We encourage you to start your Iowa real estate licensing process by submitting the required background check.
What to Know About the Real Estate License Background Check
Even though this step in the licensing process may not seem complicated, it usually takes the longest because the search combs through the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Iowa Courts Online. It also includes the Iowa Sex Offender Registry. All information obtained for this background check is kept confidential and protected.
Depending on the time of year, the background check process can take anywhere from 4-8 weeks, sometimes longer. Applicants should begin the background process as soon as they decide to pursue a real estate license. The background check process can happen independently of the pre-licensing classes and is encouraged to be initiated at or around the time the applicant begins classes.
It is important to keep an eye on timelines, however. Once a background check is completed, it is valid for 210 days. Additionally, there are expiration dates for pre-licensing course certificates and exam pass notices. According to the Iowa Real Estate Commission, these deadlines are absolute and cannot be waived or extended.
How to Submit Your Background Check
The real estate license background check is initiated by you. You must complete an online application and fingerprint card, then submit it to the Iowa Real Estate Commission.
Step 1: Request a Background Check Packet
To begin, applicants must create an account on the Iowa Professional Licensing Bureau’s website. It is best to use a Google Chrome browser (Microsoft Explorer v11 is not supported).
1. Sign Up For An Account
Go to https://plb.iowa.gov/ and click “Login to my Iowa PLB” and then “New User?”. Create your account using an email address you check regularly. The PLB will continue to be your portal later when you are ready to apply for your real estate license. Be sure to keep your chosen username and password in a safe place for later (you will need it to submit your completed licensing application later on).
2. Select Application/Renew
Once you are logged in to your PLB portal, click on the left menu item “Select Application/Renew.” You will then be prompted to either add or update your information.
3. Select General Background Packet Request
Select the Real Estate Commission as the licensing board. Then select “General – Background Packet Request”
4. Complete Packet Checklist
Once in the application, you simply need to complete the checklist, which includes entering your name and mailing address to send the fingerprint packet to and click “Submit Application.”
Your process is complete when your status changes from “Pending” to “Application Submitted!” You will receive an email notification
There is a $51 fee for the background check. Fees will be paid after the staff reviews the application. You will receive a separate email with a link to pay. Paying online will speed up the process. Alternatively, you may choose to send a personal check or money order with your fingerprint packet. Once the fingerprint cards have been delivered to the DCI and the FBI, staff cannot check on the status of an individual’s background check. Applicants will be notified via email when their background check results have been received.
Step #2: Get Fingerprinted and Complete Forms
Included in your packet will be the fingerprint card, a one-page state waiver, and a three-page federal waiver. You must disclose any criminal history on the federal waiver. In addition, you will be required to disclose that same history once again in the Salesperson License Application.
Once you receive your packet in the mail, schedule an appointment with an authorized fingerprinting service (any sheriff’s office or police department).
Des Moines residents can now use Biometric Impressions, an inkless fingerprint service with an office in Urbandale. Learn more here.
Be aware that these facilities charge their own fees. Complete all of the required information on the fingerprint card in black ink or typed. Do not fold, staple, bend, tape, highlight, stamp, make extraneous marks, or modify the card. Make a copy of the completed documents in the packet for your records.
Send or deliver the completed fingerprint card and both signed waivers to:
Iowa Real Estate Commission
200 E Grand St, STE 350
Des Moines, IA 50309
What Convictions Need to be Disclosed?
Any serious misdemeanor conviction, aggravated misdemeanor conviction or felony conviction (a conviction of operating while intoxicated 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.
Criminal activity that took place while a minor is situational. Most rulings for minors are referred to as “adjudication” rather than “conviction”. This is technically outside of the commission’s inquiry. But in some cases, jurisdiction is transferred by the juvenile court and minors are charged and convicted as adults. If in doubt, it is a best practice to disclose.
Once you’ve submitted your background check waivers and fingerprint card, you can sign up for the 60-hour pre-licensing course. The real estate license background check is one of the simplest steps of the licensing process but does take the longest to complete. Make sure it is the first thing you do in your journey to become a real estate agent in Iowa!
Download your guide to the Iowa Real Estate Licensing Process
The process for becoming a REALTOR® in Iowa can seem long and daunting. You’ll have no problem completing them with this guide to becoming a real estate agent in Iowa.
What you’ll get:
- Entire licensing process timeline
- Breakdown of each step and process
- Helpful tips and tricks
- Worksheets to make it easy
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