As the Principal Broker/Owner of two real estate offices, it pretty hard to surprise me anymore. However, what transpired recently is enough to make my blood run cold. The State of Virginia allows CONVICTED FELONS who have served jail time to get REAL ESTATE LICENSES!!! Yes, you read that correctly. Did you KNOW that? I didn't.
In fact,I had always believed as have many of my other colleagues,that criminal background checks were done on new licensees by the Department of Regulation in the State of Virginia. This is not true.
DPOR merely "asks" potential licensees this question when they apply for their real estate license. If they don't answer this question, no checks are ever done. If the question is answered positively, the potential licensee must go before the board for a hearing. I have sat in on one of those hearings and they are rather short and sweet. Even then, NO background checks are done.
I was told by one investigator " there are 300,000 agents and DPOR doesn't have the time to do criminal background checks". Really? Hmmm. First of all I don't think there are 300,000 licensed real estate agents in the State of Virginia. And secondly, why can't Virginia do background checks?
The State of Kentucky requires potential licensees to submit to a criminal background check BEFORE they even take the licensing exam. Kentucky will not allow ANYONE to become a real estate agent if they have ANY felony conviction at any time (EVER!). You can't even become a real estate agent in Kentucky within five years of a misdemeanor conviction or with evidence of dishonesty, untruthfulness, or bad reputation. The FBI cost for this investigation is just $18 paid for by the potential licensees and it takes 10-12 weeks. In other words, Virginia wouldn't even have to DO the background check, they can hire the FBI to do the background check and make it a requirement that the potential licensees pay for it!!!!
I bring all of this up in the first place because I found out I had an agent in my office who had a felony conviction with jail time served for credit card fraud as well as a misdemeanor conviction for fraud. He had also lost his license to sell cars in Virginia for fraudulent behavior. But hey...let's just look the other way and give him a REAL ESTATE license and access to all the HOUSES on the market in the State of VIRGINIA!!! This agent continued to create all kinds of fraud for buyers and sellers in MY office!
People worry all the time about whether or not their house is safe while it is on the market. I reassure them over and over that I have a secure lockbox that can only be opened by real estate agents. I never ever knew that some of those real estate agents are the very ones my sellers should be afraid of letting into their house! Would you knowingly let a convicted felon stranger into your house? I don't think so. So why on earth would the State of Virginia think it is perfectly fine to allow convicted felons who have served jail time to have unlimited access to all the homes on the market in Virginia WITHOUT the knowledge of the sellers or buyers???
What is even more frightening, is after I dismissed this agent from my office and filed some very serious complaints (I also found out he was being investigated by DPOR for other complaints BEFORE he came to my office), this agent has just joined ANOTHER office in Northern Virginia and is being ALLOWED to practice real estate while he is being investigated. There is absolutely NO provision in the code or law that allows DPOR to suspend an agent's license while an investigation is going on...no matter how serious the charges are. Makes you feel even safer doesn't it???
So...coming to a home near you...maybe even yours... is a convicted felon licensed real estate agent who has served jail time for fraud or drug use or...and DPOR won't do a thing about it.