Mediation of Business Disputes

Mediation offers a process for disputing parties to work collectively with the aid of an impartial, third-party REALTOR® volunteer to resolve their dispute. Mediation offers:

  • Speedier results than the hearing process
  • Participants create their own mutually agreeable settlement
  • More amicable results
  • Sense of personal accomplishment

Compare Different Dispute Resolution Approaches

Resolution Approach
Mediation Arbitration Hearing
Voluntary process? Yes No
Scheduling? Faster Slower
Both parties must appear at the session? Yes Yes. A hearing cannot be held without the complainant being present.
Who makes decisions? Parties Panel of REALTORS®
Settlement is fashioned from AAR Code of Ethics? Not all the time. Parties decide resolution. Yes
Decisions are known the same day? Yes No
Results are confidential? Yes Yes
Is legal representation permitted? Yes Yes

 

What is mediation at Arizona Association of REALTORS®?

The Arizona Association of REALTORS® (AAR) provides mediation as an option to parties involved in arbitration disputes. Parties may voluntarily submit to mediation before filing an arbitration request.

What happens at the mediation conference?

Mediation sessions are usually held at a REALTOR® association the parties are members. Each party will get an opportunity to address their position without the formality of a hearing. Discussion of positions and possible solution take place.

Who are the mediators?

AAR-appointed mediators are also objective REALTORS® trained to listen, encourage open communication and help the parties to resolve their issues.

What are the benefits of mediation?

Parties are completely involved in determining the outcome of their dispute. Possible results can be any agreement that satisfies the dispute and may include results not available to a formal arbitration request. At an arbitration hearing, the hearing panel determines the outcome, not the parties.

What if we can’t agree?

When there is no agreement between the parties, the arbitration may be referred to a hearing. The details of the mediation attempt are confidential and will not be shared as part of the hearing process.

How to initiate a voluntary mediation session

If an arbitration request has not been filed, complete and return a Mediation of a Business Dispute Form. Once a request has been submitted to AAR the offer will be extended to the other party to mediate the dispute. If the other party agrees to participate with mediation, a date will be selected and a mediation officer will be assigned.


The Mediation Process

During the Session

  • Parties to a mediation conference may be accompanied to the session by legal counsel. If it is your intent to have legal counsel present at your mediation session, the REALTOR® and AAR staff should be advised of this fact, in writing, at least ten (10) days prior to the mediation session.
  • Parties to a mediation may withdraw from the process at any time prior to reaching an agreement. The complainant is free to have their dispute considered through the formal arbitration process should either party withdraw from mediation prior to reaching an agreement.
  • In the event the agreement is not upheld by the terms agreed to by the parties, the dispute may be submitted judicially for enforcement.

Mediation Agreement Options

  • Parties to the mediation may agree to a mutual resolution of the matter at any time during the mediation conference. The Mediation Officer and parties have considerable latitude in fashioning a mutually acceptable resolution.
  • With the mediator’s assistance, parties may explore and refine workable solutions. The mediator will help the parties put their agreement in writing. Once the agreement is signed by all parties, then all related claims or suits are also resolved. The mediation agreement becomes binding, and the mediation is concluded.
  • If the parties to the mediation conference are unable to resolve the matter, any offers of settlement that were not accepted or any suggested resolution proposed by the Mediation Officer that was not accepted will not be introduced as evidence nor considered in any manner should the matter require an arbitration hearing.

Confidentiality

To ensure impartiality and to avoid the possible appearance of bias a Mediation Officer cannot refer concerns regarding the conduct of any party to a mediation to the Grievance Committee, the real estate licensing authority, or to any other regulatory body.

 

Mediation of Ethics Disputes

Mediation offers a process for disputing parties to work collectively with the aid of an impartial, third-party  REALTOR® volunteer to resolve their dispute. Mediation offers:

  • Speedier results than the hearing process
  • Participants create their own mutually agreeable settlement
  • More amicable results
  • Sense of personal accomplishment

Compare Different Dispute Resolution Approaches

Resolution Approach
Mediation Hearing
Voluntary process? Yes No
Scheduling? Faster Slower
Both parties must appear at the session? Yes Perhaps. Call AAR for more information.
Who makes decisions? Parties Panel of REALTORS®
Settlement is fashioned from AAR Code of Ethics? Not all the time. Parties decide resolution. Yes
Decisions are known the same day? Yes No
Results are confidential? Yes Yes
Is legal representation permitted? Yes Yes

 

What is ethics mediation at Arizona Association of REALTORS®?

If a party believes a REALTOR®’s conduct to be unethical as set forth in the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, the party may request ethics mediation as an alternative dispute resolution option. AAR offers mediation as a voluntary process which may be requested before or after filing of a formal ethics complaint.

What is the mediation process?

Each party will be given an opportunity to address their position at the mediation conference (meeting). Discussion of positions and possible solution take place at the meeting.

Where is the mediation held and who will be there?

