Ethics and Professional Standards

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The National Association of REALTORS® adopted its Code of Ethics in 1913. Since then, REALTORS® everywhere have pledged to meet the Code’s high professional standards upon becoming members of the Association.

The professional standards process plays a very important role in our local association. It helps ensure honorable, faithful and competent service to our members, their clients, customers and other members of the public through the enforcement and disciplinary procedures that accompany the Code.

While our members comprise our grievance committee, mediators, and hearing panels, the ethics and arbitration is handled by the Virginia REALTORS®. Please complete the intake forms here on our association website and they will be forwarded to the state association.

HELP! Before you file an ethics complaint, view this document from NAR.

Download the Guide to Filing Ethics Complaints and Arbitration Requests

Ombudsman Program

What is the Ombudsman Program? 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. If you would like to request an Ombudsman to contact you to try and resolve a dispute:

Please Complete The Online Intake Form To Initiate The Ombudsmen Process.

Filing a Grievance

First, determine whether this is an ethics matter or an arbitration of a business dispute.  In an ethics complaint, you are alleging that a REALTOR® violated one or more Articles of the Code of Ethics. Remember, not all real estate agents are REALTORS®; only those who belong to their local Association of REALTORS® (in this case, HRRA) and have agreed, as a condition of membership, to abide by a strict, enforceable Code of Ethics.

Arbitration is the process for resolving a business dispute about a real estate transaction that the parties have been unable to solve themselves. An arbitration request usually involves one REALTOR® in disagreement with another over distribution of a commission.  In certain circumstances, however, it can be used to resolve a dispute between a member of the public and a REALTOR®.

If your situation concerns both ethics and arbitration, the Association will handle the arbitration first.  The ethics complaint, if filed, is considered after final judgment is rendered in the arbitration.

Please Complete The Online Intake Form To Initiate The Ethics Complaint Process.

Ethics Complaints

You may file an ethics complaint from anywhere in the United States; however, it must be filed with the Association having jurisdiction over the individual named in the complaint. HRRA’s jurisdiction covers the cities of Chesapeake, Franklin, Isle of Wight, Norfolk, Portsmouth, Suffolk, and Virginia Beach. The complaint must be filed within 180 days of the incident.

Please Complete The Online Intake Form To Initiate The Ethics Complaint Process.

Please note that we also have an Ombudsman program available that could possibly assist you with your ethical concerns. The Ombudsman will attempt to informally resolve your concerns through phone communication. The Ombudsman’s role is primarily one of communication and conciliation, not adjudication. Ombudsmen do not determine whether ethics violations have occurred, rather they anticipate, identify and resolve misunderstandings and disagreements before matters ripen into disputes and possible charges of unethical conduct.

For more information from Virginia REALTORS®, please visit www.vaREALTOR®.com/EthicsCenter.

For more information from the National Association of REALTORS®, please visit www.REALTOR®.org/code-of-ethics.

Please Complete The Online Intake Form To Initiate The Ombudsmen Process.


Arbitration requests may be filed by REALTORS® and non-resident REALTOR® members who are principal brokers; REALTORS® or non-resident REALTOR® members who are not the principal, provided his or her principal broker joins in the request and the other party is from another firm; REALTORS®, REALTOR®-ASSOCIATES®, and non-resident members who are affiliated with the same firm, provided each party agrees to be bound by the arbitration decision; and clients or customers of the REALTOR®. The complaint must be filed within 180 days of the incident.

HRRA provides arbitration facilities as a service to its members. Arbitration is not a disciplinary proceeding, nor does it award punitive damages. By becoming and remaining a member of the Association, each REALTOR® binds himself to arbitrate certain types of disputes. Not every situation may be arbitrated by the Association. Conditions and limitations exist which you must consider.  The Association will explain these to you as the process continues.

Please Complete The Online Intake Form To Initiate The Arbitration Process.

Dispute Resolution System

HRRA offers a Dispute Resolution System (DRS). Mediation is a process in which a neutral third party, called a Mediator, acts to encourage and to assist in the resolution of a dispute between two or more parties and is an entirely non-adversarial process.

Please Complete The Online Intake Form To Initiate The Dispute Resolution Process.