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Can a Felon Become a Real Estate Agent in the State of California?

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Can a Felon Become a Real Estate Agent in the State of California? Becoming a real estate agent can be a lucrative and stable career, but the first step to such a successful career is obtaining a real estate license in your desired location. Having a felony record can serve as a roadblock on this journey, but may not be a complete bar to the profession in certain jurisdictions. 

This blog is not legal advice, but instead outlines general state requirements for people with felonies to better understand how to receive a real estate broker license. The question this blog aims to answer is whether persons with felonies can obtain a real estate license in California. 


Role of a real estate agent: 

Real estate agents facilitate the buying and selling of commercial and personal properties. When working with a seller, a real estate agent may be referred to a listing agent. As a listing agent, the typical duties can include: 

  • Conducting market research to determine an ideal asking price;
  • Identifying assets that are the property’s attractive magnets and pinpointing improvement locations;
  • Staging the property;
  • Photographing the property;
  • Listing the property on the local Multiple Listing Service (MLS);
  • Advertising real estate properties to prospective buyers;
  • Hosting property showings and open house events;
  • Drafting and preparing documents, such as offers, contracts and closing statements;
  • Communicating with appraisers, escrow companies, lenders and home inspectors.

A real estate agent may also represent buyers. When representing buyers, real estate agents may be responsible for the following: 

  • Coordinating open houses;
  • Arranging meetings with prospective buyers;
  • Interviewing buyers to understand their needs and wants;
  • Scheduling property showings;
  • Coordinating appraisals and inspections;
  • Negotiating property repair requests and offers;
  • Drafting and reviewing documents and contracts;
  • Guiding buyers through the closing process.

Average salary: 

The average base salary of a real estate agent in the United States is estimated to be $105,100. In California, the estimated annual salary of a real estate agent is $116,401. 

General Requirements: 

The requirements to obtain a real estate license varies state by state, however, the general requirements are the person be of good moral character, have some specified level of experience and specified education in real estate. The applicant must submit personal and professional information in their application, pass the state real estate license exam, undergo a background check, and pay a fee. The real estate license must be renewed pursuant to the state’s criteria.  

State Specific Requirements: 

In California, the state requires the following for a person to be eligible to obtain a real estate broker license: 

  1. “The commissioner may require any other proof he or she may deem advisable concerning the honesty and truthfulness of an applicant for a real estate license or license examination . . . For this purpose the commissioner may call a hearing in accordance with this part relating to hearings. To assist in his or her determination the commissioner shall require every original applicant to be fingerprinted prior to issuing a license. The commissioner may require the fingerprints to be submitted either with the application to take the license examination or with the application for a real estate license.” – Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 10152 (West)
  2. “In addition to the proof of honesty and truthfulness required of any applicant for a real estate license, the commissioner shall ascertain by written examination that the applicant . . . has all of the following:
    1. An appropriate knowledge of the English language, including reading, writing, and spelling and of arithmetical computations common to real estate and business opportunity practices.
    2. An understanding of the principles of real estate and business opportunity conveyancing, the general purposes and general legal effect of agency contracts, deposit receipts, deeds, mortgages, deeds of trust, chattel mortgages, bills of sale, land contracts of sale and leases, and of the principles of business and land economics and appraisals.
    3. A general and fair understanding of the obligations between principal and agent, of the principles of real estate and business opportunity practice and the canons of business ethics pertaining thereto, of the provisions of this part, of Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 11000) of Part 2, and of the regulations of the Real Estate Commissioner as contained in Title 10 of the California Administrative Code.” – Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 10153 (West)
  3. “[A]n applicant for an original real estate broker’s license shall demonstrate to the Real Estate Commissioner that he or she has held a real estate salesperson’s license for at least two years and qualified for the renewal of his or her real estate salesperson status, within the five-year period immediately prior to the date of his or her application for the broker’s license, and during such time was actively engaged in the business of real estate salesperson.
  4. An applicant for a real estate broker’s license having at least the equivalent of two years’ general real estate experience may file a written petition with the Department of Real Estate setting forth his or her qualifications and experience, and, if the commissioner approves, he or she may be issued a real estate broker’s license immediately upon passing the examination and satisfying the other requirements of this article.
  5. In considering a petition described in subdivision (b), the commissioner may treat a degree from a four-year college or university, which course of study included a major or minor in real estate, as the equivalent of two years’ general real estate experience.” – Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 10150.6 (West)

Recommended Action:

If you are interested in obtaining a real estate license, it is best to consult with the state’s guidelines. If you do have a felony conviction, always remember to be open and transparent on the application, as lying can reduce your chances of obtaining the license. 

So what do you think about this blog post about whether a felon can become a real estate agent in California alcohol?  Have you or someone you know been in that situation?  What was that experience like and how did they deal with it?   Please tell us in the comments below.

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