How Long Does It Take to Get a Real Estate License in Texas in 2021?
This article shares the steps to becoming a licensed real estate agent in Texas and the time estimates for completing each one.
We’ve also included information on factors that can speed up the process or slow it down to help you set your timeline for getting licensed and getting to work.
Here are the steps, timelines, and tips.
Review Applicant Fitness Requirements: 1+ Day
As honesty, trustworthiness, and integrity are qualifications for getting a license, it’s a good idea to read up on what the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) considers.
Give yourself the better part of a day to go over associated material.
If you happen to have a prior criminal conviction or other potentially damaging background issues, see if requesting a Fitness Determination may be your best next step. It costs $50 and takes up to 30 days, which you can add to your timeline if you go that route.
Complete Qualifying Education: 3-6 Weeks (Full-time)
This step can have a significant impact on the answer to “how long does it take to get your real estate license in Texas?” With six individual courses to take at 30 hours each, you have 180 hours of required coursework to complete.
The good news is you don’t have to spend time figuring out what order to take the classes in and enrolling in each one. Providers offer all six as a package. So, when you shop for courses among the best real estate schools in Texas, you can narrow down your choices in short order.
How quickly you can work your way through the 180 hours is another story. That depends on the amount of class time you can manage and your study method.
The shortest time to finish is three weeks, which you can do online. But it requires a herculean effort that only works if you study full time straight through. And even if you can do it, you have to abide by TREC’s rules:
- You can’t exceed 12 hours of coursework each day.
- You must take at least 72 hours to complete each course.
- You’re not allowed to take more than one course at a time.
- You can’t participate for fewer hours than are awarded.
If you can do full-time day classes at a lesser intensity, you could finish up in 4-6 weeks. That time lengthens to around 12 weeks if you take evening classes.
Going to class at a college or community college will take longer. Each course is taught over the semester or quarter, depending on the school. That typically translates into 15 weeks for a semester and 10 weeks for the quarter system.
If you can’t decide which format you should go for, I recommend checking out our article that compares the pros and cons of real estate classes online vs. classroom to help you make the best choice.
Apply and Wait for Your Eligibility Letter: 1-3 Weeks
Once you’ve completed the qualifying education, you’ll need to submit your course certificates or college transcripts to TREC, along with your application for a license.
The fastest way to apply is online. It only takes a few minutes to register for an account. If you’re wondering: Yes, you can submit a paper application, but that adds time to the process.
Allow a day to pull your certificates or transcripts together and complete the application. That’s likely more than enough time, even if you need to fill out the Background History Form.
However, if you haven’t obtained the required background documents for an out-of-state license or a criminal conviction, allow a few days or a week to gather all the paperwork.
Otherwise, if you’re good to go, pay the $185 fee, submit your application, and wait up to 21 days to hear from TREC. Once you’ve met all the requirements, they send an eligibility letter.
It’s worthy of a mention here that some people apply before they start classes or when they are close to finishing them. You can file an application at any time. You have 12 months to fulfill the requirements. If you start your application earlier, you have a jumpstart when classes are done.
Prepare for the Licensing Exam: 1-2 Weeks
While waiting for TREC to process your application, you can do exam prep. The question most consistently asked about that topic is: How long should you study for the real estate exam?
There’s no single correct answer. But, a good rule of thumb, given the required number of pre-licensing education hours, is to study for a week or two before you take the exam.
This time frame includes reviewing materials for each course for a couple of hours each day. In addition to that, it’s recommended that you spend a week doing as many practice tests as you can. Studies show that practicing is one of the best ways to prepare for the actual test.
Also, reserve an hour or two to review the Candidate Bulletin for the exam during one of those weeks. Pearson Vue, the company that manages the exams for TREC, provides everything you need to know for the day of the test, plus practice tests and study guides.
Participating in an exam prep class is an alternative to a week of review on your own. Most of the education providers offer prep as part of a package. There are also standalone courses. Allow 2-4 days for the course.
Our tips on studying for the real estate exam can also walk you through the best ways you can prepare for the test and ensure that you pass it on your first attempt.
Get Your Background Check Done: 1-2 Weeks
Nearly all of the time specified for this step consists of waiting to find out if you cleared the background check. You can take the exam while you wait or find a sponsoring broker or both.
But you’ll also have to wait until you get your eligibility letter before you can start this part of the process. The letter includes an ID number required to set an appointment with MorphoTrust, the fingerprinting service TREC uses. Once you’re fingerprinted, the criminal history check begins.
Making a reservation with MorphoTrust is relatively quick. You can book online. How much time it takes to get the fingerprinting done varies based on your proximity to one of their centers. You can use their location finder to estimate your travel time.
Being out of state can change the timeline for the fingerprinting portion from days to weeks. If you have access to a MorphoTrust location in your area, you have the option to go there, and your fingerprints will be transmitted electronically. If not, you must request a TREC Hard Card (sent by mail) and get your fingerprints done by a law enforcement agency.
Take the Licensing Exam: 1 Day
You can make an appointment to take the in-person exam once you have your eligibility letter. The same as you did for fingerprinting, you’ll need the ID number to schedule with Pearson Vue.
FYI, here’s how to book a reservation for the exam:
- Set up an account online.
- Pay the $43 fee.
- Pick a date, time, and testing center location.
Timewise on exam day, allow for five hours, plus travel time. The five hours include arriving a minimum of 30 minutes early to check in. To be on the safe side, aim for 45 minutes to an hour.
Here’s how the allotted time for the exam breaks down:
- The national portion has 85 questions, and you have 150 minutes to complete it.
- You have 90 minutes to answer 40 questions on the state-specific section.
That’s a half day for the exam if you use all of the time allowed. There’s no wait time for your score. You’ll get a report of “pass” or “fail” right after you have completed the exam.
So that you know, you must answer 56 questions correctly on the national section and 21 on the state portion to achieve a passing score.
If you pass and your background check has cleared, you should receive your license document by email within 5-10 business days.
If you fail one or both parts of the exam, you get two more attempts.
Once you get your license, consider becoming a member of a real estate team. Joining a real estate team can help familiarize you on the ins and outs of the real estate business, which you can learn from seasoned professionals.
To better prepare for a bright future ahead, I highly advise that you create a good action plan that will detail all the next steps to take after passing the real estate exam and getting your license.
Choose a Broker to Sponsor You: 1-2 Weeks
Although it’s listed last, choosing a broker need not be the step you take after you’ve done everything else. If you want to obtain an active license so that you can work right away, you’ll need to fit this step in before you apply. Otherwise, you’ll be issued an inactive license.
Taking a couple of weeks to make a decision may seem somewhat long. But there’s more to picking a broker than meets the eye.
A couple of weeks will give you ample time to start your search with several days of legwork. Our information-packed article on choosing a broker as a newly licensed agent is a great start. It will familiarize you with the different kinds of brokerages and what attributes to look for. Then, our directory of top-rated brokerages in Texas can help narrow your list of potential firms.
The remainder of the time is for interviewing the brokers on your short list. Do a deep dive on each one beforehand so that you’re prepared to ask everything you need to know.
Then, once you’ve made your choice, your last step is submitting a Sales Agent Sponsorship Form to TREC if you still need to activate your license.
So, how long does it take to get your real estate license and become one of the professional realtors in Texas? As you can see, the time varies based on your individual pace and TREC’s response time. But, a plan to get your license within 4-6 months falls well within the average.
And when you do, it’s time explore the wealth of resources you can take advantage of as you build your real estate business. Prepare for the difficulties associated with the role through insight shared by industry experts tackling the topic of what it’s like to be a real estate agent as a career.
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