Real estate professionals seeking to renew their state licenses in South Carolina would have to pass a criminal background check under a new bill proposed for this upcoming Statehouse session.
The bill’s sponsor State Rep. Chip Huggins, R-Columbia, said he sponsored the measure after Lyman real estate agent Todd Kohlhepp was charged with kidnapping and murder when investigators linked him with seven killings since 2003.
Kohlhepp had been working in real estate despite being listed as a convicted sex offender in Arizona, where as a 14-year-old he confessed to kidnapping and raping a teen. The state Real Estate Commission approved the 45-year-old’s license to operate in South Carolina ten years ago.
“Number one, this (bill) would allow the consumer to feel comfortable with who they’re working with,” Huggins said. “Number two is the safety of everyone, because you go into a lot of homes, a lot of properties, a lot of buildings.”
Huggins, a former realtor himself, said legislators will need to decide which convictions discovered in a background check could be used to deny a license application. Lawmakers would also need to decide how often an individual must renew. But Slager said he’d prefer every two years when realtors and brokers renew their licenses.
“This will give a little more security and a little more comfort” Huggins said. “Basically the public is meeting realtors, going out with realtor Hunnins,”
The South Carolina Realtors association supports the idea behind the bill. Although some details — such as which convictions could bar a person from recieving their license — still need to be worked out.