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What You Need to Know About Your Real Estate Background Check

To become a real estate agent, you must get a state-specific real estate license. Each state has its own requirements to earn that license. For example, some require 180 hours of pre-licensing education – and others require 60 hours. But all require some form of background check for aspiring real estate agents. Here’s what you need to know about real estate background checks.

You must be a person of integrity to work as a real estate agent.

It only makes sense that real estate licensing agencies require a background check of those wanting to be real estate agents. After all, real estate agents have free access to strangers’ homes, and they enter those homes without the homeowners being present.

Besides being responsible for the personal property of the seller, real estate agents also spend time alone with clients.

The companies that employ real estate agents and the clients who work with them need to know these individuals will not abuse their position.

Each state has its own requirements for background checks.

Again, each state has its own licensing requirements for real estate agents. A background check is a common step in the licensing process, though specific requirements and timing vary by state.

Most state agencies complete in-depth criminal background checks that search county, state, and federal databases. Here are some of the standard reviews that state agencies conduct for those applying for a real estate license:

  • Sex offender registry searches
  • Alias and address history checks
  • License/certification verifications
  • Employment verifications
  • Reference checks
  • Driving history checks

Each state has its own standards on what types of convictions may prevent you from getting a real estate license.

For example, convictions of murder, perjury, fraud, forgery, grand theft, tax evasion, embezzlement, extortion, rape, bribery, burglary, petty theft, and possession of drugs for sale or transport will prevent you from getting a California real estate license.

However, Colorado and Connecticut review convictions on a case-by-case basis.

Some states, like Kentucky, require you to wait ten years after you were convicted of a felony before applying for a real estate license. And even then, there is no guarantee that you will pass the background check.

And still – some states require those with prior convictions to provide written statements and supporting documents along with their applications.

Real estate brokerages may perform their own real estate background checks.

No real estate brokerage wants to hire an untrustworthy person to represent their agency. Here are some of the checks many real estate brokerages perform on their potential candidates:

  • Identity verification
  • Criminal background checks
  • Professional license verification
  • Professional reference checks
  • Drug screenings
  • Motor vehicle record checks

Some agencies do background checks every year.

State and local laws determine how far back a background check goes.

Generally, real estate background checks cover seven years of criminal and court records, but they may go back further depending on state and local laws.

For example, in some states, felonies may be reported indefinitely. But, in other states, felony reports are restricted to seven years.

Depending on the state, driving records may go back between three to 10 years.

Some state and local fair-hiring and ban-the-box laws may also limit how far back a real estate criminal background check can extend. (Ban-the-box laws prohibit initial job applications from asking about criminal histories.)

Some states require you to submit information for a background check early on in the process.

Some states require you to fill out an application for licensing early in the process. This is a benefit to those who are worried about passing a background check. They’ll know quickly whether they should continue their pre-licensing coursework for their real estate license or choose another career path.

Learn About Your State-Specific Licensing Requirements

As you can tell, it’s essential that you understand your state’s real estate licensing requirements. The Colibri Real Estate website outlines each state’s requirements, including real estate background check information.

Colibri Real Estate (formerly Real Estate Express) also provides state-specific pre-licensing courses and exam prep. Even our most basic package includes support from a state-improved instructor.

But what makes Colibri Real Estate stand out from other real estate schools? Our program has a fantastic success rate! Colibri Real Estate has helped millions of students earn their real estate licenses. Will you be our next success story?

Enroll in your state-specific pre-licensing courses to get started in your real estate career today.