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Can a Felon Become a Real Estate Agent in Tennessee?

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

  • 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 Tennessee, the estimated annual salary of a real estate agent is $103,320. 

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.  

Tennessee’s licensing requirement for real estate agents:

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

  1. “Licenses shall be granted only to persons who bear a good reputation for honesty, trustworthiness, integrity and competence to transact the business of broker, affiliate broker or time-share salesperson in a manner to safeguard the interest of the public and only after satisfactory proof of such qualifications has been presented to the commission . . .
  2. Certification of satisfactory completion by the applicant of one hundred twenty (120) classroom hours in real estate, before or after receipt of an affiliate broker’s license, at a school, college or university approved by the commission, including thirty (30) classroom hours covering office or brokerage management . . . 
  3. Satisfactory proof that the applicant is at least eighteen (18) years of age . . .
  4. The commission shall conduct a criminal background check of each applicant described in subdivision (l)(1) by using information:
    1. Provided by the applicant under this subsection (l); and
    2. Made available to the commission by the Tennessee bureau of investigation, the federal bureau of investigation and any other criminal justice agency.
  5. The commission may:
    1. Enter into an agreement with the Tennessee bureau of investigation to administer a criminal background check required under this subsection (l); and
    2. Authorize the Tennessee bureau of investigation to collect from the applicant the costs incurred by the department in conducting the criminal background check.”- Tenn. Code Ann. § 62-13-303 (West)
  6. “In addition to submitting proof of honesty, trustworthiness, integrity and good reputation, each applicant shall pass a written examination prepared by or under the supervision of the commission.” – Tenn. Code Ann. § 62-13-304 (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 Tennessee 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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