Are you worried that your less-than-perfect past could stop you from getting your Pennsylvania real estate license? Well, it can be tricky, but you can still get your license, even if you have a criminal record.
What You Need to Get a PA Real Estate License
Let’s first break down the requirements to get a license.
If you want to get a salesperson license (that is, a license where your real estate activity is supervised by a licensed broker), you must:
Be at least 18 years old
Have a high school degree or an equivalent certificate
Meet the pre-license education requirements: 75 hours of pre-licensing education, or the equivalent
Have a reputation for being honest, trustworthy, competent, and having integrity
Be in good standing, meaning you don’t have a past real estate license (of any kind, anywhere) that has been suspended, surrendered, or revoked as a result of disciplinary action or unpaid fees
Have a clear criminal history (more on this in a moment!)
Undergo a criminal record check from the PA State Police, done within 90 days of submission
Broker applicants must meet all of the above salesperson requirements, plus a couple of additional requirements regarding education and experience. Check out the image below to see how the requirements for brokers build upon the requirements for salespersons:
Reporting of Criminal History
If you do have a past criminal history, you need to report it. Applicants must inform the Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission of any of the below, for any felony or misdemeanor:
Nolo contendere pleas
What if you commit a crime after you have obtained your license? If you are found guilty, plead guilty, or plead nolo contendere to any misdemeanor or felony (even if it is not related to real estate), you must inform the Commission within 30 days.
In all cases, whether for past criminal history, lack of good standing for a previous license, or crimes committed while holding a Pennsylvania real estate license, the Commission will decide whether or not to take disciplinary action based on the crime and the sentence.
How the Commission Decides
Unfortunately, you won’t know whether or not a prior criminal conviction will prevent you from getting your Pennsylvania real estate license until you submit the license application. And, at that point, you’ve completed the pre-license course and passed the Pennsylvania license exam. You’ve put all that time, money, and effort in, and it could all be for nothing.
So what can you do? The Commission only decides once it has your application in front of you. If you call or write ahead of time, they will not give guidance. However, a good lawyer might be able to help. If they have experience representing applicants before the Commission’s Enforcement Committee, they may be able to offer you advice.
The Commission’s Enforcement Committee will interview you and then make a decision about your licensure.
Crimes More Likely to Prevent Licensure
Some crimes are more likely than others to prevent you from getting a Pennsylvania real estate license. These crimes are more likely to affect the applicant’s ability to conduct real estate and demonstrate a lack of the required honesty, competency, trustworthiness, and integrity. Such crimes include:
One-time offenses are less likely to prevent licensure. The Committee is looking for a pattern of criminal history that suggests you would not make an honorable real estate agent.
Pennsylvania’s Criminal History Record Information Act (CHRIA)
Because of the CHRIA, you do not have to report arrests without convictions or convictions for summary offenses. A summary offense is less than a misdemeanor and carries a maximum punishment of a $300 fine or 90-day imprisonment.