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

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This article will help you better understand and navigate the screening process for obtaining a Wisconsin real estate license if you have legal blemishes on your record.

We provide insight into the background check process, the factors considered, and the applicable rules. We also share tips that can give you a leg up on how to apply.

Ready to take a closer look at the specifics? Here’s how it works.


Should I Pass a Background Check for a Wisconsin Real Estate License?

You can and should apply for a determination of eligibility before starting the licensing process if you’ve ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor offense.

Your request authorizes a background check and a pre-application review of conviction records.

The state’s Crime Information Bureau (CIB) performs the criminal history check. CIB is part of the Wisconsin Department of Justice and manages the centralized criminal history database.

You must submit an Application for Determination and a $68 fee to initiate the check. This form is where you’ll report felonies, misdemeanors, and other federal or state law violations.

You are also required to provide supplemental information related to each conviction, including the following:

  • Certified copies of the police/incident report or criminal complaint
  • Official court documents related to the judgment of conviction
  • Personal statement (if records are no longer available or for further explanation)

The Real Estate Examining Board uses the CIB background check report along with the information you provide to decide whether you would be disqualified from obtaining a license.

In making that decision, they keep public safety and interest foremost in mind. They also consider whether the circumstances of an offense substantially relate to practicing real estate.

The determination is binding upon the Board if you subsequently apply for a license. The only time that doesn’t apply is when relevant information comes to light after the decision was made.


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

Yes, there’s a chance you could be licensed as a real estate professional if you have a felony record. You’ll have to jump through extra hoops, though, and a waiting period comes into play.

The Real Estate Examining Board is allowed to deny a license if it’s been less than three years since you completed confinement, were paroled, or were released after finishing your sentence.

If three years have gone by, you’re allowed to apply. You can also request a predetermination. That way, you’ll know upfront whether your conviction would lead to denial of licensure.

When making that determination, the Board doesn’t view all felony records similarly. Instead, they review each applicant’s case individually.

Also, some crimes and circumstances negatively impact their decision more than others. Here are some examples:

  • Violent or other serious crimes that compromise public safety
  • Offenses that may have a direct adverse bearing on being a licensee
  • A pattern of felonies or similar incidents that led to a conviction
  • Lack of signs of reform and evidence you’re of good character
  • Conditions that could increase the likelihood of recidivism

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

While misdemeanors are less severe convictions than felonies, they can complicate matters just as much when it comes to qualifying for a real estate license.

But all is not necessarily lost, even if you have a misdemeanor offense on your record.

The Real Estate Examining Board makes decisions according to the facts of the particular situation. Also, they have a set of determining factors that they are legally obligated to consider.

One of the primary things they look at is whether the misdemeanor meets the substantial relationship test.

Here’s how the test works: If the conduct in the crime is a characteristic that could impact your fitness to perform the duties of a licensee, a material relationship exists.

Other factors considered are as follows:

  • The nature and severity of the offense
  • How long it has been since you were convicted
  • Whether or not you were a repeat offender
  • Activities that demonstrate success in rehabilitation
  • Circumstances that may result in you repeating the behavior

As you likely surmise, recent convictions and those that raise doubt about whether you currently warrant the public trust may dash your chances of obtaining a license.

If you are concerned about your record and want to know where you stand ahead of time, you can submit Form 3085 for a predetermination.


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

Like many other states, whether a DUI will prevent you from getting a real estate license in Wisconsin depends on how much of a red flag your conviction record is.

Called an OWI (Operating While Intoxicated), an impaired driving conviction in Wisconsin could be a major concern if repeat behavior or bodily harm leads to a felony charge.

In that case, the waiting period for felons would kick in and impact when you could apply. And the severity or circumstances of the offense(s) may also dampen your chances of licensure.

On the other hand, if you have a one-off misdemeanor from a while back and satisfied all the sentencing conditions, chances are you can get a real estate license if you have a DUI/OWI.


Tips for Applying for a Wisconsin Real Estate License with Criminal Record or Misdemeanor

Applying for a real estate license when you have a checkered criminal past can be difficult. So, what can you do to facilitate the process?

