Getting Your Texas Real Estate License: Everything You Need to Know

While we LOVE being real estate agents in Texas, we DON'T love the arduous process. From bureaucratic red tape to burning the midnight oil whilst studying for the big test, you need to know what you're getting yourself into so that you become a top-producing agent and NOT another statistic from an expired license after year 1.

We hear it all the time: "Hey, I'm thinking about getting my real estate license! What's it like? Do you get to be in charge of your schedule? How much money is there to be made? Do you think I can do it only on the weekends?" Well, the answers to these questions can vary wildly, and no you can't be a good agent by doing it part-time. What this post explains is the process of actually getting started. While it's not exactly as thrilling as a Harry Potter plot twist, it's necessary information to digest before you start down the winding road to become a licensed Texas real estate agent.

Step 1: Check Your Eligibility

As long as you’re at least 18 years of age, a lawful citizen of the United States or a lawfully admitted alien, and a resident of the state of Texas you’re already halfway there.

You also need to meet the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) qualifications for honesty, trustworthiness, and integrity. TREC wants to see you be transparent. Don't attempt to hide something small (or big) because you think they might not find out about it or it could hinder your chances - they respect honesty and the more you disclose about your past that could be seen as unfavorable, the more likely they'll let it slide. If you choose not to disclose it, and they discover it in your background check, you can never get the time and money you spent on your TREC application back. If you’re unsure if there’s something in your past that could make these qualifications a gray area for you, you can always request a Moral Character Determination from TREC.

You should only request a MCD if you have:

  • Past criminal offenses
  • Unpaid judgments
  • Past judgement or discipline taken against a professional or occupational license
  • Unlicensed activity performed

Keep in mind that there’s a $50 fee for the Moral Character Determination if you decide to have one completed, and that you may have to wait up to 4 weeks to hear back from TREC once it’s been submitted. DO NOT begin the rest of your pre-licensing journey until you do receive your results.

Step 2: Take the Required Pre-license Coursework

Now that you’ve determined your eligibility, it’s time to really get started on your real estate license! TREC requires new agents to take 180 hours of pre-licensure coursework before applying for their license. These courses teach you the basics of being a real estate agent. The six courses you’ll need to take are:

  • Principles of Real Estate I
  • Principles of Real Estate II
  • Law of Agency
  • Law of Contracts
  • Promulgated Contract Forms
  • Real Estate Finance

Each of these individual courses contains 30 hours of information covering the basic topics of information you’ll need to know to get started in the business. What these courses don’t always teach is how to become an entrepreneur and run your own business once you start. A great way to acquire this knowledge is to get set up with a great brokerage, find a mentor or two in the industry, and take continuing education courses that help expand your business and marketing knowledge.  

When it comes to the right education provider, Austin Craft Realty recommends Aceable Agent. They're a local Austin company that has the most cutting-edge content and platform. They make what once was a boring process actually enjoyable, so definitely check 'em out.

Step 3: Apply For Your License

Now that you’ve completed your 180 hours of pre-license coursework you’ll need to officially submit an application for your license with TREC. This can be be done online or through a paper application.

Step 4: Wait For Your Eligibility Letter

Once your application is submitted to TREC you’ll need to wait for your eligibility letter to arrive via email. You can typically expect this to arrive within 21 days of your application being submitted, though if you chose to submit your application online, it typically arrives within just a few days! You won’t be able to schedule your final exam until you receive your letter, so during this time period you can start studying. Your final exam will be taken with Pearson VUE, a TREC-certified exam provider.

Step 5: Study the Material

The Pearson VUE real estate licensing exam is comprised of 130 multiple choice questions. 80 questions will be over national topics while the other 40 will be Texas-specific content. You’ll want to take note of the topics you find most difficult to understand while you work through the courses so you know what material to focus in on when you’re studying for the Pearson VUE exam.  

Step 6: Complete a Background Check

After you receive your eligibility letter from TREC, and before you schedule your Pearson VUE exam, you’ll need to have a background check completed and have your fingerprints taken. You will do this through a vendor called MorphoTrust. This vendor collects and submits fingerprints to the FBI via the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). Even if you’ve been fingerprinted for a job in the past, you still must get fingerprinted with MorphoTrust for TREC.

  • Find your TREC account here
  • Schedule an appointment with MorphoTrust to go in and have your fingerprints taken. Bring your eligibility letter with you!
  • Once your fingerprints and background check have been submitted, you can expect to receive your results within a week.
  • The fingerprints have to be in the FBI’s required format and must be taken at an authorized DPS site.
  • Occasionally fingerprints may be unreadable. Don’t sweat it! If this happens, MorphoTrust contact you to re-do your prints at no additional cost.
  • If prints are unreadable a second time, a TREC staff person will initiate a manual name search through the FBI. This can add to the processing time.

