How to Get a Real Estate License in Texas

Go big or go home!

Unfortunately, the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) took that to heart when they drafted the requirements on getting a Texas real estate license. Out of all the states, Texas requires the most amount of education, plus they’ll eventually require you to be a Texas resident as well.

The good news is that it’s one of the best real estate markets in the country. During the Great Recession, the real estate market in Texas barely dipped. It’s historically been very stable despite what’s happening to the rest of the economy.

Short Answer

  1. Meet basic eligibility requirements
  2. Complete the 6 qualifying real estate courses
  3. Pass the state exam

From start to finish, it takes about 3 to 4 months on average.

Long Answer

1. Meet Basic Eligibility Requirements

You have to be at least 18 years old, and a US citizen or lawfully admitted alien.

Texas also requires residency at the time of application. This means that if you’re out-of-state, you can begin working on the courses even if you don’t have a Texas address yet. 

There will be a background check at the end. If you’re concerned about this and want to find out before doing all the work, you can submit the form Moral Character Determination and a $50 fee to TREC.

2. Fulfill Education Requirements

You’ll need to choose an accredited school to complete the following 6 required courses (180 total hours):

30 hours – Principles of Real Estate I
30 hours – Principles of Real Estate II
30 hours – Law of Agency
30 hours – Law of Contracts
30 hours – Real Estate Finance
30 hours – Promulgated Contract Forms

Special Exemptions

Attorneys or law school graduates should contact TREC to see if your law courses will satisfy any of the core courses.

Course Duration

TREC has a waiting period of 3 days before you can take a course final exam. Luckily, they don’t require seat time, so you don’t have to study for all 180 hours if you’re a quick learner.

Proctors

TREC now requires the course final exams to be proctored. A proctor is someone who monitors you during the test to verify it’s you taking the test (and not someone else). Generally, they’re there to make sure there’s no cheating going on.

Fortunately, there are all types of proctors available. You can find proctoring services at your local college and public universities. Clergy members and military officers are also good options.

My personal favorite is the public library because they are typically free.

There are also online proctoring services. This is the most convenient option but there’s a fee of $20 to $40 per test attempt. You can take the test from home and they will watch you through a webcam. ProctorU and Examity are the biggest ones out there.

Sales Apprentice Education (SAE)

The SAE courses are really just an extension of the 6 core courses. They have the same format as those courses and require a proctored final exam. You’re required to complete this on your first renewal after you get licensed.

You have the option to complete all 270 hours (180 hour core courses plus 90 hour SAE courses) of education before you take the state exam. The advantage of doing this is that you have that extra 90 hours of knowledge under your belt. This will help you on the state exam and when you get licensed, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running. Also, most schools offer big discounts on their 270 hour packages, so you’ll save money in the long run.

Here are the acceptable courses that meet the SAE requirement:

30 hours – Real Estate Appraisal 
30 hours – Real Estate Law
30 hours – Real Estate Marketing
30 hours – Real Estate Mathematics
30 hours – Property Management
30 hours – Real Estate Investments
30 hours – Residential Inspection for Real Estate Agents

Cost

You can find online real estate programs ranging from $349 to over $1,000. Because of the large amount of education and exam requirements (and the fees you’ll have to pay if you need to re-take them), I believe choosing the right school is especially important.

Choosing a School

Luckily for us, TREC publishes the exam pass rates for online schools, so you can see which ones are the best. At the time of this writing, these are the top four online schools that have over 1,000 exam attempts along with their pass rates for the Sales Agent License.

School NameExam CountExams PassedPass Rate
American School of Real Estate Express1,7251,21870.61%
Champions School of Real Estate19,09311,47960.12%
Allied Business Schools1,48079653.78%
The Real Estate Business School1,68085150.65%
Overall Average30,39418,19359.86%

You can easily see that American School of Real Estate Express has the best track record while Champions School of Real Estate has the most students.

After checking their prices, Champions is 2x to 3x more expensive than American School of Real Estate Express.

I don’t know about you, but that makes it an easy decision for me:

The clear winner is American School of Real Estate Express.

3. Pass the State Exam

After you complete the courses, you can apply for the state exam online or by mail.

I don’t advise mailing your application because it takes longer and there’s a $20 processing fee.

Texas has contracted with Pearson VUE  to administer the state exam. They are a national testing service so it’s really easy and convenient to find a location near you. You can search for a Test Center here.

It costs $54 to take the state exam, which consists of 110 multiple choice questions, broken up into two parts: national and state.

You have 2.5 hours to answer 80 questions on the national portion, and 1.5 hours to answer 30 questions on the state portion. You have to score a 70% or higher on both sections to pass the exam.

If you fail after 3 attempts, you will have to complete an additional 30 hours of qualifying education for each failed portion of the state exam. It costs $54 to re-take the test. 

Almost at the finish line...

After you pass the state exam, you’re ready to complete your license application.

You’re required to have your fingerprints on file with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) through MorphoTrust. They will use this to run a background check. It’s a quick and easy process. The fingerprint fee is $37 and the background check is $28.25.

You’ll also have to pay for the license itself. The Initial Sales Agent Application fee is $205.

Finding a Sponsor

Once you pay all the fees and meet all the requirements, you’ll receive your real estate license. However, in order to actually use it, you’ll need to find a licensed Texas broker to sponsor you.

There’s a wide range of brokers out there, so make sure you find the one that gives you what you want. There’s the big name players like Keller Williams, Coldwell Banker, and RE/MAX. There’s also small boutique and mom and pop shops that are more family-focused. Every broker has their pros and cons, so it’s important to do your due diligence. I recommend visiting at least 3 to 5 brokers in your area. You’ll want to ask them about their commission split, culture, reputation, and support.

After a broker sponsors you, your license will officially be active and you can start your real estate career!

Renewing Your License

The Texas real estate license is on a 2 year cycle. To renew it, you’ll have to complete the appropriate education and pay the $116 renewal fee.

If you’re on your first renewal, you’ll have to complete 90 hours of Sales Apprentice Education (SAE) courses plus 8 hours of Legal Updates.

If you already finished them when you did your 180 hour core courses, then you’re ahead of the curve. Just pay your renewal fee online and you’re all set for the next two years!

Beginning on your second renewal, you’ll only need to do 18 hours of continuing education. There are different types of CE courses for a Sales Agent and a Broker’s license, so make sure you get the right one.