Can I Get a Real Estate License With a Criminal Record?

January 1, 2020 | By Shane Phelps
Can I Get a Real Estate License With a Criminal Record?

It’s easy to make a mistake that could follow you for the rest of your life. For example, a criminal record can make getting or keeping a real estate license difficult.

Hiring the right criminal defense lawyer can protect not only your freedom, but the professional license upon which your livelihood in the real estate industry may depend.

A lawyer can also help you fight the Texas Real Estate Commission’s revocation or denial of your real estate license due to a criminal conviction.

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The Texas Real Estate Commission’s Role

Selling real estate is a popular career choice for many people with a knack for sales, who can engage in skillful negotiation, and who love interacting with people. 

Those who buy and sell real property, however, find themselves subject to many rules and regulations, the rise and fall of markets, and a highly competitive field requiring marketing expertise. 

The Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) educates, licenses, and disciplines agents, enforces real estate laws, and provides services for consumers in the state. 

Obtaining a license from TREC is the first step toward a successful career in real estate, but you must prove to the agency that you meet its standards.

TREC advises anyone to request what is called a Fitness Determination (FD) if they have:

  • Criminal offenses
  • Unpaid judgments
  • Disciplinary actions taken against a professional license
  • Unlicensed real estate activity

Certain criminal offenses could prevent someone from getting or keeping a real estate license. These offenses make people question whether they can trust an agent to act responsibly and in the best interests of their clients. 

Specifically, these crimes might make it doubtful whether the person can handle their duties and provide the right advice and services.

Crimes that could make you ineligible for a license include fraud, forgery, bribery, DWI, sex crimes, and other serious offenses. Any crime that directly affects your ability to do your job could result in the state revoking or not granting a license. 

A criminal record does not necessarily mean losing your license or suffering further consequences. You have options. An experienced lawyer will explain what you can do and your best course of action.

Convincing TREC to Grant You a License Despite a Criminal Conviction

Licensed Approval Authority Permission Concept.

Where criminal records are concerned, TREC determines each licensing case individually. 

TREC will consider the following factors to decide your licensing outcome:

  • The type of crime and its level of seriousness
  • How old you were when you committed the crime, and how much time has passed since
  • How the crime could affect your performance as an agent
  • How you conducted yourself and the type and quality of the work you did both before and after the crime was committed
  • How well you complied with all conditions ordered by the court
  • Evidence that demonstrates your level of rehabilitation
  • Evidence of how fit you are to be an agent as recommended by others

You may continue in your chosen career by undergoing a Fitness Determination and providing evidence to TREC of your ability to perform with honesty and integrity.

TREC will take up to 30 days to review all the documentation and evidence you provide in its FD forms. An attorney with experience in real estate law will explain the time constraints and your other responsibilities.

Communicate honestly with them throughout the process. It is not over, even if TREC denies your license based on the FD. You can resubmit with additional documentation, letters of recommendation, or other written references. 

There is no guarantee that approval will follow, but you have several options an attorney can explain.

Ethical Considerations and Professional Conduct

Guarantee, mortgage, agreement, contract: A real estate agent delivers the house to the customer after signing important contract documents.

A successful career in real estate requires ethical, professional conduct. The Texas Real Estate Commission and other regulatory bodies set rigorous ethical standards that agents must uphold to ensure transparency, fairness, and integrity.

TREC mandates agents to act in the best interests of their clients, prioritizing clients’ needs above their own. This fiduciary duty compels agents to provide honest advice, even if it might result in a lower commission or a lost sale. 

For example, an agent must disclose known issues with a property that could affect the client’s decision as legal and moral obligation.

Confidentiality is also a crucial requirement. Agents must handle information about clients’ finances, motivations for buying or selling, and other personal details with the utmost discretion. Violating this trust can lead to severe legal and professional repercussions.

Another critical aspect is transparency, which involves clear communication about any fees, costs, and commissions involved in a transaction. Agents must ensure that all financial dealings are straightforward and that no hidden costs are imposed on the client.

The scope of professional conduct goes beyond transactions. It includes ongoing education and awareness of changes in real estate laws and market conditions. TREC and other bodies often provide resources and training to help agents stay updated, ensuring they offer an informed and competent service.

A reputation for honesty and integrity leads to more referrals, repeat business, and long-term success in the real estate industry. Clients trust agents known for ethical behavior, which translates into better client relationships and more positive transaction outcomes.

Ethical breaches usually result in disciplinary actions from TREC, including fines, suspension, or even license revocation. Adhering to ethical guidelines can build trust, maintain a good reputation, and safeguard one’s career.

Turn to Shane Phelps, P.C. When Facing Criminal Accusations

Obtaining or maintaining your real estate license can ensure your livelihood. Of course, the best way to avoid licensing problems is to refrain from criminal action. 

But if someone accuses you of a crime, the most positive step you can take is to bring in an experienced criminal defense lawyer. A lawyer not only can protect you from fines and prison, but can protect you from other consequences of a criminal conviction, including the loss of professional licenses.

At Shane Phelps Law, P.C., you can turn to a law firm led by a criminal defense professional who has completed the highest standards of training and experience in the state. Our firm has a wealth of knowledge and abundant legal skills to help you reach the best possible outcome in any criminal matter.

Ready to discuss your case? Call us at (979) 775-4100 for your free case consultation today.

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Shane Phelps

Lead Attorney

As founder of Shane Phelps Law, Bryan/College Station criminal defense attorney Shane Phelps has a reputation as a leading trial lawyer in the Central Texas area. With decades of experience as both a prosecutor and a criminal defense attorney, Shane has tried more than 300 jury trials, everything from DWI to Capital Murder.

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