Ombudsman Program

Ombudsman negotiating through a dispute

An ombudsman is an individual appointed to receive and resolve disputes through constructive communication and advocating for consensus and understanding.

Ombudsman procedures are intended to provide enhanced communications and initial problem-solving capacity at the local Board of REALTORS® level.

Role of Ombudsmen

The ombudsman’s role is primarily one of communication and conciliation, not adjudication. Ombudsmen do not determine whether ethics violations have occurred or who is entitled to what amount of money, rather they anticipate, identify, and resolve misunderstandings and disagreements before matters ripen into disputes and possible charges of unethical conduct. This service is traditionally accomplished by telephone and is offered free of charge.

Ombudsman Procedures

The National Association of REALTORS® requires that all associations provide ombudsman services to their members and members’ clients and customers consistent with NAR Professional Standards Policy Statement #59, “Associations to Provide Ombudsmen Services, Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual.”

Boards and associations of REALTORS® are charged with the responsibility of receiving and resolving ethics complaints. This obligation is carried out by local, regional and state grievance committees and professional standards committees. However, many “complaints” received by boards and associations do not expressly allege violations of specific Articles of the Code of Ethics, and many do not detail conduct related to the Code of Ethics. Some “complaints” are actually transactional, technical, or procedural questions readily responded to in an informal manner.

It is the belief of the National Association of REALTORS® that many ethics complaints might be averted with enhanced communications and initial problem-solving capacity at the local level. These ombudsman procedures are intended to provide that capacity.

View video demonstrations of the Ombudsman process from recent NAR Professional Standards Education Seminars.

View frequently asked questions about the Ombudsman process and procedures.

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