Here are five tips:

  • Do the predetermination paperwork. It’s optional, but you risk being disqualified after you’ve gone through the process. So, get a decision beforehand to be on the safe side.
  • Be thorough and accurate. Don’t leave anything out when you disclose convictions. And double-check to ensure you’ve filled out all the information correctly.
  • Follow the rules for submitting documents. Make sure court records are appropriately certified. And get letters from the source confirming the unavailability of any documents.
  • Consider getting a lawyer. A professional licensing attorney can help you properly answer questions, provide the correct information, and address convictions.

Can I Appeal the Commission’s Negative Decision?

You’ll receive a Notice of Denial if the decision is not in your favor. It will include a short statement of the basis for denial and the statute, rule, or standard that applies.

You have the right to request a hearing if you disagree with the decision. Your request must be in writing, and you have a 45-day window to do the ask.

The request will be granted if requirements are met, and an independent administrative law judge will conduct the hearing.

You’ll have the opportunity to present evidence in your favor and refute or offer countervailing evidence. The burden of proof is on you to demonstrate your eligibility for licensure.

You will get the judge’s decision in writing. It will also include notice of any right to a rehearing and administrative or judicial review of an adverse decision.


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

When you obtain a Wisconsin real estate license, you’ve earned the privilege of actively working in the profession in accordance with the rules and regulations.

And just as that privilege can be granted, it can also be taken away if you violate the rules.

Wisconsin law gives the Real Estate Examining Board the authority to take disciplinary action against licensed Wisconsin real estate agents. And there are different options based on the situation.

For criminal violations, they could simply limit your license, levy a fine, or reprimand you. But they are also empowered to suspend or revoke your license to conduct real estate business.

The length of your suspension or revocation is up to the Board, and it tends to depend on the severity of the offense(s).

Convictions that may lead to license disqualification are the same ones that can bar you from initially becoming an agent.

These crimes can be felonies or misdemeanors, and the circumstances surrounding them tick the “yes” box on the substantial relationship test.

You’ve got 48 hours to self-report the conviction. You must also send a copy of the complaint or other information that describes the crime and the judgment of conviction.

The disciplinary process has several steps. These include a Hearing stage—a formal legal proceeding—that a case proceeds to if no satisfactory resolution is reached before then.


Where to Study for a Real Estate License Exam?

Completing pre-licensing education is an integral part of studying for the Wisconsin real estate exam. And you have several ways to get that done.

Wisconsin real estate courses are offered in the following delivery formats:

  • In-person instruction in a classroom
  • Livestream classes that are instructor-led
  • Self-paced interactive content online
  • Home study courses with textbook

You can also choose between different kinds of schools. Approved providers include training institutes, conventional and online real estate schools, and technical and community colleges.

Therefore, your classroom setting could be on campus, at an independent school site, or in the comfort of your own home if you opt for livestream classes.

If you study online or do distance learning, you get the flexibility to pick the study spot that works best for you. You can do the same for exam prep courses, which are also offered online.

To know which delivery format suits you, refer to our A-to-Z guide comparing real estate classes online vs. traditional classroom courses.

When it’s time to take the test, don’t forget to read our study tips to ensure you pass the real estate exam the first time you take it.


Additional Information

Following all the licensing rules and regulations will make it easier for you to gauge if you are eligible to get a real estate license in the state.

And, should you pass the background check, it will then be effortless for you to complete all the other requirements in the Wisconsin licensing process. Refer to the following articles as your guides:

Once you pass the exam and apply for a license, note that you will be required to be supervised by a licensed real estate broker. Find one from our directory of the best real estate brokerages in Wisconsin.

Our article on choosing the right real estate broker to work for can help you select the most fitting real estate company where you can start your career.

If you are wondering what it’s like to work as a realtor, industry experts weigh in on the topic in our article discussing the pros and cons of being a real estate agent.

When you begin working as one, make sure to develop a good plan detailing your next steps after passing the real estate exam.

Also, learn how to join a real estate team to meet experienced agents to help with your career.

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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