Becoming a Texas real estate agent can be a rewarding career with flexible hours and good pay. People interested in this job would join 120,353 realtors in The Lone Star State and a total of two million realtors nationwide. To become a Texas real estate agent, a person has to go to school, pass a rigorous test, clear a background check and find a broker to work with after passing the exam.

What does a Texas real estate agent do? 

Real estate agents have similar duties, no matter where a person lives or works. Simply put, real estate agents help people buy and sell homes.

  • A buyer’s agent helps people buy a home, which often means finding homes that fit a buyer’s needs and budget. In addition, a buyer’s agent will schedule showings, offer advice, draw up an offer, negotiate the price and close the deal.
  • A seller’s agent works to sell a home. The agent puts the home on the market and advertises it to attract the right buyer. In addition, the agent will arrange showings with a buyer’s agent, collect offers, give advice, negotiate the price and close the deal.

Whether an agent is helping to sell or buy a home, their job is really to offer guidance. Buyers and sellers need help understanding market conditions, purchase contracts, negotiation strategies, and the legal side of a housing transaction.

7 Steps to become a real estate agent in Texas

There are several steps involved to become a Texas real estate agent. Interested candidates must go through an application process, 180 hours of education, pass an exam and work with a sponsor. We’ll explore the process in detail.

1. Understand real estate requirements in Texas

To become a sales agent in Texas, there are certain requirements that each applicant must meet. They’re similar to requirements in other states, but it’s always a good idea to research the requirements to make sure they haven’t changed. The Texas Real Estate Commission website is a good resource to check.

To be eligible to become a licensed real estate agent in The Lone Star State, an applicant must be:

  • A citizen of the U.S. or lawfully admitted alien
  • 18 years of age or older
  • Resident of Texas
  • Meet qualifications for honesty, trustworthiness, and integrity
  • Complete the required pre-license education
  • Pass the state real estate license examination

2. Consider a fitness determination test

For a candidate worried that his or her past could hinder their application, the Texas Real Estate Commission, or TREC, offers a Fitness Determination to help decide whether or not a person is fit for the job. This fitness test is essentially making a moral character determination.

This determination is only for people with criminal offenses, unpaid judgments, had discipline taken against a professional or occupational license or have performed any unlicensed activity.

The results will offer guidance on whether or not real estate is a good fit for each person.

3. Fingerprinting and background check

Every real estate agent is required by law to have their fingerprints on file with the Texas Department of Public Safety. With fingerprints on file, a full background check can be performed. Every applicant must pass the background check before a real estate license will be issued.

4. Enroll in real estate pre-licensing courses

To become an agent, candidates are required to take several courses. Candidates can take classes in a variety of settings. There are real estate schools, classes offered at realty firms, online courses – the options are endless. Finding the right school is crucial. (Additional advice on finding the right school is in a later section).

As for the classes, Texas real estate agents must take and pass the following courses:

  • Principles of Real Estate I (30 classroom hours)
  • Principles of Real Estate II (30 classroom hours)
  • Law of Agency (30 classroom hours)
  • Law of Contracts (30 classroom hours)
  • Promulgated Contract Forms (30 classroom hours)
  • Real Estate Finance (30 classroom hours)

After completing each course, students receive a certificate that must be submitted to the Texas Real Estate Commission to prove completion.

5. Apply to become an agent

After completing all six of the courses, the next step is to submit an application to the Texas Real Estate Commission.

The Texas Real Estate Commission provides the forms online. Candidates can submit the paperwork digitally or mail it in.

To apply online, aspiring sales agents will create an account and answer a series of questions. Candidates can preview the questions on the Aceable Agent website.

After filling out the questionnaire, applicants will be asked to email the certificates for all six of their courses and the payment confirmation for each. Failure to submit this information will delay the application process, and is actually one of the biggest reasons for applications to get hung up.

Application fees

There are also a number of fees to pay. In Texas, the fees included in the real estate agent application process include:

  • Fingerprint fee: $38.25
  • Background check fee: $28.25
  • Real estate recover fee: $10.00
  • Paper process fee: $20 (fee is waived for online applications)

Processing time

Now, the application must be approved. Typically, it takes about two or three weeks to process and approve an application. To get a more specific timeline, the Texas Real Estate Commission has a chart that explains up-to-date processing times.

While waiting, applicants can track their application online to know where everything is in the process. The Texas Real Estate Commission offers an application status tracker along with a video that explains how the tracker works.

6. Take and pass the real estate exam

After 180-hours of real estate education, it’s time to take a test to prove the skills learned by taking the Texas real estate licensing exam.

Registering for the test

Exams in Texas are administered by PearsonVUE. Test-takers can visit the PearsonVUE website to register for an exam, find test information, take practice exams and download a handbook.

The website will also help aspiring sales agents find a testing center that’s nearest them.

Difficulty level

Many wonder how difficult the real estate exam is. Research shows 60% of first-time test takers passed the exam, according to the Texas Real Estate Commission.

In the last two years, 31,264 people have taken the real estate exam in Texas. Of those, 18,999 passed and were able to obtain their Texas real estate license.

The exam in Texas is a bit harder than others since the landmass of the state is so expansive. Some cities in the state are known for obscure rules and regulations that are sometimes difficult to keep straight as well. Knowing this, it’s advised that every aspiring agent study for the exam.

Test structure

The real estate exam is comprised of two sections: a national section and a Texas section. Both sections have questions about the responsibilities of an agent, information found inside contracts, ethics, and there will be math questions on the test too.

The test is broken into more specific sections, which are explained in an outline that prospective agents can find on the testing website. On that same page, a study guide and handbook can also be found.

The test consists of 110 questions. Test-takers have 150 minutes to complete the exam.

