The Illinois Association of REALTORS® Ombudsman Program (Consumer Help Line)
Do you need help in resolving a dispute with a REALTOR®?
The Illinois Association of REALTORS® (IAR) has a Consumer Help Line to try and resolve questions relating to real estate transactions.
While this service is not set up to offer legal advice, it does provide an opportunity for the association to help answer basic questions and work to resolve some complaints consumers might have with IAR’s members.

Real estate transactions can be complex. For members of the public it sometimes helps to have someone knowledgeable about real estate practices to answer basic questions or work to resolve minor disputes. Sometimes a member is unable to resolve a dispute with another member. IAR has a team of Ombudsmen who work with consumers and REALTORS® to resolve disputes.

The service is one more example of the importance REALTORS® place on handling real estate transactions with the highest levels of professionalism and integrity.

How it works

Any member of the public or an IAR member who has a question about or dispute with a REALTOR® can get assistance. The case will be assigned to a specially trained Ombudsman who will work with a complainant to resolve the issue.

Since it was founded in 2013, the program has seen nearly three-fifths of complaints handled to the satisfaction of all parties involved. The program does not offer legal advice, but IAR’s representatives can offer guidance on next steps to take, resources for information and can act as an intermediary in some disputes. The program has been able to clean up numerous misunderstandings and/or communication issues since its inception.

How to file a complaint

There are two ways to get assistance:

Fill out the online form: Fill out a form with contact information and an overview of the facts of your question or dispute. Find the form here.

By telephone: Call IAR at 217-529-2600 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. (Closed major holidays).

FAQ: The IAR Ombudsman Program

What is the IAR Consumer Help Line?

The program serves as an intermediary in disputes or questions that relate to real estate transactions. The service, which is free to consumers, allows IAR to tap the expertise of experienced real estate professionals who are trained in problem solving. These professionals, called Ombudsmen, can provide guidance on what steps to take, suggest resources for additional help and in some cases can act as an intermediary in resolving basic problems.

Who qualifies to use the service?

Anyone who has a real estate question or problem relating to a transaction involving a REALTOR®. It’s important to note that not all who sell real estate are REALTORS®. If you have an issue with someone who is not a REALTOR®, you would need to contact the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. Illinois REALTORS® who have disputes with other association members are             also welcome to use this service.

Can the Homeowner Help Service provide legal advice?

No. But IAR’s Ombudsmen can provide resources and answer basic questions. In some cases, the association’s Ombudsmen may be able to contact agents and work out problems without having to go through a more formal complaint process. They might also recommend that the consumer seek legal counsel.

What’s the advantage of using the service?

IAR has found many disputes are easy to resolve and don’t require a formal hearing process. Since a formal hearing process can be lengthy, the Consumer Help Line may be able to offer speedier resolution to some disputes.

Who are these ombudsmen?

IAR’s Help Line selects individuals who are well established as real estate experts with a commitment to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, and who understand the role communication plays in making any real estate transaction work. Ombudsmen undertake additional training to serve in this important role.

How long does the process take?

IAR will usually review the request the day it is received and refer it, if necessary, to an Ombudsman. An Ombudsman will typically contact you within one business day. He or she will make at least three attempts to contact you regarding the submitted question. Every case is different, but the program’s stated purpose is to quickly resolve issues.

What do I have to tell the Ombudsman?

In order to best serve you, you will need to complete this form or call the association’s Help Line at 217/529-2600 which is open 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Be prepared to share the name(s) of the REALTOR® involved, key dates, the property’s address and your telephone number and email address.

What if my issue is with someone who is not a REALTOR®?

The Help Line can only provide guidance in cases involving someone who is an IAR member. That’s because to be a REALTOR® a person has to take additional training beyond what Illinois requires to obtain a real estate license. In other words, not all who sell real estate are REALTORS®, but those who belong pledge to adhere to a Code of Ethics which is often stricter than what the Illinois Real Estate             License Act allows or requires of all real estate licensees.