process. Mark Turner of Pearl Insurance suggested property managers ask to be named as insured on their client’s landlord policy.

Michael Wilt of the Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation gave an explanation of how community land trusts work and their benefits at the Housing Initiatives Forum. In a community land trust, the homeowner owns the improvements (the structure) but leases the land from the trust, allowing affordable housing in perpetuity through tax benefits and deed restrictions. This housing model can reduce displacement, provide long-term stability, provide housing opportunities for the middle class, and mitigate property tax burdens, according to Wilt.

During her class titled “Paralysis Analysis,” Candy Cooke encouraged attendees to use all the resources at their disposal to provide accurate information to consumers and showcase their professionalism and experience. Among the sources she cited, Cooke highlighted REALTORS® Property Resource (RPR) and its continual improvement, for housing statistics, and MarketViewer, the data tool exclusively for Texas REALTORS®. She also noted that NAR has a library where members can call (800-874-6500) and enlist the help of librarians who may have access to additional databases and information.