A Dallas-based real estate lawyer is challenging the constitutionality of a Dallas County order regarding in-person real estate showings, claiming residential agents and brokers are not being treated fairly.
The attorney, Christopher J. Sullivan of The Law Office of Christopher J. Sullivan PLLC, delivered a letter Wednesday to the Commissioner’s Court seeking further amendments to an already-amended order by Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, Sullivan said in an interview with the Dallas Business Journal.
The original order, announced March 24, prohibited in-home showings of houses, Sullivan said. That order was amended April 6 to allow for showings, but the amended order put in place certain restrictions, including a requirement that real estate agents wear protective masks and provide new, unused protective masks to their clients, he said.
There is no definition as to the type of mask required and, given the shortage of medical supplies, the requirement creates an undue burden on real estate professionals, Sullivan said.
“Now, real estate agents can go out and show homes, which is a very good thing,” Sullivan said. “It’s our position that those restrictions are unconstitutional and are not equally applied across all professionals in the Dallas County area or across real estate businesses in general.”
Jenkins defended the order in a statement emailed to the Business Journal Thursday afternoon.
“The recent loosening of the rules around the provision of essential real estate services were drafted in consultation with the DFW Metro-Texas Association of Realtors and balance the need to provide an important service with the paramount needs of public health as we respond to this global pandemic,” the statement says.
Under the Texas Occupational Code, residential and commercial real estate agents are a licensed profession, “and frankly, do not need to be babysat in the manner that is being put out there,” Sullivan said.
“They are more than capable of following the same sorts of restrictions as other professions, such as accountants or lawyers, to protect their clients and keep them safe during COVID-19,” he said in the interview. “Buyers and sellers of real estate in North Texas can trust real estate brokers and agents to follow social distancing guidelines while providing the essential services they need to secure shelter and commercial space.”
Sullivan’s letter requests that the Commissioners Court recognize the constitutional rights of real estate professionals and amend the order to clarify its provisions and limit burdensome provisions by aligning them with those required of other essential businesses.