Professional Standards

Arbitration for Buyers & Sellers

As with any problem that might arise from your relationship with your real estate agent, the first step you should take is to talk to your agent or your agent's broker or manager. Many difficulties between real estate professionals (whether REALTORS® or not) and their clients result from misunderstanding or miscommunication. Open, constructive discussion often resolves questions or differences, eliminating the need for further action. (If you aren't sure who your agent's broker or manager is, call the agent's office number to inquire or call UAR at (801) 676-5200.)

The UAR handles complaints and arbitration requests concerning members of all local boards throughout the state of Utah with the exception of the Salt Lake Board. If you wish to file an arbitration request through the Salt Lake Board, click here.

If your discussion with your agent or broker is not successful, there are some other options available to seek resolution to your monetary dispute.

Arbitration facilities are provided by the REALTOR® association as a service to its members. Arbitration is not a disciplinary proceeding nor does it award damages. There are certain disputes that REALTORS® are obligated to arbitrate as a part of their membership duties.

Be aware that not every situation may be arbitrated at a REALTOR® association. Many disputes with clients or customers may not fall under the association's jurisdiction and must be handled through the civil courts. Also, disputes involving clients or customers require that the client or customer sign an agreement to arbitrate and to be bound by the arbitration, which means further legal action would most likely be precluded.

Types of disputes that cannot be arbitrated at a REALTOR® association include disputes involving damages that could result from a REALTOR®'s error, misrepresentation or other inappropriate action. This type of monetary claim would usually need to be handled through other processes, such as the courts or through informal settlement. A real estate attorney may need to be consulted.

Types of disputes that may be arbitrated at a REALTOR® association must be those in which the REALTOR® promised to pay something, which means you and the REALTOR® must have agreed on some type of a specific obligation that if not met, the REALTOR® would be obligated to pay something. For instance, if your buyer's agent agreed to purchase a lighting fixture for the house you are buying if the sellers took it with them, that would be a contractual matter and could be arbitrated.

Whether the dispute is one that can be processed by the association is determined by the Association's Grievance Committee. Should you believe that your dispute is based on something specific that you and your agent agreed to, and you would like to file a Request to Arbitrate, follow the next few steps.

STEP ONE. Call the REALTOR® Association. There are informal dispute-resolving processes available to consumers (e.g., ombudsmen, mediation, etc.) that can be utilized prior to filing a formal complaint. If you are not sure where the individual(s) belongs, contact the UAR at (801) 676-5200.

STEP TWO. Filing an arbitration request. If none of the informal processes to settle your dispute have been successful and you believe it is a dispute that is not based on damages, you may wish to file a request for arbitration with the REALTOR®.

For a copy of a Request to Arbitrate form, click here.

Here are some general principles to keep in mind as you begin the process. The request must:

  • Be in writing.
  • Be signed by the Complainant.
  • Disputes involving clients or customers require that the client or customer sign an agreement to arbitrate and to be bound by the decision of the arbitrators.
  • State the amount in dispute.
  • Be filed within 180 days after closing or 180 days after the facts could have been known in the exercise of reasonable diligence, whichever is later.
  • When completing the form, the steps to follow are:
    • Name the REALTOR® firm involved and the individuals involved.
    • Indicate the amount in dispute.
    • Include an explanation of the situation. State why you believe you are entitled to an award of some kind based on a REALTOR®'s promise to pay.
    • Remember, don't include unethical allegations in your argument. If you think there have been ethical violations, they can be handled separately through filing an ethics complaint.
    • Attach copies of any and all pertinent documents such as listing agreements, purchase and sales agreements, closing statements, etc., plus any notarized statements from witnesses.

The Utah Association of REALTORS® requires a $250 arbitration deposit. Should your request be forwarded for a hearing and should you prevail at the hearing, this deposit will be returned to you. If you do not prevail at the hearing, the deposit will be retained by the Association to help cover costs. Include a $250 check made to "UAR" with your written Request for Arbitration.

STEP THREE. Sending the request. If you are ready to file your arbitration request concerning one of our members, send it to:

Utah Association of REALTORS®
Attn: Professional Standards Enforcement
230 West Towne Ridge Parkway, Suite 500
Sandy, UT 84070

If you are filing an arbitration request concerning a member of the Salt Lake Board of REALTORS®, please contact them directly at (801) 542-8840.

STEP FOUR. The Grievance Committee's initial review. The association's Grievance Committee will review your request to determine if it is appropriate to be arbitrated at the association. Remember, your request must involve a dispute wherein the REALTOR® involved must have promised to pay you something. This is what the procedures define as "arbitrable." If the Committee determines your request is not arbitrable, it will dismiss it, and you will be informed about appeal options at that time.

Should the REALTOR® association not have jurisdiction or finds the dispute not arbitrable, other options that may be available to you include voluntary mediation with a private mediator and going through litigation.

STEP FIVE. If the Grievance Committee forwards your case for a hearing, you'll be advised by the association of the appropriate procedures and steps to take. Before any hearing is scheduled, however, you will be offered an opportunity to mediate the dispute with the REALTOR®. Mediation involves an objective third-party mediator who will work with all parties in dispute to assist them to reach a mutually agreed-upon resolution. If the mediation is successful and the parties reach and sign an agreement, it becomes judicially enforceable. If the mediation is not successful, the matter will proceed to a hearing.

CONCLUSION. Many monetary disputes result from misunderstanding or a failure in communication. Before filing an arbitration request, make reasonable efforts to communicate with your real estate professional or a principal broker in the firm. If these efforts are not fruitful, the association can give you the procedures and forms necessary to file. There are limited options available for members of the public to have monetary disputes with REALTORS® handled at the REALTOR® association. If the REALTOR® made a promise to pay you in some way, the dispute can be handled at the association.