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Professional Standards

Professional Standards: Code of Ethics Enforcement

REALTORS® are different from non-member licensees in that they voluntarily subscribe to a strict Code of Ethics. If you believe that a REALTOR® has violated one or more Articles of the Code of Ethics, you can file an ethics complaint alleging a violation(s) through the local association of REALTORS® where the REALTOR® holds membership, or participates in a REALTOR® association-owned/operated MLS.

Search for a member’s local affiliation here

Some of the basic principles of the Code of Ethics include:

  • Protect and promote your client’s interest, but be honest with all parties.
  • REALTORS® shall be careful at all times to present a true picture in their advertising and representations to the public.
  • Assure, whenever possible, that transaction details are in writing.

Download a copy of the REALTORS® Code of Ethics.

The National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics, professional standards, and mediation resources.

Ethics Complaints

Each Local Association or Board is responsible for enforcing the REALTORS® Code of Ethics. Any person having reason to believe that a REALTOR® is guilty of violating the Code of Ethics may file a complaint.

Many ethics complaints result from misunderstanding or a breakdown in communication. Before filing an ethics complaint, you may want to make reasonable efforts to communicate with the REALTOR® or a managing principal broker in the firm. Open, constructive discussion often resolves questions or differences, eliminating the need for further action. If these efforts do not resolve the issue, the Local Association/Board can provide options for dispute resolution, including the procedures and forms necessary to file an ethics complaint.

Ombudsman Service

An Ombudsman can field and respond to an array of inquiries and complaints, including general questions regarding real estate practices, transaction details, ethical practices and enforcement issues. They can open lines of communication between the public and REALTORS®, and between REALTORS® themselves, in an attempt to resolve misunderstandings before they evolve into larger disputes and charges of unethical conduct.

REALTOR® Mediation

Participation in mediation is voluntary and is provided by the local Association/Board. Mediation Officers are members that have been trained to serve as, and follow procedures as described in the National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual.

Mediation is an attempt to bring the disputing parties together in an informal setting to resolve their differences. The parties may agree to a mutual resolution or withdraw from the process at any time during the process. Any offers of settlement that were not accepted or any suggested resolution proposed by the Mediation Officer that was not accepted will not be introduced as evidence nor considered in any manner should the matter require arbitration. However, if the parties agree to a settlement of the dispute, and the settlement has been reduced to writing and has been signed by all the parties, the matter is deemed resolved and cannot be the subject of a subsequent arbitration hearing.

Disputed amount must be a minimum of $1,000.00 and Principal Brokers must participate in the process unless the disputants are or were affiliated with the same firm.

REALTOR® Arbitration

REALTORS® are obligated to submit to arbitration their commission disputes between brokerages in accordance with Article 17 of the REALTORS® Code of Ethics. Arbitration hearings are conducted by the local Association/Board’s Professional Standards Committee following procedures described in the National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual.

The hearing panel, after hearing testimony, will render a decision and shall state only the amount of the award. The Award of Arbitrators is valid and binding and shall not be subject to review or appeal. However, a party to an arbitration proceeding may appeal to the Board of Directors only with respect to such alleged irregularities occurring in the conduct of the proceeding as may have deprived the party of fundamental “due process.”

Disputed amount must be a minimum of $1,000.00, and Principal Brokers must participate in the process (unless the disputants are or were affiliated with the same firm, which would constitute a voluntary arbitration). The Request and Agreement to Arbitrate must be filed within 180 days after closing, if any, or within 180 days after the facts constituting the arbitrable matter could have been known in the exercise of reasonable diligence. Mediation of the matter may also be requested; however requesting mediation has no bearing on the 180-day time frame requirement for arbitration.