The definition of ombudsman for REALTORS®
The Ombudsman Program in its simplest definition is informal telephone mediation. In some cases it can address and solve minor complaints from the public. It can also solve inter-REALTOR® conflicts before they become serious problems. Like a mediator, an ombudsman helps parties find solutions. The ombudsman process does not replace mediation; rather, it is a more informal process that will take place earlier and that will, if successful, avoid the need for a more formal mediation process and potentially a formal ethics hearing or arbitration hearing.
Boards and associations of REALTORS® are charged with the responsibility of receiving and resolving ethics complaints and requests for arbitration. This obligation is carried out by local, regional and state grievance committees and professional standards committees. Many complaints received by boards and associations might be averted with enhanced communications and initial problem-solving capacity at the local level. The NC REALTORS® Ombudsman Program is intended to provide that capacity.
The Ombudsman’s role is primarily one of communication and conciliation, not adjudication. Ombudsmen do not determine whether ethics violations have occurred or whether a REALTOR® may be entitled to a commission; rather, they anticipate, identify, and resolve misunderstandings and disagreements before matters ripen into disputes and possible charges of unethical conduct or formal requests for arbitration.
All communications made to the ombudsman or NC REALTORS® whether written or oral, shall be confidential and may not be disclosed (other than communicating information and results between staff and the ombudsman) to any other person for any reason.