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).

 

 

My Champion School of Real Estate experience

If you are one of my regular readers, you know I’ve been taking two on-line Real Estate classes at Austin City College.

While that has been a great educational experience, for me, it has been taking just a little too long to get the pre-requisites completed for my Real Estate license.  Yes there are some significant requirements to be an agent in Texas, and rightfully so, but I’ve learned the process can go much faster, and cost less if you do a little bit of research.

I’m really glad I took the two classes at ACC – the 120 hour Real Estate Principles class, and the Law of Agency class.  I’m especially glad that I did it on-line.  I’ve never had an online class before, and this was a great way to learn how to learn without being in a classroom.

One thing about distance learning classes, the kind where you stay at home and use your computer to take classes on the internet.  You need to be really motivated, and have a lot of internal drive to set aside the time to read, study, and do the assignments.  It’s not for everybody.  I’m a self-starter, and like to see things through to the end, so for me, it was a natural fit.  But I can see that it isn’t for everybody.

Those first two classes took a full semester – almost 3 1/2 months to complete.  That’s great if you have lots of other projects going on and need to fit studying into your calendar.  But there is a faster and more efficient way.

For me, I want to get my license NOW!

I’ve written about the different Real Estate Schools in Austin, and after doing a bit of research decided to take my last two classes at the Champion School of Real Estate.

I’ve just finished my fist class – the potentially boring Law of Contracts requirement, and it was super easy, super fast, and fun.

Real Estate School ReviewsThe instructor has tons of experience, is very knowledgeable on the subject, and has a great sense of humor.

The best thing was the cost – It was actually less than taking the same classes at ACC – especially when you consider parking, and books and supplies (all of which are given to you at Champion school).

There was only one weird thing – As you know I’m pretty tech saavy.  I don’t really use a notebook or pens much anymore.  Instead I like to keep my office paper free, and note-take on a laptop.  For years I’ve used the iWork suite of products – Pages, Numbers, Keynote,&  iPhoto because they work seamlessly with my clients and across the web, and they allow me, somebody who is designed challenged to make good looking graphs, flyers, and pictures.

I have tons of notes in Pages, organized into folders, cross-referenced, and linked to presentations, and spreadsheets.  I can do it from my Macbook Pro, my iMac Desktop, and even my iPad, and iPhone.  And all the docs sync and update whenever I make a change.  I always have access to whatever I need for research, and marketing.

Plus I had just finished taking TWO on-line classes, where EVERYTHING was done using a computer.

So I was a bit confused when I walked in with my trusty Macbook Pro, and they wouldn’t let me take notes on my computer!

They said something about it being a TREC regulation that no recording devices could be used in the classroom.

No recording devices?  It’s not like I’m bringing in a video camera, tape recorder or  attempting to take photos.  I just want to type up my notes as I go.  Every school these days allows laptops.  From kids in 3rd grade to medical school at Stanford.  They are commonplace, and everywhere.

Apparently not at the Champion School of Real Estate.

Thankfully I had some of my favorite Papermate Medium Blue Pens and some Post-it Flag Highlighter Pen in my satchel, and I was able to take notes directly in the textbook given to me as part of the class.

I highly recommend the Champion school of Real Estate – they have schools all over Texas.  I never took classes at the other campuses, but the North Austin one is really great.

Champions school of Real Estate
Champions school of Real Estate

 

Real Estate Schools in Austin

I can’t wait any longer.

I just want to get my license and begin to help you sell your house.

It’s probably because I’m so used to instant everything in today’s modern technological age.  I can get information on just about anything immediately using the web.  As my regular readers (subscribe to my blog here) know I’m working on getting my license by taking classes at Austin City College.  I’ve just finished my first sememster, and still have 2 more classes to take.

The state of Texas requires 120 classroom hours of instruction before I can even apply for a license.  I’ve done 60, so I’m half way there.  But those first 60 hours took almost 4 months.  There has to be a better, more efficient way.

I’ve already signed up for my other two classes at ACC, but at the same time I’m researching different options, including dedicated Real Estate Schools in Austin.  Here are four schools in Austin that I found that can help me get licensed more quickly.

Austin Institute of Real Estate

Champion school of Real Estate

Texas Tech Education Station

School Estate (clever name, and no affiliation with me)

I’ve reached out to each of them, and am waiting to hear back.  Some of my questions included how long does it take, how much does it cost, and can I transfer in credits from another school to help things along.

