Consumer Assistance Info
Attention: If you have a question or complaint, please send it directly to the appropriate agency from the list of "Regulatory Agencies" (see menu on left) and not to ARELLO, so it can be handled properly and more quickly.
An Important Process
Official agencies go to great lengths to help protect the consumer public during the process of any transaction involving the transfer of ownership of real estate. Most of the real estate purchases by the public are intended to provide shelter and security, and are often by far the largest financial commitment a person or family will make. Any person considering the purchase or sale of real estate should also go to great lengths -- before taking action -- to learn about the process, the potential dangers and liabilities as well as the financial implications. This web site is only one of many resources available. Besides the important license/registration verification tool, this site contains links to other organizations that can protect and assist you as a consumer. In addition, you should strongly consider seeking the guidance of professionals from the moment you begin planning a purchase and/or sale to the point your transaction is complete. The information here is not intended to be legal advice or to substitute for the advice of a qualified and authorized counselor. A good rule in this process is not to sign or verbally make any agreements that you do not understand.
Authorization of Real Estate Practitioner
Because a real estate transaction is often so important and often very complicated, consumers are encouraged to seek the advice of professionals during the process. In North America, and many other areas of the world, law requires those who assist you in a real estate transaction (in exchange for a fee) to be licensed or "registered" with an official agency or organization that grants authority to individuals to provide this type of service as a business enterprise. These agencies are usually affiliated with a level of government, and are often called real estate "commissions," "boards," "departments," or "divisions." You will find a list of these organizations by clicking "Regulatory Agencies" on the menu on the left side of this web page. It is important to first confirm that the person(s) whom you may do business with during the process have been authorized by one of these agencies to assist you. This web site is the only site that provides you the ability to search records of multiple agencies all at once. The agencies that grant licenses (or "registrations") have the authority to investigate consumer complaints against persons holding a real estate license, and are also authorized to discipline these persons for wrongdoing. These agencies may also assist consumers in resolving their complaints to varying degrees, depending on their local laws. You will want to visit the web site of the appropriate agency for more information about your rights and the unique laws, rules and regulations for each state, province, territory or country. A link directly to local rules and laws can be found on the menu on the left side of this web page.
General Role/Responsibilities of the Real Estate Practitioner
A real estate licensee/registrant most often owes legal duties to the person he represents. However, consumers should not assume that any or every person with whom they contact legally represents them. In fact, most -- or even none -- of the persons with whom they encounter in the process do not represent the consumer, but some other party in the transaction instead. Imagine a visit to an automotive dealership, where a customer negotiates the purchase of a car with a salesman. The car salesman represents the interests of the owner of the dealership, and not those of the consumer. Sometimes consumers forget to take the issue of representation (most often called "agency") into account as they talk with real estate practitioners. Often the term "real estate agent" is used. In most cases, the real estate practitioner would be correctly called an agent, as they owe legal duties of representation. However, those duties may be to some party on the opposite side of the transaction -- making them someone else's agent and not yours. Some agencies require their licensees/registrants to discuss with you up front the kind of agency (representation) relationship you would like to have with them. You may even be asked to sign proof that this conversation took place. Most practitioners are required to deal fairly with consumers who they do not represent, but more duties are mandated for those they actually represent.
Buying Real Estate
A real estate professional can be your most valuable resource as you evaluate the many aspects of property for sale. In addition, you are encouraged to utilize the resources found in the "Professional Real Estate Organizations" and "Other Links" links on this site to help educate yourself. Other publications, education courses and workshops developed by reputable organizations and experts can also help prepare you to make a wise buying decision.
Selling Real Estate
Selling property is as important and often as complex as buying property. Many times consumers do not realize that many real estate laws apply to them in addition to real estate licensees/registrants. Utilizing professionals can help you avoid a bad situation. Similar to when you are interested in buying real estate, you are encouraged to utilize the resources found in the "Professional Real Estate Organizations" and "Other Links" links on this site as well as publications, education courses and workshops developed by reputable organizations and experts to help education yourself on important issues for sellers.
Because the value of real estate usually represents a significant amount of money compared to other kinds of "property" one might purchase, the sales price of real estate often requires buyers to borrow funds to complete the sale. Lending institutions are in the business of making loans to home buyers in the form of a "mortgage," where the real estate itself is held by the lender -- with the buyer given the right to use the property -- until the loan is repaid. At that point, the lender would release any claim to the real estate and the buyer would have full ownership if no other loans were outstanding with the property again used as a security. Utilizing an authorized lender is essential, along with learning your rights and responsibilities
Guide to Links
Use the "Regulatory Agencies" link on the menu on the left side of this web site to learn more about how buying and selling real estate should be carried out in specific states, provinces, territories and countries -- because significant differences will exist and you should not assume that what is true and/or legal in one area applies in another. If you have a question or complaint, please send it directly to the appropriate agency from that list and NOT to ARELLO, so it can be handled properly and more quickly. Utilize "Professional Real Estate Organizations" and "Other Links" to link to additional online resources and information on how to secure other assistance in this process.
Best wishes as you learn about and participate in the process of buying or selling real estate.
The Association of Real Estate License Law Officials
Founded in Toronto, Ontario Canada in 1930 and still serving to assist real estate regulators and protect consumers all over the world.