When a consumer has a dispute regarding a real estate transaction or interaction with an agent, there are several avenues available to resolve them.
First, it’s important to reach out directly to the agent and share your concerns. If that is not successful, then contact the agent’s Principal Broker. Have all documents, emails, texts, photos, receipts and any notes you’ve made available for that conversation.
If the Principal Broker does not resolve the issue, then the next step is to determine if the agent is a Realtor or a licensed agent. Realtors are sworn to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics and agree to accountability of their peers.
At Greater Nashville Realtors, the complaint process starts with the submission of documentation to the Grievance committee, chaired this year by Barry Owen, Principal Broker for Pareto Real Estate. Using specific criteria, the Grievance Committee determines if the complaint should move forward.
If you have a financial complaint, it is sent to the Arbitration Committee, where Bobbie Noreen, a Managing Broker for Village Real Estate, is the chairperson for 2018. Ethics complaints are sent to the Professional Standards Committee, chaired in 2018 by Nancy Malone, Principal Broker for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Woodmont Realty, Brentwood.
Once one or both committees determine that potential violations are present, all parties are notified, and a private hearing is held with a panel of experienced, non-partial Realtors. The panel does not have the power to remove a Realtor’s license but can require education or restitution. Realtors have agreed to abide by the decision, though there is an appeal process available for either party.
A complaint can also be filed with the Tennessee Real Estate Commission (TREC), but any legal proceedings with TREC must conclude before the association committees can hear a complaint. TREC does have the power to suspend, remove or downgrade a license, as well as to levy fines or requiring remedial education. If a lawsuit has been filed, an association cannot get involved until the conclusion of the case and any appeals.
For real estate agents, who are not Realtors, the only option for consumers or Realtors who wish to file a complaint is to reach out to TREC. Realtor associations have no authority with nonmember agents.
Realtors who volunteer for these committees help make our profession stronger by preserving standards of service and protecting the public in real estate transactions. Realtors are about much more than houses!
Sher Powers is president of Greater Nashville REALTORS®. A REALTOR® is a member of the National Association of REALTORS® who subscribes to its strict code of ethics. Contact her at 615-430-6861 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The RealDeal Column is published every Sunday in the Tennessean.