Professional Standards Programs
The professional standard which sets REALTORS® apart from other real estate professionals is their acceptance and adherence to the National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics. Created in 1913, the Code has been updated many times through the years to reflect current developments in our profession. Even with the best of efforts, occasional disagreements arise between REALTORS® and/or their peers and clients.
The Professional Standards Committee is charged with the responsibility for the enforcement of the National Association of REALTORS® Code of Ethics, the MLS Rules that do not have automatic fines, and all other membership duties and obligations. Bay East Professional Standards Committee has several programs in place to assist you in resolving ethics or arbitration issues, by quickly and economically settling these disputes without going to court.
Below is more information on these programs.
Ombudsman ProgramOmbudsmen can help you understand if a possible violation has occurred and recommend ways to resolve the situation before it becomes a more formal process.
What is it?The Ombudsman Program is a FREE voluntary way of discovering if a possible ethics or rules violation has occurred with other members or clients.
How does it work?Ombudsmen do not advocate for any party or attempt to decide who is at fault. Instead, they assist all of the parties in understanding the issues and recommend options for resolving the situation before a more formal process is necessary.
What happens if the parties can’t agree?If the parties can’t agree to the Ombudsman’s recommendation, they can proceed with a mediation or enforcement process with Bay East, California Bureau of Real Estate (CALBRE) or the court system.
Ethics Advocate ProgramEthics Advocates are trained Professional Standards REALTOR® members who can help you decide if a situation is a potential ethics or rules violation.
What are they?Ethics Advocates are specially trained and very knowledgeable Professional Standards REALTOR® members that know the Code of Ethics and the MLS rules, and who will assist you in determining if the facts and circumstances of your situation would be a potential violation of one or more rules.
How does it work?Whether you are the complainant or the respondent, your assigned Ethics Advocate will assist in the completion of the forms, the preparation of the evidence and exhibits to support your complaint, the filing of the complaint with the Association, and accompany you to the hearing if you wish.
Bay East offers two methods to help you resolve a commission dispute.
Mediation: A neutral mediator panel helps all of the parties reach a voluntary, negotiated agreement. Download a Mediation Brochure here.
Arbitration: A settlement process in which a third party reviews the dispute and imposes a decision that is legally binding for all of the parties.
Mediation is the preferred method of commission dispute resolution of the National Association of REALTORS®.
During this process, a neutral mediator panel assists you in reaching a voluntary, negotiated agreement. Choosing this method promotes better relationships, reduces stress, lowers costs and decreases the time to reaching a resolution.Association mediators are REALTOR® members, specifically trained and experienced in dispute resolution through the mediation process for real estate related disputes, including but not limited to:
- Deposit disputes
- Contingencies not met
- Specific performance
- Non-disclosure issues
- Boundary disputes or any other issue subject to the "mediation clause" arising from the listing contract between a REALTOR® and seller, or from the purchase contract between buyers and sellers
Start the Mediation process by completing this Mediation Intake Form .
Arbitration is a settlement process in which a third party reviews the dispute and imposes a decision that is legally binding for all of the parties. Click here for a FAQ on Procurring Cause.
If you choose this method of resolution, these step by step instructions will start the Arbitration process.
Write in the name(s) of the respondent (the person against whom the complaint is made). You MAY include the name of the Responsible Broker or Participant. Arbitration Complaint Form.
(Note: If the respondent is from another Association, this qualifies as an Interboard Arbitration and would be handled by California Association of REALTORS®. Click here for more Interboard Arbitation info and filing instructions.)
Attach a typed statement of the facts and circumstances supporting the case, this will be marked "Exhibit 1" . You may attach supporting documents to the statement.
Submit complaint form with payment (check or credit card accepted) to Bay East Association of REALTORS® by mail, fax (925) 730-0255 or email Kelsey.
The following pricing sheet includes the fees and expenses for mediation and arbitration processes.
|REALTOR® to REALTOR® Mediation||$200|
|REALTOR® to REALTOR® Arbitration||$700|
|Buyer vs. Seller / Seller vs. Buyer – REALTOR®||$500|
NOTE: Buyer and Seller Dispute Fees to be split between the parties evenly, i.e., Buyer pays $250, Seller pays $250.
