Background Check for Real Estate License: 8 Requirements (Search Now)

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Background Checks | May 4, 2022

Real Estate License Background Check

Background check for real estate license searches criminal history and other public records to uncover any concerns.
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The requirements included in a background check for a real estate license help ensure that agents are trustworthy and will be able to carry out their jobs according to the law.

Each state has its own specific requirements for real estate background checks, but 8 of these are nearly universal. Each state has a detailed application process for becoming a real estate agent or broker, and knowing those steps, as well as the requirement involved, can make the process smooth.

Before undergoing a background check, potential agents can do a background check on themselves to ensure that all the information returned on the reports is correct, and there aren’t any disqualifying offenses that might cause a hitch in the state application process.

This guide provides information about the process for a background check for a real estate license in every state, including how far back do background checks go, the things that might cause someone to fail a background check, as well as the requirements that all agents must meet. And, it outlines how to perform the checks yourself.

What Is A Real Estate License Background Check? (What Kind of Background Check For Real Estate?)

A real estate license background check is a form of professional license verification that examines a number of factors to determine if a person qualifies to become a real estate agent in a particular state. The licensure check applies to both those applying for a real estate sales role or a broker’s license, and those who wish to upgrade their current status, such as moving from a real estate salesperson to an agency broker.1

Some things that are commonly examined include:

Every state has a background check requirement to become a real estate agent, but may do so through different agencies. For example, California qualifies agents through the Department of Real Estate, whereas other states may use a Department of Commerce.2

But, each state has its own department dedicated to real estate licensing. The table below includes all 50 states, with links that outline the steps involved in becoming a real estate agent or broker for a non-profit.

Requirement #1. Fingerprint Clearance

Most real estate license background checks require a fingerprint scan through a state-approved facility (or a fingerprint card submittal). After an applicant finishes the fingerprint scan, they must submit their legally-obtained fingerprints to the federal Department of Justice (this is usually done by the state).

The Department of Justice will then run their background information to scan for arrests, convictions, or charges. The fingerprint capture and collection are typically conducted using a ‘live scan’. This is the electronic fingerprint collection by a state-accredited agency necessary for any person applying for their real estate license.

This process typically takes around 72 hours for the Department of Justice to complete and send to the respective state’s law enforcement agency.

Arizona real Estate License website screenshot with steps on the process for applying for a real estate license, including real estate agent background check requirements.

Many states (like Arizona) issue fingerprint clearance cards after the checks are completed, to be included in the application packet.

Requirement #2: Criminal Background Check

A criminal background check that includes county-wide searches, state, federal, or different jurisdictions is conducted as part of the background check for a real estate license.

A real estate agent background check will uncover any crimes committed by the person in question. Depending on the specific type of offense, such as a misdemeanor or felony, this could prevent the individual from being able to practice real estate in a specific state.

If a person has a felony, they MAY be disqualified from becoming an agent — but the official decision depends on the nature of the felony, how long ago it occurred, and how it relates to working in the real estate industry.

How To DIY:

To run a background check on yourself, use the fingerprints obtained to submit personal background checks in the state where the license is sought (usually at the state police website), as well as using the Identity History Summary Check platform operated by the Criminal Justice Information Service (CJIS).

Identity History Summary Check for licenses screenshot outlining the requirements for performing a criminal background check for real estate license.

Requirement #3: Real Estate License Test

In addition to the background check that is conducted, every state has its own real estate license test, which must be completed and submitted with the license application.

California real estate license test website screenshot with yellow arrow pointing to elicensing service.

In addition, there is a separate test for individuals seeking brokerage licenses.

Typically, the state will require that the applicant submit the original score or original scored test with the application.

Requirement #4: Sex Offender Registry Check

As part of the criminal history search, sex offender registries in the specific state and the nationwide database are searched.

These are free criminal background check searches that anyone can perform.

What kind of background check for real estate is required? National sex offender registry, website screenshot, with yellow arrows pointing to search features, which are part of hte real estate background check process.

