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Texas Politics, fascinating to watch - Builders rally to save the TRCC, an illusion to regulate
Saturday, 28 March 2009

Critics: Texas Agency Favors Builders Over Buyers
Imagine hundreds of executives from BP, Shell and Exxon Mobil rallying on the steps of the Capitol in Washington to save the Environmental Protection Agency. That may be hard to picture, but recently in Texas, 1,000 homebuilders rallied at the state Capitol in an effort to save the agency that theoretically regulates them. Texas homebuilders are big fans of the job the Texas Residential Construction Commission has done since its inception five years ago. But after a backlash from homebuyers, who say the process is stacked in the builders' favor, state lawmakers are now considering whether to abolish it.  Out of 181 legislators, there are only six who don't take money from the Texas Association of Builders. So when the homebuilders come to Austin to lobby, the most powerful politicians in the state pay their respects. .."We're happy, you bet," says Ron Connally, a homebuilder and developer out of Amarillo who is also president of the Texas Association of Builders. "Court actions are way, way down because TRCC has taken care of a lot of those problems."  We heard from one reformer say that Texas is the worst state n the nation when it comes to protecting buyer of new homes.. Most investigators consider these states better than Texas because at least they don't give buyer an Illusion a regulatory agency

Critics: Texas Agency Favors Builders Over Buyers
by Wade Goodwyn - NPR Station Finder

The second of a two-part series.  Listen Now 
 
Weekend Edition Sunday, March 29, 2009 · Imagine hundreds of executives from BP, Shell and Exxon Mobil rallying on the steps of the Capitol in Washington to save the Environmental Protection Agency.

That may be hard to picture, but recently in Texas, 1,000 homebuilders rallied at the state Capitol in an effort to save the agency that theoretically regulates them. Texas homebuilders are big fans of the job the Texas Residential Construction Commission has done since its inception five years ago. But after a backlash from homebuyers, who say the process is stacked in the builders' favor, state lawmakers are now considering whether to abolish it.

Chart: Texas Homebuilder Donations
 View homebuilder contributions to Texas officials.

“When you’re talking about the No. 1 investment asset vehicle that anybody owns, there ought to be some protections there to make sure that people are not being taken advantage of.”

Texas state Rep. Dan Gattis

Read The Reviews

"Current regulation of the residential construction industry is fundamentally flawed and does more harm than good."
Sunset Advisory Commission's hearing material on the Texas Residential Construction Commission (PDF)

"If it were up to me personally, I would blast this TRCC builder-protection agency off the bureaucratic books."
Carole Keeton Strayhorn, Texas comptroller of public accounts, in a report on the Texas Residential Construction Commission (PDF)

Part I Of This Series

Bob and Jane Cull's house in Texas was built by one of the most powerful and politically connected homebuilders in the country — and it was defective.

Out of 181 legislators, there are only six who don't take money from the Texas Association of Builders. So when the homebuilders come to Austin to lobby, the most powerful politicians in the state pay their respects.

After a welcome message from the governor, the rallying homebuilders fanned out to the offices of every legislator, bearing small gifts and a message: Save the Texas Residential Construction Commission.

"We're happy, you bet," says Ron Connally, a homebuilder and developer out of Amarillo who is also president of the Texas Association of Builders. "Court actions are way, way down because TRCC has taken care of a lot of those problems."

Process Can Be Costly And Prolonged

The TRCC was written into existence by a lawyer for Houston homebuilder Bob Perry, the most powerful and politically connected homebuilder in Texas. Perry's lawyer was then named the new housing agency's first commissioner by the Texas governor, who has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the homebuilder.

Connally says when the GOP gained control of both houses of the Texas Legislature at the beginning of the decade, the homebuilders moved quickly.

"We were proactive," he says. "We didn't wait for the Legislature to bring some bill that would try to control or regulate the builders — we worked hand in hand with them."

The TRCC was designed to protect new homebuilders from frivolous lawsuits. Its mission is to provide an alternative state administrative process that resolves new homebuyer complaints before they go to arbitration. But two independent state reviews of the TRCC reported the commission routinely fails: For example, only 12 percent of homebuyer complaints were resolved. And half of the time, homebuyers' grievances were rejected outright by the TRCC's inspectors. The process takes up to 20 months and can cost the homebuyer thousands of dollars.

 "Two state reports on TRCC have concluded that it is beholden to the building industry," says Tom Archer, the president of Homeowners of Texas, a nonprofit dedicated to residential construction reform.

 

 
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Reckless Endangerment
BY: GRETCHEN MORGENSON
and JOSHUA ROSNER

Outsized Ambition, Greed and
Corruption Led to
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