Filing a Complaint Procedures

Professional Standards

The single, most outstanding characteristic that sets REALTORS® apart from other real estate practitioners is the willingness to accept and abide by the 2018 Code of Ethics of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® adopted the Code of Ethics on July 29, 1913, following the professions of medicine, law, and engineering.  The Code has been revised several times through the years to reflect current developments in professional real estate practice.

REALTORS® are real estate professionals who have chosen to join the National Association and abide by its strict Code of Ethics.  What does this mean to you? It means that any REALTOR® with whom you work has voluntarily agreed to abide by a Code of Ethics, based on professionalism and protection of the public.  REALTORS® are subject to disciplinary action and sanctions if they violate the duties imposed by the Code of Ethics.

The Code of Ethics is a detailed document that spells out the professional responsibilities of every REALTOR®.  Do not hesitate to ask a REALTOR® for a copy of the Code, including the Standards of Practice. The Code is your assurance of dealing with a professional who has your best interests in mind.

This area of our website contains valuable Professional Standards resources.  Find out how to file an ethics complaint and/or arbitration request or read about choosing mediation as an alternative to arbitration.  You will also find information on completing the mandatory Code of Ethics training.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

Ethics Complaint

If you believe a REALTOR® may have acted in an unethical manner, seek a resolution through the local Association of REALTORS® where he or she is member.  Ethics Complaints that are brought before the Association give those parties involved an opportunity to be educated about the Code.  In addition, REALTORS® are judged by their peers as opposed to other individuals who may be far less familiar with the practices and customs of the real estate industry.

If you are filing an Ethics Complaint, please read the following pertinent information before proceeding:

Ethics Complaints must be filed within one hundred eighty (180) days after the facts constituting the matter became known in the exercise of reasonable diligence or within one hundred eighty (180) days after the conclusion of the transaction, whichever is later.

If you have or will be filing a civil action in the matter, filling a complaint with the North Carolina Real Estate Commission, or filing a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the complaint will be held in abeyance until those actions have been resolved.

Please read “Before You File an Ethics Complaint.”  You will then need to complete Form E-1 Ethics Complaint Form and return it to the Association office along with all supporting evidence and documentation.  When stating your complaint, please be as detailed as possible.

Ethics Complaints filed at the Association are forwarded to the Grievance Committee which reviews the case.  If they deem sufficient grounds exist for a hearing, then the complaint is forwarded to the Professional Standards Committee.

Once the complaint is forwarded to the Professional Standards Committee for a hearing, your presence at such hearing is mandatory.

Before you File an Ethics Complaint PDF Document

E-1 Ethics Complaint Form

2018 Code of Ethics

Arbitration Request

If a monetary dispute arises from a real estate transaction, seek a resolution through your local Association of REALTORS®.  REALTORS® are judged by their peers as opposed to other individuals who may be far less familiar with the practices and customs of the real estate industry.

If you are filing an Arbitration Request, please read the following pertinent information before proceeding:

Request for Arbitration must be filed within one hundred eighty (180) days from the closing date of the transaction or within one hundred and eighty (180) days after the facts constituting the arbitrable matter became known.

Arbitration disputes can only be filed by a Broker Principal (a non-principal cannot file for arbitration).

Form A-1 Request and Agreement to Arbitrate must be signed and completed by the Broker and returned to the Association office along with all supporting documentation and a company check in the amount of $250.

After an Arbitration Request is filed, Mediation is offered to both parties.  Should both parties agree to mediate and the mediation is successful, the $250 Arbitration filing fee is refunded.

Agreement and Request to Arbitrate

A-2 Request and Agreement to Arbitrate (Nonmember) PDF Document

2018 Code of Ethics

Mediation: A Winning Solution

Mediation: The Winning Solution

Even REALTORS® who are committed to high standards of conduct occasionally have honest business disputes with other professionals, clients, or customers. There is an ongoing need for efficient and economical mechanisms to resolve such disputes. Arbitration is valuable, but mediation is simpler and easier.

What is Mediation?

“The act or process of mediating; intervention between conflicting parties to promote reconciliation, settlement, or compromise.” –Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary

Arbitration and mediation are valuable in resolving business disputes. Both mediation and arbitration are private and neutral with expertise. But… Mediation is an attractive alternative to arbitration.

Why use Mediation?

Low or no cost Moderate cost

Little delay Moderate delay

Win/win outcome Win/lose/split

Collaborative Adversarial

Maximun range of solutions Result limited to monetary award

Improves relationships May damage relationships

Key Features

Mediation is a voluntary and private process.

Parties decide to enter the mediation process.

Parties can leave the mediation process at any time.

Parties have complete control over the outcome.

Mediation is facilitated by a neutral and impartial mediator.

Understands issues quickly because typically, the facilitator is familiar with real estate practices and customs.

Mediates only matters in which he/she remains neutral and impartial.

Discloses conflicts of interest (parties may agree to continue following disclosure or terminate session).

Facilitates and assists with negotiations – controls the process, not the substance.

Honors the concepts of self-determination, respect, and civility.

Enhances the parties’ abilities to understand their own and each other’s needs.

Helps parties understand the alternatives to settling.

Why Mediation Works

Most disputes are successfully resolved

High speed

Low or no cost


Maintains and improves relationships

Improves poor communication and clarifies misunderstandings

Discovers and addresses the true interests of parties

Moves beyond different views of law/fact

Allows creative solutions beyond win/lose

Respect and civility are the ground rules

Solution is just as binding and enforceable as arbitration

Mediation is purely voluntary. No one has to use it, but it can save time and money and can be quicker, easier, and more amicable for resolving business disputes than arbitration.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®


Filing an ethics complaint against a REALTOR is a time-consuming process. With the Citation System, respondents can elect to avoid the lengthy hearing process when a REALTOR or a member of the public files a complaint against them. Please Click Here for more information and to print the pamphlet.


The Ombudsman Program in its simplest definition is informal telephone mediation. In some cases it can address and solve minor complaints from the public. It can also solve inter-REALTOR® conflicts before they become serious problems. Like a mediator, an ombudsman helps parties find solutions. An ombudsman can respond to general questions regarding real estate practices, transaction details, ethical practices and enforcement issues. Please Click Here for more information and to print the brochure.