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How To Become A Real Estate Agent With A Felony

Last updated on April 4, 2021

Real Estate Agent Felony

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For those who are stuck in a job that they hate or those who want to enter a field that challenges them and offers tremendous rewards, making the move to a career in real estate is something that is well worth considering.

But one thing that often makes people hesitant is concern over whether or not they can actually enter the field legally. And one of the biggest misconceptions is that it is impossible to become a real estate agent with a felony on your record.

There are plenty of reasons that these misconceptions exist – ask practically anyone and they’ll tell you that you can’t become a real estate agent with a felony on your criminal history. A huge reason for this is the fact that part of the process to become a real estate agent includes a fingerprinting process and a criminal background check.

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It’s no secret that felons are disallowed from a variety of things – including serving on a jury, owning firearms, voting, and more. And many career paths are blocked off for felons. But real estate may not be one of those paths.

So, can you become a real estate agent with a felony on your record?

It’s well worth looking closer at, especially since those who become real estate agents can earn well over the national average for income levels – and in some cases could earn more than 6 figures if truly successful.

With that in mind, it’s important to learn more about becoming a real estate agent with a felony – whether or not it’s possible and just how to go about doing it.

Obtaining A Real Estate License With A Felony Is A State By State Issue

The first thing to understand about becoming a real estate agent with a felony history is that every state is different. In certain states, you will be unable to become a real estate agent with a felony at all. Other states, however, are much more lenient. If you have a criminal history but want to be a real estate agent, the first step you should take is to look into exactly what your state allows and what they don’t allow.


State By State Guide: How To Become A Real Estate Agent With A Felony

Choose your state below to find out if you can obtain a real estate license with a felony conviction.


Alabama

The Alabama Real Estate Commission is charged by law with ascertaining that persons engaged in the real estate business are trustworthy, bear a reputation of honesty and truthfulness, and have not been convicted of a felony or crime involving moral turpitude.

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Alaska

If convicted of a felony, forgery, theft, extortion, conspiracy to defraud creditors, fraud or other crimes that in, in the judgment of the Commission, affects the individual’s ability to practice as a real estate salesperson competently and safely, a license will not be granted. Before an application for a real estate license will be considered seven years must have lapsed since the individual completed the sentence that was imposed upon conviction.

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Arizona

The Department CANNOT issue a license to a person convicted of a felony who is incarcerated, paroled or under community supervision, or on probation.  The Department may not issue a license to a person who has been convicted of a felony or convicted of a misdemeanor offense, such as (but not limited to) theft, forgery, extortion, conspiracy to defraud, violence against another person, or crimes of moral turpitude.  A Fingerprint Clearance Card (FCC) issued by DPS is required by all applicants at the time of application.

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Arkansas

A person shall not receive or hold a license issued by the commission if the person has been convicted of or pleaded guilty or nolo contendere to a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude, fraud, dishonesty, untruthfulness, or untrustworthiness.

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California

Any crime of dishonesty or involving fraud or theft, whether a misdemeanor or a felony, is investigated.

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Colorado

Haven’t been convicted of, found guilty of, pled guilty or nolo contendere to, been adjudicated a juvenile violator of, or been incarcerated for any felony involving fraud, theft, larceny, embezzlement, fraudulent conversion, or misappropriation of property or any crime arising from the conduct of a solicitation for a charitable organization or sponsor, under the laws of this or any other state or of the United States, and if so, the name of such person, the nature of the offense, the date of the offense, the court having jurisdiction in the case, the date of conviction or other disposition, and the disposition of the offense.

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Connecticut

Not be under indictment for forgery, theft, extortion, conspiracy to defraud, or any other felony implying character trustworthiness. If ever convicted of any of the specified felony charges, the complete sentence must have been served.

