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

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Background Checks | May 17, 2024

Man undergoes background check for real estate license and online application process shown by a computer in the middle and real estate in the background and another man with a criminal record asks what kind of background check for real estate license requires a criminal background check.

Real Estate License Background Check
Background check for real estate license searches criminal history and other public records to uncover any concerns.

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 the time span covered by background checks, 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.

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).

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.

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 criminal background checks are available for anyone to perform at no cost.

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.

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.

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

What Kind of Criminal Background Check for Real Estate License Is Required?

Typically, a level two 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.

StateForms to DownloadState Fingerprinting 
AlabamaAlabama Real Estate Commission FormsFingerprint Card Request
AlaskaReal Estate Commission FormsFingerprint Information
ArizonaArizona Department of Real Estate Forms and DocumentsFingerprint Clearance Card
ArkansasArkansas Real Estate Commission Forms & PublicationsCBC Identity Verification Form
CaliforniaCalifornia Department of Real Estate FormsFingerprint Requirements
ColoradoReal Estate Broker Contracts and FormsColorado and National Fingerprint-Based Criminal History
ConnecticutDepartment of Consumer Protection Real Estate FormsFingerprinting Authorization Form
DelawareDivision of Professional Regulation Forms
FloridaReal Estate ReciprocalFingerprint FAQ
GeorgiaReal and Personal Property Forms and ApplicationsGREC Background Clearance
HawaiiDepartment of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Real Estate Branch Fingerprinting Information and Instructions
IdahoIdaho Real Estate Commission FormsFingerprint Instructions Idaho Real Estate Commission
IllinoisReal Estate Transfer Tax Purchase FormsFingerprint Background Check Guide
IndianaIDOA FormsObtaining a License Card
IowaGeneral Forms Iowa Professional Licensing BureauCriminal History Background
KansasKansas Real Estate Commission FormsFingerprinting Information
KentuckyKREC FormsCriminal Background Check
LouisianaLREC Mandatory FormsFingerprinting Requirements
MaineReal Estate Commission Applications & FormsFingerprint Authorization Form
MarylandMaryland Real Estate Commission Forms and FeesFingerprinting Instructions and Providers
MassachusettsReal Estate Brokers and Salespersons Applications and FormsFingerprinting Requirement Applicability 
MichiganMichigan Professional Licensing User SystemLive Scan Fingerprint Background Check Request
MinnesotaReal Estate Manuals, Guidelines, and FormsReal Estate Licensing
MississippiMississippi Real Estate Commission FormsMREC Background Forms
MissouriMissouri Division of Professional Registration Forms Fingerprint Q&As
MontanaProfessional Boards & Licensing FormsInstructions to Obtain Fingerprint Background Check
NebraskaNebraska Real Estate Commission Licensing & FormsProcedures Related to Required Criminal Background Checks
NevadaReal Estate Division FormsFingerprinting Testing
New HampshireNH Real Estate Commission Forms and Other DocumentsOffice of Professional Licensure & Certification
New JerseyNJ Real Estate Commission Applications and FormsReal Estate Candidate Fingerprinting Process
New MexicoReal Estate Commission Applications and FormsNew Mexico Real Estate Commission Broker Fingerprinting Form
New YorkNew York State Attorney General FormsFingerprinting for DFS
North CarolinaCommission FormsLicensing FAQs
North DakotaNorth Dakota Real Estate Commission FormsCriminal History Record Check
OhioTransactions Forms & DisclosuresAdditional Instructions for Application
PennsylvaniaPA Department of State FormsFingerprinting Information
Rhode IslandReal Estate Broker ApplicationsRequirements / Application for Real Estate
South CarolinaSouth Carolina Real Estate CommissionFingerprinting
South DakotaSouth Dakota Real Estate Commission FormsSouth Dakota Real Estate Commission
TennesseeTN Real Estate Commission Forms and DownloadsReal Estate Fingerprinting Instructions
TexasContracts, Forms & ApplicationsFingerprint Requirements
UtahUtah Department of Commerce Licensing InformationFingerprinting
VermontReal Estate Brokers and Salespersons Forms & InstructionsFingerprint Identification Centers
VirginiaReal Estate Salesperson FormsReal Estate Fingerprinting and Application Form
WashingtonWA State Licensing DOL Official Site: FormsReal Estate License Application
West VirginiaWest Virginia Real Estate Commission FormsNational Criminal Background Check
WisconsinDSPS Real Estate contractual FormsCompleting the Fingerprint Requirement
WyomingReal 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.


1Rosan, K. (2019). Background Check Requirement Added to Real Estate License Applications. Hondros College. Retrieved from <>

2Magers, E. (2021). Real Estate License Background Check: Everything You Need to Know. CA Realty Training. Retrieved from <>

3Realtor License vs. Real Estate Agent License: What’s the Difference? Aceable. Retrieved from <>

4Dewar, J. (2022). Real Estate Background Checks: Everything You Need to Know. GoodHire. Retrieved from <>

5Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about “Background” Reviews and Screenings. Department of Real Estate. Retrieved from <>

6Can You Get a Real Estate License with a Felony in Texas? Aceable. Retrieved from <>

7How to Become a Real Estate Agent with a Felony. (2021). Real Estate License Training. Retrieved from <>

8Begley, K. Can a Felon Get a Real Estate License. State requirement. Retrieved from <>

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