While states sometimes allow felons to become licensed real estate agents, having a felony conviction may make it much more difficult. Each state has its own rules for who can obtain a real estate salesperson's or broker's license. Contact a local attorney or your state's licensing agency or similar organization for information about the real estate licensing requirements in your state.
Real Estate License
You must obtain a license from the state's real estate licensing agency to act as a real estate agent, salesperson or broker in any state. Each state establishes its requirements for who can become an agent, and while specifics differ, there are general requirements you typically have to meet. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, meet real estate educational standards, pass a licensing exam and be honest and trustworthy.
States have different rules about convicted felons becoming real estate agents. For example, in Michigan, state law prohibits anyone who has been convicted of embezzlement or misappropriation of funds from becoming a real estate agent. The Michigan Board of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons may also reject an application if the applicant has a history of behavior that impacts her ability to act fairly, honestly and openly.
States treat felons with various shades of gray. For example, Iowa allows some felons to obtain a real estate license, but may reject someone with a serious criminal history, and the commission will not even consider the application of a felon until a certain amount of time has elapsed. If an applicant was convicted of a felony, at least two years must pass after the applicant completes the court-imposed penalty before he can apply. If the felony involved crimes such as forgery, embezzlement, theft, arson or any breach of a fiduciary duty, the time period is five years.
A felony conviction reflects on your ability to deal honestly with clients. If you've been convicted of a felony and have had your application for a license rejected, you may not be completely out of luck. For example, in Michigan, a rejected applicant can appeal to the Board of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons. However, unless you can convince the board that you are honest and trustworthy, the felony conviction will prevent you from becoming licensed.