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Can a Felon Become a Real Estate Agent in Hawaii?

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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 Hawaii. 

  • Role of real estate agent 
  • Average salary 
  • General requirements to be a real estate agent in America 
  • State specific requirements  
  • Recommended action 

Role of a 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 Hawaii, the estimated annual salary of a real estate agent is $104,995. 

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.  

Hawaii’s licensing requirement for real estate agents:

In Hawaii, the state will not grant a real estate broker license to: 

  1. “Any individual applying for a real estate broker or salesperson license who does not satisfy the requirements set forth in section 467-9.5;
  2. Any individual applying for a real estate broker or salesperson license unless the individual has demonstrated by passing with a grade satisfactory to the commission an examination appropriate to the license sought that the individual has a reasonable knowledge of:
    1. Estates, interests, and rights in real property;
    2. The documents or acts or occurrences by which property is transferred or otherwise affected;
    3. The rights and duties of an agent;
    4. The laws of the State relating to real estate brokers and salespersons; and
    5. Other subjects that the commission determines to be essential for the protection of the general public in its real estate transactions;
  3. Any person who does not possess a reputation for or record of competency, honesty, truthfulness, financial integrity, and fair dealing;
  4. Any partnership unless the real estate brokerage business thereof is under the direct management of a principal broker who is a general partner or employee thereof and holds a current active real estate broker’s license;
  5. Any corporation unless the real estate brokerage business thereof is under the direct management of a principal broker who is an officer or employee thereof and holds a current active real estate broker’s license;
  6. Any individual applying for a real estate broker’s license who does not have a current Hawaii real estate salesperson’s license;
  7. Any person with a trade name, partnership, limited liability company, or corporation that is not currently registered with the business registration division of the department of commerce and consumer affairs; provided that no real estate salesperson’s license shall be approved or issued with a trade name; or
  8. Any limited liability company unless the real estate brokerage business is under the direct management of a principal broker who is a member of a member-managed limited liability company or a manager of a manager-managed limited liability company or employee and holds a current active real estate broker’s license.” – Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 467-8 (West)

To be eligible for the licensing examination, an individual: 

  1. Is a United States citizen, a United States national, or an alien authorized to work in the United States;
  2. Is of the age of majority;
  3. Has earned a high school diploma or its equivalent; and
  4. Is applying for . . .
    1. The real estate broker examination and:
      1. Holds a current, unencumbered Hawaii real estate salesperson license or a current, unencumbered real estate salesperson or broker license in another state or in a jurisdiction recognized by the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials, with an equivalent real estate licensing law as determined by the commission;
      2. Has satisfactorily completed a commission-approved pre-licensing course for real estate broker candidates, or its equivalent as determined by the commission; and
      3. Has experience as a full-time Hawaii-licensed real estate salesperson associated with a Hawaii-licensed real estate broker for at least three years of the five-year period immediately prior to the submission of the experience certification application and has practical real estate salesperson experience, as certified by the principal broker, principal brokers, broker in charge, or brokers in charge, as the case may be, during the subject period. The candidate shall secure commission approval of the candidate’s experience certification application prior to the date of the examination. Subject to commission approval, a candidate may request a determination of equivalency for the experience requirement based on real estate salesperson license experience or a current, unencumbered real estate broker license in another state, or in a jurisdiction recognized by the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials, with an equivalent real estate licensing law as determined by the commission.
  5. Each individual shall certify that the prerequisites set forth in this section have been or will be satisfied prior to the date of examination. The examination score of any individual who has taken the examination without having satisfied the prerequisites set forth in this section prior to the date of examination shall be voided.” –  Haw. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 467-9.5 (West)

Recommended Action:

If you are interested in obtaining a real estate broker 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 Hawaii and the requirements for the license? 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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