Can You Obtain a Real Estate License with a Felony?

Obtaining a real estate license is a crucial step in becoming a real estate sales agent. This process involves completing pre-licensing education, passing an exam, submitting an application, and undergoing a background check. If you have previous convictions on your record, there’s no need to worry. You may still have the opportunity to pursue a career in real estate by providing additional documentation.

Is it Possible to be a Felon and Work in Real Estate?

Because real estate licenses vary by state, each state sets its own requirements. The good news is that most states allow individuals with felony convictions to pursue a real estate license, although some conditions and restrictions may apply.

Getting a real estate license entails submitting an application, completing the necessary pre-licensing education, and passing the license exam. For those with a felony on their record, additional documentation is usually required as part of the application process.

Many states provide individuals with a criminal record the chance to explain their circumstances through a supplemental application form or personal statement before completing the full application or taking the license exam. If your conviction will prevent you from obtaining a real estate license, you will be informed before investing time and money into the required courses and tests.

In cases where a felony conviction exists, most states grant real estate licenses if the conviction meets the following criteria:

  • Non-violent and non-sexual crime
  • Not considered a threat to public safety by the state
  • Committed several years (typically five or more) prior to the license application
  • Sentence and parole fully completed
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Crimes related to real estate, business, or financial management, such as fraud or forgery, often disqualify applicants from obtaining a real estate license. However, even in these cases, there are options to apply for a waiver or present a letter, statement, or in-person explanation before a Board, highlighting why you would still make an excellent real estate agent.

Which States Allow Felons to Obtain a Real Estate License?

Each state establishes its own regulations and procedures for obtaining a real estate license, regardless of whether it’s an agent’s or a broker’s license. These regulations also address the requirements for individuals with felony convictions. All states require a background check as part of the real estate license application process, but none automatically disqualify applicants with felony convictions.

In some instances, applicants may need to submit a waiver, additional documentation, or appear before a review board. Many states conduct early reviews so that applicants understand how their conviction will impact the process. In the event of a denied application, it is advisable to focus on building a strong work history and becoming a productive employee in another capacity before reapplying in the future.

While many states permit individuals with felony convictions to obtain real estate licenses, certain crimes, such as violent crimes, sexual crimes, and crimes related to real estate, business, or financial management, will not receive a waiver or approval.

To determine the requirements for obtaining a real estate license with a felony conviction in your state, please visit Garrity Traina.

Disclosing Felonies in Real Estate License Applications

One of the most crucial qualities of a real estate agent is honesty and trustworthiness. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that each state expects applicants to be honest about their personal history during the licensing process.

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Nearly all real estate license applications include a section for disclosing felony, misdemeanor, and other convictions. It’s critical to include all convictions on your real estate license application. In some states, these statements may even require notarization. Knowingly providing false information on a notarized statement is an offense in itself.

Most states conduct background checks and fingerprinting as part of the real estate license application process. If you have a criminal record, it will be discovered during the background check. Being honest about your past on the application can often outweigh the impact of a criminal record. Conversely, failing to disclose convictions can significantly hinder your chances of a successful application.

Alternative Paths for Felons in the Real Estate Industry

If you aspire to work in real estate but are unable to obtain a real estate sales agent license, several other career options are available:

  • Property Manager: Some states require property managers to obtain their own license, which often has different requirements from a real estate license.
  • Administrative Assistant: Many real estate offices seek reliable, hard-working office staff to assist with administrative tasks involved in buying and selling properties.
  • Homeowners Association Manager: This role involves overseeing the functioning of communities with homeowners associations, including answering phone calls, coordinating maintenance, and managing budgets.

All of these positions contribute significantly to the real estate industry and provide an opportunity to build a positive work history, potentially leading to the opportunity to reapply for a real estate license waiver in the future.

Does a Felony Impact Real Estate Licenses?

A checkered past does not necessarily close the door to becoming a real estate agent. Most states allow individuals with a criminal history, including felony convictions, to obtain a real estate license. It’s essential to provide supplemental application materials, such as any required forms, reference letters, or details about the conviction. Learning from past mistakes can pave the way to a successful career as a real estate agent.

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