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Delaware

Shall not have a criminal conviction record, nor pending criminal charge relating to an offense the circumstances of which are substantially related to the practice of providing real estate services. In addition, shall not have been convicted of fraud. Applicants who have criminal conviction records or pending criminal charges shall request appropriate authorities to provide information about the conviction or charge directly to the Commission in sufficient specificity to enable the Commission to make a determination whether the conviction or charge is substantially related to the applicant’s area of practice. However, after a hearing or review of documentation demonstrating that the applicant meets the specified criteria for a waiver, the Commission, by an affirmative vote of a majority of the quorum, may waive this paragraph (a)(4), if it finds all of the following:

a. For waiver of a felony conviction, more than 5 years have elapsed since the date of the conviction. At the time of the application the applicant may not be incarcerated, on work release, on probation, on parole or serving any part of a suspended sentence and must be in substantial compliance with all court orders pertaining to fines, restitution and community service.

b. For waiver of a misdemeanor conviction or violation, at the time of the application the applicant may not be incarcerated, on work release, on probation, on parole or serving any part of a suspended sentence and must be in substantial compliance with all court orders pertaining to fines, restitution and community service.

c. The applicant is capable of providing real estate services in a competent and professional manner.

d. The granting of the waiver will not endanger the public health, safety or welfare.

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Florida

Permanent Bar Felony Crimes:
  • ANY CAPITAL FELONY
  • ANY FELONY DIRECTLY RELATED TO FINANCIAL SERVICES BUSINESS
  • ANY FIRST DEGREE FELONY
  • COUNTERFEITING – (FINANCIAL SERVICES INSTRUMENTS)
  • EMBEZZLEMENT
  • FALSE STATEMENT (FINANCIAL SERVICES TRANSACTIONS)
  • MONEY LAUNDERING
  • SALE OF UNREGISTERED SECURITES
Moral Turpitude Felony Crimes -15 Year Disqualification:
  • ABUSE OF ELDERLY PERSON
  • AGGRAVATED ASSAULT
  • AGGRAVATED BATTERY
  • ARSON
  • BATTERY ON LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER (INVOLVING INTENTIONAL BODILY INJURY)
  • BOMB THREAT, PLACING A BOMB
  • BREAKING AND ENTERING
  • BRIBERY
  • BURGLARY (DEPENDING ON CIRCUMSTANCES)
  • CHILD ABUSE
  • CHILD MOLESTATION
  • COUTERFEITING (NON-FINANCIAL SERVICES INSTRUMENTS)
  • DEALING IN STOLEN PROPERTY
  • ESCAPE
  • EXTORTION
  • FALSE STATEMENT (NON-FINANCIAL SERVICES TRANSACTIONS)
  • FORGERY / UTTERING A FORGERY
  • FRAUD (NOT RELATED TO FINANCIAL SERVICES BUSINESS)
  • GRAND LARCENY
  • GRAND THEFT
  • KIDNAPPING
  • LEAVING THE SCENE OF AN ACCIDENT WITH INJURIES
  • MANSLAUGHTER
  • MURDER
  • PASSING WORTHLESS BANK CHECK (MORE THAN $500)
  • PERJURY
  • POSSESSION OF DRUGS WITH INTENT TO SELL/DELIVER/ETC.
  • RAPE
  • RECEIVING STOLEN PROPERTY
  • RESISTING ARREST/OFFICER WITH VIOLENCE
  • ROBBERY
  • SEXUAL BATTERY / SODOMY
  • SMUGGLE CONTRABAND-INTRODUCE INTO DETENTION FACILITY
  • TAMPERING WITH EVIDENCE
  • TAX EVASION
  • THEFT
Non-Moral Turpitude Felony Crimes – 7 Year Disqualification:
  • BATTERY ON LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER (NOT INVOLVING INTENTIONAL BODILY INJURY)
  • BURGLARY (DEPENDING ON CIRCUMSTANCES)
  • CARRYING A CONCEALED WEAPON
  • CHILD NEGLECT
  • CRIMINAL MISCHIEF
  • DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
  • DRIVING UNDER INFLUENCE/DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED
  • DRIVING WHILE LICENSE SUSPENDED/REVOKED
  • FELONY BATTERY
  • PASSING WORTHLESS BANK CHECK – ($500 OR LESS)
  • POSSESSION OF DRUGS
  • POSSESSION OF FIREARM BY EX-FELON
  • RESISTING ARREST/OFFICER WITHOUT VIOLENCE
  • SALE OF FIREWORKS
  • SOLICITATION OF PROSTITUTION
  • TRESPASSING
  • VEHICULAR HOMICIDE

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Georgia

If you have a single felony conviction or crime of moral turpitude conviction, you are ineligible to apply for a license until 2 years have passed since the completion of all terms and conditions of any sentence.

