Common Questions About Filing Complaints
This list of commonly-asked questions may assist you prior to filing a complaint
When is a real estate agent a REALTOR®?
A real estate agent is a REALTOR® when they become a member of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (NAR). The term REALTOR® can only be used by a real estate agent who, through their membership in NAR, subscribes to a strict Code of Ethics.
A real estate agent who is licensed by the Arizona Department of Real Estate may not be a REALTOR® as there is no requirement to join the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® in order to promote or sell real estate.
What can my REALTOR® do if the other REALTOR® in a transaction is not communicating with them?
If your REALTOR® has been unsuccessful in their efforts to communicate with another REALTOR®, your REALTOR®’s broker may contact the other REALTOR®’s broker to open the lines of communication.
A broker is a designated REALTOR® who supervises REALTORS®, and has the ultimate responsibility for their agent’s actions.
Can I find out if anyone else placed an offer on the property I want to purchase?
Only with their seller’s approval can REALTORS® disclose the existence of offers on the property.
If a competing offer was accepted on a property I have an offer on, can I find out what the accepted price was?
The information becomes available to the public the day a sale is recorded. You can check with the county in which the sale was recorded for the selling price.
What is dual agency?
When one broker either individually, or two salespeople working for the same broker, represent both the buyer and seller in a real estate transaction.
Why did the seller get my earnest money?
If the funds were being held at a title or escrow company, and the terms of the contract were not met within the provisions of the contract, the title or escrow company made a decision to release the earnest money in accordance to the contract provisions.
AAR offers mediation through the Dispute Resolution System (DRS) between a Seller and a Buyer if one party is disputing the return of an earnest deposit and information may be found at BuyerSellerDisputePkt . You may also consider consulting legal counsel. Attorneys may be located through the State Bar at http://www.azbar.org
The appliances were at the property when the seller accepted my offer. After close of escrow when I took possession, the appliances were gone.
Contact your REALTOR® to determine if the seller is responsible to replace the appliances. In general, appliances are personal property and as such, must be written into the contract, except built ins or as indicated in lines 30-39, and possibly lines 41-44 of the AAR Residential Resale Purchase Contract, February, 2011, if they are to be part of the purchase of the property.
If the appliances were to be included in the sale of a property, determine if the property was vandalized, you may need to file a police report.
If the appliances were to have remained with the property, and so indicated contractually, the parties may mediate their dispute or consider consulting legal counsel.
Renting, Lease and Property Management Issues
A copy of the Arizona Landlord & Tenant Act may be found at: Arizona Landlord Tenant Act
Who is responsible to refund my security deposits?
The executed lease agreement indicates if a property management firm has control over the deposits or the landlord personally. The responsible party indicated in the lease, is therefore the person to contact regarding any possible refunds. Referencing the AAR Residential Lease Agreement, February 2008, lines 59-81, addresses deposits and refunds.
Why is my cleaning or security deposit refund less than what I paid?
If the lease agreement provided for carpets to be cleaned by the tenant at lease termination, as an example, and the tenant moved out without having the carpets cleaned, the property manager or landlord may withhold money to have the service performed in accordance with the lease agreement. Certain deposits are indicated as refundable on your lease agreement while other deposits are indicated as non-refundable, for instance a pet deposit. The AAR Residential Lease Agreement, February 2008, lines 59-69 sets forth refundable and non-refundable deposits.
Complaints: Real Estate Agent Issues
I want to file a complaint because the REALTOR® 1) won’t return my phone calls, 2) is rude when speaking to me, and/or 3) won’t answer my questions.
These three issues may not directly relate to the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Code of Ethics (Code). The Arizona Association of REALTORS® may still be able to assist you. Consider allowing a REALTOR® Ombudsman to contact you and perhaps the REALTOR® to try and open the door to communication. A REALTOR® Ombudsman may also describe customary practices to help you better understand a real estate transaction.
Stop for a minute. Think about the relationship to see if there is a failure to perform as described in the Code. If you notice the Code actually relates to the REALTORS® failure to perform, consider filing for mediation or filing a formal complaint.
A copy of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Code of Ethics may be found at: REALTOR® Code of Ethics
What is the difference between the Arizona Association of REALTORS® function and that of the Arizona Department of Real Estate?
You may use the “Find A REALTOR®” at the Arizona Association of REALTORS® (AAR) website: AAR Website. AAR reviews and considers a member’s behavior (ethics) to determine if there is a violation to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics.
The Arizona Department of Real Estate is a State of Arizona regulatory agency which issues licenses to real estate brokers and salespeople and investigates violations of Arizona real estate law (statutes and Commissioner’s Rules). They may be contacted at: Arizona Department of Real Estate
Dispute Resolution Services
The Arizona Association of REALTORS® Resolve Disputes
- Ombudsman assistance – Ethics Complaints – Mediation Requests
- Commission disputes between REALTORS®
- Buyer Seller Dispute Resolution
Better Business Bureau
- Attempts to resolved disputes between members and their customers www.bbb.org
Civil Rights/Consumer Protection
- Attorney General Office: www.azag.gov/
Criminal actions (trespassing, assault, theft, etc.)
- Contact your local law enforcement agency.
- Small Claims, Civil, or Superior Courts
- The Arizona Department of Financial Institutions regulates Escrow and Mortgage Companies inArizona including loan and interest rate issues. http://azdfi.gov/
Home Owner Association Issues
- Homeowner Association Dispute Process: http://www.dfbls.az.gov/hoa.aspx 480 331-6632
- Homeowners Association (HOA) violations: we suggest that you seek legal counsel. Visit: www.azbar.org
- Homeowner’s Insurance Institutions in Arizona: http://www.id.state.az.us/consumermore.html
- The Arizona Registrar of Contractors has jurisdiction concerning construction defects. http://www.azroc.gov/
SureClose Broker FAQ
Q: As a SureClose® broker, how are my costs and technical support going to change in 2015?
