There is a lot that goes into the buying and selling of real estate. The process is complicated and at times antiquated. There is a lot of money involved in these transactions, and even a minor error can be incredibly costly. Serving as a real estate agent is a position of trust. That trust is reliant upon the agents personal and professional reputation. It involves advising your clients on life-changing decisions and being responsible for large amounts of money. Due to all of these factors, not just anyone can serve as a real estate agent in Texas. To work in real estate, you will have to earn your real estate license from the Texas Real Estate Commission. Obtaining a license is a lot of work, but the rewards are substantial. Unfortunately, an arrest and conviction for a DWI could cause irreparable damage to your real estate career.
If you are a licensed real estate agent in Harris County or any surrounding county and have been charged with a DWI, you should immediately contact a Board Certified expert in DWI defense. A DWI conviction won't just put your freedom at risk, but it can also put your real estate license and thereby your livelihood at risk. That's why though it may be tempting to negotiate a plea with the prosecutor and move on with your life, doing so could have consequences related to your real estate license that no plea bargain can fix.
Many Texas DWI cases are defensible. If you would like to discuss your options with a Board Certified expert in both criminal defense law and DWI defense law, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. to set up a free consultation. After all, the best way to prevent a DWI conviction from costing you your real estate license is to avoid getting a conviction in the first place.
What is a Texas Real Estate License?
The sale of real estate in Texas is carefully regulated. If you intend to act as an agent on behalf of a real estate broker and negotiate the sale of real estate, you will need to obtain your real estate license.
The Texas Real Estate Commission
Since 1949, the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) has been in place to protect consumers in real estate transactions. While the TREC oversees a wide range of matters, they are specifically empowered to oversee the licensing and disciplining of real estate agents operating in the State of Texas.
Getting your Real Estate License
Getting a real estate license in Texas is a lengthy process. To obtain one, you will need to:
- meet basic eligibility requirements
- complete required classroom education, and
- pass an exam.
Requirements for a Texas Real Estate License
There are a few basic requirements you must meet to be eligible for a Texas real estate license. If you fail to meet any of these requirements, your application will not be considered. You must:
- be a citizen of the United States or a lawfully admitted alien
- be 18 years of age or older
- be a resident of the State of Texas, and
- meet the TREC's qualifications for honesty, trustworthiness, and integrity
While most of those requirements are straight-forward, it may not immediately be clear what constitutes TREC's qualifications for honesty, trustworthiness, and integrity. Helpfully, you can have TREC pre-clear you based on your moral character through a Moral Character Determination.
Moral Character Determination
Before applying for your license, you can petition the TREC to determine if you meet their moral character requirements for honesty, trustworthiness, and integrity. A determination is not mandatory, but it is recommended for anyone:
- with criminal convictions
- with unpaid judgments
- who has had discipline taken against a professional license, or
- who has acted as an agent without the proper license
To become a licensed sales agent, you will need to complete at least 180 hours of classroom study from a qualifying education provider before you even apply for your license. You will be required to provide proof of your education at the time of your application. The required courses include:
- Principles of Real Estate I (30 classroom hours)
- Principles of Real Estate II (30 classroom hours)
- Law of Agency (30 classroom hours)
- Law of Contracts (30 classroom hours)
- Promulgated Contract Forms (30 classroom hours)
- Real Estate Finance (30 classroom hours).
The Real Estate License Exam
The final step in the process is an exam. The exam is given by a third-party testing group, and you must pass it before obtaining your license. You will be mailed a copy of the Exam Candidate Handbook that explains the testing process in full detail after you apply. You will be given the opportunity to take the exam 3 times. If you fail, you can retake the exam up to three times. After a third failure, you will be required to take additional classes before trying again.
Will a Harris County DWI Conviction Cost Me My Real Estate License?
Whether or not a DWI will cost you your license depends on the circumstances surrounding your arrest and conviction. For instance, a felony conviction is much more likely to have an impact on your license than a misdemeanor.
Regardless, a failure to timely disclose any criminal conviction to the TREC can also land you in hot water.
Except in the most serious cases, the TREC is open about their desire for leniency. Often, if an agent is in violation of the rules but doesn't dispute the mistake, he or she will have the full real estate license suspension probated. In other words, it is not uncommon to not actually serve any of your license suspension as long as you cooperate and stay out of further trouble.
Felony DWI Conviction in Harris County, TX
Pursuant to the Texas Occupations Code, the TREC will often suspend or revoke a Texas real estate license upon the conviction of criminal offenses that are directly related to the duties and responsibilities of a real estate agent. They are also quick to discipline agents in cases where a conviction demonstrates an inability to represent the interest of another with honesty, trustworthiness, and integrity.
The TREC rules set out a comprehensive list of criminal convictions that qualify. Included in that list are felonies involving driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence. When considering possible disciplinary action against your license, the TREC will also consider:
- your prior criminal history
- your age at the time of the conviction
- your compliance with court-ordered terms and conditions, and
- other factors.
Ultimately, your license is in their hands. That makes hiring the right Houston DWI defense attorney so important.
Misdemeanor DWI Conviction in Harris County, TX
Typically, a misdemeanor conviction for DWI is not going to cost you your real estate license. But that isn't a hard and fast rule. The TREC can still choose to take action against your license for a misdemeanor DWI even though that crime is not listed. To do so, the Commission will consider:
- the nature and seriousness of the crime;
- the relationship of the crime to the purposes for requiring a license to engage in the occupation;
- the extent to which a license may offer an opportunity to engage in further criminal activity of the same type as that in which the person previously had been involved; and
- the relationship of the crime to the ability, capacity, or fitness required to perform the duties and discharge the responsibilities of the licensed occupation.
Do You Need to Report a Texas DWI Arrest or Conviction to the TREC?
One of the easiest ways to lose your Texas real estate license is to fail to disclose a criminal conviction in a timely manner. Texas Occupations Code §1101.652(a)(1) makes it a mandatory requirement that you notify the TREC within 30 days of any conviction, guilty plea, or plea of nolo contendere. Whether a failure to notify is an honest mistake or an attempt to hide your conviction does not matter; the rules are clear that you must keep the TREC informed of any criminal convictions or other potential ethical issues.
You do not, however, have to report a Texas DWI arrest.
The Best DWI Defense Attorney You Can Trust in Houston TX
For most real estate agents, their real estate license is the key to their livelihood. If you are a licensed real estate agent that has been charged with DWI in the Houston area, contact the Doug Murphy Law firm, P.C. today. Doug Murphy is a Board Certified expert in both DWI defense law and criminal defense law. In fact, Doug Murphy is one of only two attorneys in the State of Texas to be a certified expert in both areas.
Doug Murphy is a seasoned trial lawyer that approaches every case as if it will go in front of a jury. That is because your best chance for winning your DWI case is often to take your case to trial. This aggressive approach has led to a long record of successful outcomes for Doug Murphy's clients in Harris County and around Houston. The first step in keeping your Texas real estate license is by hiring the best Texas DWI attorney to fight for you at every step of the process. To discuss your options, contact the Doug Murphy Law Firm, P.C. for your free consultation.