Arbitration is an alternative dispute resolution program that is offered as a service to REALTOR® members which provides a forum for resolving business disputes in lieu of litigation. Arbitrations are completely separate from ethics hearings. Arbitrations are held when both agents acted legally and ethically, but a legitimate dispute still arose between the agents. It usually involves compensation disputes between brokers in two different firms. Arbitration is not about sanctioning agents for bad behavior - it exists to resolve business disputes involving REALTORS® in the event that the REALTORS® have been unable or unwilling to resolve the dispute themselves.

Mandatory vs. Voluntary Arbitration

REALTORS® are not obligated to use their Local Board/Association’s arbitration services to resolve disputes. REALTORS® may resolve disputes themselves or submit the dispute to other venues including courts. However, if one party who is eligible to use the association's Arbitration services submits the claim to their local board, then the other party may be obligated to participate in arbitration and abide by the arbitrators' decision if the case is classified as mandatory.

Mandatory vs. Voluntary Arbitration (NAR)


Arbitration Process

In arbitrable cases, the local board/association convenes a panel of impartial, unbiased, and experienced REALTORS® to consider your case. Designed to ensure that the due process rights of all parties are protected, complainants and respondents may be represented by attorneys, call witnesses, and present evidence.

The parties also enjoy a limited right to request a procedural review to the decision if they believe that there were procedural deficiencies or other irregularities that constitutes a deprivation of due process. However, this is not an appeal on the decision itself, only the procedures used in conducting the hearing.



Although the majority of real estate transactions close without incident, there is a possibility that a problem or dispute could occur. When that happens, it is usually successfully resolved by the parties through normal communication and negotiation. In the past, when negotiations failed, parties took their case to court. Today, they are taking their disputes to mediation.



Maryland REALTORS® Mediation Service Provider - O.M. Services 



What Is Mediation?

Mediation is a process in which disputing parties attempt to resolve their disagreements with the help of an impartial, trained neutral third party... the mediator. The mediator does not pass judgment or render legally binding decisions. The mediator's function is to help the parties open communication, identify their differences and reach agreement on how to resolve them.

When the disputing parties have reached a mutually acceptable solution, they sign a written agreement which outlines the terms of the settlement. Once the agreement is signed, parties are legally bound to abide by its terms. If the parties cannot reach a mutually agreeable settlement, they are free to arbitrate or litigate their dispute as if the mediation never took place.

In addition to being easier, faster and less expensive than litigation, mediation is non-adversarial. Decisions rendered by an arbitrator or judge usually determine a winning and losing party. In mediation the parties have retained control of the outcome of the process and together have fashioned the terms of the settlement.

Access to Service

Mediation can be used by any of the parties to a real estate transaction ... sellers, buyers, brokers, builders, home inspectors, etc.

Procedural Guidelines

Procedural Guidelines have been established to insure uniformity and consistency in the process. Procedural guidelines are available upon request by calling the Maryland  REALTORS®  Mediation Service Provider, O.M. Services - 1(888)-412-6740.

You will be requested to provide your name and address and information will be mailed to you within 24 hours. Any questions you should have regarding the procedures should be directed to O.M. Services.

Written Agreement

Parties who decide to submit potential disputes to mediation sign a written Agreement to Mediate. Parties can sign this agreement either before or after a dispute arises.


DRS mediators are experienced, qualified mediators who have completed an intensive training program. Mediators are selected based on considerations such as firm affiliation, location, expertise in area of dispute, and availability.

Role of Attorney

Although parties have the right to be represented by counsel, attorneys do not have to participate in the mediation conference. Parties should consult an attorney if they have questions or concerns about mediation or the DRS mediation service.

Initiating Mediation

Any party can request mediation by contacting the mediation service provider and simply returning the written request form(s) provided to them. The mediation service provider arranges, schedules and conducts the mediation conference. Generally the conference is held within 60 days of the date on which the mediation service provider receives a request to initiate mediation. Usually it is scheduled within 30 days. The typical conference lasts between two and four hours.

To request a mediation packet and/or for information, please contact the Maryland REALTORS® Mediation Service Provider:

P.O. Box 686
Elkton, MD 21922



Fees for DRS mediation services are established by the mediation service provider and are published and available through O.M. Services. Please check with O.M. Services for further details.

Facts About Mediation

Mediation is faster than litigation. A lawsuit can take anywhere from several months to several years to be decided. As a rule, mediation takes about thirty to sixty days from beginning to end.

Mediation is generally less expensive than litigation. Because parties typically split fees and costs, no one pays an excessive amount.

Mediation is non-adversarial. Arbitration and litigation focus on disagreements between the parties and result in win-lose decisions imposed by the arbitrator or judge. Mediation, on the other hand, focuses on agreement between the parties and results in a win-win settlement reached and agreed on by the parties themselves.

Parties who agree to mediate retain the right to pursue other legal remedies. If parties cannot reach a mutually acceptable settlement during the mediation conference, they are free to arbitrate or litigate their dispute as if mediation never took place.

Statistics show that MEDIATION is SUCCESSFUL the majority of the time.


Additional Resources

Maryland REALTORS Video Discussing Abitration v. Mediation

Maryland REALTORS Video Discussing the Professional Standards Process