A mediation is usually held at a REALTOR® association office close to where the transaction occurred. The parties involved in the dispute, and a mediator, will be present to discuss the complaint and possible solution.

Who are the mediators?

A REALTOR® member specifically trained in mediation is there to facilitate the meeting with the parties.  Mediators are effective listeners who encourage open communication and help parties resolve their issues.

What are the results of mediation? Possible results can be any agreement that satisfies the dispute and may include results not available in a formal ethics hearing. The parties involved in the dispute, not a hearing panel, will determine the resolution to the dispute.

What if we can’t agree?

If an agreement cannot be negotiated between the parties, a formal ethics complaint may be referred to a hearing.

How do I initiate a mediation session? Complete and return an Ethics Mediation Request form and include a narrative describing the dispute. Once the request has been submitted to AAR, the offer will be extended to the other party.


The Mediation Process

During the Session

  • Parties to the mediation may be accompanied by legal counsel. If it is your intent to have legal counsel present at the meeting, the other parties and AAR staff should be advised of this fact, in writing, at least ten (10) days prior to the meeting.
  • Parties to a mediation may withdraw from the process at any time prior to reaching an agreement. The complainant is free to have their dispute considered through the formal ethics complaint process should either party withdraw from mediation prior to reaching an agreement.
  • In the event the agreement is not upheld by the terms agreed to by the parties, the dispute may be submitted to the formal ethics complaint process.

Confidentiality

To ensure impartiality and to avoid the possible appearance of bias a Mediation Officer cannot refer concerns regarding the conduct of any party to a mediation to the Grievance Committee, to the state real estate licensing authority, or to any other regulatory body.

Mediation Agreement Options

  • Parties to the mediation may agree to a mutual resolution of the dispute at any time during the meeting. The parties have considerable latitude in fashioning a mutually agreed upon settlement.
  • With the mediator’s assistance, parties may explore and refine workable solutions. The mediator will help the parties put their agreement in writing. Once the agreement is signed by all parties, then all related claims or suits are also resolved. The mediation agreement becomes binding, and the mediation is concluded.
  • If the parties are unable to resolve their dispute, the mediation will be terminated. Any proposed resolutions or offers of settlement that were not accepted will not be introduced as evidence nor considered as part of a formal ethics complaint.

Filing an Ethics Complaint

Important links:

Common Questions About Filing Complaints
View or download an Ethics Complaint Form

Filing an ethics complaint cannot be done electronically.  If you are unable to download and complete the form, and have no family member or friend to assist you, please contact the Arizona Association of REALTORS® for assistance at (602) 248-7787.


Many issues result from a misunderstanding or a failure in communication. AAR recommends that you first make reasonable efforts to communicate with your real estate professional or a principal broker in the firm. If the issue is still not resolved then consider AAR’s Ombudsman and Mediation alternative dispute resolution processes.

If you decide to file a formal ethics complaint keep in mind that the entire process can take between 90 and 150 days.

The Process:

Ethics Complaint Process

The Arizona Association of REALTORS® (AAR) is responsible for enforcing the REALTORS® Code of Ethics, adopted by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® in 1913. The Code of Ethics imposes duties above and in addition to those imposed by law or regulation which apply only to real estate professionals who choose to become REALTORS®. The professional standards process is a very important part of a REALTOR® association and helps to ensure honorable, faithful, and competent service to clients, customers, and other members of the public. This information is to help you understand the professional standards process.

Many difficulties between real estate professionals (whether REALTORS® or not) result from a misunderstanding, miscommunication, or lack of adequate communication. If you have a problem with a real estate professional, AAR recommends that you speak with them or with a principal broker or manager in the firm. Open, constructive discussion often resolves questions or differences, eliminating the need for further action.

If, after discussing matters with your real estate professional or a principal broker in that firm you are still not satisfied, you may want to contact AAR to consider our other dispute resolution services: Ombudsmen, Mediation, and Buyer/Seller Mediation.

After taking these steps, if you still feel you have a complaint, you many want to consider filing a formal ethics complaint. You will want to keep in mind that:

Only REALTORS® and are subject to the Code of Ethics of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®.

If the real estate professional (or the broker) you are dealing with is not a REALTOR®, your only recourse may be the state real state licensing authority or the courts.

AAR determines whether the Code of Ethics has been violated, not whether the law or real estate regulations have been broken. Those decisions can only be made by the licensing authorities or the courts.

AAR can discipline REALTORS® for violating the Code of Ethics. Typical forms of discipline include attendance at courses and seminars designed to increase REALTORS® understanding of the ethical duties or other responsibilities of real estate professionals.

REALTORS® may also be reprimanded, fined, or their membership can be suspended or terminated for serious or repeated violations. AAR cannot require REALTORS® to pay money to parties filing ethics complaints; cannot award punitive damages for violations of the Code of Ethics; and cannot suspend or revoke a real estate professional’s license.

