Texas Real Estate License Act (TRELA): A Comprehensive Guide

By Ciprian Morariu Published: January 5, 2024

Introduction to the Texas Real Estate License Act (TRELA)

Texas is a vibrant and dynamic real estate market resulting from great weather, a strong job market, and a growing economy. It is also one of the most affordable real estate markets in the country, regardless of whether you are a buyer or an investor looking for new opportunities.  

There are many factors at play behind the exponential rise in Texas’ real estate market. The main ones are low taxes and credit benefits, numerous subsidies, and a strong economic outlook. 

However, the credit for this consistent growth also goes to the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC). And the starting point of that historical journey is the Texas Real Estate License Act (TRELA). 

This post will go into all details about TRELA and its role in establishing the real estate industry in the state. 

An In-Depth Understanding of the Real Estate License Act in Texas

For aspiring real estate agents in Texas, TRELA or the Texas Real Estate License Act is not too uncommon a term. 

So let’s try and address the elephant in the room by answering the question - what is TRELA and what exactly is its significance?

TRELA, or the Texas Real Estate License Act was passed into law in 1949. This law became the foundation of establishing the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) in the same year. 

It is also the main law that governs the functioning of the entire real estate industry in the state. 

Let us now take a detailed look into the purpose and functioning of the Texas Real Estate License Act (TRELA)

The goal of TRELA is to safeguard the interests of clients taking part in any form of real estate transactions in the state. 

TRELA is responsible for governing the licensing process of real estate professionals in the state. It also decides the validity, renewal, expiry, and cancellation of real estate licenses in Texas. 

Additionally, TRELA is the sole authority for disciplinary actions, proceedings, judgments, and penalties related to real estate transactions.

The following duties are also taken up by TREC under the Texas Real Estate License Act. 

  • Make and enforce real estate rules and regulations as deemed necessary
  • Advise state regulatory bodies and institutions concerning laws administered
  • Accredit and inspect educational programs and course curriculum
  • Conduct hearings and provide legal jurisdiction in real estate conflicts and cases
Texas Real Estate License

Historical Background of the Texas Real Estate License Act

TRELA was founded in 1949 to protect consumers from fraudulent transactions in real estate and oversee the functioning of real estate professionals. The body constitutes nine members appointed by the Governor of the state of Texas after consultation with the senate. 

This act establishes the ideal code of conduct and standardsfor real estate professionals and ensures that these are followed to the letter. 

Additionally, TRELA also establishes the standards for education, training, advertising, and working with consumers, dealing with other professionals. 

TRELA was originally called the Real Estate Dealer’s License Act and was changed to its present status in 1955. 

Key Provisions of the Texas Real Estate License Act

Licensing Requirements for Real Estate Professionals in Texas

The Texas Real Estate License Act (TRELA) oversees and regulates licensing for agents, brokers, appraisers, home inspectors, and others. 

It also sets the standards for real estate education in colleges, universities, and online course providers. 

TRELA ensures that all real estate professionalscomply with state and federal licensing requirements about ethical, non-criminal behavior. The body also stipulates that all aspiring real estate agents meet the set criteria for acquiring a license. 

Listed below are the basic, minimum eligibility requirements for starting a career in real estate:

  • Your age must be 18 years or above
  • You must be a legal resident of the US or a lawfully admitted alien
  • You must meet the TREC’s guidelines for honesty, truthfulness, and trustworthiness. 

The next step is to fulfill the TREC-approved education qualification guidelines. 

This includes going through the 180 hours of pre-licensing coursework offered by a state-approved provider. Among the subjects covered are the Principles of Real Estate, the Law of Agency, the Law of Contracts, and others. 

Renewal and Continuing Education Requirements under TRELA

Simply getting a real estate license is not enough to build a thriving, lasting career in Texas. 

Another important role of TRELA under Texas real estate laws is overseeing post-license education and training. 

Under TRELA, real estate professionals in Texas must renew their licenses every two years or risk getting them canceled. They must also comply with the latest industry rules, regulations, and guidelines. 

The Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) mandates that real estate professionals continuously up-to-date their skills and knowledge. 

Thus, they have established and enforced a specific set of post-licensing and continuing education requirements. 

For first-time license renewal, sales agents must complete 270 hours of SAE (Sales Apprentice Courses). Topics covered include property management, accounting, sales, marketing, and more. This course must be completed 90 days before the expiration date of their license. Once this is done, (TREC) will take up to 1-2 weeks to renew your license. 

However, real estate agents who have renewed their licenses more than once need to go through only 18 hours of continuing education every two years. 

As per TRELA, the continuing education courses must cover some of the following topics: 

  • Real Estate Finance
  • Real Estate Law
  • Real Estate Appraisal
  • Real Estate Investments
  • Property Management
  • Real Estate Marketing
  • Real Estate Accounting
  • Residential Inspection 

In addition to the above, TRELA requires continuing education license holders to take and complete two 4-hour courses on legal updates each.

Real Estate License in Texas

Prohibited Practices and Misconduct in the Real Estate Industry

The real estate industry is vast and diverse, and it brings together professionals and consumers from all walks of life. 

Typically, there is a list of prohibited practices and misconduct in the real estate industry, which includes the following: 

  • Misrepresentation of property or related information for self or client gains.
  • Puffing or exaggeration of facts to increase a property’s perceived value.
  • Discrimination against home buyers based on religion, sex, origin, or color. 
  • Engaging in a real estate transaction without a state-authorized license.
  • Giving or receiving kickbacks or referral bonuses as part of a transaction. 
  • Providing any form of legal advice or consultation without the required license
  • Representing both the seller side and the buyer side in the same transaction. 
  • Steering buyers towards making a purchase decision due to personal preference.
  • Utilizing deceptive or unfair marketing practices to increase buyer interest.
  • Providing inaccurate or incomplete property disclosures to buyers. 

The above list is not exhaustive, and the code of conduct and ethics guidelines are even more in-depth. 

Summing up, it is seen that the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) also oversees, investigates, administers, and resolves complaints from consumers.