Is Your Virginia Real Estate Agent a Felon? or Who IS in YOUR House?

Real Estate Broker/Owner with EXiT Metro Realty


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 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.

Comments (6)


You sound like a person who has never done a thing wrong in her entire life.

I guess if a person commits a crime in their youth that is unrelated to selling real estate, that person should be punished for the rest of their life and not allowed to seek legal employment.

Your sense of justice stinks.

Here's something for you to consider as you attempt to "educate" people on your lame site:

"let he who is without sin, cast the first stone"

Nov 23, 2010 03:41 AM

2.5 million people are currently in prison or some form of the american correctional system present day. New people go in and come out every single day. In todays world where drugs are available to every kid in every town lots of good normally honest people are going to take the wrong path in their youth and only correct it after learning their lesson by spending time in prison like myself. Why after paying my debt to society IN FULL and not being in any legal trouble for over 6 years (im now a 27yo MAN and no longer a 21yo BOY) should I not have the same opportunities as every other American to support myself and my new family? Like the last comment said, how about those without sin cast the first stone

May 18, 2011 07:30 AM
Shawn Harris
Hi, Bill and Brian' I understand your feelings. I hope you read the entire blog. As a result of the blog who h is 3 years old, Virginia now requires new agents tonprovide fingerprints before being licensed. I made it clear in my blog I was not talking about minor offenses. I had an agent who continued to commit fraud after serving time. Lost his license to sell cars because he committed fraud and then was issued a real estate license where he continued to commit major fraud. He never disclosed his history. I am not against all previous felons practicing real estate. But to this day I still have not been able to get an answer out of the state as to whether former violent felons are allowed licenses, pedophiles, etc... I am not casting stones. As a Broker, I am liable for the actions of my agents. I got dragged into the mess this agent created behind my back. He destroyed the credit of three people by giving them misinformation and preyed upon their innocence. While I was found not complicit, it took a year to go through the process with much financial and personal stress involved. I do know people can clean up their lives and turn themselves around. I applaud them and would warmly welcome them into my office. We really did need a better system to protect the public from the others.
May 19, 2011 12:38 AM

I am a convicted felon and have served time in jail. Automatically I now am placed in a category that elicits a negative view of my personality, judgment, and character.  It also acts as a barometer, letting everyone know that i am a ticking time bomb just waiting to commit a crime.  My offense? Driving while intoxicated, third offense in a five year period.  I have had all my life a horrible addiction to alcohol.  I am embarrassed, terribly sorry, and extremely grateful I did not hurt anyone or worse.  I now would rather drink battery acid as to have a drink of liqueur. I have a beautiful wife, a nice home with a manicured lawn, a job, friends, and a wonderful family.  I am starting a new life and am loving everyday and every minute in it..  As well I am active in civic activities and give to the local boys and girls clubs. Do you really want to take my ambitions away given the information I have given you?  I am a good, honest person today, please don't judge me as the person I used to be while I was laying in the bottom of a bottle.  I would like to hear your response to this.  Thanks very much....Rich Green 

Jul 15, 2011 08:29 AM

This article breaks my heart and only reinforces my notion that I'll never been more than a waiter.  People just aren't ready to forgive.  People they have never been caught, they feel they are superior.  I have to live a life of judgement all because I overdosed on drugs.

Apr 27, 2012 03:37 PM

I am a licensed Real Estate Agent and retired Police Officer. 

I strongly disagree with Shawn Harris.  If we as society are

going to hold all convicted felons accountable for their

crime for the rest of their lives then why ever let

them out of prison.  They do the time the justice

systems requires but then society makes the

rest of the persons life like prison.  No real opportunities to

make a living.  Tag them as a "felon" for life.  Most of

us made poor decisions at some point in our lives and thankful

to God that we are still not being held accountable.

Obviously, the type of crime needs to be taken in consideration.  However,

length of time should be a bigger factor.  Luckily, we all grow up and most

learn from past mistakes!


May 15, 2012 07:27 AM