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Can You Obtain a Pennsylvania Real Estate License with a Criminal Record?

Are you concerned that your past mistakes might hinder you from obtaining a Pennsylvania real estate license? While it can be challenging, rest assured that having a criminal record does not automatically disqualify you. Let's...

criminal record and real estate in Pennsylvania

Are you concerned that your past mistakes might hinder you from obtaining a Pennsylvania real estate license? While it can be challenging, rest assured that having a criminal record does not automatically disqualify you. Let's explore the process and requirements for obtaining a license, including how your criminal history can impact your application.

Understanding the Requirements

Before we delve into the impact of a criminal record, let's first outline the general requirements for obtaining a Pennsylvania real estate license.

Salesperson Requirements

To obtain a salesperson license, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Hold a high school degree or equivalent certificate.
  • Complete 75 hours of pre-licensing education or its equivalent.
  • Possess a reputation for honesty, trustworthiness, competence, and integrity.
  • Have a clean standing without any previous suspended, surrendered, or revoked real estate licenses.
  • Undergo a criminal record check conducted by the PA State Police within 90 days of application submission.

Broker Requirements

Broker applicants must fulfill all the salesperson requirements mentioned above, along with additional education and experience prerequisites. Please refer to the image below for a comprehensive overview of the requirements for brokers:

Pennsylvania real estate license requirements

Applying with a Criminal Record

If you have a criminal record, it is essential to disclose it during the application process. The Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission requires applicants to report any previous convictions, guilty pleas, nolo contendere pleas, or imposed sentences for felonies or misdemeanors.

Additionally, if you commit a crime after obtaining your license, it is your responsibility to inform the Commission within 30 days of being found guilty, pleading guilty, or pleading nolo contendere to any misdemeanor or felony offense, even if it is unrelated to real estate.

Once you submit your application, please be aware that it may undergo a more extensive review process due to the criminal charge. This can result in a longer waiting period before you receive approval to take the pre-licensing exam.

Review and Decision Process

The Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission will review your application during their next meeting. If your application contains information regarding a criminal charge, they will decide whether to grant or preliminarily deny the application. In the case of a preliminary denial, you have the opportunity to meet with the Commission for an informal conference to present your case. The Commission will consider your points and re-evaluate the application. If the Commission still denies your application, you can request a formal hearing.

During a formal hearing, the Commission will thoroughly examine all evidence, documentation, and testimony provided before making a final decision regarding your licensure.

Factors Influencing the Commission's Decision

Unfortunately, you won't know definitively if a prior criminal conviction will prevent you from obtaining a Pennsylvania real estate license until you submit your application. This uncertainty can be disheartening, especially after investing time, money, and effort into completing the required education and passing the licensing exam.

While the Commission does not provide guidance prior to receiving your application, consulting with an experienced lawyer who has represented applicants before the Commission's Enforcement Committee may offer valuable advice.

It's important to note that certain crimes are more likely to hinder your chances of obtaining a Pennsylvania real estate license, as they demonstrate a lack of the required honesty, competency, trustworthiness, and integrity. These crimes include inchoate crimes, sexual offenses, burglary, robbery, theft, forgery, fraudulent practices, bribery, falsification, intimidation, insurance and mortgage-related offenses, computer-related offenses, and violent crimes. On the other hand, one-time offenses are less likely to prevent licensure.

Please refer to the Pennsylvania Real Estate Commission's list of criminal convictions for a comprehensive overview of specific offenses that may lead to license denial.

Understanding the CHRIA

Thanks to the Criminal History Record Information Act (CHRIA), you are not obligated to report arrests without convictions or convictions for summary offenses. Summary offenses are minor infractions punishable by a maximum fine of $300 or imprisonment for up to 90 days.

Remember, the information provided in this article is subject to change, and it's essential to stay updated on any revisions to the licensing requirements and procedures.

So, if you have a criminal record and aspire to obtain a Pennsylvania real estate license, don't let your past discourage you. Be transparent, navigate the application process diligently, and consider seeking professional guidance to present your case effectively.