I keep reading about the Austin Housing market, seeing how now is a great time to be a seller, and that things are turning around for the better.  I’ve got so many great ideas that I want to implement and share, but can’t until I’m licensed.  So let’s get this ball rolling, and finish classes.

 

The end of my first semester.

I’m officially half-way to becoming a real estate agent.  Today I took two final exams, back to back.  I’ve written about taking two tests back to back before, and since it wasn’t so hard the first time, I did it again.

Today wasn’t much different, except that it is finals week at ACC and the testing center was super busy.

I also had to risk getting a parking ticket because my usual secret parking spots were all taken.

You see, I never ever pay for a parking permit at ACC when I’m not actually sitting in a classroom.  I see it as a waste of money (but I have no problem paying a valet the same amount of money at the Four Seasons to park my car).  Instead, there is a visitor’s lot near the Admissions & Records building, and I usually park there.  The signs indicate that I’m supposed to sign in at the campus police station, but since I’m such a rebel, I just walk right past, and head directly to the testing center.

Sometimes it’s weird to be one of the oldest guys there.  I’m usually dressed in a suit, or at least slacks and a button down shirt, and don’t really fit the “Austin” college look.  99% of the time I have a tie on.

I fill out the little form to request my test with my Cross Sterling Silver pencil, get a key for a locker to store my iPhone, sunglasses, and car keys.
All I am allowed to take into the testing center is my oh so very sleek idea calculator (click on the image to see it on Amazon.com), and whatever scantron forms the testing center folks give me.

I then try to find a seat all by myself, but since this was finals week the testing center was jam packed.  The only open place was between some girl who was trying way too hard to look good, and another guy who was more interested in checking her out than taking his test.  He kept looking up, and over my back to try to see if she would look up at him.  I’ve never seen somebody try to pick up a person during an exam.

I took my two tests, and got out of there fast.  Back home, and, and just in time to have dinner with my wife.

Two tests in one week

Last week was my busiest week of school since 1999.  I wrote a little it about some of the work I had to do in yesterday’s post, and mentioned that on Friday I had to take two tests.  This is another part in my continuing series on returning to Real Estate School.

As an older student returning to college, a few things about college have changed in some not so significant ways.  The first time I went to college I graduated in 1999 in the silicon valley, and although this was in the heart of the dot-com boom, most colleges didn’t have a lot of computer based classes.

I carried a backpack full of textbooks, college-ruled noteooks, and a bunch of pens and pencils with me to actual classrooms full of other students.

We would sit through lectures in the morning, and in the afternoon, informally gather on the green lawns in the quad for study groups.  Most nights were spent reading the books, and taking notes to study for tests.  If I had a question, I could ask my professor in class, or visit them in their office..

This is how I learned to learn.  It was part listening, part discussing with peers, and a bit of self-study to cement everything together.  I got really good at learning this way, and loved to debate and discuss a topic didactically with my classmates.

Today studying is totally different.

Now, all my classes are on-line.  Instead of getting up and going to class, I sit down on my couch with my laptop and log on to the virtual blackboard at the real estate school online. to check my grades, comment on a discussion, or just read the syllabus to see what assignments and tests are due this week.

The only time I’ve been on campus were to get my student ID card, buy my books, and take the tests.

Everything else is done individually, in front of a screen.

Like I’ve said, everything is different, even the exams for my classes.  I remember the days when I would join all my classmates on a test day and we would nervously enter the classroom to take our seats.  Sometimes the professor would spread us out, as he handed out the tests.  We all would sit there together, answering questions, only getting up to hand in our completed work.

Last friday, it was totally different.  I entered the testing center, and had to fill out a 2-part form with the name of my class, the test number, and my student ID number.  I approached a desk where there were testing clerks who took my form, checked my ID, and gave me a key to check my cell-phone, and all other personal items in a locker.

I was given a scan-tron form, and a test booklet, and instructed to enter a fish-bowl like room full of other students.

The room was full of testing stations, and there was a large glass wall that gave a great view of all of us to the testing clerks.  I sat down at a small cubicle next to dozens of other students, all taking tests at the same time, from a myriad of other classes.  At every station, and on every wall and door were signs stating that having a cell phone in the testing center was considered cheating.

Of course nobody was talking.