How to DIY:

Checking these lists for inaccuracies is a good idea. To check the state list:

Step 1: Google the state (for example, Alabama) with the words “sex offender registry”

Step 2: Follow the link provided to search by name using the state platform.

Alabama sex offender registry website screenshot with yellow arrows pointing to search buttons that allow users to search for offenders during a background check for real estate license.

To check the national sex offender registry, simply search the name on the website.

Requirement #5: Identity, Work Eligibility, and Address History Check

A background check for a real estate license will often include residency, work eligibility, and identity verification checks.

Some states have a separate work eligibility form to complete and include in the application packet, while others utilize E-verify and similar social security background check processes.

E-verify website screenshot with red and blue buttons for employers and employees.

Requirement #6: Disciplinary Action Disclosure Forms

A disciplinary disclosure form is common for most real estate background checks and license applications. The forms usually ask (under penalty of perjury) about previous work history, whether the individual has ever had a license revoked, and potential drug charges.

For example, Arizona’s disciplinary disclosure form asks about these items, as well as court judgments and DUIs.

Arizona disciplinary actions disclosure real estate license form as part of the real estate application process.

Making false statements on these forms will cause applicants to fail the background check, and may open them up to legal punishment.

If an applicant answers yes on a disciplinary disclosure form question, there is typically an additional document that can be filed with the form, explaining the situation and the penalties or punishments that were carried out.

This disclosure document outlines the options that applicants have of showing that they are suitable to get a new real estate license issued, usually by providing court documents that outline rehabilitation or rectification that was taken.

Disclosure document checklist for Arizona background check real estate license process, form LI 400

Requirement #7: Field Experience Documentation

The background check for a real estate license will be able to confirm the experience outlined in other forms used for the license application.

For example, most states require a specific number of hours spent in courses that teach how to sell and write contracts, (such as a 90-hour Salesperson pre-licensing Course Certificate and a 6-hour Contract Writing Course Certificate).

When the background check is performed, those hours can be confirmed by work history.

Requirement #8: Driving History Checks

Although not all applications require an MVR report, most of the background checks for real estate licensing check these.

How To DIY:

To get a copy of an MVR report:

Step 1. Google “Motor Vehicles Department [Your State]

Step 2. Search the government-issued website for features like “get a copy of my driving record.”

Step 3. Pay the required copy fee or download the report.

Real Estate Agent Background Check Requirements: All 50 States

Although every state now has a mandatory background check for a real estate license, each state has different requirements. 

The requirements listed above are common, but it’s a good idea to examine the specific licensing commission for the state where the license will be issued.

