A lot of an agent’s work can be done online, but real estate is still a high-touch industry that relies on in-person interactions for home showings and closings. Real estate professionals may also need to appear in-person for continuing education courses, taking licensing exam tests and renewing their licenses.
COVID-19, however, has made in-person meetings risker. As a current or soon-to-be real estate professional, you probably have questions about how you can get or renew your real estate license during the pandemic. You may be wondering if it’s even possible.
The Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC), which is in charge of governing real estate practices in the state, has released several updates related to real estate licensing and testing renewal in the wake of COVID-19. Here the latest updates that you need to know.
TREC Testing Sites Have Reopened — But Testing May Be Limited
In March 2020, real estate licensing exam centers were closed to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and keep Texans safe. Many real estate license applicants had their exams canceled with little notice and no indication of when tests might be rescheduled. As of April 24, 2020, real estate exam testing centers have begun to slowly reopen.
According to the TREC website, all testing sites must follow current social distancing guidelines and local laws to help keep test-takers and testing employees safe. Depending on the testing facility, safety procedures may include face masks for all test-takers, limited exam seats and seating test-takers further apart.
Texas real estate licensing exams are administered by Pearson VUE. At test centers owned by Pearson VUE the company has its own policies and protocols that must be followed. For example, masks are now required at all Pearson VUE centers regardless of local or state government regulations. And you must bring your own mask because one won’t be provided at the testing site.
Test takers should also understand that if they exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 they won’t be admitted for the test and will have to reschedule. There are also scheduling restrictions for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 or been in close contact with someone who tested positive.
Keep in mind that most testing sites expect to have a much lower testing capacity. There are likely to be continued delays for in-person TREC testing due to reduced capacity and a backlog caused by testing site closures earlier in the year. TREC has approved the opening of all third-party test sites to help reduce the backlog and limited capacity.
TREC Waiver for All Renewals and Applications Ended July 31
Due to the testing and continuing education restrictions, TREC extended all renewal and application deadlines for real estate professionals. If your license was set to expire in March, April, May or June 2020, TREC allowed renewals until July 31 to complete testing, pass courses and submit the required documentation for renewal. TREC has not offered any additional extensions.
If you still need continuing education credits for license renewal, look for online courses that will help you fulfill the requirement. Many courses are now being offered with distance learning options in light of COVID-19.
Has TREC Imposed New Testing Regulations in Regard to COVID-19?
The agency has not currently imposed any special testing regulations or requirements as a result of COVID-19. Testing centers must follow all applicable local and state laws and allow for social distancing in testing facilities. In fact, TREC has loosened many of the requirements to make it easier for real estate professionals to obtain and renew their licenses during these unusual times.
Please check with your testing facility for additional safety requirements. Online courses and testing may be a better solution for completing testing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Paperwork Taking Longer to Process
TREC is urging people to be patient if they submit a paper form or application and suggesting that they submit online instead. Due to safety requirements when handling mail and staff working remotely, the Commission acknowledges that processing paperwork is taking longer than usual. It’s something to keep in mind when you are ready to submit your application.
TREC recently released an application status tracker that can be used to see where your application is at in the process. All applicants are encouraged to use the tracker to reduce delays.
TREC Offices Remain Closed to In-Person Visits as of November 2020
The TREC offices are currently closed to in-person visits, but employees continue to work from home and can be reached via phone or email. Many of the TREC resources are still available online, including license holders look up, renewal CE information and application trackers. The agency notes that the most efficient way to submit documentation is through digital methods using the My License Services portal.
TREC has stated that they believe the offices will remain closed to the public for the foreseeable future until the pandemic is under control.
Interested in taking the test to get your Texas real estate license? Sign up for a TREC-approved online real estate course today. Real estate courses and testing are available online.
*This article was updated on 12/16/2020.