More than 1,700 members—a record!—registered for the 2023 Texas REALTORS® Winter Meeting this week in Austin. Here are highlights of the sessions and actions taken by the Board of Directors. 

Opening Session

2023 Chairman of the Board Marcus Phipps kicked off the meeting’s Opening Session with a time-lapse video of new signs installed at the top of the Texas REALTORS® building, across the street from the Texas Capitol. “Those people in the Capitol who look out the window? They’ll know where the REALTORS® are,” Phipps said.

Then 2023 Immediate Past Chairman Russell Berry and Texas REALTORS® CEO/President Travis Kessler asked a panel of industry experts questions about the market, the REALTOR® association, housing affordability, government activity, and future trends. The panelists were 2023 NAR Immediate Past President Leslie Rouda Smith, NAR Vice President of Governmental Advocacy Joe Harris, Texas Real Estate Research Center Assistant Research Economist Clare Losey, T3 Sixty CEO/President Jack Miller, and 2023 Texas REALTORS® Chairman Marcus Phipps.

Education Highlights

Members enjoyed four days of education sessions covering top trends, actionable advice, and emerging topics in real estate.

Kicking off the commercial program, Harold Hunt from the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M spoke optimistically about the state of the economy. He stated that while inflation is a concern, the consensus is the U.S. will have a mild recession—and that the Texas economy should perform better than other states’. During the “Commercial Spaces & Electric Vehicle Charging Stations” panel, Huyen Do, CEO of DROX Investments, Anup Parikh, owner of Pangea Charging, and Kimberly Gray, founder and CEO of EVSERT discussed the challenges and benefits of adding charging stations to rental and commercial properties. “There are opportunities in multi-family apartments, even if there are only two to three electric cars; it’s a profit center,” said Parikh.

The “One to Four Contract” session with Darian Rausch was an in-depth walkthrough of a commonly used form. For risk mitigation, he said, “It’s best practice to show all three disclosure notices—TREC, Texas REALTORS®, and local—and let the seller choose which one.”

“You have to make connections with people,” said Socar Chatmon-Thomas, at the “Building Your Referral Network: Locally and Abroad” session. She advised taking CE in other cities, states, and countries to meet and network with the local agents to get out-of-the-area referrals. She explained that she always follows up with a handwritten thank you note that reminds them that she is their Texas and Austin connection.

During the “A Deeper Dive into Errors & Omissions Insurance for Property Managers and Lease Specialists” session, Barney Schwartz, SVP, Risk Manager, tackled the rise of TREC complaints, the importance of multifactor authentication, emotional support animals, and more.

John Saba, an attorney at the law firm Wittliff Cutter, discussed copyright law and how members can avoid claims and litigation in “Protect Yourself From Online Copyright Issues.” He stated, “If you take away one thing from this session, get permission in writing and get it before photos are created.”

During the Tech/MLS Forum, Denee Evans, CEO of Council of Multiple Listing Services (CMLS), shared best practices and resources for members who volunteer in a leadership capacity at their local MLS.

The “Introduction to Risk Reduction” course, which had over 100 attendees, instructor Ginger Unger walked through areas to be aware of to prevent a lawsuit from occurring for agents. There was a discussion and examples given on risks related to Property Management & Leasing, Fair Housing, Commercial and Farm & Ranch, and Competency.

At the Housing Forum, Tray Bates, Texas REALTORS® vice president of governmental affairs, spoke on the need to improve housing affordability and accessibility. “Housing that’s affordable to all, not just low income.”

At the Strategic Planning Forum, Committee Chairman Brian Sales introduced the association’s new strategic plan and moderated a panel discussion, with 2021 Texas REALTORS® Chairman Marvin Jolly, TREC Chairman Scott Kesner, and Texas REALTORS® Executive Vice President Mike Barnett discussing trends and issues facing the association and the real estate industry. Much of the meeting was dedicated to getting input from the audience about the value they receive from Texas REALTORS® and how the association can most effectively help members achieve success. The feedback session was very productive and will be the first of many efforts to solicit feedback as part of the process for creating the 2025-2026 strategic plan.

Legislative & Policy Updates

During Winter Meeting, the Texas REALTORS® public policy team usually invites lawmakers or other outside policy wonks to speak to REALTORS® for the Public Policy Forum. This year, they took the stage themselves so they could talk about real estate-related issues in the Texas Capitol. 2023 Public Policy Oversight Committee Chairman Jennifer Wauhob moderated a panel featuring Texas REALTORS® Governmental Affairs staff. According to panelists, property tax reform and infrastructure investment will be top of mind during the ongoing 88th Texas Legislature.

