More than 2,000 Texas Realtors descended on the Texas Capitol in Austin April 12 for the 2011 Legislative Hill Visits. The governor, lieutenant governor, speaker of the Texas House, and legislators met with the Realtors to discuss a range of consumer-protection legislation, including homeowner rights.
[IMAGE] ""Texas has withstood the real estate bubble that ravaged the rest of the country largely because state leaders made protection of private-property rights a priority in recent sessions,"" said Dwight Hale, chairman of the Texas Association of Realtors. ""We are focused on maintaining that strength and continue the tradition of keeping homeownership affordable in Texas.""
According to the ""Texas Association of Realtors"":http://www.texasrealtors.com, the state's strict policy on home-equity lending was key in avoiding the drastic foreclosure increases experienced by other states.
In 1997, Texas Realtors lobbied for and won several consumer lending protections for homeowners, including limiting how much homeowners can borrow to a maximum of 80 percent of their appraised home value.[COLUMN_BREAK]
""This kind of protection doesn't exist in other states, and many homeowners have found themselves upside down on their loans as a result,"" said Hale. ""This is one of the most important consumer-protection statutes Texans have, and we vigorously oppose efforts to change this law.""
The Texas Legislature also addressed issues related to eliminating private transfer fees, which require the buyer of a property to remit a payment to a private entity each time the property is sold.
""These fees are scams that decrease affordability and serve no public purpose,"" Hale said. ""Texas Realtors support legislation currently moving through both chambers of the Texas Legislature that would prohibit most private transfer fees on real estate.""
Another issue discussed was eliminating the abuses of eminent domain and ensuring property owners' rights are fully protected.
""While necessary, eminent-domain powers are sometimes abused and private-property rights are threatened whenever an eminent-domain taking is contemplated by the government,"" Hale said. ""Texas Realtors support legislation friendly to property owners that limits the possibilities for eminent domain abuse.""
Texas Realtors also oppose proposals that would make it more difficult for Texans to buy or sell a home, such as new taxes on real estate transactions and services.
""As decisions are made during this legislative session, it's important for lawmakers to continue to support public policies that have kept Texas strong during the recent economic downturn and will keep Texas leading the nation during the nationwide economic recovery,"" Hale said.