Taking 18-hours of continuing education (CE) courses every two years is a requirement that every licensed real estate agent in the state is reminded of at every turn. It’s not always convenient and for a lot of agents, it can be costly, but it’s non-negotiable. To cover the cost of classes, REALTORS who have been doing this for years suggest stashing away a percentage of the expected tuition every month or saving a portion of every commission check. While these are great strategies, newer agents can’t always spare a few dollars a month. In fact, a lot of agents find themselves still playing catchup on loan payments for pre-licensing courses and fees when the time comes to enroll in CE courses. So how does one take CE credits without going even further into debt?
A lot of new agents kick off their career thinking they’ll hold down a part-time job to make ends meet, at least for the first six to 12 months. According to the real estate school, Aceable, when a new REALTOR splits his or her time between a new real estate career and, say, designing websites for small businesses, it will take that much longer to start earning a REALTOR’S salary that’s large enough to live on. “It can take time to close your first deal. Remember, your pay will probably be tied 100% to your deals,” says an article by Aceable. Meaning that new agents almost always work independently, from finding clients and all the way through to closing deals. That’s several months of difficult, non-paying, full-time work before collecting a single penny.
Pay for a continuing education package
The 18 hours of CE classes required by the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) include eight mandatory hours and 10 electives. Eight of the 10 hours are for two legal update courses that are designed for licensees to stay up on the latest laws, ethics, compliance and other standard practices that affect the Texas real estate industry. For the remaining hours, agents have their pick of electives, including unique courses like Marijuana in Real Estate, offered by The CE Shop; and the ordinary, like Liens, Taxes, and Foreclosures, offered by 360 Training. Paying for a prepackaged 18-hour course will cost less than an eight-hour legal update package, a 10-hour electives package, and enrolling in all 18 hours a la carte. Depending on the school — and tuition varies a lot between them — paying for individual classes can end up costing 70 percent more than an 18-credit hour package deal.
While the electives offered in package deals might not be as exciting as those offered a la carte, the electives that are bundled with the 18-hour packages tend to revolve around wide-ranging topics with broad appeal to all agents and real estate customers in Texas.
Take online classes
Taking online classes may sound like a no-brainer, but for a lot of people, internalizing new information is easier in a classroom than sitting at home in front of a laptop. For a REALTOR who needs to cut a few cash corners, going to a classroom is a great corner to cut because it’s not just the actual price of tuition that’s less with online classes, logging into class instead of driving means there’s no gas to pay for and no wear and tear on a vehicle. Something else to consider: Taking online classes won’t interfere with daytime work appointments and won’t require finding or paying for childcare.
Supplement your income
Instead of working a part-time job that has nothing to do with real estate, agents can supplement their income by charging for services that require some real estate experience and won’t detract from being a full-time agent. Some of the gigs that are perfectly suited for agents, according to the blog Real Estate Side Hustles, include photographing properties for sellers and new homeowners. “Millennials have photoshoots to mark every big life event: engagement, marriage, pregnancy, birth. What about a new home?” asks the writer of the Real Estate Side Hustles article. Home staging goes well with new-home photography side service and will keep agents in a real estate networking loop. Another agent-adjacent service is property management. After all, a lot of homeowner-investors have no interest in finding renters and handling lease issues.
What’s so great about all of these options — and not just the extra money that can go toward CE classes — is the steady flow of new prospects who recently made a real estate purchase and lots of renters who may be in the market to buy a new home soon.
For anyone trying to find ways to reduce the cost of renewing their real estate license, taking 18 hours of CE courses is a lot easier to complete than ever. With online classes, no one ever has to postpone a work appointment or schedule a closing around inflexible, on-site classes again, except for the procrastinators who waited to complete their credits until the last possible moment. But even if finances aren’t an issue, no one suggests doing that.