Ethics and Arbitration
Boards and Associations of REALTORS® are responsible for enforcing the REALTORS® Code of Ethics. The Code of Ethics imposes duties above and in addition to those imposed by law or regulation which apply only to real estate professionals who choose to become REALTORS®.
Many difficulties between real estate professionals (whether REALTORS® or not) result from misunderstanding, miscommunication, or lack of adequate communication.
If you have a problem with a real estate professional, you may want to speak with them or a principal broker in the firm. Open, constructive discussion often resolves questions or differences, eliminating the need for further action.
Filing an Ethics Complaint
If, after taking steps to resolve the conflict, you still feel you have a grievance, you may wish to consider filing an ethics complaint. Here’s what you need to know about filing an ethics complaint:
Please contact the Association Executive at SRA if you have questions or to confirm that the Real Estate Professional you have a complaint against is a REALTOR® member that the Southshore REALTOR® Association has jurisdiction over.
Only REALTORS® are subject to the Code of Ethics of the National Association of REALTORS®. If the real estate professional, or their broker, is not a REALTOR®, your only recourse may be the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services or the courts.
SRA professional standards committee will determine whether the Code of Ethics has been violated, not whether the law or real estate regulations have been broken. Those decisions can only be made by the licensing authorities or the courts.
SRA can discipline REALTORS® for violating the Code of Ethics. Typical forms of discipline include attendance at courses and seminars designed to increase REALTORS®’ understanding of the ethical duties or other responsibilities of real estate professionals. REALTORS® may also be reprimanded, fined, or their membership can be suspended or terminated for serious or repeated violations.
Boards and Associations of REALTORS® cannot require REALTORS® to pay money to parties filing ethics complaints; can-not award “punitive damages” for violations of the Code of Ethics; and cannot suspend or revoke a real estate professional’s license.
The primary emphasis of discipline for ethical lapses is educational, to create a heightened awareness of and appreciation for the duties the Code imposes. At the same time, more severe forms of discipline, including fines and suspension and termination of membership may be imposed for serious or repeated violations.
Arbitration, a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), is a legal technique for the resolution of disputes outside the courts. The parties to a dispute refer it to one or more persons (the “arbitrators,” “arbiters,” or “arbitral tribunal”), whose decision (the “award”) they agree to be bound. It is a settlement technique in which a third party reviews the case and imposes a decision that is legally binding for both sides.
A Request for Arbitration must be filed:
1 | After the real estate transaction giving rise to the dispute has been completed;
2 | Within six months after the facts constituting the Arbitration matter could have been known in the exercise of reasonable diligence;
3 | By the broker of a real estate agency.
If you are considering a complaint against a REALTOR® member, you, the potential complainant, may first like to take advantage of our ombudsman service: Our trained Ombudsmen will: listen to your concerns; ascertain your desired outcome; explain possible avenues that might resolve the issue or reach the desired outcome; answer general questions and/or procedural questions; contact the REALTOR/potential respondent to explain your concerns and desired outcome; tries to bring resolution; reports back to you; and, explains your rights after the completion of the Ombudsman process.
Mediation is a voluntary process that is offered prior to, or in lieu of, a more formal arbitration, by which REALTORS® who are disputing a claim to a real estate commission or compensation, or REALTORS® and their clients or customers who have a dispute arising out of an agency relationship, can meet (virtually), and with the assistance of a Mediation Officer, attempt to resolve their differences and find an amicable resolution of their disagreement.
Contact our Association Executive with any questions relating to a possible complaint:
Email: Jan@sswra.com Phone: 262-942-0592
WRA complaint link: https://www.wra.org/Complaint/
NAR code of ethics link: https://www.nar.realtor/about-nar/governing-documents/the-code-of-ethics