CODE OF ETHICS
The REALTOR® Code of Ethics is the result of a vision by those who believed in real estate as a profession. It is far more than just a set of rules that members of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) (through membership in a local Association of REALTORS®, such as the Pikes Peak Association of REALTORS® (PPAR) have voluntarily agreed to in the conduct of their business. It is a “living” document which changes to remain relevant to a changing industry, without losing its lofty goals, or compromising the standards of conduct of members. The Preamble of the Code sets out goals of seeking the highest and best economic use of the land, protection of private property rights to citizens, and preservation of the free enterprise system. The code recognized that the right of private ownership and use of real property is essential to a prosperous and free country. Undergirding all is the premise that members will abide by the highest levels of professionalism, honesty, and integrity in the delivery of their services to the public. The Code guides professional conduct to a higher level than is required by State law, but it is a realistic standard that can be achieved by those who desire true professionalism. This is one of the primary reasons why real estate licensees join the REALTOR® organization, and one of the big reasons why the public is typically better served by a REALTOR® than by a real estate licensee who is not a member. All REALTORS® pledge to abide by a strict code of professional conduct. This is outlined in NAR’s Code of Ethics. This is outlined in the NAR's Code of Ethics.
ENFORCEMENT OF THE CODE OF ETHICS
The public has a right to expect competent and professional real estate service, delivered in accordance with the Code of Ethics. Likewise, fellow REALTORS® have a right to expect that their peers will abide by the Code. However, it sometimes happens that those expectations are not met, and aggrieved parties may wish to seek a review of the conduct of a member whom they feel has failed to meet the Code. PPAR encourages members of both the public and PPAR to file a complaint when they feel the Code may have been violated. If a member is not living up to the Code, PPAR can facilitate educating the offender and ensure more professional conduct in the future.
PPAR has explicit procedures for processing ethics complaints, which ensure due process, including the right to a full and fair hearing by a panel of the member’s peers, the right to present evidence and testimony, the right to cross-examine the other party and his/her witnesses, and the right to appeal the decision of the hearing tribunal under certain circumstances. Enforcement begins with the receipt of a written complaint; oral complaints will not be processed. The complaint must be against a person who is currently a member of PPAR.
A call to PPAR at 719.633.7718 can verify the status of membership. Member verification can also be done by clicking HERE.
The complaint must allege a violation of one or more of the Articles of the Code, and should be supported by a brief narrative of the facts involved, as well as copies of supporting documents which the Complainant intends to present as evidence. Violations of particular Standards of Practice (listed under each Article in the Code) may be cited in support of the Complainant’s allegation, but only Articles should be alleged to have been violated. PPAR can provide procedural help if the parties request it.
To download or print out the ethics complaint form and instructions, click here: Ethics Complaint Form AND the Instructions Form.
The written complaint goes to the Grievance Committee who then reviews the complaint with this lens: “If the allegations stated in the complaint are true, do they constitute a violation of the Code of Ethics?” If the answer is yes, the matter is forwarded for a hearing. If not, the complaint is dismissed.
It should be understood that some behaviors, while irritating or annoying, do not rise to the level of a violation of the Code. If the matter is forwarded for a hearing, the Respondent will be asked to file a response. If the matter is set for hearing, the parties will be notified well in advance of the date and procedures to be followed.
The parties may elect to be represented by counsel, but need to let the other party know if they intend to do so. The parties will also need to disclose the names of their prospective witnesses, even if they don’t call them at the hearing.
The hearing is conducted in private, and remains confidential in most cases. A panel of 3-5 experienced REALTORS® will conduct a mini-trial, hear the evidence and testimony and render a decision as to the guilt or innocence of the Respondent. The Complainant must prove the Respondent’s violation by clear and convincing evidence. If found guilty, sanctions imposed may include reprimand, mandatory education, fines up to $2,500.00, probation, and in some cases, suspension or revocation of membership.
PPAR does not have the authority to revoke or suspend a real estate license; that right lies solely with the Colorado Real Estate Commission. Also, PPAR cannot compel payment of money from the Respondent to the Complainant; that requires litigation or arbitration. Either party may appeal the decision to the PPAR Board of Directors under certain circumstances.
ARBITRATION AND MEDIATION OF DISPUTES
Where the Code of Ethics deals only with behavior, arbitration deals only with monetary disputes. Arbitration provides the parties with a faster and less expensive alternative to litigation, with an experienced panel of real estate professionals judging the outcome.
The same set of facts may give rise to requests for both ethics and arbitration enforcement actions, in which case the arbitration hearing will be held first. Members of the PPAR must settle their monetary disputes through arbitration in most cases. Members of the public who have a monetary dispute may be able to resolve their dispute in this venue, but their participation is always voluntary. If, however, a nonmember does choose to arbitrate through PPAR, they must agree to be bound by the decision of the hearing panel.
PPAR has explicit procedures for processing arbitration complaints, which ensure due process, including the right to a full and fair hearing by a panel of the member’s peers, the right to present evidence and testimony, the right to cross-examine the other party and his/her witnesses, and the right to appeal if due process is not provided. Arbitration begins with the receipt of a written complaint, together with a $400.00 filing fee. Oral complaints cannot be processed. The complaint must be made by an employing member broker (or a member of the public, or a non-member employing broker) against another employing member broker. The employing broker of a firm may be found by calling PPAR at 719.633.7718.
When the Association receives the request for arbitration, it will notify the Respondent, who must file a response, together with a $400.00 filing fee. To download or print out the arbitration complaint form, instructions for the complaint form or a list of mediators, please click here: Arbitration Complaint Form, Instructions, or List of Mediators. Both the complaint and response should include a brief narrative of the facts involved, as well as copies of supporting documents which the parties intend to present as evidence.
The complaint and the response go to the Grievance Committee, who must answer a series of questions to ensure that the matter is properly arbitrated at PPAR. If the answer is yes, it will be set for a hearing. If not, the parties must seek another solution. If the matter is set for hearing, the parties will be notified well in advance of the date and procedures to be followed. The parties may elect to be represented by counsel, but need to let the other party know if they intend to do so. The parties will also need to disclose the names of their prospective witnesses, even if they don’t call them at the hearing.
Once the matter has been determined to be arbitrable, PPAR will offer the parties the opportunity to mediate their dispute at no charge. Mediation is a process whereby a neutral, trained mediator facilitates discussion and helps the parties negotiate and create options for settlement. Mediation is voluntary, and is very effective in conflict resolution. It is also much more satisfying to parties than arbitration or litigation because they craft their own solution (win-win), rather than live with the one imposed on them by an arbitration hearing panel (win-lose).
If the parties arrive at a solution they can live with, the mediator will reduce that agreement to writing, and the matter is concluded without a hearing. The Association will refund $300.00 of the parties’ filing fees if the parties settle in mediation. If the parties do not reach a settlement in mediation, the arbitration hearing will be conducted in privacy, and remains confidential in most cases. A panel of 3-5 experienced REALTORS® will conduct a mini-trial, hear the evidence and testimony and render a decision as to disposition of the money involved. The winner must prove his/her position by a preponderance of the evidence. The Association cannot award more than the amount in dispute, may not award punitive damages, and most cases cannot award attorney fees or interest. Either party may appeal the decision to the Board of Directors of the Association if they believe that due process was not provided. The decision of the Board of Directors is considered final.