Becoming an agent with a criminal record

18 Replies

Hello guys, I am in the process of getting my real estate license. I am a felon and have spoken with a person from the licensing board in my state (va) and was told that while she could give me no guarantees, she has licensed many people in my situation. Assuming I get licensed, does anyone here have any idea if that will he a hurdle with major brokers? I have a meeting with a keller williams broker coming up and I plan on telling her about my record just so we don't waste eachother's time. I really like keller williams training (from the research I've done) but if they have a company policy against hiring felons, do any of you have input on what companies you think would be good alternatives?

Thanks for any help in advance 🙂

Being a felon isn't an automatic disqualifier in most cases. Depends on the brokerage you choose. Not my business to know your past, but just explain your situation as clearly and honestly as possible and do your best to show them how you've changed. 

If it isn't KW, compile a list of backup brokerages and ask around or lookup what agents are saying about that brokerage and schedule meetings to see who would be a good fit for you. Good luck.

@Bob Okenwa @Shawn Mcenteer

Thanks for the info guys. That is pretty much what the woman from the licensing office told me too. I know there isn't much I can change at this point, I guess I just want to hear don't worry it will be no problem haha I went to school for computer science and was offered a job at Amazon early last year, only for it to be taken back once I informed them I had a criminal record. It was a bummer, and I'm excited about the prospect of a career where my future is in my own hands and hopefully mistakes a made many years ago don't continue to hold me back. I appreciate the responses 🙏

@James Webber

Brokerages probably don't even do background checks. Why would they care?? The only liability they have is if you get sued by a client for screwing up. Thats why all brokerages make you pay for insurance and in the event of a monetary complaint by someone, they'll just have the insurance pay for it.

Aside from that, you're just going to be another number for them unless you go to a small office.

@James Webber I just got licensed in Virginia in August. They did fingerprint and pull my record. In Virginia you will have to write a letter to the board. Start writing the letter if you have not already done so. 

I am with KW, but this is not recruiting this is just me stating what brokerage I am with. 

Good luck!

@Patrick J.

I was just worried because I have had Job offeres taken back after the background check. My hope would be to join a small, top producing, team within a bigger brokerage.

Thanks for the info. It seems like as long as I can get licensed I should be good to go.

@Johnny Quilenderino

Thank you for the heads up. I spoke with a woman from the licensing board who told me that because I am a felon I may have to do an extra review and speak on my behalf and write a letter. I will write it before I even apply to have it ready. Do you think I should send it with my application or save it until I am called for that review? Either way I will have it finished by the time I apply.

Thanks for the input Johnny. A lot of people told me to watch out becoming an agent as it is such a cutthroat business (KW especially, I have to say) but everyone has been so helpful. BP really is an amazing community.

@James Webber KW is a community with each brokerage independently owned and operated and that is far as I will go with this without "promoting."

I would write it, contact your board person or the review and ask them when do "I need it ready." You will find out in the RE sales the more prepared you are ie trained etc, the better salesperson you will be.

@James Webber First, good on you for working hard to move on from past mistakes. We all have those!

Second, you probably already have thought through this and have your reasons, but there are plenty of ways to be full time in real estate without becoming a licensed agent and where a criminal background wouldn't come up. Rehabbing, wholesaling (not likely a long term plan I'll admit), development, landlording, etc.

@James Webber have you considered a 1099 contractor type career in computer science? As a contractor, you work for yourself and usually are not subject to background checks. Start out working on a freelance site like Upwork or Fiverr to gain experience. You will likely start building a client base after you have a portfolio of completed work. 

It is hypocritical that companies like Amazon claim to fight for social justice and legal reform. Then when it comes to hiring, they take no action. Regardless, you have to work within the reality of the situation. Try searching in Google on "software companies that hire felons". I got pages of results. 

Keep a positive attitude and don't let your past define you. It is more important what you do tomorrow, then what you did yesterday. Good luck!

@Joe Splitrock

Thanks for the advice. It has been a problem I've run into more than once. I might be able to find a remote position that would hire me on as a contractor. I have been denied a couple contractor jobs in the area but they wanted me on site. Living in the suburbs of DC, all of the private sector jobs spend most of their time fighting over government contracts. Even in a contractor role, it can be strict. I've considered moving. I think I'd have a lot better luck outside of this bubble run by the Federal government.

Luckily, I really like real estate and there are a lot of opportunities in this industry.

I totally agree @Joe Splitrock that you should keep trying and even if one broker doesn't take you, trying another and another until you get the result you are looking for. 

Ironically, that is the ethos of real estate investing anyways! 

Originally posted by @James Webber :

@Joe Splitrock

Thanks for the advice. It has been a problem I've run into more than once. I might be able to find a remote position that would hire me on as a contractor. I have been denied a couple contractor jobs in the area but they wanted me on site. Living in the suburbs of DC, all of the private sector jobs spend most of their time fighting over government contracts. Even in a contractor role, it can be strict. I've considered moving. I think I'd have a lot better luck outside of this bubble run by the Federal government.

Luckily, I really like real estate and there are a lot of opportunities in this industry.

 I work in tech and Ashburn is the data center epicenter of the world, but government requirements are an issue for sure. I definitely encourage you to pursue real estate. I just figured if you can secure a good salary in tech, it can help fund your real estate investing. I would keep search for both tech and real estate opportunities. Don't let previous rejection get you down. You may be looking for 1 in 100, so don't stop at 99.

@Joe Splitrock

I've worked at a lot of those data centers lol Verizon, Visa, and Equinix anyway. And that was 7+ years ago, the area has exploded since then. It's really crazy how fast all the data centers moved in here. That was the position at Amazon I was getting. Their data center in Manassas just south of Ashburn.

I don't plan on letting this situation hold me back though, I'll just keep it moving forward 👉

As long as your felony is not financial, fraud, or sex crime related, no broker will care. 

Honesty is always the best policy.  However, once you get your license, most brokers won't do another background check, since you have to go through screening to get your license.  It really shouldn't be a big deal.  Good luck!