Sometimes, real estate transactions simply go bad. This can be due to a myriad of possible reasons: inspections, appraisals, lending … or, from either party to the transaction: the buyer, the seller or the real estate agents. While remediations for incidents vary per individual state legislation-and range from litigation to mediation, and everything in between-whenever there’s a perception that a realtor has acted unjustly, the first action to be taken by a consumer who feels that they have been treated unfairly should always be in the form of a formal real estate agent complaint.
While methods for filing a real estate agent complaint do vary from state to state, generally speaking, the best way in which to submit a complaint about a realtor’s conduct is through their licensing board. Each state has its own licensing authority, and they should each have a web site online, through which you can access their forms and procedures for filing a complaint.
In most cases, you should expect to fill out a standardized form with information such as the names of the parties, the property address to which the complaint is being addressed and specific complaint details. You might also need to be prepared to write a letter explaining the situation. Complaints should be mailed to the appropriate real estate licensing authorities; they will then forward it on to any additional parties to the complaint, if need be. Again, details on this may be found at each individual state’s real estate licensing board web site.
Once the state licensing board has received your complaint, they will typically open a file on both sides of the transaction. The entire transaction will be reviewed, in detail, from both angles to determine if and where there had been any misconduct. (This often goes well beyond the initial complaint, and if they exist, this process will discover problems on either side of the transaction, regardless of which side of the party has issued the complaint.) In some instances, if there is evidence of wrongdoing on the part of a realtor, they will face any one of several punishments, ranging from fines to losing their license-and beyond, depending on the severity of the crime. In other instances, the case may be referred to mediation or litigation in order to be handled by a neutral third party. Again, the procedures will vary by state, but this is a good general idea of what to expect when sending in a realtor complaint.
Keep in mind that just like any other legal transaction, it’s important throughout a real estate purchase to take detailed notes of correspondence and events that transpire. This will help you tremendously-and, in fact, can make or break a case-if you were in fact to go forward to mediation or litigation.
For additional information on how to file a real estate agent complaint, or for advice on how to proceed, contact your local attorney or legal representative.