If you have multiple felony convictions or crimes of moral turpitude convictions, you are ineligible to apply for a license until 5 years have passed since the completion of all terms and conditions of any sentence.

Additionally, an applicant for licensure as a Broker or Associate Broker may be licensed as such only if 10 years have passed since the later of the conviction, sentence or release from incarceration.

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Hawaii

Questionable background issues include, but is not limited to, criminal convictions (felony, misdemeanor, or court-martial), or any civil/administrative/government action, against you, including DUIs, drug/alcohol issues, abuse situations, tax liens, unpaid tax obligations, judgments, unpaid judgments, disciplinary action (for another licensing area or from another state or country), applicants currently serving parole or probation, violations of administrative
laws/court orders/government sanctions, etc.

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Idaho

Applicants who have ever been convicted of a felony or had a professional license revoked for certain disciplinary reasons must obtain an exemption to be licensed.  Commissioners review exemption requests at regularly scheduled Commission meetings.  For more information on how to submit a request for exemption review, see the Special Consideration Policy the , or contact IREC staff for assistance.

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Illinois

  1. The Division shall consider the following standards:
    1. Whether the crime was a felony;
    2. Whether the crime was financial in nature or involved monies, including but not limited to, fraud, embezzlement, forgery, counterfeiting, money laundering, and theft;
    3. Whether the crime was one of moral turpitude, breach of trust, or misfeasance or malfeasance, including but not limited to, drug offenses under the Illinois Controlled Substances Act [720 ILCS 570] and Federal Drug Enforcement Laws [21 U.S.C. 801], sex offenses listed in Article 11 of the Criminal Code of 1961 [720 ILCS 5/Art. XI] dishonesty, false statement or some other element of deceit, untruthfulness or falsification, and perjury or inducement to perjury;
    4. Whether in the case of a felony more than 10 years have elapsed since the date of completion of imposed sentence;
    5. Whether in the case of a misdemeanor related to finances or moral turpitude more than 5 years have elapsed since the date of completion of imposed sentence;
    6. Whether the conviction was from a city ordinance violation or conviction for which a jail sentence was not imposed; and
    7. Whether the applicant has been sufficiently rehabilitated to warrant public trust. The Division shall consider the following factors in considering whether an applicant has been presumed to be rehabilitated:
      1. Completion of probation;
      2. Completion of parole supervision;
      3. In the case of a felony, not subject to parole supervision, if more than 10 years have elapsed after final discharge or release from any term of imprisonment without any subsequent conviction; or
      4. In the case of a misdemeanor related to finances and moral turpitude and more than 5 years have elapsed after final discharge or release from any term of imprisonment without any subsequent conviction.

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Indiana

No felony convictions at any time.

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Iowa

Any serious misdemeanor conviction, aggravated misdemeanor conviction or felony conviction (a conviction of operating while intoxicated [OWI] MUST be disclosed.)  A “conviction” includes a guilty plea, a deferred judgment prior to discharge, and a finding of guilt by a judge or jury.  ALL convictions must be disclosed regardless of the date when entered or whether the criminal record has been expunged.  IF IN DOUBT – DISCLOSE!

Q: I wish to obtain a real estate license but I have a felony conviction and/or a criminal conviction offense involving forgery, embezzlement, obtaining money under false pretenses, theft, arson, extortion, conspiracy to defraud, or an offense involving a criminal breach of fiduciary duty.  Will that prevent me from obtaining a license?

A: Possibly.  Please review Iowa Code § 543B.15(3).  An applicant that has been convicted of a felony and/or has been convicted of a serious or aggravated misdemeanor offense (or equivalent) specified in Iowa Code § 543B.15(3)(a)(1) shall not be considered for licensure until five years have elapsed following completion of any applicable period of incarceration, or payment of a fine or fulfillment of any other type of sentence.  After expiration of the applicable time period, the Commission may deny a license application based on the grounds of the conviction.  See Iowa Code § 543B.15(6).  If you wish to seek further clarification, please contact Commission staff.

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Kansas

An applicant who has pled guilty to an offense comparable to any crime which would require the applicant to register as provided in the Kansas offender registration act may not be granted a license until fifteen years after the date of the applicant’s discharge from post-release supervision, completion of any non-prison sanction or suspension of the imposition of the sentence resulting for any plea of guilty or no contest.

