Can You Get a District of Columbia Real Estate License with Violations such as Felony, DUI or Misdemeanor?

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Starting a career in real estate with a criminal record can be stressful. You’re never sure if your past will prevent you from moving forward professionally.

When it comes to a real estate license in Washington, D.C., it is possible to become a licensed professional.

This is exactly what you need to know should you apply for a license with a past conviction.

Keep reading to understand how real estate law works in this case and what you can do to improve your chances of getting approved for licensure.


Should I Pass a Background Check for a District of Columbia Real Estate License?

There is no requirement to get an official background check completed in Washington, D.C. when you’re applying for a real estate license.

On the application though, you will get asked about any past criminal convictions, which you should be completely transparent about.

You’ll also need to submit a description of the charges and associated court documents with your application for review.


Can You Get a Real Estate License with a Felony in DC?

In Washington, D.C., a felony does not automatically disqualify you from getting your real estate license.

However, it does mean your application will go under review by the District of Columbia Real Estate Commission who will take into consideration how your offense relates to your ability to be a real estate professional.

It may count against you if, within the 10 years prior to your application, you’ve been convicted of a felony that may involve:

  • Lying under oath
  • Bribery
  • Theft
  • Larceny
  • Theft or embezzlement
  • Robbery
  • Extortion
  • Forgery or counterfeiting
  • Misappropriation of funds

Other factors may also impact your ability to get a license. They’re detailed in the Code of the District of Columbia.

Even with a felony on your record, the Commission is not allowed to consider the conviction until after your application has been reviewed, and you’ve been deemed qualified for licensure.


Can You Get a Real Estate License with a Misdemeanor in DC?

A misdemeanor also will not always prevent you from getting your real estate license in the District of Columbia.

The Commission will review your conviction only after you’re marked as being a qualified candidate for licensure.

At that point, they can only look at information related to the conviction as they take into consideration the offense itself and when it happened.

Any offense related to being a real estate professional may negatively impact your situation, but the Commission does look at your age and the circumstances surrounding the conviction, too.

The time that has elapsed since the conviction can also come into play. The further away it occurred, the better.


Can You Get a Real Estate License with a DUI in DC?

You absolutely can get a real estate license if you have a DUI in Washington, D.C., but approval relies heavily on the circumstances around your conviction.

Since being a real estate professional can involve driving clients to showings, an offense like this can link back to your ability to do your job safely and correctly.

For this reason, a DUI may prevent you from getting a real estate license, but a full review by the Commission will still take place before making a decision.


Tips for Applying for a District of Columbia Real Estate License with Criminal Record or Misdemeanor

Without a background check to automatically provide the Commission with your criminal history, it’s up to you to be fully transparent.

Disclose all information about past convictions when you submit your real estate license application, and include all supporting documents.

The Commission must look at whatever evidence you provide as to your qualifications to perform appropriately as a real estate professional.

This means court documents as well as letters of reference, information about your work history, and any evidence about your rehabilitation post-conviction should accompany your application.

Giving the Commission a complete and transparent picture will greatly help you get a fair review.


Can I Appeal the Commission’s Negative Decision?

You do have the right to appeal a negative decision from the Commission.

Should you receive notification of a denial of your application, visit the DC Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection website for more details on what to do.

To reduce the risk of needing an appeal, make sure all relevant information related to your conviction gets submitted alongside your application.


Can a Real Estate License Be Suspended or Revoked Because of a Violation Committed After Receiving It?

Disciplinary action and fines up to $2,500 per violation are within the rights of the Commission should real estate agents in the District of Columbia are found to:

  • Misrepresent themselves
  • Make false promises to clients
  • Act as a broker or salesperson for more than one party in a transaction without the knowledge of all parties
  • Accept payment or other valuable consideration from someone other than their employer
  • Falsely advertise their services
  • Fail to remit money, documents, or property within a reasonable time
  • Act incompetently
  • Act in their own self interest while acting as agent or broker
  • Commit fraud

These and a few other infractions listed here can all lead to a license disqualification, suspension, or some other course of action set forth by the Commission.


Where to Study for a Real Estate License Exam?

Should you pass the background check in the state, you can then focus on completing all the other requirements for getting a real estate license in the District of Columbia.

A major part of the prerequisites is meeting the pre-licensing education requirement. This means enrolling in one of the local real estate agent schools to complete this step in the process.

You have the option to take your course via remote setting or traditional classroom. Review this A-to-Z guide comparing real estate classes online vs. classroom courses before you make your choice.

You don’t submit your real estate license application until after you pass the exam, so it’s important you do your best to pass the DC real estate exam on your first attempt to keep the process moving.

This means taking studying very seriously.

To start, take thorough notes in your pre-licensing course. This is the 60-hour salesperson course you take at the start of the licensing process.

Taking strong notes will give you ready-made study materials you can begin reviewing after each class session.

Convert the material into outline form for easier review, and make flashcards for all the facts you need to memorize.

As you acquire these study tools, you’ll need to find a good place to work. A quiet spot, with minimal distraction and interruption, is ideal.

If you struggle to focus though, consider forming a study group and have your peers help you stay on track.

Additionally, refer to these tips for studying for the real estate exam for more helpful pointers.

Taking a little time each day to review will help build your pool of knowledge and prepare you for exam day, and the more prepared you are, the more likely you’ll pass your first time out.


Additional Information

When you pass your exam, make sure to refer to your checklist to make sure you’ve covered all the steps in the DC licensing process.

The licensing process could be a long and rigorous one, depending on your availability. It would be wise to plan your schedule early by referring to our article on how long it takes to get a real estate license in the District of Columbia.

Plan for your expenses as well, to know if you’re financially capable to fund all the requirements to complete the licensing process.

This article detailing all the steps and the corresponding costs to get a real estate license in the District of Columbia is a good resource.

Do note that an essential part of the licensing process is to pick a broker to work for. Getting sponsored by a local real estate brokerage firm ensures that your license gets activated once it’s approved.

By the time your license is on hand, you’ll be ready to navigate the competitive world of real estate with these resources to back your knowledge up:

As you work on giving your real estate business better visibility, know that you have at your disposal a myriad of marketing tools specifically developed to gear you up for success.

To help you build and grow your real estate career quickly, we at Real Estate Bees created a directory for real estate professionals.

It’s designed to help you get more exposure for your business, including receiving leads. Create a free profile by signing up here.


If you want to contribute your expert advice on a topic of your expertise, feel free to apply to our Expert Contributor Program.


About the Author

Kristina Morales is a REALTOR® with over 20 years of professional experience. She actively practices real estate in Ohio but also has practiced real estate in California and Texas. Conducting her real estate business in three states has allowed her to gain unique experiences that make her a well-rounded realtor. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Business Management and her MBA with a concentration in Banking and Finance. Prior to real estate, Kristina had an extensive corporate career in banking and treasury. She ended her finance career as an Assistant Treasurer at a publicly traded oil & gas company in Houston, TX.

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