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Can a Felon Become a Real Estate Agent in North Carolina?

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Becoming a real estate agent can be a lucrative and stable career in North Carolina, 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 North Carolina. 

  • 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 North Carolina, 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.  

North Carolina’s licensing requirement for real estate agents:

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

  1. “Any person, partnership, corporation, limited liability company, association, or other business entity hereafter desiring to enter into business of and obtain a license as a real estate broker shall make written application for such license to the Commission in the form and manner prescribed by the Commission . . .
  2. Each applicant for a license as a real estate broker shall be at least 18 years of age.
  3. Each applicant for a license as a real estate broker shall, within three years preceding the date the application is made, have satisfactorily completed, through a real estate education provider certified by the Commission, an education program consisting of at least 75 hours of instruction in subjects determined by the Commission, or shall possess real estate education or experience in real estate transactions which the Commission shall find equivalent to the education program. 
  4. Each applicant for a license as a real estate broker shall be required to pay a fee . . .
  5. Except as otherwise provided in this Chapter, any person who submits an application to the Commission in proper manner for a license as real estate broker shall be required to take an examination . . .
  6. An applicant for licensure under this Chapter shall satisfy the Commission that he or she possesses the competency, honesty, truthfulness, integrity, good moral character, and general fitness, including mental and emotional fitness, necessary to protect the public interest and promote public confidence in the real estate brokerage business. The Commission may investigate the moral character and fitness, including the mental and emotional fitness, of each applicant for licensure as the applicant’s character and fitness may generally relate to the real estate brokerage business, the public interest, and the public’s confidence in the real estate brokerage business. The Commission may also require an applicant to provide the Commission with a criminal record report. All applicants shall obtain criminal record reports from one or more reporting services designated by the Commission to provide criminal record reports. Applicants are required to pay the designated reporting service for the cost of these reports . . .  If the results of any required competency examination and investigation of the applicant’s moral character and fitness shall be satisfactory to the Commission, then the Commission shall issue to the applicant a license, authorizing the applicant to act as a real estate broker in the State of North Carolina, upon the payment of any privilege taxes required by law . . .
  7. The Department of Public Safety may provide a criminal record check to the Commission for a person who has applied for a license through the Commission. The Commission shall provide to the Department of Public Safety, along with the request, the fingerprints of the applicant, any additional information required by the Department of Public Safety, and a form signed by the applicant consenting to the check of the criminal record and to the use of the fingerprints and other identifying information required by the State or national repositories . . .” – N.C. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 93A-4

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 North Carolina 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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