Not just anyone can get a real estate license — and sometimes, agents engage in activities that cost them their license. This month, the Florida Real Estate Commission voted to revoke a St. Pete Beach agent’s license because he didn’t disclose felony convictions in another state to the commission.
The 53-year-old man didn’t appear before the commission to answer questions and he wasn’t there for the unanimous vote to revoke his license. He may continue to work as an agent until the final revocation order is filed — likely by month-end. He reportedly has only one active listing, which is a vacant lot. He’s still included on the website of a real estate firm.
The agent was indicted in Illinois on theft charges a year after he obtained his license in Florida in 2001. He pled guilty to stealing almost $40,000 in clothes from a store and got 30 months’ probation. However, the commission found no evidence that he disclosed the two felony counts to them, as he was required to do.
His criminal history came to light when the Tampa Bay Times was investigating a story on some sketchy real estate deals he was tied to. Among the people who filed a complaint against him was a Seminole man who says he lost out on a home the agent was selling after the agent accepted a lower bid and then listed the home for a much higher price days later.
The Florida Real Estate Commission says that it takes any record of crimes involving theft — even petty theft — seriously. Homeowners trust real estate agents not only with large sums of money like their escrow accounts but with the belongings in their home. They have access to homes on the market and can enter them when no one is there.
As one commissioner noted, “People leave money around. Stealing is a big deal and people need to be able to trust us.” Another commissioner said about this agent, “He should not be working with consumers.”
While most real estate professionals take their jobs seriously and act with integrity, that’s not true for all of them. Those who don’t can take a lot more from people than cash they find in their homes. If you are concerned or skeptical about a real estate transaction, it’s wise to consult an experienced attorney.