By Riki Markowitz

When you look at the requirements for becoming a real estate agent in Texas, it may appear overwhelming. Core classes alone are 180 hours. Then there are prep exam classes, the licensing exam, and working with a sponsoring broker. A fast-track estimate before one can be an independent, self-supporting sales agent is about two years. So if you’re looking to sell some houses in this decade, get out a pen and paper and map out your strategy. In this article, we talk about the classes required for getting a real estate license, plus some suggested electives that will make you more valuable to the colleagues, sponsors and agency managers you will rely on to help you find your feet.

Get Schooled

The real estate schools you look at will offer Texas Real Estate Commission’s (TREC) mandatory curriculum, plus packages with electives and exam prep and practice test seminars. Champions School of Real Estate, for example, offers four basic bundles. The most comprehensive is an 11-course package, which is geared toward those at the two-year license renewal stage.

According to Champion’s step-by-step guide, it’s possible to complete your core requirements in four to six weeks. But there’s no need to rush. TREC permits applicants a full year to meet all requirements, including class credits, filing your application, providing a Department of Public Saf  exam.

Do you freeze up during tests? You have three chances to get a passing grade. After that you’re required to complete 30 hours of study for each failed portion of the exam, according to PearsonVUE, the company that administers the test.

If you’re back for the required two-year renewal process, you’re looking at 90 hours of TREC Sales Agent Apprentice Education (SAE) renewal courses, in addition to two legal update classes – at eight hours per class.

When It’s Complicated

We’ve all made mistakes at some point. But before you throw in the towel, you should know that if your background check will betray a wild young adulthood, there’s a completely legitimate loophole. It was established for “those who have any criminal offenses, unpaid judgments, had discipline taken against a professional or occupational license, or have performed unlicensed activity.” If you’re concerned about the time the cops drove you home after your crew got caught TPing the principal’s front lawn, this form was not meant for you.

Applicants must “meet qualifications for honesty, trustworthiness, and integrity.” -TREC

First, download TREC’s Moral Character Determination Form ID: MCD-1. Be honest! If you leave something out, they will catch it. Your TREC application must first be approved before you can proceed with your MCD inquiry.

Step 2

You’ve taken the classes and some electives; you passed the exam and cleared your MCD review, if applicable. What’s next? TREC will send your inactive license and you can submit a sponsorship request. Once a broker has agreed to work with you, TREC will then send your active license to work as a real estate sales agent in Texas.

Year One and Two

When you gain clarity regarding what your first year as a licensed real estate agent is like, you can start working toward your personal five-year plan. Choosing the right sponsor is the first step in this process. You want a broker who provides a lot of training your first two years and in your second year, they should provide a lot of leads. Career agents say that if you stay focused, you can be on your way to opening your own branch within five or six years.

Your early years are an opportunity to identify your professional strengths and weaknesses. Make it a goal to meet as many people as you can so you’re able to develop your sales agent personality. And don’t just practice with leads, this is something to work on while you’re networking, answering phones and corresponding with colleagues. Your head will swirl with the amount of information you will be taking in, but once it all normalizes, what will stand out are the areas of real estate that you feel passionately about.

Continuing Education

During the early years of your career you will have a lot of downtime. This is the best time to take as many elective courses and seminars as you can. But don’t just focus on real estate education. You will get a lot of hands-on experience in that area. Instead, think about what you need to learn to run a successful business in 2017 and beyond. Some ways to promote a small business is with a blog, skills in writing, search engine optimization, web design and finance management. Seek out organizations that sponsor seminars for professionals. This is where you can connect with individuals in different industries. Some REALTORS specialize in specific areas of real estate, like luxury homes or certain neighborhoods and others develop a rapport with folks in specific careers, like IT professionals or yoga instructors.  RL