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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Did You Have a Bad Real Estate Experience? Here’s What You Can Do

[Published Oct. 30, 2014, in the Jeffco editions of the Denver Post's YourHub section and in five Jefferson County weekly newspapers. It has been adapted here by adding clickable links with appropriate re-wording.]

When people know you’re a real estate agent, they want to talk real estate, and occasionally the conversation turns to bad experiences they have had with the various professionals involved in real estate transactions.

I’m not an expert on where to complain about other professionals, but I thought you’d like to know where to turn when your bad experience was with a real estate agent.

Most real estate agents are Realtors — that is, members of the National Association of Realtors.  As Realtors, we are diligent about being perceived as honorable professionals abiding by our Realtor Code of Ethics (click to read it), and we count on buyers and sellers as well as fellow Realtors to report wrong-doing of any kind to the appropriate authorities. In this column, I will help you know where to go.

First, determine whether your agent has a managing broker to whom he/she reports.  If his/her business card says “broker associate” he has a “broker” above him who shares responsibility for his or her actions. In that case, the first place to go would be to his or her managing broker. Because brokers share responsibility for the misdeeds of their broker associates they really do want to know of any such misdeeds and can be counted on to take disciplinary action of their own against a broker associate who has done you wrong. 

If you are still in the transaction, the broker can also remove that broker associate from your transaction and assign another broker associate — or serve you him/herself.

If, however, the agent you’re complaining about is the broker, you still have one and possibly two paths open to you.  If your complaint involves a violation of licensing law, you should complain to the Division of Real Estate. Click here for a complaint form that you can fill out online [This link also allows you to complain about appraisers, loan officers, and HOAs.]

If your complaint is of an ethical nature, determine whether the agent is a Realtor (a member of a Realtor association) by clicking this link  [Note: Beware of different first names.  For example, I'm Jim A. Smith on the Realtor database, but James Arthur Smith on the state database.]  Alternatively, call the Denver Metro Assn. of Realtors (DMAR) at 303-756-0553 and ask them to help you.  If the agent is a Realtor, the same person you speak with at DMAR can tell you how to file an ethics complaint, or click here for instructions and a form that you can print out and mail in. 

If the agent is not a Realtor, he or she can’t be accused of violating the Realtor Code of Ethics, but you can still file a complaint with Metrolist, which has a procedure for handling complaints against non-Realtors who are members of the MLS.  Call 303-850-9576.

If your agent’s actions caused you a monetary loss, remember that he/she has, by law, errors & omissions insurance. Ask your agent or his/her managing broker to file a claim. [Your agent will pay a $1,000 deductible.]

If this column does not provide you with the information you need, call me at 303-525-1851 or email me at  I'm happy to help. 

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