Ombudsman for Virginia REALTORS®
The Ombudsman Program in its simplest definition is an informal telephone dispute resolution process. In some cases it can address and resolve minor complaints from the public. It can also resolve conflicts between REALTORS® before they become serious problems. An ombudsman helps parties find resolutions.
WHAT IS THE Virginia REALTORS® OMBUDSMAN PROGRAM?
Ombudsman procedures adopted by the Virginia REALTORS® are intended to provide enhanced communications and initial problem-solving capacity to the professional standards process. The association has the responsibility to receive and resolve ethics complaints, and hear arbitration disputes filed against its members. An Ombudsman can respond to general questions regarding real estate practices, transaction details, ethical practices and enforcement issues.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF USING THE REALTOR® OMBUDSMAN SERVICE?
You can receive non-judgmental real estate related information in a timely manner and at no cost.
WHAT ARE APPROPRIATE ISSUES FOR AN OMBUDSMAN?
Many complaints do not expressly allege violations of specific articles of the REALTORS® Code of Ethics and may not concern conduct related to the Code. Some complaints are transactional, technical, and procedural questions that can be readily responded to. Some complaints are due strictly to lack of communication. These types of issues may be appropriate for the Ombudsman program.
WHAT WILL THE OMBUDSMAN NOT DO?
- Adjudicate/make the final decision;
- Give legal advice;
- Determine who is right or wrong;
- Disclose communications – Process is CONFIDENTIAL;
- Retain any written record of discussions and/or agreements.
WHO ARE THE OMBUDSMEN?
REALTORS® appointed to be Ombudsmen must:
- Meet criteria for extensive real estate experience (at least three (3) years);
- Demonstrate objectivity;
- Possess extensive knowledge of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, license law and best practices;
- Complete a training program;
- Demonstrate knowledge of Mediation skills, though Mediation Training not required.
HOW DOES THE OMBUDSMAN PROCESS WORK?
The Program Administrator will assemble information to be sent to the Ombudsman via e-mail. This information may include:
- Name, phone number, and role of the complainant (that is buyer, seller, broker)
- Name, phone number, and role of the respondent (that is broker, principal broker, office manager)
- If the respondent is not a broker, the name of principal broker and/or managing broker.
The Ombudsman will make all necessary contacts in an attempt to resolve the complaint. If the Ombudsman efforts are effective, the dispute will be considered resolved. If the efforts are not successful in resolving the Complainant’s issues, the Ombudsman will advise the Complainant about the next step(s) in the complaint process.