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 Washington 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.

Transactional Issues

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.

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 Tri-City 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 2017 Code of Ethics

Dispute Resolution Services

The Tri-City Association of Realtors® Resolve Disputes
• Ombudsman assistance – Ethics Complaints – Mediation Requests

  • REALTOR®/client

• Commission disputes between REALTORS®
• Buyer Seller Dispute Resolution

Better Business Bureau
• Attempts to resolved disputes between members and their customers

Civil Rights/Consumer Protection
• Attorney General Office:

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

Financial Concerns
• Small Claims, Civil, or Superior Courts
• The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions regulates Escrow and Mortgage Companies in Washington including loan and interest rate issues:

Home Owner Association Issues
• Homeowners Association (HOA) violations: we suggest that you seek legal counsel. Visit:

• Homeowner’s Insurance Institutions in Washington:

Construction/Contractor Issues
• The Washington Registrar of Contractors has jurisdiction concerning construction defects: