The National Association of Realtors® Code of Ethics* lies at the heart of being a Realtor®. Since its adoption in 1913, the Code has promoted time-honored principles that are generally defined as:
*2016 version, effective January 1, 2016; changes are underlined. Read a summary of 2016 changes.
Realtor® members who violate the Code of Ethics can be subject to sanctions by their local Association through procedures established by NAR.
Before You File An Ethics Complaint
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 with a principal broker in the firm. Open, constructive discussion often resolves questions or differences, eliminating the need for further action.
If, after discussing matters with your real estate professional or a principal broker in that firm, you are still not satisfied, you may want to contact the local board or association of REALTORS®. Many boards and associations have informal dispute resolving processes available to consumers (e.g. ombudsmen, mediation, etc.).
If, after taking these steps, you still feel you have a grievance, you many want to consider filing an ethics complaint.
You will want to keep in mind that:
Filing an ethics complaint
The local board or association of REALTORS® can provide you with information on the procedures for filing an ethics complaint. Here are some general principles to keep in mind.
Before the hearing
Preparing for the hearing
At the hearing
After the hearing
Many ethics complaints result from misunderstanding or a failure in communication. Before filing an ethics complaint, make reasonable efforts to communicate with your real estate professional or a principal broker in the firm. If these efforts are not fruitful, the local board or association of REALTORS® can give you the procedures and forms necessary to file an ethics complaint.
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
How do I file a complaint against a real estate licensee?
If you have a complaint against a real estate licensee you are working with, try talking to the principal broker in the firm to see if the issue can be resolved. Open, constructive discussion often resolves questions or differences, eliminating the need for further action. If those efforts are unsuccessful, you can file a formal complaint regarding a licensee.
I think my broker or agent violated the Real Estate Licensing and Registration Act or the Rules and Regulations of the State Real Estate Commission. What can I do?
You can file a complaint with the State Real Estate Commission. The Commission issues and maintains licenses and writes the rules and regulations that all Pennsylvania licensees subscribe to. The Commission investigates the complaint and if violations of the license law are found, sanctions can be imposed ranging from fines to license revocation. Learn more about the complaint process, including links to the complaint form, on the Commission website.
What if my broker or agent is a REALTOR®?
As a Realtor®, he or she subscribes to a strict Code of Ethics. Many ethics complaints result from misunderstanding or a failure in communication. Before filing an ethics complaint, make reasonable efforts to communicate with your Realtor® or a principal broker in the firm. If these efforts are not fruitful, the local board or association of Realtors® can give you the procedures and forms necessary to file an ethics complaint.
What happens after I file the complaint with the local board or association?
When a consumer complaint is received, the Grievance Committee, composed of Realtors® unconnected with the complaint, reviews the allegations. If the Committee determines that the complaint shows that an Article (or Articles) of the Code of Ethics might possibly have been violated, the complaint is then forwarded to a Hearing Panel.
What type of sanctions are there if the REALTOR® has violated the Code of Ethics?
Sanctions for ethical violations tend to be educational in nature (requiring the Realtor® to obtain additional education to prevent future violations), but can also include fines and suspension from the association. A local association can NOT impose sanctions that would include things like cancelling a real estate purchase contract or forcing a Realtor® to pay for alleged damages to a property.