A: Beginning January 1, 2015, you will be billed by SureClose® $4 per file created. That is a one-time charge (per file) that provides access to the file for seven years. SureClose® will provide all ongoing support and training.
Q: Is there anything special about the new pricing offered by AAR?
A: Yes. Depending on volume, typical SureClose® brokers outside Arizona are paying $10 or more per transaction file; AAR has negotiated a special price of $4 per file for Arizona member brokers who wish to continue using SureClose.
Q: What can I expect for training and support?
A: Beginning in January 2015, SureClose® will provide support through its toll-free phone line (888.526.3282) or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Training refreshers will be available through SureClose® webinars.
Q: I’ve heard that SureClose® is going out of business; is that correct?
A: SureClose® is part of Stewart Information Services Corp, a large, publically-traded company on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE-STC). In August 2013, we were informed by SureClose® executives that the parent company had decided to refocus SureClose® operations on their title insurance and is no longer signing up brokerages for SureClose®. We were informed that brokers (and associations like AAR) under existing contracts would continue with uninterrupted service.
Our contract with SureClose® anticipates continuing operations through 2016 with automatically-renewing one-year agreements after that. Our agreement with SureClose® requires the company to provide users with a one-year notice if they decide to discontinue offering services to brokers. In any event, our contract provides for maintaining access to existing SureClose® files for seven years from date of creation.
Q: How do these changes in SureClose® affect other AAR benefits like zipForm® and eSign?
A: AAR plans to continue both zipForm® and eSign and these benefits will not be affected by the SureClose® changes.
Q: Who do I call if I have problems with SureClose®?
A: SureClose® will provide direct support through its toll-free phone line (888.526.3282) or via email at email@example.com.
Q: What will happen next?
A: You are under no obligation to continue using SureClose®. If you decide to go back to keeping paper records for a while, simply stop creating new files in SureClose®—you won’t get billed for anything if you don’t create files. You may resume creating files at any time and be billed at the negotiated rate.
Q: How can I compare SureClose® with other systems now available?
A: AAR Business Services has created a matrix to assist brokers in evaluating alternative transaction management systems. The matrix is available on our Arizona REALTOR® web site at https://www.aaronline.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/TM-Matrix.pdf.
Q: If I change to another transaction management (TM) system, how do I access my old files in SureClose®?
A: All of the files you created in SureClose® will be accessible for seven years from the date created. When you need a file from an old transaction, simply log into SureClose® and pull it up. If you’ve been using SureClose® for a few years, we recommend you start archiving your closed SureClose® files onto mass storage media like an external hard drive. That way, even after seven years, you can look up old files.
Q: If I change to another transaction management (TM) system, how do I move my old files out of SureClose® and into the new system?
A: There is no utility or simple method to move SureClose® files to another system. We recommend that you begin by using SureClose® tools to copy all closed transaction files from SureClose® onto a storage device (a large hard drive is the best and cheapest option). If you’re not sure how to do this, AAR Business Services can show you how. Be sure to store the hard drive in a secure place. Remember, all files created in SureClose® will remain accessible for seven years from the date created.
For files stored in SureClose® that are currently in process, we recommend you create new files in your new system and manually move document out of SureClose® into the new system. Since TM systems are quite different internally, there is no utility for converting one system to another. Although we can’t do it for you, AAR Business Services can help you work through the process and advise you on moving files.
Q: Should I stay with SureClose® or look elsewhere?
A: We encourage our brokers to look at all their options. SureClose® file fees are currently low compared to other systems. However, we expect to see increased competition for TM systems in Arizona. For updated information on TM systems we have looked at, please see the Transaction Management Comparison Matrix at https://www.aaronline.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/TM-Matrix.pdf.
Q: Can you provide me with some examples of “billable” files?
A: Yes. “Billable” SureClose® files will continue to be counted as they have in the past. Basically, a new listing or closing files are counted as billable, unless they are deleted before the end of the calendar month. (Note: files created and deleted in the same month are not counted.) Also, if a listing file is converted to a closing file, no charge is made for the listing file. Here are some specific examples:
A listing file is created, but the sale is canceled three times; does that count as one file or three?
We teach listing brokers to “convert” the listing files to closing files. Then it counts as one billable listing file—the listing file can be converted any number of times. If a listing broker prefers to set up separate closing files for the same address, a new file is billed for each closing file. This is uncommon, but it happens.
If a broker creates a closing file and the buyer’s deal is cancelled, is it a file?
Yes. From the buyer’s broker side, that would be one billable file. The listing broker would not have a billable file.
If there are 15 rejected contracts on a listing, is it one file or 15?
For 15 rejected offers on a listing, there would be one billable listing file. Please note, there is a difference between a rejected offer and a cancelled offer. Any rejected contracts would go into a catch-all rejection file on the buyer-broker’s side.
If a listing expires and is relisted two months later, should a new file be created?
Probably yes. If ADRE expects there to be a separate file, then the listing broker would need to create a second billable file. If not, the broker could choose to use the “old” file and add to it. Note that files are kept by SureClose® for seven years from the date of creation. If enough time has lapsed, the broker ought to create a new file anyway.
If the listing agent switches companies and both are on SureClose®, how would the file be handled?
Assuming the original broker created a listing file; they would be billed for it. If that original broker allows the agent to take the business with them, the new broker would create a new billable listing file.
If you have other questions, please don’t hesitate to call AAR Business Services. We are available from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday at (480) 304-8930 or (866) 833-7357.