Professional Standards and Ethics

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) Code of Ethics, MLS Rules and Regulations are vital to maintaining fair, lawful and honest real estate transactions.

As members of local associations, REALTORS® are obligated to abide by the Code of Ethics, MLS Rules, and association bylaws.

PFAR’s Grievance and Professional Standards Committees are trained to enforce these membership duties and provide a fair hearing to members on either side of a real estate-related dispute.

Grievance Committee

The Grievance Committee reviews and investigates complaints by members and the public to determine whether a complaint warrants a formal hearing. A panel of Grievance Committee members investigates charges of unethical conduct and presents findings to the Professional Standards Committee for adjudication and possible disciplinary action. Requires special training and one year PFAR membership.

Professional Standards Committee

The Professional Standards Committee offers services for REALTOR® members or members of the public in financial or commission disputes.

The committee consists of both sales agents and brokers trained in the Code of Ethics and due process to ensure a fair process. Committee members serve on an Ethics Hearing panel or on an Arbitration panel to hear arguments, examine evidence and render a decision. For certain qualifying cases, the panel may recommend disciplinary action and/or monetary payment. The Professional Standards Committee reports to the Executive Committee and to the Board of Directors.



The ombudsman is an experienced, trained REALTOR® who has volunteered to speak to you about your complaint and attempt to reach a solution without a formal ethics or arbitration hearing.

Disputes and misunderstandings can often be resolved with the ombudsman’s help. He or she will contact all parties,set up meetings, or simply facilitate conversations that could lead to a resolution.

Ethics Advocate

Ethics Advocates (EAs) assist in the process of filing ethics complaints. An Ethics Advocate (EA) is a REALTOR® volunteer trained to provide support throughout the disciplinary complaint process.

The Ethics Advocate will help you complete a disciplinary complaint and required forms. They can also assist during hearing procedures and represent you at the hearings. The Ethics Advocate service is provided at no cost to you. If someone has filed a complaint against you, you may also request an Ethics Advocate. The EA will help you with your disciplinary response and can assist you and represent you throughout the hearing process.

Ethics Advocates do not participate in arbitration complaints, only ethics complaints and are not legal representation. The Professional Standards administrator must be informed of all forms of legal representation in writing.


Arbitration by its nature is contractual. That is, parties to arbitration agreed through some type of contract to be obligated to arbitration. In addition, parties may agree to arbitrate disputes either before or after the dispute arises.

Disputes subject to arbitration include:

  • Disputes with other members arising out of the real estate business and their relationship as REALTORS®.
  • Contractual disputes with a member’s client arising out of an agency relationship between the member and client provided the client agrees to submit the dispute to binding arbitration using the Association’s facilities and be bound by the arbitration award.

As a general guideline, the types of disputes that arise out of the real estate business are those that are between members when acting in the capacity of their real estate licenses and that involve monetary disputes, such as a procuring cause dispute over a commission.

With respect to MLS participants and subscribers, they agree to arbitrate disputes that not only result from the real estate business, but must be in conjunction with a listing filed on the MLS.

Professional Standard Complaints

Professional Standards complaints are vital to keeping the real estate industry honest and equitable.

The California Association of REALTORS® provides a number of resources on the Code of Ethics, Professional Standards Process, and Mediation here.

The best way to avoid a disciplinary or arbitration complaint is to read and to become familiar with the NAR Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice comprised of 17 Articles in the following categories:

  • Duties to Clients and Customers
  • Duties to the Public
  • Duties to REALTORS®

File an Ethics Complaint

All Complaints must be filed within 180 Days 
of Findings

Filing Process Overview
Complaint Form

Ready to file?
Please send an email outlining your complaint attaching all required documents to:

Arbitration Requests

$300 Filing Fee
Submit the arbitration form, along with the filing fee:

For inquiries email:

Submit an Arbitration