By Joseph Autilio
Executive Director, Massachusetts Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons
Answers to agents’ questions regarding real estate licensing in Massachusetts.
Q. Do I need to report minor criminal convictions that occurred long ago?
A. The simple answer to your question is YES; you need to report any criminal conviction regardless of when it occurred. The Board has the authority to review criminal convictions and determine whether they are a basis to prevent licensure as a real estate agent or the renewal of an existing license.
The Board has a public responsibility to ensure that only qualified candidates for licensure are licensed as agents. Naturally, part of ensuring that a candidate is qualified for licensure is to make sure the pre-licensing education and examination requirements are met, along with the three year salesperson work affiliation requirement. Another part of ensuring agent qualification is to make an assessment of whether a criminal conviction is a basis to deny licensure or the renewal thereof. In assessing criminal convictions, the Board asks a rather straightforward question on its licensure application. Namely, has the applicant ever been convicted of a criminal offense in Massachusetts or any other state or jurisdiction? The candidate can answer YES or NO. The Board then checks with the Massachusetts Criminal History Systems Board (CHSB), having previously been authorized to do so by the candidate on the application. If the candidate answers NO to the criminal conviction question but the CHSB reports one or more convictions, that is grounds for disciplinary action even where a YES answer confirmed by the CHSB would have lead to licensure pursuant to the Board’s policy on criminal convictions.
You must understand that the public and the Board rightfully expect real estate agents to be trustworthy and they are not starting off on the right foot when they are not truthful in answering the criminal conviction question. Also, agents should consider that the above referenced criminal conviction question is designed to refrain from putting candidates in the position of deciding which criminal convictions to report. Likewise, the criminal
conviction question is not limited to a specified time period. The question requires that you report any criminal conviction regardless of how long ago you were convicted.
Depending on the nature of the conviction, there may be serious disciplinary action including a decision by the Board to deny licensure or deny the renewal of an existing license. But, keep in mind that even where the Board would permit licensure for a candidate with a criminal conviction, it will seek to impose a sixty day license suspension for those candidates who are not truthful in reporting such convictions.
Q. Do I need a license if I operate under a business charter?
A. The Board licenses individuals and businesses as real estate brokers. Sometimes individual brokers operate under a business chartered with the Commonwealth but fail to obtain a license as a business broker from the Board. Business brokers need to be chartered with the Commonwealth and, also, obtain a business broker’s license from the Board.
The Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers & Salespersons office in Boston can be reached at 617-727-2373.