I read through the test, and began answering questions.  Since I read the assigned chapters and answered the test questions at the back in my  Law of Agency, and Real Estate Principles classes I quickly answered the questions.

When I was done, I stood, up and left the glass enclosed classroom to return my test to the testing clerks.  They immediately scanned it, and I got my grade – a 98%!

But my day wasn’t over, I had to take a second test for my other class, and repeat the process.  This one was a bit harder, and I didn’t get my results instantly.  So now I wait, and check the on-line blackboard periodically to see my results.

A busy week full of assignments

I’m just a little bit past the midway part of my first semester of Real Estate School.  This last week was a big week for assignments in my two classes.  For those of you that aren’t regular readers of my blog, here’s a quick recap:

I’m returning to school to take classes to get my real estate license.

Currently I’m enrolled at ACC (Austin City College) Real Estate School taking two classes:  Law of Agency, and Real Estate Principles.  Last week I had an assignment due, and yesterday was a two test friday.

It’s very strange going back to school after a long absence.  I’m one of those going back to school after turning 40.  I’ve had a couple of careers, working for a research think tank that was the sender of the first message on the internet, and then starting and running my own business for the last 6 years.

But since I don’t see myself as a 60 year old wedding photographer, I decided it was time to change course again, and here I am taking two tests on a Friday.

Before I wax poetic on taking two tests, I had to turn in an assignment for my Law of Agency class.

At first, my Law of Agency class was pretty tough.  I don’t think like a lawyer very often.  I lean more toward the creative, with a big scientific component.  There are a lot of legal terms that govern agents, and lawyer speak that regulates the real estate industry.  As you can imagine this is important stuff, so I had to spend some extra time reading and learning all the new language.

I’m learning all the ins and outs of what can and can’t be done legally when buying a house, so you don’t have to.

While you aren’t required to hire an agent to buy or sell a house, there are a lot of laws that regulate the industry so people don’t get taken with such a big purchase.  When you hire a real estate agent to help you buy or sell a house, we are all bound by fiduciary duty.  I am required to use my knowledge of the laws and regulations to represent you, so you can make the best possible decisions.

You trust us to represent you in the best possible way, and my assignment last week was a sample agreement that you sign, acknowledging this.  It’s called a Buyer Representation, and can basically states that I will represent you, and work hard, honestly, and legally.  In turn, you agree to use me, and only me as your agent.

Anyway, I worked hard, and got an A on the assignment.

Boy, it feels great to go back to school after 20 years and still get good grades.

As I mentioned I also took two tests, and you can read about that experience here.

 

Real Estate student planning

It’s weird being in college again.  I never thought I’d have to go back and take another formal class.  12 years of elementary school – then a break for 3 years to travel, 2 years of Junior college to get my grades up, then more school for biochemistry.  It seemed like it would never end.  Then I got my first job in the Silicon Valley in the late 90’s.  That was a great job, with lots of great friends, flexibility, an amazing paycheck and some really cool projects.  I had lots of freedom, and ultimately it gave me the freedom to try something new.  Fast forward to 7 years ago when my wife and I came to Austin for me to be a wedding photographer.

My life as a photographer has been great, too.  I’ve seen over 400 couples get married, photographed an additional 167 couples for engagement pictures, and even had the opportunity to document some of Austin’s great events like concerts at the Blanton, Art Night East, La Dolce Vita at Laguna Gloria, and even annual galas for nor for profits like the Center for Child Protection.  As much fun as it is being a professional photographer, I don’t see myself as a 60-year old going to weddings every weekend.  So it’s time for a change.

I’ve written about starting Real Estate classes before,  but there is something very different now than when I was a student last century.

School has changed so very much since I took my last class.  No longer do I get up every morning, brew a cup of instant coffee, take a hot shower, brush my teeth, and head out on my bike to actual classes on campus.  That was 20 years ago.  For lunch I’d grab a bowl of noodles for $1.25 from the cafeteria.  During my late afternoon break between lab classes I’d play frisbee on the grass, or share class notes with the pretty girl from math class (who I married).   Nights would be spent studying, or writing papers out on a word processor.  I’d fight with the tractor-drive printer and carefully pry away the perforated side sections.

Today, it’s totally different.  My classes are entirely web-based.