An applicant who has pled guilty to any other felony offense may not be granted a license until five years after the date of the applicant’s discharge from post-release supervision, completion of a non-prison sanction or suspension of the imposition of the sentence resulting from any plea of guilty or no contest to or conviction.

License approval is not guaranteed after the required number of years have elapsed.  An application may be denied, approved, or approved with restrictions.

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Kentucky

The criminal background process can take 10-12 weeks, and the Real Estate Commission requires that it not show any felony convictions at any time, misdemeanor convictions within the past five-year period, or evidence of dishonesty, untruthfulness or bad reputation.

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Louisiana

Applicants with a felony conviction must complete the Felony Applicant Form.

Paperwork may be submitted via email to compliance@lrec.gov or mailed to 9071 Interline Avenue, Baton Rouge, LA 70809.

Felony applicants may be required to appear for a hearing at a regularly scheduled Louisiana Real Estate Commission meeting where the Commissioners will make a final decision regarding initial licensure.

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Maine

You must also pass a criminal record check, which you are responsible for paying for. The cost of this check is $21 and is payable when you apply for your license. Having a criminal conviction in your background does not necessarily mean that you are unable to pursue a real estate career. The board reviewing your license application will take several factors into account, including the severity of the offense and how long ago it occurred. Overall, the committee must believe you to be a trustworthy and honest individual.

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Maryland

A felony or misdemeanor conviction does not automatically make you ineligible for a real estate license. We encourage everyone to apply for a license. Each conviction is weighed on a case-by-case basis, and you will have the right to file an appeal should your application be denied. When applying, you will need to submit True Test copies of the proceedings surrounding the conviction with your application.

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Massachusetts

In order to acquire a Massachusetts real estate license, it would be best if you have a clean criminal background. While it may be more difficult to get a real estate license with a felony, in some cases, you may be granted an exemption. Simply include the details of your conviction on your application. You can see a full list of disqualifying convictions here.

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Michigan

It is still possible to obtain a Michigan real estate salesperson’s license if you have a prior conviction, including a felony conviction. LARA will have to review your specific case after you submit your license application to determine if they will accept or deny your application. LARA will ultimately have to determine if you meet their requirement for “good moral character”.

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Minnesota

The license applications ask questions about the applicant’s criminal history. Any real estate broker, owner, officer, director, member, manager, partner, or salesperson who has a background item that needs to be explained is required to submit certain official documents to show the extent of the issues and how they were ultimately resolved. This table shows the correct documentation for the most common items.

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Mississippi

The commission must ensure that applicants for real estate licenses do not possess a background that could call into question public trust. An applicant found by the commission to possess a background which calls into question the applicant’s ability to maintain public trust shall not be issued a real estate license.

  • (b) The commission shall not issue a real estate license if:
    • (i) The applicant has had a real estate license revoked in any governmental jurisdiction within the five-year period immediately preceding the date of the application;
    • (ii) The applicant has been convicted of, or pled guilty or nolo contendere to, a felony in a domestic or foreign court:
  1. During the five-year period immediately preceding the date of the application for
    licensing; or
  2. At any time preceding the date of the application, if such felony involved an act of
    fraud, dishonesty or a breach of trust, or money laundering.
    (c) The commission shall adopt rules and regulations necessary to implement, administer and enforce the provisions of this section.
    (d) The requirement of a criminal background check provided in this section shall not apply to persons who have held a broker’s or salesperson’s license in this state for at least twenty-five (25) years and who are older than seventy (70) years of age.

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Missouri

The commission may refuse to examine or issue a license to any person known by it to be guilty of any of the acts or practices specified in subsection 2 of section 339.100, or to any person previously licensed whose license has been revoked, or may refuse to issue a license to any association, partnership, corporation, professional corporation, limited partnership, or limited liability company of which such person is a manager, officer or general partner, or in which as a member, partner or associate* such person has or exercises a controlling interest either directly or indirectly, or to any corporation of which such person is an officer or in which as a stockholder such person has or exercises a controlling interest either directly or indirectly.

