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How to File a Complaint Against a Real Estate Agent

by Bridget Kelly

The top three complaints against real estate agents, according to Rice Insurance Services Co., include fraud, breach of duty and breach of contract. Most fraud complaints involve an agent’s intentional failure to disclose problems with the property. Breach of duty involves the agent’s failure to act in the best interest of her clients. A breach of contract is implied when a party has failed to perform under the terms of the contract. Other sources of complaints against a real estate agent include such ethics violations as disclosing a client’s confidential information. A number of entities will entertain a complaint against a real estate agent.

Call the real estate agent’s broker. The broker is the party that actually owes you a fiduciary duty, while the real estate agent acts on his behalf. To contact the broker, call the agent’s office number and tell the receptionist you would like to speak to the managing broker. Sometimes discussion with the broker resolves your complaint and you won’t need to take further action.

Contact the local real estate board if you feel the real estate agent may have violated the association’s ethics standards. These standards include deliberately misleading a homeowner as to the value of the home, failure to disclose that the agent represents both the buyer and the seller and failure to submit all offers to the homeowner until closing, unless the homeowner has waived this requirement. Although you can’t obtain monetary damages from the Association of Realtors, if the association thinks an ethical violation has occurred, the agent will be disciplined.

Call your state government’s department that regulates real estate agents and brokers. This office may be known as the Real Estate Commission or the Department of Real Estate, depending on the state. Follow the procedures set forth by the agency to file a complaint.

File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (bbb.org). Enter your zip code in the box provided and you will be taken to the website for your local chapter. Click on “For Consumers” and, on the next page, click on “File a Complaint.” On the new page click “Start your complaint” to be taken to the online complaint form. The bureau typically investigates the complaint and makes a record of any offenses.

Tip

  • Contact an attorney if actions of the real estate agent have caused you monetary loses.

Warning

  • Your local real estate board only accepts ethics complaints against agents who are members of the association.

About the Author

Based in the American Southwest, Bridget Kelly has been writing about gardening and real estate since 2005. Her articles have appeared at Trulia.com, SFGate.com, GardenGuides.com, RE/MAX.com, MarketLeader.com, RealEstate.com, USAToday.com and in "Chicago Agent" magazine, to name a few. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in creative writing.