The primary emphasis of discipline for ethical lapses is educational, to create a heightened awareness of and appreciation for the duties the Code imposes. At the same time, more severe forms of discipline, including fines, suspension, and termination of membership may be imposed for serious or repeated violations.

The Ombudsman Process

Trained REALTOR® Ombudsmen help to identify and clear up any miscommunication between a party and their agent. Acting in this capacity the Ombudsman explains customary Arizona real estate business practices and discusses available options without judgment.

Ombudsmen do not determine whether ethical violations have occurred. Rather, they anticipate, identify, and resolve misunderstandings and disagreements before matters ripen into disputes and possible charges of unethical conduct.

Ombudsmen can field and respond to a wide variety of inquiries and complaints, including general questions about real estate practice, transaction details, ethical practice, and enforcement issues. They can also receive and respond to questions and complaints about members, may contact members to inform them that a client or customer has raised a question or issue, and can contact members to obtain information necessary to provide an informed response.

Ethics Mediation

Mediation is offered as an alternative resolution procedure to AAR’s ethics complaint process and can be attempted before filing a complaint or after AAR’s Grievance Committee forwards the complaint for a hearing.

Mediation is a structured negotiation facilitated by a neutral third person mediator. The focused, impartial mediator assists the parties in a dispute to help clarify issues, find common ground, and to help arrive at any mutually agreeable resolution, many of which would not be available at a formal hearing.

If mediation is attempted and is unsuccessful, the matter may move forward to a hearing. The details and results of the mediation are not shared with the hearing panel and its details and results are confidential.

Filing an Ethics Complaint

AAR can provide you with information on the procedures for filing an ethics complaint. Here are some general principles to keep in mind.

Ethics complaints must be filed within one hundred eighty (180) days from the time a complainant knew (or reasonably should have known) that potentially unethical conduct took place (unless AAR’s informal dispute resolution processes are invoked in which case the filing deadline will momentarily be suspended).

The REALTORS® Code of Ethics consists of seventeen (17) Articles. The duties imposed by many of the Articles are explained and illustrated through related Standards of Practice or Case Interpretations.

Your complaint should include a narrative description of the circumstances that lead you to believe the Code of Ethics may have been violated.

Your complaint must cite one or more of the Articles of the Code of Ethics which may have been violated. Hearing panels decide whether the Articles expressly cited in complaints were violated ? not whether Standards of Practice or Case Interpretations were violated.

Before a Hearing

Your complaint will be reviewed by AAR’s Grievance Committee. Their job is to review complaints to determine if the allegations made, if taken as true, might support a violation of the Article(s) cited in the complaint.

If the Grievance Committee dismisses your complaint, it does not mean they don’t believe you. Rather, it means that they do not feel that your allegations would support a violation of the Code of Ethics.

If the Grievance Committee determines that the allegations made are suitable for the Respondent to receive a Citation, then you will be notified when the complaint is resolved or you will be notified that the Respondent elected to proceed to a hearing.

If the Grievance Committee forwards your complaint for a hearing, that does not mean they have decided the Code of Ethics has been violated. Rather, it means they feel that if what you allege in your complaint is found to have occurred by the hearing panel, that panel may have reason to find that a violation of the Code of Ethics occurred.

If your complaint is dismissed as not requiring a hearing, you can appeal that dismissal to an appeal panel of the Arizona Association of REALTORS®.

The Response

If the Grievance Committee (GVC) refers the complaint to the Professional Standards Committee for a hearing, the complaint will be sent to the Respondent together with a Response Form that will:

  • Again advise the Respondent of the complaint (AAR generally forwards a copy to the Respondent before the complaint is reviewed by the GVC).
  • Ask the Respondent to affirm that the respondent has not been found in violation of the Code of Ethics within the past three (3) years, and give the Respondent an opportunity to waive the hearing by acknowledging the conduct alleged in the complaint and by agreeing to accept discipline.

If the Respondent does not waive the right to a hearing, the Respondent must respond within twenty (20) days from receipt of the complaint. Code of Ethics and Arbitration Manual, Part Four, Section 21(a). AAR’s Notice to Respondent and Reply form asks the Respondent to admit or deny each of the allegations in the complaint. The reply form is similar to the complaint form in that it prompts the Respondent to provide a narrative of events in the order in which they happened including: all important dates, references to any relevant support documents, and identify any witnesses.

The REALTOR principal(s) of the parties also receive copies of the complaint and the response, whether named as a party or not.

Preparing For the Hearing

If your complaint is forwarded for a hearing, your attendance at the hearing is required to present your allegations of unethical behavior. Familiarize yourself with the hearing procedures that will be followed. In particular you will want to know about challenging potential panel members, your right to counsel, calling  witnesses, and the burdens and standards of proof that apply.

Complainants have the ultimate responsibility (“burden”) of proving that the Code of Ethics has been violated. The standard of proof that must be met is “clear, strong and convincing,” defined as, “that measure or degree of proof which will produce a firm belief or conviction as to the allegations sought to be established.” Consistent with American jurisprudence, respondents are considered innocent unless proven to have violated the Code of Ethics.