Any person denied a license or the right to be examined shall be so notified by the commission in writing stating the reasons for denial or refusal to examine and informing the person so denied of his right to file a complaint with the administrative hearing commission in accordance with the applicable provisions of sections 621.015 to 621.198 and the rules promulgated thereunder. All notices hereunder shall be sent by registered or certified mail to the last known address of the applicant.

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Montana

Applicants who have an existing criminal record may still apply for a real estate license. It would be best if applicants were to include their criminal history along with the necessary documents related to the conviction, if any, on their application. After submitting your fingerprints, your application will be forwarded to the Division of Criminal Justice Information Systems and to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Upon investigation, each applicant will be considered on their own merits.

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Nebraska

Decisions as to whether the Commission will allow someone with a criminal past to be licensed are made by the Commission on an individual case-by-case basis.  All convictions should be fully disclosed and some detail given concerning the circumstances surrounding the arrest.  Those with a felony conviction will be required to appear before the Commission at an informal hearing at a regularly scheduled meeting.  Those with multiple misdemeanors and/or a pattern of offenses may also be required to appear before the Commission. We recommend that you write a letter to the Commission or send an email to the Commission’s Director with the following information: The date of the charge, what the charge was, the city and state, if it is a misdemeanor or felony, a detailed description of the circumstances leading up to the charge and the dispositions (were you fined, did you serve time, did you serve probation, if so, the length of probation served, etc.).  Please provide phone number and mailing address so we can contact you. After receipt, the Director will review the information and respond to your request.

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Nevada

In addition to passing a criminal background check, you’ll be asked on the application whether you:

  • Have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor
  • Have been convicted of forgery, embezzlement, larceny, extortion, fraud or any crime involving moral turpitude
  • Are on parole or probation or paying any restitution
  • Have ever filed bankruptcy
  • Had any license issued by a public authority suspended or revoked
  • Been involved in an administrative proceeding for any professional or occupational license
  • Had a surety company decline to provide you with a bond

If you have any of these in your past, you’ll need to provide a written explanation. The real estate regulators may decide to issue a license anyway.

You will also be asked if you are currently behind on any child support obligations. If you are behind on child support, you can’t get a Nevada real estate agent license.

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New Hampshire

The new law, which is effective August 31, 2018, provides that an individual may be disqualified from licensure based on criminal record (“notwithstanding any other statute or rule”) only if the person has been convicted of a felony or violent misdemeanor, and only if the licensing board concludes that “the state has an important interest in protecting public safety that is superior to the individual’s right” to be licensed. In turn, the board may reach this conclusion only if it determines, by clear and convincing evidence at the time of the petition, that:

(1)  The specific offense for which the individual was convicted is substantially related to the state’s interest;

(2)  The individual, based on the nature of the specific offense for which the individual was convicted and the individual’s current circumstances . . . , is more likely to re-offend by virtue of having the license than if the individual did not have the license; and

(3)  A re-offense will cause greater harm than it would if the individual did not have the license.

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New Jersey

Real estate professionals who are facing disciplinary action or who have been convicted in the past of a felony will be barred from receiving their license…though that doesn’t keep people from trying. The New Jersey Real Estate Commission requires applicants to disclose all criminal convictions and any pending criminal matters. The commission then reviews each application and determines whether or not to issue their real estate license based on a number of factors including criminal background. If you have been arrested or convicted of a criminal offense, it will affect your current New Jersey real estate license (N.J.S.A. 45:15-17(s)). The commission requires written notice of any arrest, indictment or conviction within 30 days. Depending on the type of crime, additional action may also be required. N.J.S.A. 45:15-19.1 requires that the commission revoke a license when a licensee has been convicted of certain offenses, including theft and related offenses. N.J.S.A. 45:15-19.2 allows the commission the discretion to suspend a license if a licensee is indicted for certain types of crimes, including theft and related offenses.

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New Mexico

Convictions are only disqualifiers if the criminal record includes a felony conviction and if fewer than three years have elapsed since completion of a sentence or probation.

The Commission takes criminal records into consideration on a case-by-case basis.

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New York

A person convicted of a felony is automatically barred from getting a real estate license in New York State. The automatic bar can be removed with a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities, Certificate of Good Conduct, or an executive Pardon from the governor. The three options can restore many of an ex-felon’s rights, including the right to get a real estate salesperson/broker license, to vote, and to serve in a jury. However, even though the “automatic” bar to employment and licensure may be removed by the Certificates, the agency granting the license has the right to deny any certificate based on the conviction if it is job-related and if it poses a risk to people or property.

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North Carolina

Every applicant for a real estate license has the burden of satisfying the Commission that the applicant possesses the honesty, truthfulness, integrity, good moral character, and general fitness, including mental and emotional fitness, necessary to protect the public interest and promote public confidence in the real estate brokerage business. To enable the Commission to render its decision regarding an applicant’s character expeditiously, the applicant should submit with the application all information relating to criminal offenses (including serious traffic offenses), professional licensure disciplinary actions and liens/unpaid judgments. Full disclosure and explanation of every problem relating to these matters is expected and highly recommended! Nondisclosure of such information will only increase an applicant’s burden of proving truthfulness, honesty and integrity

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North Dakota

Have not been convicted or pleaded guilty or nolo contendere before any court of any felony, or of a misdemeanor involving theft, forgery, embezzlement, obtaining money under false pretenses, bribery, larceny, extortion, conspiracy to defraud, or other similar offense.

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Ohio

Not have been convicted of a felony or a crime of moral turpitude. Not have violated any civil
rights laws regarding real estate within the past two years as determined by a court of law or
violated any rules of the Ohio Division of Real Estate. In some circumstances, it is possible to
have a conviction or violation disregarded, which would allow you to sit for the exam. The
Division may only make a determination with respect to a conviction or violation if you file
an application. For additional information on this process, contact the Division directly or
review the additional information found on the Division’s website

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Oklahoma

Any applicant convicted of any crimes defined in Section 13.1 of Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes shall not be eligible to obtain a real estate license within twenty (20) years of the completion of any criminal sentence, including parole and probation.

Any applicant convicted of a felony involving forgery, embezzlement, obtaining money under false pretense, extortion, conspiracy to defraud, fraud, or any other similar offense or offenses shall not be eligible to obtain a real estate license within ten (10) years of the completion of any criminal sentence, including parole and probation.

Any applicant convicted of any other felony shall not be allowed to obtain a real estate license within five (5) years of the completion of any criminal sentence, including parole and probation.

For the purposes of this section, the term “applicant” shall mean any person making an application for original licensure as a provisional sales associate, sales associate, broker associate, or broker, and shall not apply to any licensee seeking renewal of a current license.

Any applicant with a felony conviction shall not automatically receive a license after the timelines set forth in this section, but may be licensed in accordance with the licensing provisions set forth in the Oklahoma Real Estate License Code and Rules.

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Oregon

All felony and misdemeanor convictions must be disclosed. All arrests that have not been adjudicated must be disclosed.  Offenses include major traffic violations such as DUI, reckless driving, fleeing from or attempting to elude a police officer, and driving while suspended.  “Convictions” include a guilty or “no contest” plea, a verdict of guilty by a judge or jury, or a forfeiture of bail.  All convictions and arrests must be disclosed whether or not they were later dismissed, whether or not a diversion program completed, and whether or not they occurred when you were a minor. Do not assume that a criminal record does not exist.  The Oregon State Police (OSP) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) keep criminal information on record for 30 years or more.You must disclose if you are the subject of administrative proceedings, including investigations, sanctions, hearings or other disciplinary actions by any administrative agency. The Agency processes your name through a nationwide data bank containing regulatory disciplinary actions. You are required to disclose specific civil and financial issues, including any adverse judgments against you related to a real property matter, all unsatisfied judgments or bankruptcies. Each application requiring further review is evaluated individually. The purpose of the background check is to determine your current fitness to receive a license.

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Pennsylvania

If you have ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor or pled guilty or nolo contendere, your application may be delayed and/or denied for licensure. You must submit the following documentation to the Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission along with your application for licensure:

The conviction summary information provided by the State Police

Certified copies of court documents;

Letter from Probation Officer, dated within 90 days, indicating current probationary status/completion date;

Police incident reports;

Employment History (resume);

Detailed description (in applicant’s words) of the circumstances surrounding the conviction, the basis for the conviction and the disposition of the conviction;

A signed and dated reference letter from the employing broker, on the company letterhead, indicating that the broker is aware of all conviction(s) and is willing to hire the applicant;

Two signed and dated character references from individuals who are not related to or residing with the applicant.

