The Texas Real Estate Test

After many months of preparation, weeks of arranging paperwork and waiting for the day to arrive, it finally did.  I sat for the Texas Real Estate exam.  I won’t lie, I was a bit nervous.  I’ve put a lot of time and preparation into this, and it’s all come down to 2 1/2 hours on a monday morning.  Spoiler alert – I passed.  It’s hard to think that all the work I’ve been doing for the last 6 months has led up to this moment.  But it has, and it’s all been worthwhile.

If you found this post you were probably searching the web for info about the Texas Real Estate Exam.  I’m going to describe my experience, as best I can, so you can be as prepared as possible.  If you find this page helpful, please like my Facebook Real Estate page as a thank you.  Karma baby!

There aren’t a whole lot of photos in this post, mostly because I couldn’t take any pics at the testing center.  But there are a lot of words, so grab a coffee, and sit down for a long read.

Registering to take the test was a little tricky, because the instructions from TREC aren’t super clear, and are sort of hard to find on the web.  Here’s how it worked for me.

As soon as I finished my final class at the Champion School of Real Estate, I jumped on the TREC website, and filled out the Texas Real Estate salesperson paperwork, digitally.  I’ve heard from a couple of people around town that doing it digitally was faster than printing out the forms and sending them in.  Since I wanted my license as fast as possible, this was my obvious route.

But, I did have one small problem when I submitted my supporting school documents (transcripts).  TREC requires not ust the basic Real Estate classes, but also that you have some other college coursework.  Naturally I keep copies of my college transcripts around (both official ones that are unopened, as well as an open copy for my use).  So  I scanned them in as PDFs and emailed them in as the instructions said to do.  But the file was too large for their system to handle, and it bounced back to me.  Of course it took a week for me to find this out, delaying my application in the process.  GRRRR!  Note to TREC – if you are going to accept PDFs why not use an email system that can handle large attachments.  It’s not like Real Estate contracts aren’t 20 pages, they are sometimes.

To solve the problem I could have created a bunch of PDFs that were smaller in size, but I didn’t want to risk this also not working, so I jumped in the car, headed to downtown Austin, and submitted my transcripts in person at the TREC office.  Low tech solution to the problem.  When I was there I asked a couple of questions, and found out that the next step was for someone in the office to review my paperwork, and if everything was OK, I’d get an email with more instructions.

As they said, after a few days, I got an email from TREC stating that all my documents were in order and that I was approved to take the Texas real estate exam.   The email also instructed me to visit the PSI website and download the candidate information brochure (C.I.B.).  Alternatively I could call a number or visit the TREC website for more info.

But when I visited the PSI website, there was no C.I.B. to be found.

As a side note, one thing I’ve found with technology is making things super easy for everyone to use.  When sending out an email, even though you have spent hours crafting the perfect words, to express exactly what needs to be said, make sure that what you are saying actually gets some kind of action.  Sure, as the writer of a note, you may be super familiar with what needs to be done, but the reader might not be.  Make it easy for them using photos, hyperlinks, or bulleted instructions.  That’s the beauty of the web – you can easily format things to make what you need to get done, DONE!

After poking around the PSI website for a while, It turns out, I needed to create an account, wait for it to be approved, and then log in before I could get the  C.I.B with the much needed instructions.  I needed my TREC number (the one that starts with 9999), and once I discovered that, everything worked well.  Of course I didn’t figure that out on my own, I had to call PSI and talk with someone who carefully explained it to me.  It would have been much easier if the original email from TREC just said “Crate an account on the PSI website using this link, to be able to register for the test”.  Instead, I had to spend over an hour trying to figure it out on my own.

The Candidate Information brochure has a TON of information in it:  Sample test questions, what kind of things you can bring in to the test center (pretty much nothing), what kinds of ID are accepted, how to use the computer at the testing center, and more.  But what it doesn’t have is how to register for the test.  That’s done on the PSI website.  It would be helpful to add a paragraph there, too, just in case someone was looking (like me).

Real Estate Exam Prep Book
Click the book to see it on Amazon.com

So I went through the different menus and signed up for the Salesperson exam at one of the two Austin PSI testing centers.   I had to wait 2 weeks for the next available appointment.  There was nothing I could do about that,  So I waited and waited (and spent some time studying from this book), and finally the day arrived.

