Contacts

SBAOR
Professional Standards

Nikki Vasquez
310-326-3010 Ext. 708
310-326-5579 fax

Mediation
Kathy Kelly
310-326-3010 Ext. 714
310-326-5579 fax

California Association of REALTORS®
Main Number 213-739-8200
Legal Hotline (Mon-Fri 9:00am-6:00pm)
213-739-8282
Ethics Information for Consumers

National Association of REALTORS®
Main Number
800-874-6500

Department of Real Estate (DRE)
Main Number
213-620-2072
Legal
916-227-0789

Arbitration and Mediation Services Recommended by C.A.R.
American Arbitration Association
800-778-7879
Judicial, Arbitration, and Mediation Service
800-352-5267

Ethics
Mediation
Arbitration

Ethics
All REALTORS® must adhere to a strict Code of Ethics, which is based on professionalism and protection of the public. The Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice is a promise from a REALTOR® to the public that they can expect honest and ethical treatment in all transaction-related matters when dealing with a real estate agent who is also a REALTOR®. Only REALTORS® pledge to abide by the Code of Ethics, and only REALTORS® are held accountable for their ethical behavior.

The SBAOR is responsible for enforcing the NAR 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 taking these steps, you still feel you have a grievance, you many 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.
  • The SBAOR only determines 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.
  • The SBAOR 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. REALTORS® may also be reprimanded, fined, or their membership can be suspended or terminated for serious or repeated violations. The SBAOR 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.

Filing an Ethics Complaint
When preparing your complaint, please keep the following in mind:
  • Ethics complaints must be filed with The SBAOR within one hundred eighty (180) days from the time a complainant knew (or reasonably should have known) that potentially unethical conduct took place.
  • The REALTORS® Code of Ethics consists of seventeen (17) Articles. The duties imposed by many of the Articles are explained and illustrated through accompanying Standards of Practice or case interpretations.
  • Your complaint should include a narrative description of the circumstances that lead you to believe the Code of Ethics may have been violated.
  • Your complaint must cite one or more of the Articles of the Code of Ethics which may have been violated. Hearing panels decide whether the Articles expressly cited in complaints were violated - not whether Standards of Practice or case interpretations were violated.
  • Please contact Nikki Vasquez if you are in need of technical assistance in preparing your complaint in proper form and with proper content.

To File:
  1. Download "Instructions for Filing an Ethics Complaint" and read it over.
  2. Download the Ethics Complaint Form
  3. Download the NAR Code of Ethics [updated 2017]
  4. Fill out the Ethics Complaint Form and sign the last page. Please include a typewritten statement of the circumstances that lead you to believe the Code of Ethics may have been violated. Also, you are encouraged to include copies of Disclosures, Contract, Purchase and Sales Agreements, MLS print outs or copies of email correspondence. Please do not submit original documents to the SBAOR as part of your complaint.
  5. The complaint should be forwarded to Nikki Vasquez - Professional Standards Coordinator.
    • Email - nikki@SouthBayAOR.com
    • Fax - 310-326-5579
    • Mail - 22833 Arlington Avenue, Torrance 90501
  6. There is no fee for filing an Ethics Complaint.
  7. Upon receipt, the Complaint will be forwarded to the Grievance Committee of the SBAOR and reviewed to determine whether the Complaint should move forward to a Hearing.
  8. 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.
  9. You will be notified of the outcome by mail immediately after the committee meeting.
For more information regarding Ethics Complaints, contact Nikki Vasquez - Professional Standards Coordinator at 310-326-3010.


Mediation
Although the majority of real estate transactions close without incident, there is a possibility that a commission dispute could occur. When that happens, it can be successfully resolved by the parties through normal communication and negotiation. In the past, when negotiations failed, parties took their case to court. Today, they are taking their commission disputes to mediation and in most cases can save thousands of dollars in court costs and lawyer fees. Most commission dispute cases can be successfully mediated if all parties are willing to make a good faith effort to resolve the dispute.

The South Bay Association of REALTORS® has a team of mediators who are highly trained and experienced. All of them are licensed real estate professionals. Mediation services are provided in an effort to help resolve disputes without the burden of extensive legal fees.

Fee Schedule:
  • Mediation for SBAOR Members - Provided at no cost
  • Medication of a SBAOR member and a non-SBAOR member - Pricing varies ***call for more information
  • Mediation for non-members - $750 (per side)
  • Mediation for Buyers and Sellers - $750 (per side)
The Association reserves the right to adjust fees or reject mediations depending on the complexity of the issues at hand.

To File:
  1. Download the Mediation Consent Form and the Mediation Rules & Confidentiality Form.
  2. The Mediation paperwork should be forwarded to:
    South Bay Association of REALTORS®
    Attention: Nikki Vasquez - Professional Standards Coordinator
    Email: Nikki@SouthBayAOR.com
    22833 Arlington Avenue
    Torrance, CA 90501
  3. Once we receive your paperwork, we will contact the other party to attempt to schedule a mediation. We will contact you and let you know what the other party wants to do and if they agree we will schedule the mediation as soon as possible.
For more information regarding Mediation Services, contact our Mediation Coordinator at 310-326-3010 x714 or by .


Arbitration
Most real estate transactions proceed fairly smoothly; 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.

Various alternatives exist for resolving disputes. One such method, which is growing rapidly in popularity, is arbitration. In fact, most real estate contracts, including those published by C.A.R., give the parties the option of agreeing up front to arbitrate disputes that might arise between them.

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.

To File:
  1. Download the Arbitration Complaint Form
  2. Fill out form and attach a check for $450 made out to the South Bay Association of REALTORS®.
  3. Fill out the Arbitration Complaint Form and sign the last page. Please include a typewritten statement of the circumstances that lead you to file for Arbitration. Also, you are encouraged to include copies of Disclosures, Contract, Purchase and Sales Agreements, MLS print outs or copies of email correspondence. Please do not submit original documents to the SBAOR as part of your complaint.
  4. The Arbitration paperwork should be forwarded to:
    South Bay Association of REALTORS®
    Attention: Nikki Vasquez - Professional Standards Coordinator
    22833 Arlington Avenue
    Torrance, CA 90501
  5. Once all the necessary information is received by the Association, a copy will be forwarded to the respondent(s) requesting a reply. Upon receipt of the reply at the Association; you will be sent a copy. You will be notified by mail once a hearing date and Panel have been chosen.
For more information regarding Arbitration, contact Nikki Vasquez - Professional Standards Coordinator at 310-326-3010.


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