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Rhode Island

Being convicted of any criminal felony in a court of competent jurisdiction of this or any other state or federal court, involving dishonesty, breach of trust, forgery, embezzlement, obtaining money under false pretenses, bribery, larceny, extortion, conspiracy to defraud, fraud, false dealing or any similar offense(s) or by pleading guilty or nolo contendere to any such criminal offense or offenses may be grounds for disqualification.

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South Carolina

You may be disqualified if you have been convicted of violating the federal and state fair housing laws, forgery, embezzlement, breach of trust, larceny, obtaining money or property under false pretense, extortion, fraud, conspiracy to defraud, or has been convicted of a felony sex-related, felony drug-related, felony real estate-related, felony financial, or felony violent offense, or pleading guilty or nolo contendere to such an offense in a court of competent jurisdiction of this State, another state, or a federal court.

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South Dakota

The Commission may deny the issuance of a license for reasons such as conviction of a felony, unpaid judgments, misstatements, etc. For more information, review SDCL 36-21A-33.

An application may be denied for any one of the following reasons:

(1) The applicant has written insufficient funds checks within the calendar year before application or has written an insufficient funds check for the application;

(2) The applicant has been convicted of a felony or of a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude. If the applicant is a firm, a license may be denied if any partner, associate, director, stockholder, officer or responsible broker has been convicted of a felony or of a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude;

(3) The applicant has been disciplined by a regulatory agency in relation to activities as a real estate salesperson or broker, broker associate, firm, appraiser, mortgage broker, or any other regulated licensee, including insurance, securities, law and commodities trading;

(4) The applicant has failed to satisfy the requirements as provided by this chapter;

(5) The applicant has failed the prelicense school examination;

(6) The applicant has not met education requirements;

(7) The applicant made deliberate misstatements, deliberate omissions, misrepresentations or untruths in the application; or

(8) The applicant has a current and unpaid judgment filed against the applicant.

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Tennessee

Applicants with a felony conviction or a misdemeanor conviction involving the theft of money, property or services must appear before the Commission to be considered for licensure. If it is determined that you must appear before the Commission, your Principal Broker will need to accompany you. You will be contacted to schedule an appearance

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Texas

To be eligible for a real estate license, applicants must prove to TREC that they have the required honesty, trustworthiness & integrity. [TRELA §1101.354(2)] Each applicant is evaluated individually and TRELA does not contain a list of crimes or number of crimes that would automatically disqualify an applicant from obtaining a license. However, Rule 541.1(a) does list the types of criminal offenses that TREC considers directly relate to the duties and responsibilities of a license holder and tend to demonstrate a person’s inability to represent the interest of another with honesty, trustworthiness and integrity.

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Utah

According to Administrative Rules R162-2f-201, an applicant does not qualify for a real estate license if he or she has any felony in the last five years (starting from the time of conviction/plea or completion of any jail/prison sentence) OR if the applicant has any misdemeanor involving fraud, misrepresentation, theft, or dishonesty within the last three years.

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Vermont

Has never been convicted of a felony, or forgery, embezzlement, obtaining money under false pretenses, conspiring to defraud, or any criminal or civil offense which contains an element of fraud

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Virginia

A person shall not be refused a license, certificate or registration to practice, pursue, or engage in any regulated occupation or profession solely because of a prior criminal conviction, unless the criminal conviction directly relates to the occupation or profession for which the license, certificate or registration is sought. However, the regulatory board shall have the authority to refuse a license, certificate or registration if, based upon all the information available, including the applicant’s record of prior convictions, it finds that the applicant is unfit or unsuited to engage in such occupation or profession.