Be sure that your witnesses and counsel will be available on the day of the hearing and that their presence is noticed to AAR and to all parties fifteen (15) days prior to the scheduled hearing. Continuances are a privilege ? not a right.

Be sure you have all the documents and other evidence you need to present your case. Organize your presentation in advance. Know what you are going to say and be prepared to demonstrate what happened and how you believe the Code of Ethics was violated.

At The Hearing

Appreciate that panel members are unpaid volunteers giving their time as an act of public service. Their objective is to be fair, unbiased, and impartial; to determine, based on the evidence and testimony presented to them, what actually occurred; and then to determine whether the facts as they find them support a finding that the Article(s) charged has been violated.

Hearing panels cannot conclude that an Article of the Code has been violated unless that Article(s) is specifically cited in the complaint. (If you believe, once at the hearing, that the right Article(s) or all the allegations have not yet been cited, you may amend the complaint.) Keep your presentation concise, factual, and to the point. Your task is to demonstrate what happened (or what should have happened but didn’t), and how the facts support a violation of the Article(s) charged in the complaint.

Hearing panels base their decisions on the evidence and testimony presented during the hearing. If you have information relevant to the issue(s) under consideration, be sure to bring it up during your presentation or, even better, provide supporting documentation.

Recognize that different people can witness the same event and have differing recollections about what they saw. The fact that a respondent or their witness recalls things differently doesn’t mean they aren’t telling the truth as they recall events. It is up to the hearing panel, in the findings of fact that will be part of their decision, to determine what actually happened.

The hearing panel will pay careful attention to what you say and how you say it. An implausible account doesn’t become more believable through repetition or through volume.

You are involved in an adversarial process that is, to some degree, unavoidably confrontational. Many violations of the Code of Ethics result from a misunderstanding or lack of awareness of ethical duties by otherwise well?meaning, responsible real estate professionals. An ethics complaint has potential to be viewed as an attack on a respondent’s integrity and professionalism. For the enforcement process to function properly, it is imperative for all parties, witnesses, and panel members to maintain appropriate decorum.

After The Hearing

You will receive the hearing panel’s decision in the mail. When you receive the hearing panel’s decision, review it carefully.

Findings of fact are the conclusions of impartial panel members based on their reasoned assessment of all of the evidence and testimony presented during the hearing. Findings of fact may not be appealled.

If you believe the hearing process was seriously flawed to the extent you were denied a full and fair hearing, there are appeal procedures that are available. The mere fact that a hearing panel found no violation is not a basis for appeal.

Refer to the procedures used by AAR for detailed information on the basis and time limits for appealing decisions or requesting a rehearing.

Re-hearings are generally granted only when newly discovered evidence comes to light:

  1. which could not reasonably have been discovered and produced at the original hearing and
  2. which might have had a bearing on the hearing panel’s decision.

Appeals brought by ethics respondents must be based on: (a) a perceived misapplication or misinterpretation of one or more Articles of the Code of Ethics, (b) a procedural deficiency or failure of due process, or (c) the nature or gravity of the discipline proposed by the hearing panel. Appeals brought by ethics complainants are limited to procedural deficiencies or failures of due process that may have prevented a full and fair hearing.

Monetary Disputes with a REALTOR®

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. Most disputes with clients or customers do 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 alleged 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. For more information on how to find a real estate attorney, you can refer to the Arizona Bar Association’s website, www.azbar.org.

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.

 

Mediators and Abitrators

PHOENIX METRO AREA


BECKY A. BARTNESS, Esq.                                                                 Scottsdale, Arizona

Phone: 602-606-2810
Email: BAB@wb-law.com
Website: www.wb-law.com
Fee: $180.00 per hour (mediations) $190.00 per hour (arbitrations)


TIMOTHY P. BURR, Esq.                                                                      Scottsdale, Arizona

Phone: 480-624-2708
Email: tburr@shermanhoward.com
Website: www.shermanhoward.com
Fee: $400.00 per hour


CHRISTOPHER J. CHARLES, Esq.                                                   Scottsdale, Arizona

Phone: 480-388-3343
Email: chris@providentlawyers.com
Website: www.providentlawyers.com
Fee: $275.00 per hour


CHRIS A. COMBS, Esq.                                                                              Phoenix, Arizona

Phone: 602-957-9810
Email: chris@combslawgroup.com
Website: www.combslawgroup.com
Fee: $425.00 per hour
Deposit: $1,000.00


ADAM B. DECKER, Esq.                                                                                  Mesa, Arizona

Phone: 480-632-1929
Email: adam@srfdlaw.com
Website: www.srfdlaw.com
Fee: $225.00 per hour
Travel: .40 per mile


AARON M. FINTER, Esq.                                                                                Mesa, Arizona

Phone: 480-632-1929
Email: aaron@srfdlaw.com
Website: www.srfdlaw.com
Fee: $225.00 per hour
Travel: .40 per mile


