Prior Convictions Not a Barrier to Receiving a Real Estate License

Published Monday, May 10, 2021

Real estate has long been an industry geared towards making the American dream come true. A young couple purchasing their first home, empty nesters finding the perfect place to settle into retirement, a family moving cross country for the promise of a new career. The home is often seen as the heart of a family, and Realtors are the people that get to help make this dream a reality. The career of a Realtor is even a testament of that American dream. Any seasoned real estate professional will tell you that this career is all of what you put into it. Hard work and dedication pays off in this field. For many with a criminal history, a lucrative career in real estate may seem out of reach. After all, a realtors license requires a high school diploma or GED,  passing a 75 hour course from an accredited real estate school, and for the applicant to be of “good moral standing." These parameters often acted more as barriers for prospective realtors with a criminal history. However, hope is not lost!

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The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation has released a report which shows that prior criminal convictions are rarely a barrier to obtaining a professional license in Illinois.---

Of the more than 99,000 total applications for licensure in 2020, about 1,100 were from applicants with past criminal convictions. Of that total, only 42 were denied based, in whole or in part, on a criminal conviction. Only 3.8% of applicants with a criminal history were declined due to their criminal history. This underscores the Department’s commitment to applying fair, unbiased, and even-handed mitigating factors in the licensing process so that having a past criminal conviction is rarely, in and of itself, a bar to obtaining a professional license.

According to Mario Treto, Jr., Acting Secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, “The Department recognizes that becoming a licensed professional can be a gateway to economic opportunity, and we encourage all qualified applicants to apply, including those with past criminal records. The American dream is about hard work, dedication, and breaking down barriers. Obtaining a license in real estate is often a great first step to making this dream come a reality."

If you have a past criminal record and are seeking a new career or job opportunity, real estate just might be for you. Check it out today!


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A REALTOR® is a licensed real estate agent who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®, (NAR) the largest trade group in the country.

Every agent is not a REALTOR®.  You become a REALTOR® after you pass your real estate course, pass the state license exam, join a real estate company and then join the National Association of REALTORS®.

According to the NAR, the term REALTOR has one, and only one, meaning:
"REALTOR® is a federally registered collective membership mark which identifies a real estate professional who is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics."

Michael Fair, President and Director of Your House Academy is an NAR member.