Bay East offers affordable ways for members and their clients to resolve real estate transaction disputes at any point during or after the transaction.
What is Dispute Resolution?Dispute resolution is a member service available to all members and their clients at special rates, to resolve disputes arising from the real estate transaction at any point during or after the transaction.
Who can help?Association mediators are REALTOR® members, specifically trained and experienced in dispute resolution through the mediation process for real estate related disputes, including but not limited to:
- Deposit disputes
- Contingencies not met
- Specific performance
- Non-disclosure issues
- Boundary disputes or
- Any other issue subject to the "mediation clause" arising from the listing contract between a REALTOR® and seller or from the purchase contract between buyers and sellers.
How do you start?A neutral mediator panel assists you in reaching a voluntary, negotiated agreement. Choosing mediation to resolve real estate disputes promotes better relationships and reduces stress, costs, and time involved in other dispute resolution methods. Complete this Mediation/Dispute Form to start.
The following pricing sheet includes the fees and expenses for dispute resolution processes.
|Buyer vs. Seller / Seller vs. Buyer||$500|
Disciplinary Ethics Complaints
Our Professional Standards Committee is responsible for enforcing NAR’s Code of Ethics, MLS Rules and membership responsibilities. There are two different types of complaints for alleged violations of these standards.
Ethics Complaints are alleged violations of the Code of Ethics as well as our MLS and Membership Rules.
The Professional Standards Committee with the approval of the Board of Directors implemented a schedule of fines for certain Code of Ethics violations effective January 2015. A REALTOR® receiving a citation may either (1) pay the amount specified on the citation; 2) complete specified training when applies; or (3) request a full hearing. A list of applicable citations and fees.
Ethics Complaints can be emailed to Bay East. Please attach the complaint to this form.
Ethics Complaints Process
The following instructions will assist you in filing a Disciplinary ComplaintStep 1: Review The Rules
Write in your name as the complainant.Step 4: Name The Respondent
Fill in the name(s) of the “Respondent” (the person(s) against whom the complaint is made. This MAY include the name of the Responsible Broker or Participant for an alleged violation of the Code of Ethics and/or violation of the MLS Rules & Regulations).Step 5: Identify The Violation
Specify which violation(s) that you are citing by checking the Code of Ethics Article(s) and/or entering the MLS Rules Section number(s).Step 6: Attach Support Documents
Attach a typed statement of the facts and circumstances that support your allegations. This statement will be marked "Exhibit 1". You may also attach other supporting documents to your statement.Step 7: Complete The Form
Answer the remaining questions on the form.Step 8: File The Complaint
There is no fee for filing an ethics or grievance complaint. If a hearing panel determines a violation has occurred, the Respondent(s) will be assessed a $500 administrative fee.
Anonymous Complaints allow agents to file a complaint without identifying themselves. The most important criteria is that the alleged violation must be "touched, heard or seen" without testimony or witnesses.
If you feel a violation has occurred, the following information can help you file a complaint.
Anonymous Complaints Process
The Anonymous Compliant process lets agents file certain complaints without identifying themselves as the complainant. The most important criteria is the alleged violation must be able to be "touched, heard or seen" without testimony or witnesses.Step 1: Download The Complaint Packet
Download the Complaint Filing Packet and write “Anonymous” in the section provided for “Complainant”.Step 2: Name The Respondent
Fill in the name(s) of the “Respondent” (the person(s) against whom the complaint is made. This MAY include the name of the Responsible Broker or Participant for an alleged violation of the Code of Ethics and/or violation of the MLS Rules & Regulations.)Step 3: IDENTIFY THE VIOLATION
Anonymous Complaints must be supported by evidence of the violation. For example, if it is an Article 12 (advertising) violation, the advertisement must accompany the complaint for processing.Step 5: Review process
After all the necessary information is received by Bay East, it will be reviewed by the Grievance Council. Please note that by filing a complaint anonymously, Bay East cannot reply or update the complainant as in a signed complaint.Step 6: Penalties
In addition to the normal options of the Grievance Council, Anonymous Complaints may result in a warning to the Respondent to correct the violation.