To be a real estate professional in the Lone Star state requires a license. To obtain a Texas real estate license, you must complete classroom hours, pass a exam and submit an application to the Texas Real Estate Commission. There are two types: a sales agent license and a broker license.
Real Estate Sales Agents in Texas
As a Texas real estate sales agent, you are authorized to handle real estate transactions, but you must work for a licensed broker in the state. You may not own your own real estate company or sell real estate on your own behalf.
Becoming a Texas real estate sales agent requires completing 180 hours of classroom education and passing an exam. The pre-licensing course includes 60 hours on principles of real estate, 30 hours on agency law, 30 hours on contract law, 30 hours on promulgated contract forms and 30 hours on real estate finance. You may complete these hours by attending a course or online. Some students feel they learn more in an actual classroom, while others elect to study digitally, to go at their own pace and potentially finish in well under 180 hours.
Once you complete the pre-licensing course, you receive a certificate that grants you permission to take the exam. The sales agent exam is offered at designated testing centers throughout the state. If you pass, submit your pass certificate and certificate of course completion to the state with your license application.
Real Estate Brokers in Texas
Texas real estate brokers are authorized to work for themselves and conduct real estate transactions on their own behalf. Real estate brokers may also hire sales agents to work for them for a commission split. Becoming a licensed broker is a prerequisite to owning a real estate company and building an agency.
You must have four years of experience as a real estate sales agent to apply for a broker license in Texas. This experience can be in Texas or in another state, but it must have taken place during the preceding 60 months. The education requirements for a broker are much more stringent than for a sales agent. You must have completed 630 hours in state-approved related education, a requirement satisfied by a bachelor's degree from an accredited university. You also must complete 270 hours in pre-licensing education, which you can take in a physical classroom or online.
After you take the pre-licensing courses, the broker exam is the next step. Like the sales agent exam, the broker exam is held at designated testing centers throughout Texas. You are required to submit an exam pass certificate, a pre-licensing course completion certificate and proof of 630 hours of related education with your broker application to the state.
Applying for a License
If you are applying to become a sales agent or a broker, you must be fingerprinted and pay an application fee before Texas grants your license. Your fingerprints are used to conduct a background check that ensures you have no disqualifying criminal records, such as felonies or crimes related to fraud, in your background. Texas does not grant real estate sales agent or broker licenses until the background check results are acceptable.
The state also denies real estate licenses to applicants who are in default on certain types of student loans. If you fall into this category but meet the remaining criteria to get licensed, you can have your application approved by getting on a repayment plan for your defaulted student loan.
As of 2018, sales agent applicants must pay a $205 application fee, a $37 fee to get fingerprinted, a $20 processing fee (waived if you apply online) and a $27 background check fee. Applying for a broker license is even more expensive; it requires a $305 application fee, though the others are waived (assuming you previously held the sales agent license). Licenses are good for two years.