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Can a Felon Become a Real Estate Agent in Rhode Island?

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Becoming a real estate agent can be a lucrative and stable career in Rhode Island, 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 Rhode Island. 

  • 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 Rhode Island, the estimated annual salary of a real estate agent is $107,395. 

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.  

Rhode Island’s licensing requirement for real estate agents:

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

  1. “Applicants applying for the first time for a license to act as a real estate broker or real estate salesperson shall file with the director an application for the license upon a printed or electronic form as determined by the director that, together with any additional information that the director requires, contains a statement under oath by the applicant giving his or her age; residence; place of business; present occupation; and whether or not he or she has been refused a real estate broker’s or salesperson’s license in this or in any other state or had any real estate license suspended or revoked.
  2. All applicants for a license to act as a real estate broker or real estate salesperson shall accompany their applications with a fee of ten dollars ($10.00) to cover costs of processing those applications.
  3. The application for a broker’s license shall be accompanied by the names of at least three (3) Rhode Island residents who have known the applicant for three (3) years, and are not related to the applicant and will attest that the applicant bears a good reputation for honesty and trustworthiness, and who will recommend that a license be granted to the applicant.
  4. The applicant must be a citizen or legal resident of the United States and at least legal age of majority, if applicant for broker license, or at least eighteen (18) years of age for salesperson license.
  5. In the case of an applicant for a real estate salesperson’s license, he or she must also file a statement under oath from the broker in whose employ the applicant desires to enter, that in his or her opinion, the applicant is competent and trustworthy and is recommended as a suitable person to be granted a salesperson’s license.”-  5 R.I. Gen. Laws Ann. § 5-20.5-3 (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 Rhode Island 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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