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Professional Standards

Nikki Vazquez
310-326-3010 Ext. 708

California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.)
Ethics Information for Consumers

Nikki Vazquez
310-326-3010 Ext. 708

C.A.R. Mediation Center for Consumers
213-739-8376 (voicemail)

Arbitration and Mediation Services Recommended by C.A.R.:
American Arbitration Association

Judicial, Arbitration, and Mediation Service (JAMS)

California Department of Real Estate (DRE)
DRE Public Information Line

C.A.R. REALTOR® Legal Hotline
213-739-8282 (REALTORS® Only)
(Mon-Fri 9:00am-6:00pm)
(Sat 10am-2pm (1st come 1st serve basis & limited to active transaction questions only.)

National Association of REALTORS® (NAR)
Main Number: 800-874-6500

NAR-Code of Ethics and Professional Standards Resources

Ethics Complaints
C.A.R. Ombudsman Program


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®. In addition to processing formal ethics complaints against its REALTOR® members, many boards and associations offer informal dispute resolving processes (e.g., ombudsmen, mediation, etc.). Often, parties are more satisfied with informal dispute resolution processes, as they are quicker, less costly, and often help repair damaged relationships.

If, after taking these steps, you still feel you have a grievance, you may want to consider filing an ethics complaint. You will want to keep in mind that...

  • Only REALTORS® and REALTOR-ASSOCIATE®s are subject to the Code of Ethics of the National Association of REALTORS®.
  • If the real estate professional (or their broker) you are dealing with is not a REALTOR®, your only recourse may be the state real state licensing authority or the courts.
  • Boards and associations of REALTORS® determine whether the Code of Ethics has been violated, not whether the law or real estate regulations have been broken. Those decisions can only be made by the licensing authorities or the courts.
  • Boards of REALTORS® can discipline REALTORS® for violating the Code of Ethics. Typical forms of discipline include attendance at courses and seminars designed to increase REALTORS®' understanding of the ethical duties or other responsibilities of real estate professionals. Additional examples of authorized discipline are a letter of reprimand and appropriate fines. For serious or repeated violations, a REALTOR®'s membership can be suspended or terminated. Boards and associations of REALTORS® cannot require REALTORS® to pay money to parties filing ethics complaints; cannot award "punitive damages" for violations of the Code of Ethics; and cannot suspend or revoke a real estate professional's license.
  • The primary emphasis of discipline for ethical lapses is educational, to create a heightened awareness of and appreciation for the duties the Code imposes. At the same time, more severe forms of discipline, including fines and suspension and termination of membership may be imposed for serious or repeated violations.
Please Review Before you File: Other Reference Documents: To File:
  • Complete Form: D1 - Disciplinary Complaint Form (Ethics Complaint)) and sign the last page.
  • Include a narrative description of the circumstances and facts surrounding the complaint, being as specific as possible.
  • Attach copies of all relevant documents such as listings and sales contracts, letters, etc. labeling these as Exhibit 1, etc.
  • There are no fees for filing an Ethics complaint.
  • Forward the complaint to the PVPAR Professional Standards Coordinator of the Association, Nikki Vasquez, by either:
What to expect next:
  • Upon receipt, the Complaint will be forwarded to the Grievance Committee and reviewed to determine whether the Complaint should move forward to a Hearing.
  • If the Grievance Committee determines that the Complaint has stated facts that as alleged, if true, could constitute a violation of one or more Articles of the Code of Ethics, then the Committee will recommend that Complaint should move forward to a Hearing.
  • You will be notified of the outcome by mail.


Unresolved disputes regarding monetary issues can be successfully resolved by utilizing either Mediation and/or Arbitration. As an alternative to Arbitration, the Association has Mediation services which is a dispute resolution process whereby a mediator works with you and the other parties to facilitate a mutually acceptable resolution through normal communication and negotiation. In comparison to arbitration, mediation is usually less adversarial and less formal and the parties are more directly involved in the decision making process to resolve their dispute.

  • The C.A.R. Real Estate Mediation Center for Consumers is available to help members and their clients quickly settle disputes without the time, cost and uncertainty of litigation. For more information please access the C.A.R. Mediation Center for Consumers.


    Most real estate transactions proceed peacefully; minor disputes between the parties usually can be worked out with a little negotiation and compromise. However, consumers and REALTORS® sometimes find themselves confronted with disputes that they are unable to resolve by themselves.

    Arbitration is the term used to describe a form of dispute resolution that occurs outside of the court system. Basically, in arbitration the parties submit arguments and evidence to a neutral person, known as an arbitrator, who then renders a decision (which is called an "award"). Arbitration may be used to decide most types of claims, including actions for breach of contract, misrepresentation and fraud. The arbitration agreement in C.A.R. contracts, however, excludes certain matters from arbitration, including matters within the jurisdiction of a small claims, probate or bankruptcy court. Arbitration is the term used to describe a form of dispute resolution that occurs outside of the court system.

    Other Reference Documents:

    Contact Nikki Vasquez
    310-326-3010 ext. 708

    What to expect next:
    • Once all necessary information is received, a copy will be forwarded to the Respondent(s) requesting a reply.
    • Upon receipt of the reply from the Respondent(s), a copy will be forwarded to you.
    • All parties will be notified by mail and/or email once a hearing date and panel have been chosen.


    Various issues can arise in the buying or selling of a home that can make the transaction unnecessarily complicated.

    Occasionally, consumers may find themselves in a dispute with a REALTOR®. The C.A.R. Ombudsmen are volunteers that serve as a neutral and independent voice to answer consumer or REALTOR® questions, improve communication between parties, and suggest possible ways to resolve issues. For more information on this program, go to: