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.
Debra Hall, Hallmark Idaho Properties
208-922-7653 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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®.
Introducing: SVBOR Citation Policy
This policy allows for a streamlined process for ethics violations. If you fill out the citation request, our Grievance Committee will review and if there is sufficient evidence of a violation, the citation will be issued. The citation recipient can either then pay the citation or defend him/herself by going through a hearing. (This process is similar to that of a traffic ticket where you either pay it or contest it in court.) Below are the types of Ethic violations covered under the SVBOR Citation Policy. Any other violation of the Code of Ethics needs to be handled through the Ombudsman or a full complaint to our office.
How the Citation System Works
A REALTOR® or member of the public would file a complaint in the customary manner.
If the Grievance Committee decides that the Articles or Lockbox Rules cited in the complaint make the case eligible for the Citation System, the respondent will be notified and given ten (10) days to elect to participate in the Citation System or request an ethics hearing.
If the respondent agrees to the Citation System, he/she would pay the standard, preset fine associated with that Article. If the Respondent does not respond within ten (10) days, the case is automatically forwarded to the Professional Standards Committee for a full hearing.
Article 1 Says:
When representing a buyer, seller, landlord , tenant, or other client as an agent, REALTORS® pledge themselves to protect and promote the interests of their client. This obligation to the client is primary, but it does not relieve REALTORS® of their obligation to treat all parties honestly. When serving a buyer, seller, landlord, tenant or other party in a non-agency capacity, REALTORS® remain obligated to treat all parties honestly.
There are two circumstances for which a citation can be issued in regard to Article 1.
Citation 1-5: Failure to disclose dual representation and obtain written informed consent from both parties. Fine: $500
Citation 1-16: REALTORS® shall not access or use, or permit or enable others to access or use, listed or managed property on terms or conditions other than those authorized by the owner or seller. Fine: $500
Article 3 says:
REALTORS® shall cooperate with other brokers except when cooperation is not in the client’s best interest. The obligation to cooperate does not include the obligation to share commissions, fees or otherwise compensate another broker.
Citation 3-2: As a listing broker, attempting to unilaterally modify the offered compensation with respect to a cooperative transaction after a REALTOR® has submitted an offer to purchase or lease a property. Fine: $500
Citation 3-4: Failure to disclose existence of dual or variable rate commission. Fine: $400
Citation 3-6: Failure to disclose the existence of other contracts to cooperating brokers. Fine: $250
Citation 3-8: Misrepresenting the availability of access to show or inspect a listed property. Fine: $300
Citation 3-9: Providing access to a listed property on terms other than those established by the owner or the listing broker. Fine: $500
Article 4 says:
REALTORS® shall not acquire an interest in or buy or present offers from themselves, any member of their immediate families, their firms or any member thereof, or any entities in which they have any ownership interest, any real property without making their true position known to the owner or the owner’s agent or broker. In selling a property they own, or in which they have any interest, REALTORS® shall reveal their ownership or interest in writing to the purchaser or the purchaser’s representative.
Citation 4: Failure to disclose interest in a property being bought or sold. Fine: $300
Article 5 says:
REALTORS® shall not undertake to provide professional services concerning a property or its value where they have a present or contemplated interest unless such interest is specifically disclosed to all affected parties.
Citation 5: Failure to disclose interest while providing professional services. Fine: $300
Article 6 says:
REALTORS® shall not accept any commission, rebate, or profit on expenditures made for their client, without the client’s knowledge and consent. When recommending real estate products or services (e.g. homeowners insurance, warranty programs, mortgage financing, title insurance, etc.) REALTORS® shall disclose to the client or customer to whom the recommendation is made any financial benefits or fees, other than the real estate referral fees, the REALTORS® or firm may receive as a direct result of such recommendation.
Citation 6-1: Accepting any commission, rebate or profit on expenditures without the client’s knowledge and consent. Fine: $400
Citation 6-1.2: Failure to disclose REALTORS® direct interest in an organization or business entity when recommending to a client or custom er that they use the service of that organization or business entity. Fine: $400
Article 9 says:
REALTORS®, for the protection of all parties shall assure whenever possible that all agreements related to real estate transactions including, but not limited to, listing and representation agreements, purchase contracts, and leases are in writing in clear and understandable language expressing the the specific terms, conditions, obligations and commitments of the parties. A copy of each agreement shall be furnished to each party to such agreements upon their signing or initialing.
Citation 9-1: Failure to fill out all necessary forms fully and completely. Fine: $200
Citation 9-2: Failure to obtain necessary signatures on forms. Fine: $400
Article 12 says:
REALTORS® shall be honest and truthful in their real estate communications and shall present a true picture in their advertising, marketing and other representation. REALTORS® shall ensure that their status as real estate professionals are readily apparent in their advertising, marketing and other representations, and that the recipients of all real estate communications are, or have been notified that those communications are from real estate professional.
Citation 12.1: Failure to present a true picture in real estate communications and advertising. Fine: $250
Citation 12.2: Failure to disclose professional status in advertising and other real estate communications. Fine: $150
Citation 12-1: Failure to provide all terms governing the availability of a “free” product or service in an advertisement or other representation. Fine: $150
Citation 12-4: Advertisement offering to sell/lease property without the authority of the owner or the listing broker. Fine: $500
Citation 12-5: Failure to disclose names of firm in advertisement for listed property or for real estate services. Fine: $150
Citation 12-7: Claiming to have “sold” a property when not the listing broker or cooperating broker. Fine: $250
Citation 12-9: Failure to disclose firm name and state of licensure on REALTOR® website. Fine: $150
Citation 12-13: Representing that the REALTORS® has a designation, certification or other credential that they are not entitled to use. Fine: $150
Article 14 says:
If charged with unethical practice or asked to present evidence or to cooperate in any other way, in any professional standards proceeding or investigation, REALTORS® shall place all pertinent facts before the proper tribunals of the Member Board in which membership is held and shall take no action to disrupt or obstruct such processes.
Citation 14: Failure to cooperate in any professional standards proceeding (including the citation policy). Fine: $500
Article 16 says:
REALTORS® shall not engage in any practice or take any action inconsistent with exclusive representation or exclusive brokerage relationship agreements that other REALTORS® have with clients.
Citation 16-16: Use terms of an offer to modify listing broker’;s offer of compensation or conditioning submission of an offer on additional compensation from the listing broker. Fine: $400
Citation 16-19: Placement of for sale/for lease sign on a property without permission of landlord/seller (in writing). Fine: $200
In all cases of Citation Policy violations. The person filling out the form needs to provide evidence of the violation with the form itself. If the Grievance committee agrees that a violation has occurred, the citation will be issued. In the event that the cited individual does not agree and asks to go to a hearing about the violation, the original complainant will be required to attend as the complainant. Until that time, the complainant will remain anonymous. Please fill out the form below to file a complaint for Citation violations.
Why should a respondent elect to use this system?
For Respondents, electing the Citation System avoids an uncomfortable and often time-consuming hearing process while still respecting their due process rights since they may elect NOT to use the Citation System and proceed with a full hearing. The Citation System is as confidential as the hearing process.
For Complainants, there may be less time involved, yet justice will still be served, thereby protecting the industry from unethical behavior. However, if the Respondent elects to have a hearing, the Complainant would need to be prepared to attend.