In determining whether a criminal conviction directly relates to an occupation or profession, the regulatory board shall consider the following criteria:

1. The nature and seriousness of the crime;

2. The relationship of the crime to the purpose for requiring a license to engage in the occupation;

3. The extent to which the occupation or profession might offer an opportunity to engage in further criminal activity of the same type as that in which the person had been involved;

4. The relationship of the crime to the ability, capacity or fitness required to perform the duties and discharge the responsibilities of the occupation or profession;

5. The extent and nature of the person’s past criminal activity;

6. The age of the person at the time of the commission of the crime;

7. The amount of time that has elapsed since the person’s last involvement in the commission of a crime;

8. The conduct and work activity of the person prior to and following the criminal activity; and

9. Evidence of the person’s rehabilitation or rehabilitative effort while incarcerated or following release.

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Washington

You may be disqualified if, within the last 10 years, you have defaulted or been convicted of or entered a plea of no contest to a gross misdemeanor or felony crime (doesn’t include traffic
offenses).Currently under indictment, or is there a criminal complaint, charge, or
information pending against you? (Appraisers and appraiser trainees do not
answer this question). You may also be disqualified if you are currently required to register as a sex offender.

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West Virginia

Any commissioner immediately and automatically forfeits his or her membership
on the commission if he or she has his or her license to practice as a real estate broker,
associate broker or salesperson suspended or revoked by the board, is convicted of a
felony under the laws of this state or of the United States, becomes a nonresident of this
state, or holds any elective public office or becomes a member of any political committee.

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Wisconsin

Generally, the department or licensing board may refuse to license an initial applicant or bar or terminate from licensure a renewal applicant who was convicted of any felony, misdemeanor, or other offense, including ordinances, the circumstances of which substantially relate to the circumstances of the particular licensed activity.

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Wyoming

You may be disqualified if the following is true for you…

Has been convicted of a felony that relates to practice in securities and investing or to the ability to practice as a broker-dealer, agent, investment adviser, or investment adviser representative, as identified in rule by the secretary of state consistent with W.S. 33-1-304, or within the previous ten (10) years.

Has been convicted of a misdemeanor involving a security, a commodity future or option contract, or an aspect of a business involving securities, commodities, investments, franchises, insurance, banking, or finance.

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Make Sure You’re Qualified Before You Start

Becoming a real estate agent takes an investment of your time, effort, and money. It costs an average of $1,000 just to become a real estate agent, and along with the financial cost is the fact that it takes months of time to do. If your state won’t let you become a real estate agent with a felony on your record, this is wasted time and money.

As such, visit the real estate organization in your state and review their requirements. What might surprise you is that in the majority of states, it actually is possible to become a real estate agent with a felony on your record – but you may have to go through extra processes.

The ultimate decision is left to the ruling agency, but by visiting the website of the ruling agency in your state you should be able to get a clearer idea as to what is possible.

You Need Be Honest About Your Past

One of the single most important things to keep in mind when you’re trying to become a real estate agent with a felony on your record is that honesty really does matter. Trying to hide a conviction is pointless and will only end up hurting you and making it harder to get your license.

Every state uses fingerprint identification to facilitate their background checks, so there is no avoiding it. Before you even start real estate school, communicate with your state’s real estate commission. Explain all of the following to them:

  • Why you want to become a real estate agent
  • Your specific criminal conviction
  • How long it has been since you completed the punishment for your sentence
  • How you feel that you have been rehabilitated

Being honest and upfront actually shows your state’s commission that you are honest and trustworthy – something that may end up going a long way towards showing them that you deserve a chance to become a real estate agent. Full disclosure is a must here, and while a commission will go by whatever rules are in place, there is a chance that you could receive a favorable response – even if that response is just a guide on how to plead your case appropriate.

Pleading Your Case

Many states will do a felony review that could allow you to become a real estate agent with a felony on their record. The main thing that these agencies look at is that the felon exhibits a strong sense of integrity and trustworthiness. They may also review your past job history – if you’ve worked reliably in a position for years after being released from prison, it could help you. Simply put, some states are easier than others. The hardest states to become a real estate agent with a felony include:

  • Arizona
  • North Carolina
  • Georgia
  • Michigan
  • Alabama
  • California

However, this doesn’t make it impossible. Nationally, the success rate of felons attempting to become a real estate agent is about 50%. Some states may have additional regulations such as 2 to 5-year waiting periods after filing for interest in becoming a realtor, while others will either approve or deny immediately. It’s important to be totally honest and forthcoming when pleading your case.

The bottom line here is that it is possible to become a real estate agent with a felony on your record, but it will certainly not be easy to do. Take the time to find out more about your state and your options, and you may be surprised by what you learn.

VIDEO: Can I Get A Real Estate License With A Felony?


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