The professional standard that sets REALTORS® apart from other real estate practitioners is their acceptance and adherence to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. Many difficulties between real estate professionals (whether REALTORS® or not) result from misunderstanding, miscommunication, or lack of adequate communication. As civil litigation becomes increasingly costly, time consuming, and burdensome, many private parties prefer to settle disputes and conflicting claims through alternative means. Because we are in charge of making sure our REALTOR® members are abiding by the Code of Ethics, the ORANGE CHATHAM Association of REALTORS® has adopted a dispute resolution process in accordance with the National Association of REALTORS® and NC REALTORS®.
Please note: If the real estate professional (or their broker) you are dealing with is not a REALTOR®, your only recourse may be the North Carolina Real Estate Commission or the courts. REALTOR® Associations 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.
If you feel that you have a legitimate complaint, there are several ways that it may be handled:
The Ombudsman Program in its simplest definition is informal telephone mediation. In some cases it can address and solve minor complaints from the public. It can also solve inter-REALTOR® conflicts before they become serious problems. Like a mediator, an ombudsman helps parties find solutions.
The following types of cases can be handled through the Ombudsman Process:
- Communication based
- Non or small monetary amount
- May be solved by providing simple education
- May be solved by providing basic knowledge
The following types of cases cannot be handled through the Ombudsman Process:
- Apparent violations of law
- Fair housing or discrimination issues
- Those already referred to legal counsel, a subject of a North Carolina Real Estate Commission investigation, a REALTOR® vs. REALTOR® arbitration which shall be handled by the association’s mediator.
- Large monetary amounts
- Complex cases
- Cases involving more than two parties
- Blatantly unreasonable or uncooperative parties
To access our Ombudsman services, CONTACT OCHAR STAFF
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. OCHAR is happy to offer our members 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.
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.
To access our Mediation services, CONTACT OCHAR STAFF
When there are monetary disputes between REALTORS® arising out of their relationship as REALTORS®, the Association provides Arbitration to settle the dispute. If the REALTORS® are of different firms, the Arbitration process is a mandatory requirement of membership.
A majority of Arbitration requests are to determine the procuring cause of a sale or lease although the process can also be used to determine the amount of a commission when there is no dispute over procuring cause. Procuring Cause is defined as the uninterrupted series of events that leads to a successful transaction. Many factors go in to determining procuring cause and it is important to understand that the decision does not hinge on just one factor.
IMPORTANT NOTE: A request for arbitration must be filed within 180 days after the closing of the transaction, if any, or within 180 days after the facts constituting the matter could have been known in the exercise of reasonable diligence, whichever is later.
In order to file an arbitration, a request must be filed using Request and Agreement to Arbitrate Form A-1
- Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual
- NAR Code of Ethics & Professional Standards Policies
- Arbitration Form A-1
Your Request and Agreement to Arbitrate should include a supporting document in the form of a narrative or chronological summary of the events that occurred. Once the Request and Agreement to Arbitrate and supporting document are complete, submit it to Cub Berrian, along with a $500 deposit check, made out to 'OCHAR'*.
A copy of your Request and Agreement to Arbitrate will then be sent to the respondent, who has 14 days to submit a response and $500 deposit*. Once the response is received by the OCHAR, the case is sent to the Grievance Committee to review the case, and based on a certain set of guidelines they must follow, will determine if the case should be referred to hearing or dismissed. If the case is referred to hearing, the OCHAR Professional Standards Committee will appoint a panel to hear the case and determine how the money dispute should be resolved. Arbitration is binding.
The hearing is typically held at the OCHAR office and is set for a time convenient for all parties. If referred to hearing, this process usually takes about two months because we must allow reasonable time for responses, for action by the Grievance Committee, scheduling, etc.
*Prevailing party receives their check back
The Code of Ethics ensures that REALTORS® stick 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. This process helps our members, clients, and the industry by protecting REALTORS® who adhere to principled practices and dealing formally with those who do not.
Once a complaint has been filed, it is presented to the Grievance Committee to review and determine if the complaint should be referred to hearing or dismissed. If a hearing is needed, the Professional Standards Committee will schedule it at a time convenient for all parties.
If the panel determines there has been a violation, they will take disciplinary action. Disciplinary sanctions can include the completion of an education class on a given topic, letters of warning and reprimand, suspension, or termination of membership. If referred to hearing, this process usually takes about two months because to allow for reasonable time for responses, for action by the Grievance Committee, scheduling, etc.
Ready to file an Ethics Complaint?