Can you get a real estate license in Virginia if you have a felony on your record? Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer. The truth is it depends.
We’ll look at how the DPOR evaluates applicants so you can know what to expect when applying with a criminal record.
All real estate license applicants need to meet several requirements in order to get their license in Virginia. You can learn more about the specifics of what it takes to qualify for a license in Virginia and potential license reciprocity in Virginia, but note that all applicants must:
Be at least 18 years old
Have a high school degree or the equivalent
Prove they have good moral character
Good Moral Character
Applicants with a recorded felony may be nervous about proving to the Virginia DPOR that they have “good moral character.” Good moral character is relative (and what does that even mean?).
Essentially, the DPOR is trying to ensure applicants are:
Protecting the public
But these traits are also relative. There is no clear cut test to determine if an applicant is fair. Let’s look at how the DPOR approaches determining whether or not an applicant has these traits.
All applicants will need to provide the DPOR with copies of their fingerprints. When they do this, they will also need to disclose the following convictions or pleas:
Nolo contendere (these are considered convictions)
The DPOR receives these records and disclosures and then evaluates each applicant individually. The DPOR may then approve or deny an application.
The misdemeanors applicants need to disclose include any convictions within the last five years that deal with:
What the DPOR Considers
When looking at felonies and misdemeanors, the DPOR uses several guidelines to evaluate every applicant. The most important questions they will ask when considering felonies are:
Is the crime closely related to the purpose of the license?
What kind of crime was it and how serious was it?
What does the rest of the applicant’s criminal history look like?
The DPOR considers many factors when looking at criminal histories — one factor won’t make or break a licensee. They must also provide the evidence they examined and utilized to come to their decision.
The DPOR can’t deny an applicant just because they have a felony. They can deny an applicant with a felony if the felony relates to the licensee’s practice. If the felony poses a valid threat to the integrity of the practice, the DPOR may choose to deny it.
For example, a person with an extensive history of violent crimes may be denied while a person convicted of dealing drugs one time may be accepted. Because real estate agents work closely, often 1:1, with clients, a frequent history of violence may be more concerning to the DPOR than other, one-time convictions.
But remember, there is no formula or guaranteed way to know if the DPOR will accept or deny an applicant.
It can be nerve-wracking to apply for a license and be waiting on the DPOR to deliver a decision. But all applicants should be upfront and honest. Disclose any misdemeanors or felonies without hesitation.
Upfront disclosure helps prove you are honest and trustworthy. If you don’t disclose a conviction, the DPOR will end up finding out about it anyways (they have their methods). A hidden conviction looks much worse than an exposed one.
If your application is approved, you’ll have to meet other requirements. You’ll need to:
Complete an approved licensing course
Pass an approved licensing exam