Texas Real Estate Commission Consumer Advocacy
The Texas (and other State’s) Real Estate Commission (TREC) exists to implement the state laws established around the practice of Real Estate. The state decided at some point - I used to know the date - that consumers need to be protected from fraud and ignorance in the most consequential transactions in which some folks will ever be involved. TREC has come a long way in simplifying what it thinks the consumer needs to know.
They require a lot of things, but some of the most important center around setting up a relationship with a Real Estate professional. They want you to know that until you have an agreed upon relationship with your Broker, you can not assume that they work for you because by statute, they do not. This doesn’t mean that they are allowed to lie to you - just that their duty is to provide their client with the best possible information, and that until you are their client, you need to assume their client is someone else.
They do a much better job of explaining it than I do with their Consumer Protection Notice, which talks about where to file a complaint, what recovery options are available to you as a consumer, and how to get more information. Add to that their Information About Brokerage Services document, which explains in detail the professionals you will be working with, the minimum duties of these professionals to their client, and more detail about the different ways a given Brokerage can represent you in your Real Estate transaction. This information is critical to you and to your understanding about who to trust and what to share. TREC requires all Real Estate professionals in Texas to provide this information to you BEFORE they conduct substantive discussions with you about your Real Estate needs.
There is a good deal of useful information on the TREC Web Site. You can investigate the licensing status of anyone you are considering using as your Real Estate professional, including complaints lodged against them. Most of it is aimed at the Real Estate professional, so you might well consider it pretty dry reading (not that a Real Estate professional doesn’t…).
Every state has rules set out for this situation. I haven’t reviewed the regulations of any other state in detail, but it is my understanding that all states regulate these transactions to some, and probably to a similar degree.