State Background Check Requirements Real Estate Information and Licenses 
Real Estate license background check in AlabamaAlabama Real Estate Commission
Real Estate license background check in AlaskaCommerce, Real Estate Commission, and Licenses
Real Estate license background check in ArizonaArizona Department of Real Estate
Real Estate license background check in ArkansasArkansas Real Estate Commission
Real Estate license background check in CaliforniaCalifornia Department of Real Estate
Real Estate license background check in ColoradoColorado Division of Real Estate
Real Estate license background check in ConnecticutReal Estate CT Gov
Real Estate license background check in DelawareDivision of Professional Regulation
Real Estate license background check in FloridaBureau of Real Estate Services
Real Estate license background check in GeorgiaGeorgia Real Estate Commission & Appraisers Board
Real Estate license background check in HawaiiDepartment of Commerce and Consumer Affairs
Real Estate license background check in IdahoReal Estate Commission
Real Estate license background check in IllinoisHome Departments County Assessment Office
Real Estate license background check in IndianaReal Estate Records Online 
Real Estate license background check in IowaIowa Professional Licensing Bureau
Real Estate license background check in KansasKansas Real Estate Commission
Real Estate license background check in KentuckyKentucky Real Estate Commission
Real Estate license background check in LouisianaLouisiana Real Estate Commission
Real Estate license background check in MaineReal Estate Commission
Real Estate license background check in MarylandMaryland Department of Assessments and Taxation
Real Estate license background check in MassachusettsCommonwealth of Massachusetts
Real Estate license background check in MichiganReal estate Brokers & Salespersons
Real Estate license background check in MinnesotaMinnesota Commerce Department
Real Estate license background check in MississippiMississippi Real Estate Commission
Real Estate license background check in MissouriMissouri Division of Professional Registration
Real Estate license background check in MontanaMontana Board of Realty Regulation
Real Estate license background check in NebraskaNebraska Real Estate Commission
Real Estate license background check in NevadaNV Real Estate Division
Real Estate license background check in New HampshireNH Real Estate Commission
Real Estate license background check in New JerseyNew Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance
Real Estate license background check in New MexicoNew Mexico Taxation and Revenue
Real Estate license background check in New YorkNYC Department of Finance
Real Estate license background check in North CarolinaNorth Carolina Real Estate Commission
Real Estate license background check in North DakotaThe North Dakota Office of State Tax Commissioner
Real Estate license background check in OhioReal Estate & Professional Licensing (REPL)
Real Estate license background check in OklahomaReal Estate Commission
Real Estate license background check in OregonOregon Real Estate Agency
Real Estate license background check in PennsylvaniaPA Department of State
Real Estate license background check in Rhode IslandRhode Island Department of Business Regulation
Real Estate license background check in South CarolinaSouth Carolina Real Estate Commission
Real Estate license background check in South DakotaSouth Dakota Department of Labor & Regulation
Real Estate license background check in TennesseeTN Department of Commerce and Insurance
Real Estate license background check in TexasTexas Real Estate Commission
Real Estate license background check in UtahUtah Division of Real Estate
Real Estate license background check in VermontOPR: Real Estate Brokers & Salespersons
Real Estate license background check in VirginiaVirginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation
Real Estate license background check in WashingtonWashington Department of Licensing
Real Estate license background check in West VirginiaWest Virginia Real Estate Division
Real Estate license background check in WisconsinWisconsin Department of Revenue
Real Estate license background check in WyomingReal Estate Commission

What Kind Of Criminal Background Check For Real Estate License Is Required?

Typically, a level 2 background check is required, and the court records it searches are both at the state level and national.

Is it possible to get a real estate license if a person has a felony or misdemeanor that will appear on the real estate background check? It depends on the state in question. Certain states won’t consider a person’s application if the mandatory wait period has not passed since the charges have been filed or the conviction.

For instance, the wait time for a felony crime in Delaware is two years from the conviction date, whereas the wait time in Massachusetts is ten years from the conviction date. If the person then meets the rest of the necessary criteria to become a real estate agent, they can move forward with their application through the typical process.

Applicants must keep in mind that they must have a clear civil and criminal history for the last seven years before they can apply. Even if their criminal history is clear, if they have any civil infractions, it can be impossible to obtain a real estate agent membership.3

How Far Back Does A Real Estate Background Check Go?

A real estate background check will go back seven years, but the specific amount of time depends on the state and local laws regarding the type of check being utilized by the employer.4

Background Check: Real Estate License Form (All 50 States)

In order to apply for a real estate agent license, research the state’s application forms, fingerprinting requirements, and background check information.

The following table provides links to real estate forms and fingerprint card requests.

