• Former South Carolina agent and broker-in-charge Todd Kohlhepp pleaded guilty to seven counts of murder, sexual assault and kidnapping charges.
  • Kohlhepp's case put a spotlight on the process for real estate licensee applications and background checks in the state of South Carolina.

Todd Kohlhepp, the former real estate broker and Realtor who was arrested after a missing South Carolina woman was found in a metal container on his property, has pled guilty to seven counts of murder. By taking a plea deal, Kohlhepp has avoided the death penalty and will instead serve seven consecutive life sentences plus 60 years for sexual assault and kidnapping charges.

Kohlhepp will not have the opportunity for parole or appeal.

Todd Kohlhepp’s online profile before he got arrested.

Prior to his arrest, the Spartansburg County, South Carolina, resident received positive online reviews from real estate clients and colleagues who were unaware that starting in 1987, he’d served a 15-year sentence after pleading guilty to sexual assault.

Kohlhepp’s case put a spotlight on the process for real estate licensee applications and background checks in the state of South Carolina.

After his 2001 jail release, Kohlhepp received his real estate license from the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation’s  real estate commission on June 30, 2006, about three weeks after he applied, according to the commission’s Communications Director Lesia Kudelka.

At the time, South Carolina didn’t perform background checks to verify an applicant’s criminal history (or the lack thereof).

Kudelka confirmed the application question at the time (2001) read: “Have you ever been convicted of or pled guilty or nolo contendere to a crime (other than a minor traffic offense)? Yes_____ No____ . If yes, explain fully on an attachment to this application. Include all pertinent information such as charges, date location and sentences.”

In his application, Kohlhepp briefly mentioned a 1987 charge that stemmed from what he called a “heated argument” between two teenagers.

In light of the Todd Kohlhepp case, South Carolina Rep. Chip Huggins pre-filed the “Todd Kohlhepp Bill” in December, which would require real estate agents to pass a national background check during their initial licensing application, and again every time they renew their license, which is currently every two years.


As of now, the state requires background checks for all initial applicants — and the bill would take that a step further by requiring a background check upon renewal and mandating fingerprint submission by all real estate licensees.

The bill has received legislative approval and is awaiting the signature of Governor Henry McMaster.

President and General Counsel for eXp World Holdings, Russ Cofano, who has 25 years of executive-level experience in technology, association, MLS, brokerage and law previously told Inman: “While I believe all or nearly all states have implemented background/conviction checks at licensure or renewal, how each state treats those is still a patchwork quilt.”

Email Marian McPherson

Show Comments Hide Comments


Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
By submitting your email address, you agree to receive marketing emails from Inman.
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Only 3 days left to register for Inman Connect Las Vegas before prices go up! Don't miss the premier event for real estate pros.Register Now ×
Limited Time Offer: Get 1 year of Inman Select for $199SUBSCRIBE×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription