Local Realtor boards across the US are turning to Ombuds programs in growing numbers to address concerns from consumers and Realtors. The first program was started by the California Association of Realtors and was well received. Subsequently, the National Association of Realtors adopted a policy that serves as the model for local Realtor organizations. (Although the NAR policy has been widely copied, it is not available online.)
The standards for Realtor Ombuds are distinct from those developed by the two leading professional Ombuds associations, the International Ombudsman Association
(which serves Organizational Ombuds) and the United States Ombudsman Association
(which serves Public Sector Ombuds). Nonetheless, Realtor Ombuds are similar in that they are impartial and informal, and work to resolve misunderstandings and disagreements through facilitation and mediation rather than adjudication. Qualifications for Realtor Ombuds generally include mediation and/or negotiation training, Ombudsman training class from the state association of Realtors; and training in professional standards in real estate.
A few state Realtor Ombuds programs: Alabama
; New Hampshire
; and Oregon
. Stories about local Realtor Ombuds programs at the Ombuds Blog