One thing the C.I.B. says to do is arrive 30 minutes early to the test.  Even with Austin traffic, I was able to manage to arrive early.  I wasn’t the first one there, as a bunch of others were waiting outside the door of PSI, which was of course locked.  It’s no fun to wait outside in Texas during the summer, so I found a nearby tree, and hung out for 10 minutes playing on my iPhone, until the door was unlocked.  After a short while, the door opened, and I stashed my phone in the car and headed inside.

Once inside the PSI testing center, it wasn’t very exciting.  There was a table a bunch of chairs lined up against the wall, a door to a bathroom, and not much else.  One by one, the proctor called us up to the front desk where we handed over our ID, had our photo taken, and then were asked what test we were taking.  Very official.  After the short check in, I was told to go through the door, and enter the testing area  a room with a bunch of old cubicles against the wall.  Each one with a computer.

How hard is the texas real estate exam?

There isn’t much you need to take the test.  Just yourself and 2 forms of identification.  I used my Driver’s license, and my passport.  They supply scratch paper, pencils and even a simple calculator (anything more is forbidden).  Obviously no phones are allowed, nor notes, or anything else that could be used for cheating.  Ladies are asked to leave their purses in the car.  You can’t even bring in a Starbucks, so if you can’t go for more than 90 minutes without a latte, start preparing now.

I was instructed to sit at station #5, where there was an older PC, a keyboard with some funny keys on it, and a mouse.  There was also a set of disposable earplugs if I wanted to use them.  There are lots of cameras inside the testing room, watching for funnybusiness, too.  So don’t try anything ’cause you will get caught.

The test taking experience wasn’t anything spectacular.  First there is a little tutorial on how to take the test using the keyboard or mouse.  You can mark questions for review, go back and forward through the questions, and even change your answers.  Then there are 10 or so “practice questions” based on common US trivia (what do the stars on the flag represent).  Then the test starts.  It’s super quiet in there.  But every now and then I heard a cricket chirping.

Is the Texas Real Estate License Exam difficult?

The test itself is broken into two parts – The National Section, and the Texas specific section.  Really,  you have two separate tests at one time.  This wasn’t really explained during any of my prep classes or even in the C.I.B.  You have to take one immediately after the other, and once you finish the first, there is no going back to change or correct any answers.  For me, I was given the Texas portion first.

In the Texas specific section of the real estate exam, I didn’t have any math questions.  I did have a lot of ethics questions, and a ton of contracts questions, especially questions about amendments to the standard TREC forms.  Lots of questions about short sales, and foreclosure stuff, and even some stuff on water and sewer lines on unimproved property.

There were also a lot of questions about Agency.  Specifically are the differences in powers between an agent and a broker, and what happens during some dual agency type agreements.  There was also a few questions about real estate assistants, and what they can and can’t legally do.

The national part was much longer.  This section had a lot of questions that I expected, but it was still pretty hard.  I had spent a lot of time taking sample questions I found online, as well as going back and reviewing all the real estate questions at the end of the chapters of all my textbooks.  I think that really helped.

On the national exam, there are a lot more questions about the agency relationship between salespeople and clients, Principals, fiduciary agreements, and stuff.  Plus there are some questions about national regulations like 1978 lead based paint (say it out loud, it sort of rhymes).  Also in this test, there were some math questions   a few about calculating finances stuff, and a few regarding land area (so be sure to know those calculations).  I’m really good at math, so I know I got those answers right.

I didn’t need all the time required to finish both parts.  So I went back, carefully checked each answer, and clicked the finish button.  Actually I had to confirm 3 times that I wanted to end the test, just in case I did it accidentally, I guess.

Before I got my instant results, there was a short, mandatory survey about my experience.  They asked a bunch of questions about how easy it was to take the test, how nice the testing center was, and how helpful the staff is.  I answered them honestly, and hope someone from PSI finds this post for more details.

Finally, after completing the post test survey, I got my results.

I passed!

I was super excited!  And couldn’t rush out of there fast enough.  I collected my ID, and a couple of printouts confirming my success!  Then I got back to my car and grabbed my phone so I could call my wife.

