Now with the chance to fulfill his own personal career goals, learning about real estate has been a special privilege for Garcia, who has taken advantage of classes at South Texas College in order to earn his Texas real estate license even while balancing a full-time job and family life.
Garcia says his time during the week is spent doing the typical dad routine. There is tennis and folklorico practice for the kids, errands for his wife, dinner to prepare, and business meetings, he said. But when the weekends come, he is working to fulfill a personal dream.
“I tell my wife that Monday through Friday she has me, but come Saturday and Sunday I belong to STC, and she understands that and the kids understand it,” Garcia said.
Educationally speaking, real estate courses at STC are less of a toe dip in the pool than they are a firm nudge into the deep end. Courses are thorough and comprehensive, and through the work of faculty who are also working professionals, students learn everything from fair housing laws, to contracts, appraisals, financing, titles, and everything in between.
The course load enables students to sit for the Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) exam, and eventually into a new job assisting clients with the home-buying process.
“My attraction to STC was due to the fact that I was going to sit in an actual classroom instead of taking the classes online,” said Laura Garza, who commutes from Harlingen for her real estate courses at STC.
As an employee for the Harlingen school district, Garza said she was looking for something to supplement her career, and was inspired by a significant other who works in mortgage lending. Beginning with her courses at the start of 2019, Garza says she is now finished with the classroom portion and is set to take her TREC exam.
“I had gone the online route initially but it didn’t work out for me,” she said. “This is 100 percent one on one, and you are able to ask questions and get feedback. That’s what really attracted me to the courses here.”
STC is a TREC-approved provider of courses, which offers training for students seeking to obtain their Texas real estate license.
The program includes six core courses, encompassing 180 hours of instruction on Principles I and II, Law of Contracts, Law of Agency, Finance, and Promulgated Contracts. In order to obtain a license, a student must furnish TREC with satisfactory evidence that they have successfully completed all six core courses.
The student makeup is also diverse. Classes consist of educators, attorneys, business executives, students, and retirees who are seeking to become real estate sales professionals.
“In my business, we buy properties ourselves so we can build our stores,” said Fernando Reyes, the proprietor of a chain of local convenience stores in the Mission area. “I have always been involved in the process of buying the property and I have always been interested in the real estate sector.
“This will help me as I seek to continue growing my business.”
Classes at STC are casual, but arranged like frank discussions between students and faculty.
STC instructor Mary Lou Henry says she takes extra steps to ensure that courses at the college emphasize the real world responsibilities of being a real estate agent apart from the image portrayed in film or television.
Henry is a former STC student and has been an instructor with STC since 1999. She also serves as a broker member on TREC’s Education Standards Advisory Committee, which reviews curriculum, course content requirements, and instructor certification requirements for qualifying and continuing education courses.
“When we teach these courses at STC, we deliver the material that is required for students to pass the exam, but we stress the fact that even though we are involved in sales of properties, the students are going into a profession that is a fiduciary profession,” she said. “This is an ethical profession. It’s about putting the interest of the client above anything else, and that is a code of ethics we live by as realtors.”
STC instructor Jack Brown, who teaches on the weekends, has been a real estate broker for 40 years and instructor for the last 20 years, and operates his brokerage Town & Country R.E. out of San Antonio. He commutes from San Antonio every weekend in order to teach at STC.
Real estate courses at STC are provided on evenings and weekends for students seeking to balance their education and work life. Henry conducts classes during the week on Mondays and Wednesdays at 6 p.m., and Brown holds classes on Saturdays and Sundays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Courses during the week consist of eight classes per core course, and the weekend portion taught by Brown consists of four classes per core course.
“The reason the college has set up the classes this way is to help people like Frank or even those mothers in the class who have to rush home and take care of the family before they get to class,” Brown said. “It can put a lot of pressure on those who work until 5 p.m. or 5:30, so STC developed both weekday and weekend classes.
“Our goal is to get people like Frank and Laura ready to be able to take the Texas real estate exam. It’s a very tough exam to pass, and every year it seems like TREC tightens the screws and makes it more difficult. They upgrade their standards every year.”
For more information on real estate courses at South Texas College, visit southtexascollege.edu/cpwe/realestate.html or call CPWE at (956) 872-3585.