New real estate program introduces mediator
In an effort to maximize professionalism in an industry where conflicts often crop up between buyers and sellers, the Tahoe Sierra Board of Realtors is implementing a new ombudsman program.
An ombudsman, as defined by Webster’s Dictionary, is someone who investigates reported complaints, reports findings, and helps to achieve equitable settlements.
As far as real estate is concerned, the ombudsman serves as a trained mediator to handle informal grievances from agents and clients.
“This is the vehicle that can help solve small problems and avoid bigger problems,” said Christy Curtis, president of the Tahoe Sierra Board of Realtors. “With the largest trade industry in the country, and Tahoe as well, I just feel we need to do whatever we can to do the best for the public.”
The California Association of Realtors recently started a pilot ombudsman program, and because it was reportedly well-received, the association encouraged all real estate boards to implement the program in order to raise professionalism of membership and to benefit the community at large.
“We want the public to look upon Realtors in a good way,” said Tahoe Sierra Board of Realtors executive vice president Sue Ruane. “If there is a problem, this is a way we can bring everyone to be satisfied.”
David Brown, a North Tahoe resident since 1965 and a licensed real estate agent since 1967, has been asked to fill these new shoes. As ombudsman, Brown will be available to other agents, as well as members of the public, to answer questions or address ethical issues that frequently develop in the business, such as misrepresented advertisements, a Realtor not submitting all purchase offers, and disclosure issues.
“It’s the first step if an agent has a question and wants it solved in an informal way,” Brown said.
If ineffective, Brown can then take the complaint to the next level by filing a formal grievance with the board.
Brown will soon attend multiple ombudsman training events in Southern California and the Bay Area.
The Tahoe Sierra Board of Realtors anticipates a positive response to the new program in assisting both their own agents as well as clients looking to sell and purchase homes.
“One of my goals this year is to raise the professionalism of our industry, and public awareness,” Curtis said. “We have over 1,000 multiple listing service members in this little community of Tahoe-Truckee ” this is an accountability vehicle that somebody’s going to be policing you, and ultimately to better serve the public … to raise professional standards.”