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Development Services Investigations

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the Department of Real Estate investigate?
The Department investigates violations of Arizona real estate law and Commissioner rules by licensed real estate brokers and salespersons, developers of subdivisions, membership campgrounds, timeshares, private cemeteries, and unlicensed real estate activity.

How do I file a complaint with the Department of Real Estate?
To begin an investigation, the Department must determine two things:

  1. That the complaint or information relates to possible violations of Arizona real estate statutes or rules.
  2. That the individuals and/or entities involved are under the Department’s jurisdiction.

A.R.S. §32-2108 requires that complaints filed with the Department be in writing and signed by the complainant. The complaint must allege conduct that violates Arizona real estate law or rules.

If you file a complaint, include:

  • Your full name and address, and that of each individual or entity against whom the complaint is made (the “respondent(s)”).
  • A clear and concise statement, in detail, describing the facts surrounding the incident(s), including:
    • The time and place of occurrences;
    • Who was involved or present;
    • What activities occurred which you believe to be illegal;
    • The names, addresses and telephone numbers of any witnesses.
  • Legible copies of all transaction documents and related correspondence (contracts, closing documents, letters, etc.).
  • Any other relevant information.

After I file a complaint, what is the process?
Each complaint within the jurisdiction of the Department of Real Estate is assigned to an Investigator for review. The Investigator sends each individual; entity or developer (respondent) involved a copy of the complaint and a request for a written response. The Investigator contacts witnesses, gathers evidence, and may contact the complainant and/or the respondent(s) for additional information. After the assigned Investigator completes the investigation, the Department determines whether there is sufficient evidence to substantiate a violation(s) of Arizona real estate laws or Commissioner’s Rules. Based upon that determination, one of the following decisions is made:

  • Close the file without action.
  • Refer the case to the Attorney General’s Office for prosecution.
  • Negotiate settlement by means of a consent order.

Administrative sanctions are not pursued unless warranted by a preponderance of the evidence.

What are the possible disciplinary actions that may occur?
The Investigations Division forwards the case to the Enforcement and Compliance Division for review. The Enforcement and Compliance Division reviews the case to determine if there is sufficient evidence to pursue a disciplinary action. If there is evidence of a violation, but it is minor or technical in nature, the Department may issue a non-disciplinary Letter of Concern. Although non-disciplinary, a Letter of Concern remains in the file, and may be considered when determining future disciplinary actions.

When there is sufficient evidence to support a disciplinary action, the Department may resolve the case with a settlement offer (Consent Order) to a respondent. The respondent cannot appeal a Consent Order, as it is a voluntary agreement that becomes binding once signed by the Commissioner.

When a case cannot be resolved by settlement, the Department refers the matter to the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) heard by an administrative law judge in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act. A Notice of Hearing and Complaint is prepared which identifies statutes and rules violated and the sanctions sought by the Department. After the hearing, the administrative law judge issues a recommended order to the Commissioner who adopts, modifies or rejects the decision and issues a Commissioner's Final Order. A Commissioner's Final Order may be appealerd to the Superior Court. In certain cases, the violations are such that they require immediate action to protect the public. In those cases, the Department may issue a Cease and Desist Order or Order of Summary Suspension; both effective immediately.

The Department forwards complaints and other appropriate matters to the Attorney General's Office for future review and possible action.