From the Chair - September 2019
Last week the Board met on September 6 to conduct its regular quarterly meeting, postponed from late August to accommodate an unexpected and important development. The agenda was far from typical as it included a public hearing on the subject of “evaluations” and we had a high level of interest in the subject matter! We also said a special thanks to Ms. Sara Jones Oates for her diligent service as one of the original appointees to the Board’s Appraisal Management Company Advisory Committee in 2013 and welcomed her newly appointed replacement Ms. Lisa Rodriguez. A significant portion of the meeting concerned fiscal year-end updates on matters that resulted from the 2019 legislative session.
We heard regular status update reports from the Commissioner and some of the Division Directors, highlighted by an exceptional report of recent call hold times in June and July of under three minutes. The call wait times have continued to fall steadily through August and we are grateful to the staff who are working hard to ensure we continue making progress on all of our customer service initiatives. The additional staff we approved in February is making a measurable difference and we noted the need to continue ensuring these resources. We then heard reports from all of our Board committees who have been working steadily to meet our key deadlines, including Enforcement, Budget, and Executive.
An extensive public hearing was held on how the Board might provide guidance to or propose rules regarding the conditions under which a licensed appraiser might perform an “evaluation” for a lender client when an appraisal is not required. It is the Board’s position that the current law in Texas allows appraisers to perform such an evaluation and that the evaluation report must comply with USPAP. The Board also voted to direct the Executive Committee to work with the General Counsel to craft a question seeking an opinion of the Texas Attorney General regarding the Board’s authority under current law to modify this position. This will help the Board to determine if a statutory change is needed before acting. In either case, the Board commits to continue to work with stakeholders until a resolution is reached.
The next most important topic the Board handled was to consider the recommendation of the Enforcement Committee to hire one more Certified General Appraiser / Investigator to deal with managing the backlog of commercial report audits for upgrade license requests and complaints. The Board is also adding additional reviewers under a negotiated professional services contract. All of this means the average period for review of these matters should shorten and the pace to resolution should accelerate. But it also means that license fees will need to go up in the future to sustain these efforts.
At this meeting, the Board proposed raising the fees for Certified General, Certified Residential and Licensed Residential applicants and license holders for both initial and renewal licenses over the next two license cycles beginning in January 2020. Moving monies from the Customer Service Reserve over the next three budget years to pay operation expenses will allows us to raise fees more gradually over the next four years, reducing the impact to our license holders. This is one of our key goals. We also proposed to simplify and eliminate some other fees. We welcome your feedback on these proposals.
We acknowledged the Commissioner’s notice of his intent to retire at the end of March 2020, and as the Chair, I am included in the formal search for a successor. This is a new process that the Board has not been involved with since before 2003. We are grateful for this collaborative approach to filling this key leadership position for the entire agency – both Commission and Board. Stay tuned for updates.
We concluded our extended meeting discussing the agenda items for our upcoming strategic planning workshop and business meeting in November, and the February visit of the Appraisal Subcommittee. Know that you are always welcome to attend our meetings and offer your comments, or simply observe the proceedings via our live web-stream accessible from our website at www.talcb.texas.gov.