By Elsa Rake
FAAR Ombudsman Program
“What is the Ombudsman Program?” – you may be asking. Simply put, it is an informal phone mediation program. This program is designed to help address and solve minor complaints from the public. It can also help resolve conflicts between REALTORS.
Sometimes members of the public have complaints that are transactional or procedural in nature and not necessarily actual violations of the NAR Code of Ethics. Typically when a member of the public wants to file a complaint against a REALTOR they will be put in contact with FAAR’s Professional Standards Administrator. If the Administrator determines the case meets the criteria for the Ombudsman Program, they will explain and offer the program to the complainant.
If the complainant agrees, an Ombudsman will be assigned to the handle the complaint. The Ombudsman will contact the complainant and will explain the procedure. The Ombudsman is not a true mediator but more of a go-between the parties. They will listen and try to understand the situation so they can determine the outcome the complainant is looking for. Sometimes it can be a simple apology, or they may need clarification on the situation. With permission from the complainant the Ombudsman will contact the other party so that a resolution may be reached. The Ombudsman program provides a venue for the complainant to have their story heard, sometimes that’s all that is needed and situations are diffused so that no formal complaints are filed and positive relationships are restored between the parties.
If the parties cannot come to a satisfactory agreement, the complainant can move forward with Mediation or a formal complaint. The negotiations or discussions that take place through the Ombudsman Program will have no bearing on the complaint moving forward.
If you have a complaint against another REALTOR®, keep this program in mind. Sometimes misunderstandings or lack of communication are what lead agents to want to file a complaint. An Ombudsman might just be the answer to get the communication going and for understanding to clear up an unpleasant situation.