As for the next steps, the page I got from the PSI testing center in Austin says that TREC will notify me within 10 days, and since I’ve had my fingerprints done, passed all my classes and had them approved, paid my fees, and completed all my paperwork, I don’t expect there to be anything else preventing me from beginning to buy and sell houses in Austin.

If you are about to take the test, or already did, I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below.

 Click here and like us on Facebook

Crickets in Austin

Every few years, in Central Texas, sometime in the late spring, after an especially dry summer, followed by a wet winter, orchestras of crickets may appear.  Yes, that’s right.  A bunch of crickets is called an orchestra.  Like a herd of elephants, or a gaggle of geese.

There are over 600 varieties of crickets, and none are harmful to humans.Cricket Chart

But they can be icky.  Especially when they swarm in Austin every few years.

The last time we had an infestation, was in 2007, and it only lasted for a few weeks.  But that doesn’t mean they can be ignored.  They will gather in corners, on outdoor stairwells, on patios, parking lots, and even gas stations.

Did you know you can tell the temperature by listening to a cricket?  Yep, it’s called Dolbear’s law, and it’s pretty accurate.  Simply count the number of chirps in 14 seconds and add 40 to that number.  That will be the temperature in F°.  But don’t mistake the sound of crickets for Cicadias.  They are totally different.

Austinites have a variety of ways of dealing with the harmless insects – from turning off outside lights at night to draining standing water to keeping chickens (who love to eat them).

I personally don’t have any problem with the critters.  I know they are transitory, and there’s nothing that can be done about them.

They are just another thing that “Keeps Austin Wierd”.

The Austin Skyline is going to get more skyscrapers

While so many other cities in the nation are struggling, Austin is building, building, building.  Investors are coming from all over to put up new skyscrapers and developments in the super popular Austin Downtown area.  A lot of the development is scheduled to happen over the next 3-4 years on the corner of Caesar Chavez and Lamar (at the old Seaholm powerplant location), and near Rainey Street near HWY 35.

[alert heading=”Austin Downtown Condos” width=”100%” close=”false”]Be sure to visit my Austin Condo Guide if you are looking to move downtown[/alert]

I think it’s a super exciting time for ATX.  There are so many opportunities for just about everyone here.  We have so many hi-Tech companies here – Facebook, Apple, Google, and Dell all have offices, and there are dozens, if not hundreds of smaller computer and internet companies in the area.  All these companies need workers, and not just programmers, but everything from HR people, to cleaning crews, to catering companies, and everything in between.

Plus we have the University of Texas College, all the State offices associated with the Capitol, and several international festivals like F-1 Racing, SXSW, and ACL.  There is just so much happening all the time here, it’s hard not to be excited.

Artists rendering of planned 1,000-room, 50-story Fairmont convention hotel project in downtown Austin.
Artists rendering of planned 1,000-room, 50-story Fairmont convention hotel project in downtown Austin.

One specific place in Austin that’s experiencing some significant growth is the Downtown region.  For you out of towners, I’ve always considered the area just south of the Capitol building, and north of Lady Bird Lake the downtown region.  Some people sub-divide this into areas like 6th St, the Warehouse District, 2nd street District, and so on.  For me it’s all just downtown.

I’ve written about some properties in high rises in Downtown Austin many times before (of course if you are interested in selling your downtown condo, please let me know, ’cause I can get you special tours), and now I’d like to talk about some of the great developments coming up.

And I do mean UP.  Some of these buildings will be 20+ stories, and are destined to be significant landmarks visible in the Austin skyline.

  1. Rainey Center – up to 2 50 story towers – condos and apartments
  2. Gables Park Plaza II – 18 stories – residential condos
  3. Skyhouse – 23 stories – apartments
  4. 3rd and Brazos – 16 stories – apartments
  5. Green Water Treatment Plant redevelopment – 30 stories – apartments and retail
  6. Redevelopment of Austin Energy control plant – unknown height – condos or apartments and retail and offices
  7. Seaholm Power Plant – 28 stories – retail and apartments
  8. Mariott convention hotel – 33 stories – hotel
  9. Fairmont Austin – 50 stories – hotel
  10. Colorado & 3rd – unknown – office and retail
  11. Whole Foods World Headquarters – 20 stories – offices
  12. 3 eleven Bowie – 36 stories – apartments and offices
  13. IBC Bank Plaza – 13 stories – mostly offices

 

Not all the high-rises will have units you can purchase.  Many of them will be office or retail space.  But the people that work there need a place to live, and that’s where I can help out.  If you are relocating to Austin, or have a new job downtown and want to live closer to the cener of action, send me a note or give me a call.

An artists rendering of proposed 30-story office tower at Third and Colorado in downtown Austin. Being developed by Cousins Properties.
An artists rendering of proposed 30-story office tower at Third and Colorado in downtown Austin. Being developed by Cousins Properties.

 

Artists rendering of proposed project at at Rainey and Driskill in downtown Austin.
Artists rendering of proposed project at at Rainey and Driskill in downtown Austin.

 

Artists rendering of White Lodging's planned JW Marriott hotel downtown.
Artists rendering of White Lodging’s planned JW Marriott hotel downtown.

 

Artists rendering of the SkyHouse project, an apartment tower project planned on Rainey Street in Austin.
Artists rendering of the SkyHouse project, an apartment tower project planned on Rainey Street in Austin.

If you are relocating to Austin, or have a new job downtown and want to live closer to the cener of action, send me a note or give me a call.

Be sure to visit my Austin Condo Guide if you are looking to move downtown

Images courtesy of the Austin American Statesman.

Getting a Texas Real Estate License

I’m 90% of the way done with getting my license to practice Real Estate in Texas.

Sometimes the process feels exceptionally slow, but other times it seems to go really fast.  Doing the classes was the fast part, even the ones I wrote about at ACC which took so long compared to waiting for my time slot to take the TREC Real Estate Exam.

I’ve jumped through all the hoops except for one – the final test.  I’m not worried about it.  I’ve read all the required textbooks, studied hard, and have been reviewing sample questions for an hour a day for the last week.  I still have a couple more days to prepare, too.

This time has also allowed me to finalize my application with TREC.  For those of you who don’t know, TREC stands for the Texas Real Estate Commission, and they oversee the licensing process in Texas.  I’ve done everything needed on the Texas Real Estate website to get a Salesperson license:

  • Taken the classes
  • Completed the application on-line
  • Gotten fingerprinted
  • Obtained Sponsorships – more on this coming soon
  • And I’ve even begun training at my new brokerage.

Now it’s just a matter of showing up for the test, taking it, and doing my best.  I know there are 110 questions on the TREC Salesperson test, and that I have 150 minutes to complete them all.  Of these 110 questions, they are divided into two sections.  A national section with 80 questions, and a Texas section with 30 questions.  I have to get 70% correct to pass.

In addition, I’ve learned that the test is divided into sub-sections, each focusing on the different principles and practices:

  • Property Ownership
  • Land Use Controls and Regulations
  • Valuation and Market Analysis
  • Financing
  • Laws of Agency
  • Mandated Disclosures
  • Contracts
  • Transfer of Property
  • Practices of Real Estate
  • Real Estate Calculations
  • Specialty Areas (Property Management, Commercial Property, Subdivisions)
  • Commission Duties and Powers
  • Licensing
  • Standards of Conduct
  • Agency/Brokerage
  • Contracts
  • Special Topics (Homestead, Seller Disclosure, Foreclosures, etc…

But getting back to the topic of getting a license, there are a lot of steps to follow, and they have to be done in a specific order.  Why?  Because buying a house is a big deal.  I’ve had tons of training to guide you through the process.  And soon I’ll be recognized by the state of Texas to act on your behalf to buy and sell property.  I’ve passed a background check, submitted my coursework and had it approved by the governing body, paid my fees and dues, and demonstrated competency in all aspects of every possible transaction.

I personally think there it is important to have a current education.  The government is always creating new laws and rules to protect both buyers and sellers, and it’s hard to keep up with all the requirements.  I’ve been using the most up to date textbooks, and taken classes from professors who actively practice real estate in Austin.  I’ve learned all the laws, and will make sure every transaction goes smoothly, and legally.  Plus, unlike many agents in the Austin area who were licensed before the internet era, I know how to also use technology to get the job done.

If you can’t tell, I’m super excited to be your agent.  If you have a house to sell, please give me a call, and let’s schedule a time for me to come over to chat.  I’ll even show you my new license (as soon as I get it).