RENEE B. GERSTMAN, Esq.                                                                   Phoenix, Arizona

Phone: 602-200-0112
Email: Renee@WellsGerstman.com
Website: www.wellsgerstman.com
Fee: $300.00 per hour


ALONA M. GOTTFRIED, Esq.                                                             Scottsdale, Arizona

Phone: 480-998-1500
Email: alona@sglawaz.com
Website: www.azmediator.com
Fee: $250.00 per hour


PAUL A. JOZEF, Esq.                                                                                  Phoenix, Arizona

Phone: 602-674-0130
Email: paul@CenterForCC.com
Website: www.CenterForCC.com
Fee: $225.00 per hour
Deposit: $225.00


MARC KALISH, Esq.                                                                                   Phoenix, Arizona

Phone: 602-956-3608
Email: marckalish@cox.net
Website: www.Arizonamediator.com
Fee: $350.00 per hour
Deposit: 2 hours required from each party


AMY LIEBERMAN, Esq.                                                                        Scottsdale, Arizona

Phone: 480-246-3366
Email: amy@insightmediation.com
Website: www.insightmediation.com
Fee: $400.00 per hour
Deposit: $400.00


RICHARD V. MACK, Esq.                                                                         Phoenix, Arizona

Phone: 602-778-9900
Email: RVM@manningllp.com
Website: www.manningllp.com
Fee: $225.00 per hour


ADAM D. MARTINEZ, Esq.                                                                            Mesa, Arizona

Phone: 602-730-1005
Email: adam@martinezlawaz.com
Website: www.martinezlawaz.com
Fee: $275.00 per hour
Deposit: 2 hours – $550.00


JUDGE BRUCE MEYERSON (RET.)                                                     Phoenix, Arizona

Phone: 602-277-4585
Email: bruce@brucemeyerson.com
Website:www.brucemeyerson.com
Fee: $200.00 per hour (when parties are not represented by counsel.)


CHARLES H. OLDHAM, Esq.                                                                  Phoenix, Arizona

Phone: 602-889-5323
Email: coldham@dickinsonwright.com
Fee:  $225.00 per hour


LEAH PALLIN-HILL, Esq.                                                                        Phoenix, Arizona

Phone: 602-387-5323
Email: leahpallinhill@aol.com
Website: www.leahpallinhill.com or www.divorcemediationarizona.com
Fee: $400.00 per hour ($200 per party and will adjust if parties have financial challenges.)
Deposit: $600.00 each ($300 each, payment for two hour minimum appointment). Credit cards accepted


BRUNA E. PEDRINI, Esq.                                                                         Phoenix, Arizona

Phone: 602-916-5487
Email: bpedrini@fclaw.com
Fee: $200.00 per hour (2 hour minimum)


ARI RAMRAS, Esq.                                                                                      Phoenix, Arizona

Phone: 602-734-0179
Email: ari@ramraslegal.com
Website: www.ramraslegal.com
Fee: $325.00 per hour
Deposit: 2 hours per party


PAUL J. ROSHKA, JR. Esq.                                                                      Phoenix, Arizona

Phone: 602-650-2098
Email: proshka@polsinelli.com
Website: www.polsinelli.com
Fee:  $300.00 per hour
Deposit:  2 hours per party


BENJAMIN A. SKINNER, Esq.                                                                     Mesa, Arizona

Phone: 480-422-3440
Email: ben@skinnerazlaw.com
Website: www.skinnerazlaw.com
Fee: $275.00 per hour
Deposit: 2 hours -$550.00


AMY URNESS, Esq.                                                                                 Scottsdale, Arizona

Phone: 480-718-5803
Email: amy@barurness.com
Fee: $250.00 per hour
Deposit: 2 hours $500.00


AZ SUMMIT LAW SCHOOL MEDIATION CLINIC                          Phoenix, Arizona

Phone: 602-464-7810
Email: legalclinic@azsummitlaw.edu
Fee: None
Deposit: None


TUCSON/SOUTHERN ARIZONA


MARIAN C. ABRAM, Esq.                                                                           Tucson, Arizona

Phone: 520-325-4200
Email: mabram@karpweiss.com
Fee: $250.00 per hour (3-hour minimum) – Residential real estate disputesee: $275.00 per hour (4-hour minimum) – Complex commercial lease or sale, land, income, or investment property disputes


SUZANNE L. BREI, Esq.                                                                              Tucson, Arizona

Phone: 520-230-0960
Email: suzanne@breidr.com
Fee: $280.00 per hour


OUR FAMILY SERVICES                                                                            Tucson, Arizona

Phone: 520-323-1708, ext. 504
Website: www.ourfamilyservices.org
Fees: $50.00 per party non-refundable filing Fee to be paid at time of request and $150 per party due on the date of the mediation for a total of $200.00 per party which includes up to three (3) hours mediation time. $50.00 per hour additional mediation time per party $25.00 reschedule. Fee charged to party requesting new appointment.


BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU OF TUCSON                                         Tucson, Arizona

Phone: 520-888-5353, ext.106
Fees: $50.00 processing Fee to be paid at time of request, $50.00 per party includes up to two (2) hours of mediation time. $20.00 per ½ hour thereafter per party, prorated at 15-minute increments.


FLAGSTAFF/NORTHERN ARIZONA


THE HONORABLE TIMOTHY G. SHAFFER                                    Lakeside, Arizona

Phone: 928-778-4653
Email: shaffert95@yahoo.com
Fee: $150.00 per hour (2 hour minimum)
Deposit: $300.00 deposit split between parties

 

updated March 2016

AAR Mediation Program Intact Despite Rule Changes

In January of this year, a petition to amend Rules of the Supreme Court was submitted to the Arizona Supreme Court. Included in the petition was a recommendation to revise Rule 31, which addresses mediators.

Pursuant to the petition, the proposed changes would “clarify the status of mediators.” The significant proposed changes included the following: (1) inserting “Serving as a mediator is not the practice of law” in the “mediator” definition; (2) deleting exemptions which allowed courts and professional associations, amongst others, to use mediators without compensation; and (3) inserting verbiage that if a mediator is not an active member of the state bar and that mediator prepares a written mediation agreement resolving the dispute, the mediator must then be either supervised by an attorney or be a certified legal document preparer.

The proposed changes would be detrimental to AAR and its mediation program. Currently, at the end of a successful mediation, volunteer REALTOR® mediation officers assist the parties in memorializing their agreement by filling out a pre-printed mediation agreement, which was drafted by an attorney.

If the proposed changes were adopted and AAR’s mediators continued with their current practice of memorializing settlement agreements, the mediators would be exposed to sanctions for the unauthorized practice of law. Alternatively, mediators would either have to become a certified legal document preparer or avoid preparing mediation agreements without the supervision of an attorney.

In order to become a certified legal document preparer, the volunteer REALTOR® mediation officers would have to invest time and resources to obtain the certification. Because of this, AAR believed there would be a significant decrease in the number of REALTORS® willing to serve as mediators.

Notwithstanding the potential loss of volunteer mediators, in the event a mediator was not a certified legal document preparer, AAR would have to ensure an attorney was present at the mediation, which would be cumbersome and undermine the economic benefits offered by the mediation program.

Because AAR’s mediation program would be greatly impacted by the proposed changes, in April, AAR filed a comment with the Arizona Supreme Court outlining the positive benefits of AAR’s mediation program – which has been widely adopted by the industry and enjoys a success rate of approximately 80 percent on average.

In 2012, AAR had 23 mediations with a 100 percent success rate. By way of its comment, AAR advised the court of the dire consequences the proposed changes would have on its mediation program. Accordingly, AAR requested that the committee and Arizona Supreme Court maintain the exemptions that allow AAR to offer its mediation program.

On Monday, August 31, the Arizona Supreme Court issued minutes advising interested parties of its decision regarding Rule 31, which encompasses mediators, amongst other rules. AAR is pleased to announce that while the Supreme Court adopted some portions of the proposed changes, it ultimately left the subject mediator exemptions in place. Accordingly, with the help of its remarkable volunteer REALTORS®, AAR’s mediation program will continue as-is.

Nikki J. Salgat, Esq. is associate counsel to the Arizona Association of REALTORS®. This article is of a general nature and reflects only the opinion of the author at the time it was drafted. It is not intended as definitive legal advice, and you should not act upon it without seeking independent legal counsel.

Professional Standards Statistics

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Other Complaints

File Your Complaint with the Proper Authority

Landlord/tenant disputes – Most local jurisdictions (City or County) have a department that is responsible for these complaints. Please contact your local government for assistance.

Construction defects – The Arizona Registrar of  Contractors has jurisdiction concerning construction defects.

Homeowner Association (HOA)  violations – Issues with HOAs may be taken before an Administrative Law Judge for a hearing.

CC&R violations – Violations  of CC&Rs are civil and require civil action; contact your HOA or legal  counsel.

Loan, Interest Rate, or Escrow problems – The  Arizona Department of Financial Institutions regulates Excrow and Mortgage  institutions in Arizona.

Title Insurance issues – The Arizona  Department of Insurance regulates Title Insurance institutions and transactions in Arizona.

Homeowner’s Insurance – The Arizona  Department of Insurance regulates Homeowner’s Insurance institutions in Arizona.

Escrow money issues – For the  holding or improper payment of escrow money by escrow/title companies.

Commission disputes between  Licensees – These are civil disputes and you should contact legal  counsel.

Criminal actions (trespassing, assault, theft, etc.) – Contact  your local law enforcement agency.

 

Ethics

REALTORS® pledge to abide by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR) Code of Ethics, or code of conduct. The enforcement of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics is a responsibility of the REALTOR® Association. Any person, whether or REALTOR® or not that believes that a member is guilty of any conduct subject to disciplinary action may file a complaint in writing to AAR as it relates to the NAR Code of Ethics.


