What in TAR-nation Is TREC?

Trec vs. Tar discussion

If you are a newly licensed real estate professional or investigating real estate as a career path in Texas, you won’t get very far down the road without bumping into a slew of terms that you’ve probably not seen before. 


Two that come immediately to mind are TREC and TAR — easy-to-remember acronyms for a pair of key organizations whose names are as cumbersome as they are important. 

TREC = Texas Real Estate Commission, a state-government regulatory body 

TAR = Texas Association of Realtors®, a state-level association of real estate licensees   

What Exactly Do TREC and TAR Do?

If you’re wondering what these organizations do and how they differ, according to a January 2016 TREC survey, you’re not the only one. 

Just over eight out of 10 licensees responded with “no answer/refused” when asked to respond to the statement, “I fully understand the difference between the Association of REALTORS® and the Real Estate Commission.”

It’s our goal to take some of the mystery out of that statement, so, without further ado, let’s take a peek behind the TREC and TAR curtains to better understand their purposes, goals, and objectives, and how they interact and overlap. 


The Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) was established in 1949 by the Texas legislature as a protection for consumers engaged in all matters related to real property transactions and valuation services. 

The Commission is composed of six broker members and three non-licensed members (with no financial interest in real estate), all appointed by the governor for six-year terms. 

TREC’s primary functions include:

  1. To interpret and enforce existing real estate-related statutes in the Texas Occupations Code, collectively known as The Texas Real Estate License Act (TRELA)

  2. To adopt and enforce new rules governing the practice of real estate, as needed to administer the law and protect the public

  3. To regulate educational and licensing programs that support the standards of behavior and performance expected of licensed industry professionals  

Speaking of industry professionals, TREC regulates the following individuals:

  • Real estate inspectors 

  • Easement/right-of-way agents 

  • Education providers for real estate & inspection courses 

  • Developers of timeshares 

  • Residential service companies 

  • Real estate brokers and sales agents 

Want to know more about TREC? Easy enough — check out their About the Commission webpage. 

Now that you know a little bit more about the primary government entity overseeing the real estate industry in Texas, let’s turn our attention to the private sector’s leading real estate industry authority figure in the state, the Texas Association of Realtors®. 


Texas Realtors® (more commonly known as the Texas Association of Realtors®) was established in 1920 as a state-level affiliate of the National Association of Realtors® (NAR)

Over 130,000 members strong, TAR describes themselves as an advocate organization for realtors® and private property rights. More than 80% of all real estate licensees in the state are Texas Realtors®.  

TAR provides an array of resources to support its members, including: 

  • Marketing tools, including fliers, campaigns, and Texas REALTOR® logos for used online and with printed materials

  • Legal services such as guidance on compliance with advertising rules, fair-housing laws,  DBAs, and access to legal fund assistance if sued or need to bring legal action  

  • Business contracts and forms, including back-up contracts, “as-is” and inspections, and lead-based paint disclosures 

You can find out more about TAR’s programs and organizations on its website

(TXPL course link to jpeg and pdf of “Comparing TREC and TAR” EDU image)


United in Purpose

Because TREC and TAR serve many of the same constituents, it’s not surprising that they would also have common purposes and goals, two being of primary importance: education and ethics. 


Through their Education and Examination Services division, TREC approves and regulates education providers, courses, and instructors, and they mandate course content for pre-licensing and continuing education. 

TAR supports those same efforts, providing links to TREC-approved education providers (like AceableAgent) with whom TAR has also partnered. 

Additionally, TAR makes available to their members a host of courses and educational programs through which they can earn designations and certifications to further their career goals. 


TREC has its Cannon of Professional Ethics and Conduct that promotes fidelity, integrity, and competency — all in the interest of serving the consumer. All Texas licensees are held to this standard. 

Similarly, members of TAR are expected to uphold the Code of Ethics, published by the National Association of Realtors®. 

New TAR members must complete an orientation program on the code in their first year, while established members complete a Code of Ethics course once every two years. (TREC’s Legal Update II course fulfills this requirement.)


TREC is a government body. TAR is an industry association. 

Both serve to promote industry competency through education and ethical behavior through a commitment to a professional standard. 

And, generally speaking, if you uphold the tenets required of TAR membership, you’ll find yourself in good standing with TREC. 

Michael Rhoda

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