Test results

The results of the test are given immediately. When a person finishes the exam, the screen reveals whether or not that person passed or failed. 

If a candidate passes the exam and the background check, a license document is issued within 5-10 business days.

If a candidate fails the exam, he or she can take it two more times. If a person fails the test three times, he or she must take another 30-hour course for each section failed.

7. Find a sponsoring broker

To be an active real estate agent in Texas, candidates that pass the exam must be sponsored by a broker.

Each agent is issued an inactive license after passing the exam, which is only activated once a sponsor is found.

As agents research possible options, explore how the brokerage works. Here are a few things to know before agreeing to a sponsorship:

  • What’s the fee structure? Is it flat, commission, split, graduated with experience?
  • What’s the company’s success rate?
  • What kind of training do new agents receive?
  • What do new agents get? (Office space, lockboxes, receptionist?)
  • What’s the work structure like?

It’s important to find the right sponsor to start a career with.

What to look for in real estate courses

Becoming a real estate agent in Texas requires 180 hours of instruction time. To complete this education, candidates need to find an educational environment that’s right for them.

Real estate classes are held in a variety of different locations. Aspiring agents can find real estate classes at specifically-designed real estate universities, through online companies, at trade schools or at a local realty firm.

The location isn’t as important as the quality of the classes. To help narrow the search, here are some things to look for in a real estate school:

Experience in the industry

Look for a school with a stellar reputation. Research the school and make sure it has a long history in the business and provides statistics like exam pass rates. If specifics about a school aren’t available, cross it off the list.

Teachers with real-world experience

A good real estate school offers classes taught by licensed, experienced agents or brokers. Research the school’s instructors and some of their teaching materials, if possible. Look for real-life experience that helps students understand the real estate game.

Consider the course structure

Becoming an agent requires quite a bit of education, which is why it’s important that prospective real estate agents find a course structure that’s right for them. A busy parent might opt for online classes because of the flexible schedule. If attending classes in person is the best way to learn, classes at a university or real estate firm might be best.

Look for exam prep

To get a Texas real estate license, candidates have to pass a challenging exam, as mentioned above. To pass the exam, a school that provides test preparation is crucial.  When conducting research or inquiring about the school, ask them what kind of exam prep courses are included in the courses.

Read the reviews

Once the list is narrowed, search for reviews online. Take some time to see what others like and dislike about the school. Are there more positive reviews than negative? Are there any common trends among the reviews?

Check pass rates

The Texas Real Estate Commission has a list of schools on its website that provides the exam pass rates for each one. There are schools with pass rates as high as 85%. The list also highlights how many people took the exam and how much their pass percentage has changed. For those interested, the list of Texas real estate schools and their pass rates is available on the Texas Real Estate Commission website.

Compare costs

Online programs typically cost less than in-person programs, but students should compare the cost of each school. In Texas, expect to pay about $500 for the required courses. However, every school has its own rate, so be sure to check before signing up.

Look for continuing education

After becoming a licensed agent, there are required continuing education classes. While exploring schools, it’s a good idea to find one that offers continuing education as well to avoid future hassles. 

Top 4 reasons people fail the Texas real estate exam

The real estate exam is a challenging 150-minute test that covers every aspect of a candidate’s real estate knowledge. As mentioned above, the pass rate for first-timers taking the exam in Texas is about 60%.

What causes 40% of people to fail? Here’s a list of reasons people fail the exam so aspiring agents know what not to do:

1. Delay testing

It’s best to take the exam when the information is fresh, rather than put it off for months. While soon-to-be agents might think they’ll have more time to study or just need a little break in between classes and the test, the time gap isn’t helpful.

Putting off the test likely means the study materials go in a drawer somewhere, forgotten about until it’s time to take the exam. Too many people try to cram for the exam in a weekend and end up failing.

It’s best to take the exam at the end of the course instruction.

2. Failure to review the test outline

The state of Texas requires the testing service to post an outline of the exam online and specify how many questions are in each section. The Texas test servicer, PearsonVUE, offers this outline for test-takers.

By knowing how many questions each section has, students can make a study plan around it. For example, the Property Value and Appraisal section only has seven questions, but the Real Estate Practice section has 18 questions.

If a section has a lot of questions, spend more time studying it. People who fail the exam often waste their time studying topics that are less important.

3. Not reading exam questions carefully

Understand the real estate industry is tough and the test-makers don’t make it any easier. The questions on the Texas real estate exam are meant to trip people up. When taking the exam, read each question carefully word for word.

Those who assume they can breeze through the questions will fail.

Read each question thoroughly, answer the question and then read it over again to make sure the right answer is selected.

4. Skipping practice tests

When a student sits down to take the exam to obtain their Texas real estate license, it shouldn’t be the first time they’ve read a test question.

Practice tests show students how questions are worded, what kinds of topics are covered and what the multiple-choice responses look like. Simply put, practice tests give students an advantage.

The school that a real estate prospect selects should offer practice tests, but these tests can also be found online.

Without running through practice tests in their entirety, the odds of passing aren’t high.

Bottom line

A career as a Texas real estate agent is appealing for many people. Real estate agents often have flexible schedules, work outside the office, meet a lot of different people and make a commission off each sale.

For anyone looking for a real estate career, understand that it does take time. A prospective agent has to take six classes totaling 180 hours, study for and pass a challenging exam, clear a background check, apply for a Texas real estate license, and find a sponsoring broker before starting in the field.

The education requirements and the exam are the two biggest hurdles, both of which require an investment of time and money.

Using the information presented in this guide, aspiring real estate agents should have a clear understanding of how to become a Texas real estate agent and what it takes to achieve such a goal.