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Can a Felon Become a Real Estate Agent in New Jersey?

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Becoming a real estate agent can be a lucrative and stable career in New Jersey, 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 New Jersey. 

  • 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 New Jersey, the estimated annual salary of a real estate agent is $112,614. 

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.  

New Jersey’s licensing requirement for real estate agents:

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

  1. “As a prerequisite to admission to an examination, every individual applicant for licensure as a real estate broker or broker-salesperson shall give evidence of satisfactory completion of 150 hours in the aggregate of such courses of education in real estate and related subjects at a school licensed by the commission as the commission shall by regulation prescribe. Thirty hours of that course of study shall be on the subject of ethics and ethical conduct in the profession of a real estate broker, and at least one hour of that course of study shall be on the subject of fair housing and housing discrimination.”
  2. “Every applicant for a license as a broker, broker-salesperson, or salesperson shall be of the age of 18 years . . . – N.J. Stat. Ann. § 45:15-10.1 (West)
  3.  Every applicant for a license whether as a real estate broker, broker-salesperson, or salesperson shall have the equivalent of a high school education . . .
  4. The applicant shall furnish evidence of good moral character.
  5.   The commission may make such investigation and require such proof as it deems proper and in the public interest as to the honesty, trustworthiness, character and integrity of an applicant . . .
  6. The commission is hereby authorized to exchange fingerprint data with and receive criminal history record information from the State Bureau of Identification in the Division of State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation consistent with applicable State and federal laws, rules and regulations, for the purposes of facilitating determinations concerning licensure eligibility. The applicant shall bear the cost for the criminal history record background check, including all costs of administering and processing the check . . .
  7.  Every applicant for a license as a broker or broker-salesperson shall have first been the holder of a New Jersey real estate salesperson’s license and have been actively engaged on a full-time basis in the real estate brokerage business in this State as a real estate salesperson for three years immediately preceding the date of application, which requirement may be waived by the commission where the applicant has been the holder of a broker’s license in another state and actively engaged in the real estate brokerage business for at least three years immediately preceding the date of his application, meets the educational requirements and qualifies by examination . . .” –  N.J. Stat. Ann. § 45:15-9 (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 New Jersey 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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