State Real Estate FormForms to DownloadState Fingerprinting 
Alabama Real Estate license background check formAlabama Real Estate Commission FormsFingerprint Card Request
Alaska Real Estate license background check formReal Estate Commission FormsFingerprint Information
Arizona Real Estate license background check formArizona Department of Real Estate Forms and DocumentsFingerprint Clearance Card
Arkansas Real Estate license background check formArkansas Real Estate Commission Forms & PublicationsCBC Identity Verification Form
California Real Estate license background check formCalifornia Department of Real Estate FormsFingerprint Requirements
Colorado Real Estate license background check formReal Estate Broker Contracts and FormsColorado and National Fingerprint-Based Criminal History
Connecticut Real Estate license background check formDepartment of Consumer Protection Real Estate FormsFingerprinting Authorization Form
Delaware Real Estate license background check formDivision of Professional Regulation Forms
Florida Real Estate license background check formReal Estate ReciprocalFingerprint FAQ
Georgia Real Estate license background check formReal and Personal Property Forms and ApplicationsGREC Background Clearance
Hawaii Real Estate license background check formDepartment of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Real Estate Branch Fingerprinting Information and Instructions
Idaho Real Estate license background check formIdaho Real Estate Commission FormsFingerprint Instructions Idaho Real Estate Commission
Illinois Real Estate license background check formReal Estate Transfer Tax Purchase FormsFingerprint Background Check Guide
Indiana Real Estate license background check formIDOA FormsObtaining a License Card
Iowa Real Estate license background check formGeneral Forms Iowa Professional Licensing BureauCriminal History Background
Kansas Real Estate license background check formKansas Real Estate Commission FormsFingerprinting Information
Kentucky Real Estate license background check formKREC FormsCriminal Background Check
Louisiana Real Estate license background check formLREC Mandatory FormsFingerprinting Requirements
Maine Real Estate license background check formReal Estate Commission Applications & FormsFingerprint Authorization Form
Maryland Real Estate license background check formMaryland Real Estate Commission Forms and FeesFingerprinting Instructions and Providers
Massachusetts Real Estate license background check formReal Estate Brokers and Salespersons Applications and FormsFingerprinting Requirement Applicability 
Michigan Real Estate license background check formMichigan Professional Licensing User SystemLive Scan Fingerprint Background Check Request
Minnesota Real Estate license background check formReal Estate Manuals, Guidelines, and FormsReal Estate Licensing
Mississippi Real Estate license background check formMississippi Real Estate Commission FormsMREC Background Forms
Missouri Real Estate license background check formMissouri Division of Professional Registration Forms Fingerprint Q&As
Montana Real Estate license background check formProfessional Boards & Licensing FormsInstructions to Obtain Fingerprint Background Check
Nebraska Real Estate license background check formNebraska Real Estate Commission Licensing & FormsProcedures Related to Required Criminal Background Checks
Nevada Real Estate license background check formReal Estate Division FormsFingerprinting Testing
New Hampshire Real Estate license background check formNH Real Estate Commission Forms and Other DocumentsOffice of Professional Licensure & Certification
New Jersey Real Estate license background check formNJ Real Estate Commission Applications and FormsReal Estate Candidate Fingerprinting Process
New Mexico Real Estate license background check formReal Estate Commission Applications and FormsNew Mexico Real Estate Commission Broker Fingerprinting Form
New York Real Estate license background check formNew York State Attorney General FormsFingerprinting for DFS
North Carolina Real Estate license background check formCommission FormsLicensing FAQs
North Dakota Real Estate license background check formNorth Dakota Real Estate Commission FormsCriminal History Record Check
Ohio Real Estate license background check formTransactions Forms & DisclosuresAdditional Instructions for Application
Pennsylvania Real Estate license background check formPA Department of State FormsFingerprinting Information
Rhode Island Real Estate license background check formReal Estate Broker ApplicationsRequirements / Application for Real Estate
South Carolina Real Estate license background check formSouth Carolina Real Estate CommissionFingerprinting
South Dakota Real Estate license background check formSouth Dakota Real Estate Commission FormsSouth Dakota Real Estate Commission
Tennessee Real Estate license background check formTN Real Estate Commission Forms and DownloadsReal Estate Fingerprinting Instructions
Texas Real Estate license background check formContracts, Forms & ApplicationsFingerprint Requirements
Utah Real Estate license background check formUtah Department of Commerce Licensing InformationFingerprinting
Vermont Real Estate license background check formReal Estate Brokers and Salespersons Forms & InstructionsFingerprint Identification Centers
Virginia Real Estate License Background Check formReal Estate Salesperson FormsReal Estate Fingerprinting and Application Form
Washington Real Estate license background check formWA State Licensing DOL Official Site: FormsReal Estate License Application
West Virginia Real Estate license background check formWest Virginia Real Estate Commission FormsNational Criminal Background Check
Wisconsin Real Estate license background check formDSPS Real Estate contractual FormsCompleting the Fingerprint Requirement
Wyoming Real Estate license background check formReal Estate Commission – Applications and FormsObtain a License Wyoming Real Estate Commission

What Disqualifies You From Being A Real Estate Agent? (Failing Background Check Real Estate License)

There are certain black marks on a person’s record that can immediately disqualify them from being a real estate agent or obtaining a license.