Ethics Enforcement

Ethics enforcement by the REALTOR® association is the most important distinction between a REALTOR® and a real estate licensee. REALTORS® are obligated by their membership to follow the Code and are subject to discipline if found in violation.

One of the important functions of the Arizona Association of REALTORS® is to ensure that due process is served to both members and the general public, through the enforcement of the Code of Ethics and in the arbitration of business disputes arising out of the real estate business.

Note: Arizona Association of REALTORS® cannot affect an Arizona Real Estate License. If your pursuit is to affect an Arizona real estate agent’s license, refer to the Arizona Department of Real Estate (ADRE).


Information on Filing an Ethics Complaint

File an ethics complaint when you want to consider a disciplinary action. If you are unable to download and complete the form, and have no family member or friend to assist you, please contact the Arizona Association of REALTORS® for assistance at (602) 248-7787.

Information About Filing an Ethics Complaint
Ethics Complaint Form
Common Questions About Filing Complaints


Ethics Mediation

AAR recommends you first consider Ethics Mediation to resolve your ethics dispute.

Find out more about AAR’s Mediation Services | Download the Request Form

If you are unable to download and complete the form, and have no family member or friend to assist you, please contact the Arizona Association of REALTORS® for assistance at (602) 248-7787.

Professional Standards Newsletter, September 2012

A CENTURY OF PRIDE AND PROFESSIONALISM – THE CODE OF ETHICS CENTENNIAL  
The Code of Ethics is turning 100 in 2013!  Perhaps you already knew that, but did you know the privilege to invoke arbitration existed in the 1913 Code of Ethics and that privilege has remained in the Code for the last century?  The celebration of the centennial will kick off at the National Association’s Annual Conference & Expo November 7-12, 2012, and will continue through 2013.  If you have ideas about how AAR can celebrate the centennial, send us an email at ethics@aaronline.com!ACCEPTED OFFERS MUST BE DISCLOSED 
“Don’t confuse the requirement to disclose an accepted offer from the rules on when disclosure of unaccepted offers is required. Disclosure of offers not yet accepted is covered by Standard of Practice 1-15. “REALTORS® in response to inquiries from buyers or cooperating brokers shall, with the sellers’ approval, disclose the existence of offers on the property.”  Read More at:   
realtormag.realtor.org/law-and-ethics/ethics/article/2012/09/accepted-offers-must-be-disclosedGRIEVANCE COMMITTEE REVIEW – NON-REAL ESTATE-RELATED ACTIVITIES 
As you review an ethics complaint to determine if, “taken true on its face,” the conduct of the REALTOR® was potentially unethical, be careful to determine whether or not the issues complained of relate to real estate-related activities.  Article 1, Standard of Practice 1-1 states: “REALTORS®, when acting as principals in a real estate transaction, remain obligated by the duties imposed by the Code of Ethics.”   However, Policy Statement 29 – Applicability of the Code of Ethics to non-real estate-related activities states: “while REALTORS® are encouraged to follow the principles of the Code of Ethics in all of their activities, a REALTOR® shall be subject to disciplinary action under the Code of Ethics only with respect to real estate-related activities and transactions involving the REALTOR®.”HEARING CHAIR CONSIDERATION OF A REMOTE TESTIMONY REQUEST 
In “extreme circumstances” parties and their witnesses may participate by teleconference or videoconference in ethics and arbitration hearings at the discretion of the Hearing Panel Chair. (CEAM, Policy Statement 56). A party requesting to present remote testimony must provide the reason for the request in writing and bear any costs associated with remote testimony.
AAR’s Professional Standards Administrator will advise the Hearing Panel Chair of the request, any response from the adverse party and the local association’s teleconference and videoconference capabilities.  In determining whether to allow the remote testimony, the Hearing Panel Chair should consider whether the circumstances demonstrate that postponement or rescheduling the hearing is not feasible and whether the refusal to permit the remote testimony will deny a party a fair hearing. If the remote testimony is permitted, the Professional Standards Administrator will advise the requesting party and if a witness is appearing remotely, the witness will participate in a hearing just as a witness in  physical attendance would participate:

  • The witness must be available at the beginning of the hearing for the reading of the script
  • The witness will be excused at the appropriate time
  • The witness must remain available and return to present their testimony.

