As they can be critical figures in significant client transactions, real estate agents must adhere to a strict code of ethics. The National Association of REALTORS® code of ethics is seen as the most prominently established code of ethics in the industry. These guidelines dictate the proper ways to develop trust between a real estate agent and a client and how to help resolve disputes. Over long careers in the industry, ethical complaints are sure to arise. These are some of the best ways of handling them.
Understanding the Different Types of Complaints
Obviously, the most common type of complaint is between a client and the realtor, but this is not the only area where ethical complaints might arise. Disputes can arise between a realtor and clients, customers, other realtors, and even between a board or association. In addition, either party can be the one that files the complaint. These scenarios provide plenty of room for friction, but the NAR guidelines also touch on conflict resolution.
Official Ethical Complaints and Hearings
An act counts as a formal ethical breach when it constitutes an offense against the membership of a Board in general. As serious as they might sound, most (although certainly not all) ethical breaches occur by accident. This normally means that hearings about these issues usually serve more as learning experiences. Generally, these breaches do result in some consequences. Depending on the severity, breaches often start with a letter of reprimand and escalate all the way up to expulsion.
Arbitration Offers Alternative Conflict Resolution
An arbitration hearing commonly arises to settle a dispute over fees between two individuals. A grievance committee will examine the issue and direct the case to the proper resolution; this can include dismissal, mediation, or officially opening an arbitration hearing. Then, the arbiter has the power to settle the complaint.
The code of ethics is not just a set of rules to be followed. Instead, consider them to be the protection that keeps the integrity of the profession intact.