It is an unfortunate reality that sometimes issues arise in a real estate transaction – some are unavoidable, some are accidental, and some are deliberate. The Association offers a variety of ways to work towards a resolution of the problem.
Many problems arise because of poor or a total lack of communication. Sometimes, just calling the person up to explain why you’re upset can start a dialogue. If you aren’t the type to call the person up, but would like to talk to the individual to work towards a solution, the REALTOR® Association offers mediation and ombudsman services.
Mediation services allow you to have a neutral third party guide the discussion between you and “the accused”. The Mediator works to keep the discussion moving forward and can diffuse tense or emotional situations. The Mediator will not decide who is “right”, but will help you to work towards a resolution that both of you can live with. Mediation is a free service and we find mediations to be very successful. It is a voluntary process, however, so if someone refuses to sit and talk, we are unable to compel them to participate.
Ombudsman services are similar in scope to a mediation, but the ombudsman has “investigative” authorities. The ombudsman can individually interview the parties involved in the transaction to gain a better understanding of the events that transpired. The ombudsman will not decide who is “right”, but will gather all the facts and present them to the disputing parties. Oftentimes, this provides information that you weren’t aware of before and can help to guide a discussion towards a resolution. Ombudsman services are free and also voluntary.
If the problem rises to the level of deliberate misconduct, negligence, or incompetence, the Association has a more formal route to resolution.
In order to become a REALTOR®, a real estate licensee agrees to subscribe to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. This Code of Ethics holds the REALTOR® to a higher level of professionalism, and if they violate or “break” one of the “rules”, there are consequences. The result of an ethical violation may be a fine, mandatory education, a letter of reprimand, and/or suspension from the REALTOR® organizations.
The Association does not have the ability to cause the REALTOR® to pay “reparations” as a result of unethical behavior, and any financial compensation sought must be done through a court of competent jurisdiction (e.g. small claims)
Filing an ethics complaint is fairly simple. We have a required form for you to fill out that tells us who the complaint is about and which article of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics that you believe they violated. You will want to attach an explanation of what happened to your complaint so that we can understand why you feel that the Code of Ethics was violated. If you cite several articles as having been violated, explain how each one was violated. Also, attach any supporting documentation that you might have. This will strengthen your position and helps us to understand the issue fully.
Your complaint will be sent to the Grievance Committee (who acts like a grand jury) to determine if there is any basis for a hearing. If the Grievance Committee determines that there has potentially been a violation, they will send the complaint onto the Professional Standards Committee for a hearing. The Professional Standards Committee will hold a court hearing of sorts where the issue at hand is the behavior of the REALTOR®.
To get started, review the complaint form and the Code of Ethics below:
To learn more about the professional standards enforcement procedures, you can visit the National Association of REALTORS®.