Typically, the disclosure form identifies any instances that can cause an application to be denied. This means that if a person was arrested or convicted of a crime that is not relevant to real estate duties, this might not disqualify a person. However, if the convictions are directly related to the functions or duties of a real estate agent, it will disqualify them.

Furthermore, the appearance of sexual misconduct can be an immediate disqualifier.5 In addition, other crimes that are likely to disqualify a person from obtaining their license include forgery, perjury, fraud, misrepresentation, felonies involving controlled substances, driving under the influence, or offenses against property.6

How Long Does A Real Estate Background Check Take?

For most states, the average processing time for a real estate background check is between 3 and 6 weeks.

Understanding what can appear on the background check for a real estate license and the requirements involved simply requires doing a state search using the links provided above.

Frequently Asked Questions About Background Check For Real Estate License

Can You Be A Real Estate Agent With A Felony? 

In short, yes — and no. Although no state automatically disqualifies a person for having a felony, it can make the process harder and make it more difficult to get hired by a real estate agency. However, individuals should keep in mind that it is possible to become a real estate agent with a felony depending on the specific state.7

What States Allow Felons To Have Real Estate License?

Can a felon get a real estate license in Georgia? Yes.

Every state allows felons to have a real estate license.8 There are certain stipulations for specific states, such as the following:

  • Alaska — 7 years after the sentence is completed
  • Delaware — 5 years after conviction
  • Georgia — 2 years after the sentence is completed
  • Idaho — 5 years after the sentence is completed
  • Iowa — 5 years after the sentence is completed
  • Massachusetts — 10 years after conviction
  • Mississippi — 5 years after conviction
  • New Jersey — 5 years after conviction
  • New Mexico — 3 years after conviction
  • New York — 3-5 years after conviction
  • Oklahoma — 5-20 years after conviction
  • Utah — 5 years after the sentence is completed

Can A Felon Get A Real Estate License?

Yes, a felon can get a real estate license. If they have been convicted of a crime, they can still apply to become a realtor in every state. The disqualification is determined by the type of crime and how long ago it occurred.


References

1Rosan, K. (2019). Background Check Requirement Added to Real Estate License Applications. Hondros College. Retrieved from <https://www.hondros.com/resources/blog/background-check-requirement-real-estate-applications/>

2Magers, E. (2021). Real Estate License Background Check: Everything You Need to Know. CA Realty Training. Retrieved from <https://www.carealtytraining.com/blogs/real-estate-license-background-check>

3Realtor License vs. Real Estate Agent License: What’s the Difference? Aceable. Retrieved from <https://www.aceableagent.com/blog/realtor-license-vs-real-estate-agent-license-whats-the-difference/>

4Dewar, J. (2022). Real Estate Background Checks: Everything You Need to Know. GoodHire. Retrieved from <https://www.goodhire.com/resources/articles/real-estate-background-check/>

5Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about “Background” Reviews and Screenings. Department of Real Estate. Retrieved from <https://www.dre.ca.gov/files/pdf/faqs/FAQ-RERAPS.pdf>

6Can You Get a Real Estate License with a Felony in Texas? Aceable. Retrieved from <https://www.aceableagent.com/blog/can-you-get-real-estate-license-felony-texas/>

7How to Become a Real Estate Agent with a Felony. (2021). Real Estate License Training. Retrieved from <https://www.realestatelicensetraining.com/real-estate-agent-with-a-felony>

8Begley, K. Can a Felon Get a Real Estate License. State requirement. Retrieved from <https://staterequirement.com/real-estate/can-a-felon-get-a-real-estate-license/>