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Do Realtors Run Background Checks?

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Housing options may be limited for felons recently out of prison, but there are resources available. At some point, felons may want to consider buying or renting a house.

This blog post will cover whether or not realtors run background checks.

  • What Is Included in a Background Check?
  • Working With a Realtor
  • Can You Run a Background Check on Yourself?
  • Recommended Action

What Is Included in a Background Check?

A person’s background might be reviewed because someone could pose a risk for security and safety issues, mainly because of dishonesty. Their criminal history can be a problem when even if they are now committed to living an honest lifestyle.

A company like a realtor might view:

  • Credit reports
  • Driving records
  • Educational records
  • Criminal offenses

Background information helps to determine someone:

  • Past mistakes
  • Character
  • Financial Fitness

The criminal record review conducted of a background check includes examining criminal history files for any criminal offenses, which will reveal all convictions and non-convictions, including cases not prosecuted or ones dismissed. Convictions can be reported with no time limit while a non-conviction will show up for seven years. A crime will not show up on a background check if a felon has his or her record expunged.

Working With a Realtor

A realtor is a real estate professional whose job is to assist individuals interested in finding a house to buy or in some cases to rent. A realtor can be a real estate agent; the main difference between a real estate agent and a realtor is a member of the National Association of Realtors.

Buying a House

A realtor is typically involved when someone is looking to purchase a house. The realtor finds and shows properties for a prospective buyer to consider and helps with the sales negotiation. A real estate professional also gives information regarding mortgage loans. A realtor does not run a background check, however.

When applying for a mortgage loan, applicants must submit to an extensive credit check with a mortgage lender to make sure that they qualify for the minimum credit requirements of the lender. This background check typically involves:

  • Review of prior credit history
  • Length of time the applicant has managed credit accounts
  • Type of accounts the applicant has
  • Income sources
  • Employment history

Mortgage background checks for borrowers do not involve criminal background checks but are designed to ensure that the information provided by the applicant is accurate.

Renting a House

A realtor is often involved with a property management company, which is a company that oversees various rental properties, such as houses and apartments.

A realtor working with a property management company has the right to request a criminal background check from a prospective tenant with written consent. A background check typically covers state and federal inquiries. A federal background check is completed through the FBI identity history summary check. The results of a criminal background check are confidential and can only be shared with those listed on the original application.

A prospective renter’s credit history is important. Permission must be obtained in writing for a financial history check. A credit check will help determine if a potential tenant can reliably pay the rent.

A rental application must clearly state that a background check, criminal history report, or credit check will be conducted. A rental application will look at such things as:

  • Current and previous employers
  • Current income level
  • Financial information such as bank accounts and credit cards, including balances and minimum monthly payments
  • Contact information for previous landlords
  • Lifestyle information such as the number of occupants
  • Personal references

A credit check is usually the most important part of a rental background check. This will show whether there is financial stability and also how debts are handled. The belief is that anyone who is late on their bills will also be late on their rent.

A background check shows previous addresses of residence and rental history. This will include whether an applicant has ever been evicted. Another important part of the background check is looking at criminal history.

Can You Run a Background Check on Yourself?

Doing a background check on yourself will allow you, as a felon, to know exactly what will be discovered when any review is done. A felon with any questions can contact an attorney. It is essential to take action and not risk a chance on the results.

There are different kinds of personal background checks that a felon can run:

  • From the court in which he or she was charged
  • A credit report will help determine how financially responsible an individual is
  • Driving records for any job involving driving, such as a truck driver
  • An educational report through the National Student Clearing House

For someone wanting to do a background check on themselves, there are places that can help. A felon would have the best chance in working with a realtor by having his or her record expunged.

Recommended Action

Don’t hide the fact that you have a felony conviction if it comes up. Instead, explain the facts about that conviction without emotion. It is never a good idea to lie about your past on any application. This could result in not being considered for a house if the realtor finds out about it.

Take responsibility for past actions and explain how you are putting your life in order. Doing your own background check allows you, as a felon, to know what will be seen on your record.

Remember that you are not defined by your crime. Be willing to see yourself in a different light, and be ready to establish an honest life. The best opportunity for success in a new life begins with having support from family and friends.

So what do you think about this blog post about whether or not realtors run background checks? Have you or someone you know had a realtor run a background check? What was that like and what happened? Please tell us in the comments below. 

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