Filing a Complaint
Even with the best intentions, planning, and preparation, occasional disagreements arise between Realtors or between Realtors and their customers and clients. The CORE Association of Realtors takes very seriously our commitment to uphold the Code of Ethics. We are prepared to review ethics complaints and requests for arbitration in order to effectively serve our members, their customers and clients, and the public at large.
Many difficulties between real estate professionals (whether or not they are Realtors) result from misunderstanding, miscommunication, or lack of adequate communication. If you have an issue with a real estate professional, you may want to discuss the issue with them or with a principal broker in their firm. Open, constructive discussion often resolves questions or differences, eliminating the need for further action.
If, after discussing the issue with your real estate professional or a principal broker in that firm, you are still not satisfied, you may want to file a complaint.
The CORE Association of REALTORS® also offers ombudsman and mediation services, which can be methods by which to resolve disputes collaboratively in a faster and more flexible way than the formal complaint process. You may request these services either before or after filing a formal complaint, or without filing one.
The Code of Ethics ensures that Realtors adhere to a higher level of professionalism by outlining industry standards and expectations. Complaints about violations of the Code of Ethics must cite the Article(s) of the Code perceived to be violated, using Ethics Complaint Form E-1. Complaints should include a supporting document in the form of a narrative or chronological summary of the events that occurred.
Once a complaint has been filed, it is presented to the Grievance Committee to review and determine if the complaint should be referred to a hearing panel or dismissed. If a hearing is required, the chairperson from the Professional Standards Committee will schedule the hearing.
If the hearing panel determines there has been a violation, they will recommend disciplinary action to the Board of Directors. Disciplinary sanctions can include the completion of an education class on a given topic, letters of warning and reprimand, a fine of up to $15,000, suspension, or termination of membership. The hearing process usually takes about two months, which allows for due process for everyone involved – including a reasonable response time from all parties, action by the Grievance Committee, Professional Standards panel selection, hearing scheduling, etc.
- Before Filing an Ethics Complaint
- Code of Ethics
- File an Ethics Complaint – E-1 Ethics Complaint form
- Code of Ethics and Professional Standards
To file an arbitration, a request must be filed using the Agreement to Arbitration form. Your Request and Agreement to Arbitrate must include supporting documentation in the form of a narrative or chronological summary of the events that occurred and be submitted to the CORE Professional Standards Administrator, along with a check for $500 payable to CORE Association of Realtors for the arbitration deposit. Should the case be settled prior to the final decision, both parties will have their deposits refunded. Otherwise, only the prevailing party will have their deposit refunded.
A copy of your Request and Agreement to Arbitrate will be sent to the respondent, who will have 14 days to submit a response and deposit to CORE Association of Realtors ®. Once the response is received by the CORE ®, the case is sent to the Grievance Committee for review. Based on guidelines from the National Association of Realtors, the Committee will determine if the case should be referred to a hearing or dismissed. If the case is referred to a hearing, the CORE ® Professional Standards Committee will appoint a panel to hear the case and determine a resolution. Arbitration is binding.
The hearing is set for a time convenient for all parties. If referred to a hearing, the process usually takes about two months, which allows for due process for all parties – including a reasonable response time for all, action by the Grievance Committee, Professional Standards panel selection, hearing scheduling, etc.
The Ombudsman Program in its simplest definition is informal telephone mediation. In some cases, it can address and solve minor complaints quickly. It can also solve conflicts before they become serious problems. Like a mediator, an ombudsman helps parties find solutions.
Mediation is a form of facilitated negotiation in which an impartial third-party attempts to help disputing parties reach a mutually-satisfactory solution to their problems. Mediation is voluntary for both parties, either of which can end mediation at any time and choose to follow the formal ethics complaint or arbitration request procedure, and parties are not required to accept any resolution proposed in mediation. Additionally, any proposed resolution in mediation may not be used in the formal process later. CORE offers our members and their clients and customers the opportunity to use mediation to resolve conflicts, and we ensure that the process is fair, flexible, and confidential.
There are numerous benefits to choosing mediation. Since the mediation process is collaborative, not adversarial, it can help resolve issues while preserving positive relationships between all parties. Additionally, mediation often takes far less time and money than formal litigation and also allows the parties themselves to craft a solution they can live with, as opposed to formal arbitration, in which a hearing panel’s decision is binding on the parties.
The goal of a successful mediation is to have both parties come to a mutual agreement in writing upon the mediation’s conclusion. Once the agreement is signed, parties are legally bound to abide by its terms.
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