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Law Index -- Real Estate License Related Law

Frequently Asked Questions


1. Who is required to have background checks?
All initial salesperson and broker applicants. This includes those licensing by exam,  reciprocity and Rule 5.3, as well as salespersons converting to brokers. Also, anyone who is reinstating a license that has been expired for more than 3 years.

2. What exactly is a background check?
The Real Estate Commission conducts a check for felony and misdemeanor convictions through the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Iowa Courts On-line.  A FBI fingerprint card is submitted to the Commission’s office by the applicant who forwards it to the DCI who then scans it to the FBI. The results of both the state and national criminal background checks are sent to the Real Estate Commission. These reports, along with any records found on Iowa Courts On-line, are reviewed for final approval once the Commission receives a completed application for licensure. The background check is valid for 210 calendar days.

3. When can an applicant start the background check process?
At any time. Applicants should keep in mind that pre-license education (if applicable), passing examination scores (if applicable), certification of licensure (if applicable) and the criminal history background check all have expiration dates that need to be watched carefully. Deadlines are absolute by law and cannot be waived or extended.

4.  How do I obtain a background?
Please contact Jill at or by FAX at 515-725-9032 to request a fingerprint packet.  The packet will have the required fingerprint card, waiver form and instructions.  You need to include your name and mailing address in your request.

5. How much does the background check process cost?
The cost is $52.00.  Be sure to include a check or money order for $52.00 made out to the Iowa Real Estate Commission with the fingerprint card and waiver form.

6. Is it true that the background may take four to eight weeks to complete?
Yes, in some instances. Many are completed within 4 weeks.  Once the fingerprint cards have been delivered to the DCI and the FBI we cannot check on the status of an individual’s background check. Applicants are notified via mail when their background check is completed. There is also a link on our website  ( that is updated as completed background reports are received.

7. If someone had a license, let it expire, and then decided to apply for re-issue of the license, will a background check be required?
Only if the license has been expired for 3 years or more.

8. Will the background check include the Iowa sex offender registry?

9. Can the information found on either the DCI or FBI reports be shared with anyone?
No. The information is confidential and protected.

10. Can a previous background check be used?

11. When can I submit my licensure application?
Completed applications will be accepted and processed prior to the completion of the background check (but not prior to the start of the background process.)  The license will held by the Iowa Real Estate Commission until the background check is completed and reviewed. Once the background is reviewed and approved the license will be assigned to your employing broker. You can also wait until you have knowledge that your background is done before you send in your application. Prior to the license being issued to your broker you are NOT allowed to perform any acts that require an active real estate license unless you currently hold an active Iowa salesperson license.

12.  What convictions will I need to disclose on my license application?  Any felony or misdemeanor conviction (other than scheduled traffic violations - a conviction of operating while intoxicated [OWI] is NOT a scheduled traffic violation and MUST be disclosed.)  A "conviction" includes a guilty plea, a deferred judgment prior to discharge, and a finding of guilt by a judge or jury.  ALL convictions must be disclosed regardless of the date when entered or whether the criminal record has been expunged.  IF IN DOUBT - DISCLOSE!

13. Does an individual need to divulge criminal activity if it occurred when he/she was a minor?
It depends. If a minor is accused of criminal conduct and found guilty by a juvenile court, the finding is referred to as an “adjudication” rather than a “conviction”. Technically, a juvenile adjudication is outside the Commission’s inquiry. In some cases, jurisdiction is transferred by the juvenile court and minors are charged and convicted as adults. In those cases, a “conviction” occurs, which must be disclosed. Whether an individual needs to divulge criminal activity when he/she was a minor depends upon whether the matter was considered by the juvenile or adult system. If juvenile court adjudication – no, if conviction in district court – yes.  IF IN DOUBT - DISCLOSE!

14. Does an individual need to divulge deferred judgments?

15. Is an OWI (OMVI; DWI, etc.) considered a criminal offense and need to be reported?

16. Does the Commission review the answers to the criminal history questions provided by the applicant on his/her license application for possible fraud?
Yes. All applications are reviewed and compared with the criminal history record(s). If the applicant checked “no” to any of the questions but was found to have a conviction or if checked "yes" but did not fully disclose all convictions, the application may be considered fraudulent.  IF IN DOUBT THAT A CONVICTION NEEDS TO BE DISCLOSED - DISCLOSE!

17. Why might an applicant be denied a license?
a. The applicant failed to tell the truth
b. The applicant’s criminal history was serious enough to warrant a denial
c. The applicant failed to provide the Commission with additional information requested by the Commission
d. The applicant procured a fraudulent document
e. The applicant’s license from another state was suspended or revoked

18. Is there an appeal process if the applicant is denied?
Yes. The applicant may make written request for hearing if within 30 days of notification that the Commission has denied the application.


543B.15 Qualifications.
3a. An applicant for a real estate broker's or salesperson's license who has been convicted of an offense specified in this subsection shall not be considered for licensure until the following time periods have elapsed following completion of any applicable period of incarceration, or payment of a fine or fulfillment of any other type of sentence:
(1) For an offense which is classified as a felony, two years.
(2) Notwithstanding subparagraph (1), for offenses including or involving forgery, embezzlement, obtaining money under false pretenses, theft, arson, extortion, conspiracy to defraud, or other offense involving a criminal breach of fiduciary duty, five years.
b. After expiration of the time periods specified in paragraph "a", an application shall be considered by the commission pursuant to subsection 7 and may be denied on the grounds of the conviction. An applicant may request a hearing pursuant to section 543B.19 in the event of a denial.
c. For purposes of this section, "convicted" means a guilty plea, deferred judgment from the time of entry of the deferred judgment until the time the defendant is discharged by the court without entry of judgment, or other finding of guilt by a court of competent jurisdiction in this state, or in any other state, territory, or district of the United States, or in any foreign jurisdiction.


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