I don’t have to set an alarm clock to make sure I’m out of bed on time.  I don’t have to ride my bike across campus in the cold AM air to make sure I’m in the lecture hall before the professor arrives.  Heck, I don’t even have to get dressed if I don’t want to.  (but of course I still do).  All this collegiate freedom requires a bit more planning on my part.  I’m not reminded by T.A.’s or fellow students about upcoming assignments, quizzes or tests.  That can be a big problem if you aren’t prepared.

So to help me ensure success, I started using a few simple on-line tools to stay organized.  By far the most important are a few free tools provided by Google Apps – G-Mail, Google calendar, and Google Docs.  These three items completely replace everything that used to be in my old backpack except my textbooks. Instead of pulling out a binder, folder, or notebook, I simply open a Google Doc on whatever screen I’m near.  All these Google Apps are entirely web based, so I can access them anywhere.  In a library, on my laptop or iPad, or even from my iphone.  I can jot down a note, write out an assignment, cut and paste text, and even share my note with other students if I want.

When I am ready to submit my work to the professor, I simply email the google doc to them.  It’s fully Word compatable, so it doesn’t matter if they use a Mac or a PC.  Text is Text.

To help stay even more organized, I use a Google Calendar to keep track of due dates, test deadlines, and other important scholastic milestones like registering for classes.

 

TABM27C6S5AQ

Real Estate School

Eric Estate on TwitterTo my regular readers of this blog, I’m sorry I haven’t posted anything in the last 3 days.  You know I’m super diligent about making regular updates to my Real Estate Blog, but I have a good reason.  A really good reason.  This past Monday, I began my coursework to obtain my Real Estate License.  I make no bones about being a Real Estate Student, just check out my very first post, or my description on my Twitter account.  I started this blog, and my social media accounts (Twitter, and Google+) before I got my Real Estate License for one big reason.

I have friends who have zero experience in a corporate environment who are getting hired with great salaries just because they have 5,000 Twitter followers.  To many, that might sound crazy, but the world is changing, and this is the direction it is headed in.  But, that’s another post that I’ll write when I hit the 5,000 follower milestone.

Also, the number of followers, +1’s, and comments a person amasses, has become a new kind of currency in today’s digital world.  Just a few short years ago, an expert was someone who had published a book, or was written up in a newspaper or appeared on Television.  Today an expert is someone who has a lot of followers.  Honestly, would you rather trust someone who has 89 followers or much much more?

I know it takes time to get a decent following in Social Media.  You have to blog every day, tweet every day, find your voice, and most importantly post content that is interesting to your readers.  For years I’ve been taking pictures as a wedding photographer, and have developed a unique and distinct style to my pictures.  Lots of my previous clients have hired  me just because of the way I write on my old photography blog, and for that I’m grateful.  Since I don’t see myself as a 60 year old wedding photographer, and I don’t want to work for someone else right now, I’ve decided to turn my focus to helping people buy and sell houses.

The other big reason people hire someone is based on a personal recommendation from a friend.  “We used so-and-so, and they were a great negotiator, you should give them a call if you want to buy a house”.  But again, word of mouth referrals are shifting to a digital recommendation in the form of a clicking a Facebook Like or  Google+1 button.  All these clicks add up over time, and get presented to you, in your search results, or friend feeds.

Since these all take time, and I have four required classes to take at Austin Community College before I can sit for the board Exams.  I figure I’ll get started right now.  As I take classes, I’ll write about the process.  That way you will get to know me better, and learn that I really do know my stuff.

My first semester, I’ve signed up for two on-line classes:  Real Estate Principles, and the Law of Agency.  Each of these classes is, what else, on line, and pretty self-paced.  There are specific dates where I have to show up in person and take a test, but for the most part all the coursework is done over the internet.  I’m a little older, now, than when I first went to college.  In fact, the internet was just a baby when I was in college in the late 90’s.  I didn’t get my first email address until I got my first job. in 1998.  Now school is so much different.

This semester is only 12 weeks long, and the summer semester, when I’ll take my other 2 requirements, will be about the same.  Over this time, I’ll be continually blogging, tweeting, and getting the social media street credibility that is so necesary in today’s business world.

Sure, there are other, faster ways to get the requirements out of the way, but I’m not one who takes shortcuts, and I really want to know the material as best I can to be the best possible agent for you.

Be sure to subscribe to my blog, or follow me on twitter, and get all the updates.  It’s bound to be a fun ride.