The cost of getting your Texas real estate license is more than just the cost of the license itself.
There are pre-license real estate courses the state requires. There are application fees, processing fees, and exam fees.
So the bad news is there are lots of different expenses. The good news is that most of them are fairly affordable. The great news is that you can fully recover all your costs (and then some!) with your very first real estate deal.
Let’s take a look at the different costs of getting your shiny new Texas real estate license, total them up, and determine if the expense will pay off for you.
Cost #1: Pre-License Courses
The very first step in your journey to a real estate license is to take your state-required pre-license courses.
You can enroll in the courses at any real estate school approved by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC). Real estate schools vary in terms of curriculum, student support, and cost, so spend a little time comparing schools to find the best option for you.
As you look at real estate schools, pay special attention to:
- TREC exam pass rates. How well do the students from each school do on the state real estate exam?
- Access to the course materials. Do you have to attend courses on campus? Can you access the coursework from your cell or tablet?
- Student support. Will there be real estate professionals available to answer your questions?
- Price. Will your student experience be worth the expense?
So how much should your pre-license courses cost?
Generally speaking, you should expect to pay at least $500 for the required courses. On-campus courses will cost more. If you enroll at Austin Community College, for example, you’ll pay $1,020 in tuition and fees for the 5 required courses. You might also pay more if you enroll in each class individually.
To keep your course costs as close to the $500 mark as possible, enroll in an online real estate school with high TREC exam pass rates. And take advantage of package deals that include all 5 required courses.
Cost #2: Testing, Application, and Processing Fees
Once your coursework is complete, you can apply to take your TREC real estate exam and get your real estate license. This is where you’ll incur several state fees. The largest fee is the initial application fee for a 2-year real estate license. This application fee is currently $205.
In addition to the application fee, you’ll pay a:
- Background check fee of $27
- Fingerprinting fee of $37
- Certificate of Sponsorship fee of $20.60 if completed online, or $40 if using a paper application
- Paper processing fee of $20 (only if you don’t apply online)
On top of these fees, you’ll also pay to take the TREC exam. The current exam fee is $54 per attempt. It’s a difficult test, and many people need 2 or even 3 attempts to pass it. This is why those exam pass rates are so important when you’re choosing your real estate school. You want to give yourself the best possible chances of passing on your first try. Passing on the first try will save you time and money (and give you less stress!).
These fees apply to everyone statewide. In special circumstances, there may be additional miscellaneous fees. For example, if you have a criminal record, you may choose to undergo a process of Moral Character Determination (MCD). For just $50, the TREC will look at your record and determine if you can be approved for a real estate license before you invest your time and money in taking courses and applying.
The Total Cost of Your Real Estate License
Adding all these costs together, you should expect to pay somewhere around $850 to $1,000 total to get your real estate license in Texas.
Are There Any Other Costs to Become a Real Estate Agent?
Getting your real estate license is the first step in building a successful real estate career.
But real estate is different from many other career paths. Real estate agents are typically not employees; they’re independent contractors. This means you’ll probably work on commission instead of receiving a predetermined salary. You’ll probably have to pay for your own insurance and fund your own retirement. And you’ll need to cover your own business expenses.
To make the most of your new career, you need to think like an entrepreneur. Plan to invest in your business from Day 1. To launch your career, you’ll want to have money available early to invest in:
- Business cards (around $50)
- Dues for associations like the National Association of Realtors® ($150 starting in 2019)
- Marketing materials. Luckily, more and more marketing is done online, so you don’t need to continuously order from a fancy printing company. You can start marketing for free on social media. For your print needs like property flyers and open house sign-in sheets, Etsy has some templates under $10 that you can edit and print.
Living expenses in the early stage of your real estate career
Part of thinking like an entrepreneur is planning for financial uncertainty in the early stages of your new real estate business.
It can take time to close your first deal. Remember, your pay will probably be tied 100% to your deals. You’ll need to find your first clients, find them a good deal, and see that deal through to close before you collect a paycheck. This whole process can take 2-6 months. That means 2-6 months without an income.
This is the #1 reason new agents fail. They can’t make enough money to pay the bills during that first year or two, so they go back to a less interesting job with a steady paycheck.
What you can do to support yourself in the early stages.
But you don’t have to be one of those failed agents. Prepare yourself financially, and you’ll be just fine! Here are a few Do’s and Dont’s to help you make ends meet in the early stages of your new career:
DO build up your savings before you launch your new real estate business so you’ll have some savings to live on.
DON’T get a part-time job. It will steal too much of your time and focus away from real estate. You need to be all-in!
DO include money-making services in your new real estate business to make money from the start, while also generating leads.
Is a Texas Real Estate License Worth the Cost?
So with all these upfront fees, and the slow start to your new income, you may be wondering Is my real estate license worth it?
As long as you’re a hard-working self-starter, the answer is a resounding YES! You can be sure your real estate license is well-worth the fees by considering two key factors:
- How much money you can make with your real estate license
- How the cost of your real estate license compares to the cost of other career options
Let’s look at each of these more closely.
1. Consider how much money you could earn with your real estate license
According to Glassdoor, the average real estate agent in Texas makes $48,883 per year. But this number is misleading. It includes part-timers and brand new agents who aren’t making a full salary yet. If you just look at full-time agents with more experience, the median jumps to $73,400!
One of the best things about real estate is the unlimited income potential!
If you can hustle to land lots of clients, and provide top-quality service, you can potentially make six figures every year!
The cost of getting your real estate license and launching your new career is just a drop in the bucket.
2. Consider how these costs compare to alternative career options
What are your career plans if you don’t get your real estate license? Will you settle for a lower-paying, less-interesting job? Or will you go back to school to pursue a degree or certificate for a different profession?
Consider how much it would cost to go back to school. Even community colleges will cost at least $2,550 per year (that’s not including the cost of books, by the way!). And universities cost more than $10,000 per year in tuition.
Very few professions allow you to make as much money as a career in real estate with so little money invested upfront!
The Bottom Line
A career in real estate is exciting, fulfilling, and flexible. And it’s also high-paying if you’re willing to work hard and stick with it!
You could spend your days helping buyers find their new homes and helping sellers make a quick sale so they can move on to the next stage of their lives. You’ll enjoy being your own boss and making your own hours. And you’ll find the satisfaction that comes with building your own business from the ground up!
It all starts with your real estate license. The upfront cost may be an obstacle for you to overcome, but the rewards will be well worth your investment.
Your career is waiting; start your pre-license courses today!