Attendees at Sunday’s Governmental Affairs Forum, “Overcoming Political Tribalism,” learned strategies to overcome partisanism. Stephen Hawkins, a researcher at More in Common, presented data showing the deep-rooted political divide in our country but also said the two political camps have many similarities. Former U.S. Congressman Will Hurd (R-Helotes), talked about what that divide currently looks like in national and statewide politics. The forum concluded with awards for advocacy in 2022: Emaly Baehr of the Central Hill Country Board of REALTORS® won the Grassroots Achievement Award; the Greater Texoma Association of REALTORS® was awarded the Lehman Local Board Governmental Affairs Achievement Award.

The recordings of both Governmental Affairs forums will be available later this week on social media and the Texas REALTORS® website.

Recognition for Outstanding Contributions

Texas REALTORS® honored several members, programs, and local associations for their work in 2022 at Monday’s award luncheon and STARs Reception.

  • William C. Jennings Award for commercial transaction of the year: Imran Bhaidani, Houston
  • Education, Innovation category: REALTOR® Vet Connect, San Antonio Board of REALTORS®
  • Education, Marketing category: Down Payment Connect Series, San Antonio Board of REALTORS®
  • Education, Series or Shorts category: Market Shift Conversation Series, Austin Board of REALTORS®
  • Education, Legal category: Redefining Risk for Today’s REALTOR®, Houston Board of REALTORS®
  • Educator of the Year: Socar Chatmon-Thomas, Austin
  • Tom D. Morton Award for association executive of the year: Ken Hogan, Abilene
  • Texas REALTOR® Good Neighbor Award: Sherri Strickland, Victoria
  • Texas REALTOR® of the Year: Joanne Justice, Arlington.

Board of Directors 

The Texas REALTORS® Board of Directors met Feb.14, recapping committees’ activity, sharing updates, and taking actions.  

  • Kevin Brown from California, the Texas-endorsed candidate for 2024 NAR First Vice President thanked Texas REALTORS® for the endorsement and the hospitality throughout the meeting. 
  • 2023 NAR Immediate Past President Leslie Rouda Smith spoke of the progress on sustainability initiatives started during her term; the NAR strategic plan; progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts; and consumer outreach about the value of the MLS. 
  • Texas REALTORS® CEO/President Travis Kessler honored three retiring members of the REALTOR® organization :
    • Greater Tyler Board of REALTORS® CEO Ed Moore (49 years in the REALTOR® organization)
    • Greater Metro West Association of REALTORS® CEO Carolyn Wall (26 years in the REALTOR® organization)
    • Texas REALTORS® Director of Professional Development Debra Hernandez (17 years with the association). 

The Board of Directors also took the following actions:

  • Approved the election of the following Texas REALTORS® Regional Vice Presidents, for two-year terms beginning Dec 1:
  • Region 1 – Jason Ault, Amarillo 
  • Region 3 – J.R. Martinez, Greater Fort Worth 
  • Region 3 – Tim Schoendorf, Greater Denton/Wise County 
  • Region 4 – David Long, Collin County 
  • Region 4 – Bob Baker, Collin County
  • Region 8 – Kriston Wood, Williamson County
  • Region 10 – Tanya Jones, Galveston 
  • Region 11 – Carl Leatherman, Harlingen  
  • Region 12 – Ashley Gentry, MetroTex 
  • Region 12 – Ed Eakin, MetroTex   
  • Region 12 – Nancy Garcia, MetroTex   
  • Region 13 – Lorena Pena, San Antonio 
  • Region 13 – Sara Gerrish, San Antonio 
  • Region 13 – Tracie Hasslocher, San Antonio 
  • Region 13 – Marquis Williams, San Antonio 
  • Region 14 – Cathy Trevino, Houston 
  • Region 14 – Chaille Ralph, Houston 
  • Region 14 – Kat Robinson, Houston  
  • Region 14 – Mario Arriaga, Houston 
  • Region 14 – Richard Miranda, Houston 
  • Region 14 – Theresa Hill, Houston 
  • Region 15 – Susie Kang, Austin 
  • Region 15 – David Pruitt, Austin 
  • Region 15 – Leonard Guerrero, Austin 
  • Region 16 – DJ Mora, El Paso
  • Approved the election of Kat Robinson to fill an RVP vacancy in Region 14 through Nov. 30.
  • Due to a vacancy on the Texas REALTORS® Leadership Team, the board approved Jef Conn as 2023 Chairman-Elect effective immediately; Conn will become Chairman in 2024. The board also approved Christy Gessler as 2023 Secretary/Treasurer effective immediately; Gessler will become Chairman-Elect in 2024. The board also approved Jennifer Wauhob as 2024 Secretary/Treasurer.

Look for a recap with photos in the March issue of Texas REALTOR® magazine.

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