An ombudsman is an impartial member of the St. Louis REALTORS® Professional Standards Committee who helps parties resolve complaints and problems through constructive communication between parties. Ombudsmen do not determine whether ethics violations have occurred or who is owed money; rather they anticipate, identify, and attempt to resolve misunderstandings and disagreements before matters ripen into possible charges of unethical conduct or arbitration (generally commission) disputes.
An ombudsman can help resolve issues related to:
- Transactional, technical, procedural questions.
- Lack of communication.
- Potential violations of Code of Ethics.
- Monetary disputes.
After your initial request to speak with an ombudsman, you (the complainant) will receive a call within 48 hours. The ombudsman will identify themself and detail the rest of the process.
The use of the Ombudsman Program is voluntary and confidential. The Ombudsman Program is often successful and can be a shorter process compared to filing an ethics complaint or arbitration request, which average 8-10 months. If the Ombudsman Program is successful, it can eliminate the need to file an official complaint.
Learn more about the Ombudsman Process:
Once the designated St. Louis REALTORS® staff receives an Ombudsman request, the information will be sent to a St. Louis REALTORS® Ombudsman. The Ombudsman will make all necessary contact with the parties in an attempt to resolve the complaint. If the efforts are not successful, the Ombudsman will advise the complainant about the next steps in the complaint process should the complainant wish to file a formal Code of Ethics complaint.
Ombudsman suggests or explore options, approaches, and utilize available resources to resolve disputes. They assist in addressing problems/concerns in a manner that meets the needs of both the REALTOR® member and the consumer or other party. Ombudsman does not advocate for either party, nor will they decide who is "right" or "wrong." Instead, they assist the parties to obtain clarity on the rules or issues and recommend possible options to resolve the problem without a more formal complaint.
Disputes can often be resolved through the Ombudsman process in as little as a few hours or days, depending on the Ombudsman and the parties' availability.
Yes. Allegations, discussions, and decisions made in ombudsman proceedings are confidential. They may not be reported or published by St. Louis REALTORS®, any member of a tribunal (including the Ombudsman), or any party under any circumstances, except those established in the Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual.
Failure or refusal of a member to comply with the terms of a mutually agreed-upon resolution will entitle the complaining party to resubmit the original complaint or, where a formal complaint had not been filed, to file an ethics complaint. The time the matter was initially brought to St. Louis REALTORS®' attention, whether through the Ombudsman program or a formal complaint, will be considered the "filing date" for purposes of determining whether an ethics complaint is timely filed.