Real Estate Agent

Can You Become A Real Estate Agent With A Criminal Record?

Many people with a criminal record are looking for career options that will not limit them because of their past.

In most states, those with a criminal record are able to get a real estate license. Each state has different policies, but there are very few states that limit people from getting a license indefinitely due to a criminal record.

There are a lot of specifics in regard to each state, but we are going to get into the general rules to follow.

Getting a Real Estate License with a Criminal Record

Getting a real estate license is fairly simple, and we have plenty of information all over our website that covers exactly this. Specifically, you should take a look at this article about becoming a real estate agent in your state.

During the process of getting a real estate license, there is an application that will occur in order to take the real estate exam. It is during this application that the review of your criminal record will occur. There are a lot of different reasons why they may accept or reject your application. They really are looking for people that are ready to add value to the real estate market, and they will determine that.

There is not a simple chart that can be laid out that will determine if you are eligible or not. Every situation is different, and then you add the fact that there are 50 states with different policies, and it gets complicated fast.

Some states make it really hard for criminals to get their licenses, while others are a lot more accepting. As I said, this is on a case-by-case basis.

What You Should Do First

If you are seriously thinking about becoming a real estate agent with a criminal record, the first thing you should do is call your state’s real estate commission or source of real estate authority. Every state has its own commission, division, or agency, and it is typically their job to help govern real estate-related issues. They will help you estimate if you are eligible to get a real estate license or not. That should be your first step instead of getting into a course that could cost you a lot of money and time.

Do yourself a favor and discuss your eligibility with your state’s real estate authority before going any deeper into the rabbit hole. Talk about the specifics of your criminal history, and be ready to tell them:

  • The conviction’s nature.
  • Time since you were released from your sentence.
  • How you are different now (rehabilitation, community service, other achievements since your conviction).
  • Why do you think real estate would be a good fit?

Although your state’s real estate authority isn’t going to be your employer, it might be a good idea to treat this as a job interview and be ready to discuss your record.

What Are Your Chances of Getting Rejected?

There are a lot of reasons why you might be rejected, but depending on your state, you might have a really good chance of getting your license. According to, the successful application rate is “Roughly 50/50.”

If you are not a felon and your criminal record is less extreme, your chances increase greatly. Obviously, this varies by state and nature of the crime.

Each Crime Is Different

The process isn’t complicated, but once you start talking about a criminal record, it can get difficult to understand. Each crime is going to affect your eligibility for a real estate license differently in each state, so that means there are a lot of different complications that could arise in this process.

When you are applying to take your real estate licensing exam, you are going to be asked to disclose your criminal history. This is not the end of the world, and you should obviously be honest about this. Many states are willing to let most things on a record slide as long as there is evidence that you have a strong sense of integrity. Although many corporations will have issues hiring those with a criminal record, many states are a lot more lenient.

Logic dictates that the smaller the crime, the higher your chances of becoming a real estate agent. This is generally true when it comes to getting a real estate license as a criminal.

Things to Be Aware Of

Just because you have a real estate license, doesn’t mean you are ready to sell homes. If you have a criminal record, there are some things that you need to be aware of.

Although real estate agents are very independent, you will still have a boss. As a real estate agent, you will have a broker that will typically get a small cut of every sale you make. Real estate brokers make sure that you are doing things correctly, which can be really helpful. Having somebody that wants your success is always great; the hard part is getting there.

Although you may be a great real estate agent, some real estate brokers will be wary of hiring you because of your criminal background.

What You Can Do to Ensure Success

A great way to make sure that you don’t struggle after doing all that work is to line something up beforehand. This sounds harder than you may think, and mostly it comes down to networking!

Before taking the test or while you are moving through the process, the best thing you can do is to reach out to some real estate agents in the area and ask if they want to meet up for some tips. This way, you can get a feel for what a lot of the agencies think about you as a person. Perhaps you can even build a relationship before you apply, making it easy to transition into working for them in the future. There are a lot of reasons that reaching out to an agent is a good idea, and to be honest, there is no reason not to.

Another thing great thing to do to ensure success is to have a letter of explanation. What that means is to take the time to write a letter explaining what you have done to change and become the type of person that will not make the same or similar mistakes. That letter will make you more confident and will portray that you have moved past your criminal record. You don’t have to give them the letter, but having it written out will prepare you to discuss it with confidence.

One last thing to increase your odds is to be completely forthright with your desired employer. The worst thing that could happen is to have them discover that you kept things hidden. As a real estate agent, honesty is the best policy, and it starts here. Be honest with your potential employer, and chances are they will appreciate that.

Remember, real estate agencies are generally always looking to hire hard-working people. Chances are, if you present yourself in a great way, you can make it in this industry!

Can Real Estate Brokers View Expunged Or Sealed Records?

Expunged felony records will not show up on any search, including government searches. You can legally state that you have never been convicted of a felony, and nobody can tell you otherwise.

Sealed records are only accessible by certain government agencies, and will not show up in an employer’s background check. It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against you for a sealed or expunged record.

Why Real Estate Is a Great Career for Those with a Criminal Record

If you have a criminal record, it tends to follow you. But hey, mistakes you have made in the past shouldn’t slow you down! As a real estate agent, you are the person that decides how hard you work. If you are willing to work for it, you have almost unlimited potential.

There are several skills that are required for a person to be successful in real estate:

  • People skills
  • Time management
  • Drive
  • Enthusiasm

Do you have them? If not don’t worry, you can develop these skills with time, and that is what makes real estate awesome!

College is often crucial to success in many careers, but real estate is not this way. You can be successful by improving your work ethic and people skills. Those skills come with practice and experience. As long as you are willing to put the work in, real estate can be a perfect career for anyone.

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