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. 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.
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.
For instance, Alabama states that you must not be convicted of a felony that involves moral turpitude. Arizona gets more specific and lists things like ‘theft, extortion, forgery, violence, fraud, and repeated DUI’. In New York, however, you can’t become a real estate agent with a felony of any kind on your record – unless you go through processes that restore ex-felon rights. As such, contacting your state to see what their guidelines are is the first step you’ll want to take.
The big reason is that 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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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