HEARING PANEL QUESTIONS DURING A HEARING   
There are times during a hearing when you have a question. Write that question down and after the party finishes their testimony, ask the Hearing Panel Chair for an Executive Session break. Present your question to the Hearing Panel first for discussion. The parties may observe the break positively because it shows that you are paying attention.
Hearing Panel members should avoid being “flip or frivolous or sarcastic in their words and gestures.” They should not attempt to be “casual” in their approach, and they should carefully avoid any reflection of partisanship in their questioning or observations. They should not preach or teach, but should let the findings and recommendations of the hearing panel serve to educate the parties and the membership, as well as vindicate the Code and its purpose. (NAR Professional Standards Training Manual, 1995)

MEDIATOR OBLIGATIONS 
As a mediator, you have certain obligations to the parties, such as:

  • Honor self-determination of the parties to reach their own conclusions:  Assist parties in moving forward if they become stalled, suggest possible options if the parties are not able to articulate any. Empower the parties to reach a conclusion through a discussion of possibilities.
  • Be competent and remain impartial:  Brush up on mediation techniques prior to a meeting, if necessary. Remember both sides are evaluating your language and demeanor.  Do not come across as if you are favoring one party over the other. Be the professional in the room!
  • Abide by confidentiality:  Never, ever, discuss the mediation. Do not discuss the parties involved in a mediation, or outcome of a mediation – NEVER, EVER!
  • Maintain the quality and integrity of the process:  Take control of and keep control of the room. Do not allow a party to take over or “hijack” the meeting.
  • Complete paperwork in a professional manner:  Take a break, allow yourself time to think through the resolution prior to committing it to writing. Connect the dots, follow – who, what, when and where in the resolution. Once written, read it out loud – has the intent of the agreement been captured?  Ask the AAR Risk Management Specialist to review the agreement, if possible, to make sure nothing is unclear or omitted that could jeopardize the agreement.

Take a look at the new mediation “infomercial” describing the process, expectations and results of mediation at https://www.aaronline.com/resolve-disputes/!

OMBUDSMAN REQUESTS ‘OUTSIDE THE SCOPE’ OF THE OMBUDSMAN PROCESS 
In responding to some Ombudsman requests, you may not get to the true issue of the complaint until you have had a conversation with the complainant.  During your conversation you may determine that the issues may fall ‘outside the scope’ of the Ombudsman process, (i.e. possible violation of public trust, legal issues, too complex, specialty fields).  Anytime you feel uncomfortable with the issues being raised, do not hesitate to call and discuss your concerns with the Professional Standards Coordinator, who can  consult with AAR legal counsel if necessary to determine how best to proceed.  There are times when the Ombudsman process should be terminated and the parties advised of their rights to pursue a formal ethics complaint; a complaint with any appropriate governmental or regulatory agency; litigation; or any other available remedy.

DON’T FORGET TO RSVP FOR THE ANNUAL MEDIATOR/OMBUDSMAN TRAINING – OCTOBER 26, 2012
The morning session will be lead by Alona M. Gottfried, Esq., of Simmons & Gottfried, PLLC, a mediator, attorney, and conflict resolution trainer. The afternoon session will be broken into two groups: Jan Steward and Carole Ridley will be joining the Mediator afternoon discussions and Kimberly Franzen and Michelle Lind, Legal Counsel for AAR, will be joining the Ombudsmen afternoon discussions. Registration is at 8:30am and the program is scheduled from 9:00am-2:30pm at the Arizona Association of REALTORS®, 1st Floor Meeting Center.  R.S.V.P. by:  October 12, 2012.

GOT 5 MINUTES? NEED A REFRESHER?   
Have you been assigned to a review a complaint or sit on a hearing panel regarding an Article of the Code of Ethics? Now you can view the NAR video relative to the Article  either online or downloaded to your PC or other “on the go” equipment, there’s simply no excuse to be without the valuable information provided by NAR on the Code of Ethics. The Code of Ethics video series is available at:  www.realtor.org//videos/code-of-ethics-pathways-to-professionalism-video-series

SHORT SALE PRACTICES AND PROFESSIONALISM
AAR was contacted about how a real estate agent had written a short sale contract for a buyer. The story was described as follows:
A buyer and seller agreed to a purchase price on a short sale property of $150,000. Approval was received from the seller’s creditor for a sales price of $153,500. The buyer’s agent was asked to write a new contract or addendum showing the creditors approved purchase price of $153,500. The agent said he was not changing the sales price, instead he was writing an addendum, stating that the seller was contributing $500 towards the payoff and the buyer would contribute $3,000 toward the payoff at COE.
Representing the sale in this manner raised concerns that there could potentially be valuation fraud.  Read Jan Steward’s article on this scenario at:https://blog.aaronline.com/2012/09/short-sale-practices-and-professionalism/

NEED LEGAL ANSWERS?
The Arizona Real Estate book is available at: at https://www.aaronline.com/azre-book/.  Want the book on your computer, Kindle or iPad so you can search, cut & paste?  Learn how in this two minute video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VBZ855KCfg.

TELL US HOW THE CODE OF ETHICS IS INVOLVED IN YOUR EVERYDAY PRACTICE

Beginning November 2012, and throughout 2013, look for “Code Talk” a monthly column which will appear in the AZR kicking off AAR’s celebration of 100 years of the Code of Ethics! We are seeking volunteers who would like to tell others about how the Code of Ethics is involved in the everyday practice of real estate. For those who wish to participate please contact Jan Steward at JanSteward@aaronline.com.


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Mediation Training

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