Step 7: Schedule Your Pearson VUE Exam

You’re almost done! Now that you’ve passed your 180 hours of required coursework, received your eligibility letter from TREC, and passed your background check, you can officially schedule your final licensing exam.

You’ll complete your final exam through a proctoring service called Pearson VUE. To register for your final exam all you need to do is follow the steps listed on your eligibility letter from TREC. Keep in mind that you have one year from the date you submitted your application to TREC to pass your final licensing exam.

Step 8: Pass the Test With Flying Colors!

You’re now a licensed real estate agent. How does it feel? Great, right? After you pass, you’ll have what’s called an inactive real estate agent license. This means that while you’re technically a licensed agent, you shouldn’t work with any clients until you activate your license.  

Step 9: Find a Sponsoring Broker

In order to activate your new license, you’ll need to sign on with a sponsoring brokerage. Traditionally, students find a brokerage through networking and responding to recruitments.

Your broker will be the one who takes legal responsibility for your work, helps you price and list homes and, depending on the brokerage, can even provide marketing and education services. Some things you’ll want to keep in mind when you’re considering which brokerage to work with:

  • Does the commission split make sense?
  • Does the brokerage have a good reputation?
  • Does this brokerage offer any additional support to agents?

That last one is especially important since you’re starting a new career, and additional training and mentorship can be crucial during your first few years in the industry.

Austin Craft Realty has been a great brokerage to work for. The brand has a great reputation, a unique position within the market, and the broker is incredibly helpful. The fact that all the agents are friends and have a tight-knit family vibe is what ties it all together.

Step 10: Start Closing Deals

Congratulations! You’re an agent. Get ready to start finding clients and make some dreams come true.

Sounds easy enough, right? The truth is, being a real estate agent isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. Let’s talk about some things you should keep in mind in order to set yourself up for success as a new agent.

Things to Keep in Mind if You Want to Be a Real Estate Agent

- You Need to Be Comfortable With Risk

While being a real estate agent can offer endless opportunity, there’s also a lot of risk. When you’re an agent, you no longer have the guaranteed safety net of a salary. Some people are comfortable and thrive under these conditions, others do not. Because getting started can be a little risky, it’s often recommended to save up a cushion of around 6 months’ worth of living expenses. That way, beginning your new career can be fun and exciting -- not stressful!

- You’ll Have to Beat the Odds

Want to know a fun fact? An Inman study found that the leading cause of new agent failure is being "unprepared for the realities of working as an independent contractor," Yikes!  Many agents give up early on because of a lack of realistic expectations, effective career training, or helpful resources. As a new agent, you need to make sure you are getting good mentorship from either your broker or another professional in the field. Don’t let yourself be a statistic; beat the odds!

- You’re Your Own Small Business

Something a lot of new agents don’t realize is that to be an agent is to own your own small business. Yes, you have a broker and are part of a brokerage, but you are still your own boss. You’re responsible for your successes and you’re responsible for your failures. Because of this, you should really focus on learning the ins and outs of running your own business. A few things you’ll need to know are:

  • How to  keep yourself organized
  • What info you need to be prepared for taxes
  • How to effectively market yourself and find clients

Now that you’re a little more prepared for life as an agent, go check out Aceable Agent and get that license!

about the author

Drew Johnson

Owner + Broker

Originally from Ft. Worth, Texas, Drew fell in love with the city of Austin as a kid when he was captivated by its eclectically progressive lifestyle and music scene. Drew spent four years at Trinity University earning his degree in Business Marketing, during which time he spent a semester abroad in Sevilla, Spain.

Upon landing in Austin in 2010, Drew hit the ground running by becoming a top apartment locator in Austin before leveling-up to be a Realtor to help folks with buying homes. But being just a Realtor wasn't enough, and Drew had a vision for a brokerage that did both sales and apartment locating at a high level. With this dual expertise, Drew founded Austin Craft Realty in early 2016.

In late 2019, Drew decided to pivot his company towards the fast-paced, fun, and opportunity-friendly apartment locating industry. Already experts in the field, ACR was re-branded to Craft Apartment Locators in October and is no longer be associated with the Austin Board of Realtors. Drew is very excited for the opportunities that come with focusing on what his company does best: helping Austinites find fantastic deals on Austin apartments.

While Drew is no longer a Realtor himself, he has excellent connections in real estate and is happy to recommend a great Realtor to you.

When Drew isn’t working hard to constantly improve Craft Apartment Locators, you might find him bicycling around town, serving on the board of the Young Men’s Business League, playing saxophone at some of Austin's best venues, and enjoying the latest craft brews. He is a proud homeowner in the exciting and vibrant East Austin 78702.