How Long Does it Take to Become a Real Estate Agent in Texas?
A career in real estate can be extremely attractive. It's flexible, you can be your own boss, and there's virtually no upper limit on potential earnings if you have the skills. But before you get started, it's important to understand the process of becoming a real estate agent in your state. It's the only way to make an educated decision before you embark on the journey. Today, we're going to look at the process of earning your real estate license in Texas – the cost, the time commitment, and all the necessary steps you'll need to take in order to cross the finish line.
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What Do You Need to Know Before Becoming a Real Estate Agent in Texas?
General Pre-Requisites for Becoming a Texas Real Estate Agent
To be eligible to become a licensed agent in Texas, you must be a U.S. citizen or lawfully admitted alien, a Texas resident, and 18 years of age or older. You also have to meet the qualifications for honesty, trustworthiness, and integrity set by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC). If you have any blemishes on your criminal, civil, or professional record, you should request a Fitness Determination with TREC before you start undertaking the expense of a licensing application.
Educational Requirements for Becoming a Texas Real Estate Agent
Unlike some states, Texas doesn't have any degree requirements for becoming a real estate sales agent – not even a high school diploma or GED. Instead, they require a very specific real estate curriculum composed of 180 clock hours of "pre-license" courses. This curriculum is divided into 6 mandatory 30-hour courses:
- The Principles of Real Estate I
- The Principles of Real Estate II
- The Law of Agency
- The Law of Contracts
- Promulgated Contracts Forms
- Basics of Real Estate Finance
TREC doesn't accept any alternate or related coursework. They've even said that law school courses aren't an acceptable substitute. When choosing a real estate school, your number one priority should be selecting one from TREC's list of qualifying education providers. Next, you should consider what's best for you: classroom or online courses. While some still prefer the structure of a classroom, the flexibility of online education works well for many students' busy schedules. You can work through the curriculum at your own pace and on your own schedule, without a commute or the distraction of other students. As a bonus, online coursework is far more cost-effective than in-person education. It can bring the cost down from over $1,000 at a community college to a few hundred, from the comfort of home. Upon completion of your pre-license coursework, you'll be awarded a printable certificate of completion.
The Steps to Obtain a Real Estate License in Texas
While obtaining a real estate license in Texas is not always a linear process, it is important that you work through the following steps one by one to make sure you don't miss anything important. We've included current fee requirements, but you should check TREC's fee schedule for changes and additions.
Step 1: Complete Your Pre-License Education
Before you do anything else, you have to complete 180 hours of coursework with a qualified provider, as we explained earlier. Texas requires evidence of successful course completion before you can take Step 2.
Step 2: File an Inactive License Application
Next, you need to file your "Application for an Inactive Sales Agent License." You can do this online at trec.texas.gov. You can also apply by mail, but Texas now charges an additional paper processing fee for offline applications. Make sure you include the certificates of completion for all 6 pre-license courses, but NOT as original documents – only copies. You'll also have to pay an application fee (currently $205) at the same time. TREC automatically rejects applications that don't include payment. After your application requirements are met, TREC will send you an eligibility letter with a "TREC ID" that you can use to sign up for the next two steps. Truthfully, Steps 3 and 4 can be completed in any order.
Step 3: Get Fingerprinted for a Background Check
Candidates are required by law to have fingerprints on file with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) so that a background check can be performed. No other agency is accepted. The DPS will then pass your fingerprints on to the FBI for a background check. Texas currently uses the vendor MorphoTrust to collect and submit fingerprints to the appropriate agencies. You'll need to make an appointment for fingerprinting and pay a fee (currently $39.25).
Step 4: Pass the Texas Real Estate License Exam
Once you have your TREC ID, you can register for and schedule your official state licensing exam. You'll pay an exam fee, which is currently $54. Texas uses the third-party testing service PearsonVUE to administer their exam in testing locations throughout the state. You need to bring two forms of signature ID with you to the testing site. You're allowed to attempt the exam three times, but each attempt will require a new exam fee. If you fail the third attempt, you'll be required to complete additional coursework before you can test again. PearsonVUE's Texas Real Estate Candidate Handbook includes many other helpful details about the exam and the entire licensing process.
Step 5: Obtain Sponsorship
Once TREC receives your passing exam scores and clean background check, they'll issue your inactive license. At this stage, you are still not authorized to perform licensed real estate activities. The law requires sales agents to be sponsored by a licensed and active Texas real estate broker. Acting without a sponsoring broker is just as bad as practicing real estate without a license. You can get in big trouble. A sponsoring broker is also necessary on a practical level. By law, sales agents can't perform certain crucial activities like handling funds. Brokers can. Once you've found a sponsoring broker, you'll send TREC the required sponsorship documents and they will "activate" your license. You can't practice until the documentation of an active real estate license is in your broker's possession.
How Long Does It Take to Become a Real Estate Agent in Texas?
So, how long do all these steps take? Let's break it down.
How Long Does Texas Pre-License Education Take?
If you're balancing your education with other responsibilities, you can expect to finish in 4-6 months. If you're really focused on it to the exclusion of everything else, you can probably get it done in 3-4 weeks, but no less. By TREC's rules, you can't spend more than 12 hours a day in your pre-license instruction, and you need to log at least as many instructional clock hours as the course is worth. That means you can't complete your pre-license instruction time in less than 15 days, even if it's all you do. It's also worth noting that the final exams for pre-license courses have to be proctored, or monitored to ensure you aren't cheating. The steps of finding a proctor, scheduling all 6 exams, and taking them can add weeks onto the process. You can streamline and speed this up with on-demand, online recorded proctoring that allows you to take your finals anytime, anywhere.
How Long Does the Texas Pre-License Application Process Take?
We can tell you that it has to take a year or less, because that's the time limit Texas sets. You have one year from the date that you file your inactive license application to "meet all license requirements." So that's the upper limit. There are a lot of factors that make it nearly impossible to say how quickly you can get it done. For example, how much time do you need to prepare for the license exam? How many attempts will it take you to pass? How easily can you schedule the fingerprinting and exam appointments? Do you have any complicating factors that will delay your background check results? Altogether, it's probably reasonable to expect it to take around 18 months from the day you start pre-license education to the day you activate your license.
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