November 21st, 2016 | Debbie Lamb, Sterling Talent Solutions

Background Checks for Real Estate Agents

Background Checks for Real Estate | Sterling

You have been budgeting, scrimping and saving for years to buy your dream home. The time has finally come to start the house hunting process. There are so many thoughts rolling around your mind from how much of a loan can I qualify for, what are the costs of home inspections and hiring the right real estate agent. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you are choosing a real estate agent? Most people would say they want to be reassured the real estate agent they choose is properly licensed and qualified to buy or sell homes. As a new home buyer, you do not want to have the possibility of hiring an agent who is unlicensed, unethical or unqualified when you are making one of the biggest purchases of your life.

Real Estate Licensing

All states and the District of Columbia require real estate agents to be licensed. But according to the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials, only half of the states require background checks as part of the licensing process. Each state has a different process for vetting their real estate agents. Some states just require the agent to fill out a background questionnaire while other states are more diligent with fingerprinting and criminal background checks. When you are researching your real estate agent, check on your state’s policy to see if sufficient background checks have been performed during the licensing process. Many states are starting to insist their agents have a background check before receiving their license.

New Mississippi Law

The state of Mississippi is the latest state that is requiring more background information from real estate agents when they get licensed. The governor of the state of Mississippi recently signed a bill into law requiring all new and current real estate licensees to submit a background check as well as fingerprinting before being issued a real estate license. The Mississippi Association of REALTORS (MAR) were strongly behind the passage of the bill to protect homeowners, consumers and other real estate professionals. The general counsel for the organization, Ron Farris, explained that expanded background testing shows a large amount of real estate license applicants have criminal issues in their backgrounds. In fact, background checks are showing about 10% to 15% of applicants have some type of criminal conviction that is not being disclosed on the application. Farris also stated MAR members supported the legislation to self-impose a higher standard on themselves as members of a profession that regularly in put in a position of being in people’s homes. Any new applicant and agent renewing their license (every two years) will be required to go through the testing. The only exemption to the new law is licensees who are over the age of 65 and have held a license for more than 25 years.

Background Screening for Real Estate Agents

Having a third party employee screening company, such as Sterling, perform real estate agent background checks will give consumers peace of mind that they are hiring the right person to help with one of the biggest decisions of their lives. Sterling’s comprehensive employment background checks help real estate agents meet the requirements of their state licensing boards and major lending institutions as part of their professional profiles. Sterling provides faster, more accurate employment background checks, reliable education and credential verifications and is complaint to local, state and federal laws pertaining to the background screening and real estate industries.

Discover more about the many aspects and types of background screening in Background Screening 101.


Sterling is not a law firm. This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.