RULES AND POLICIES FOR PARTIES TO MEDIATION
1. Center Purpose. The purpose of the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® (“C.A.R.”) Real Estate Mediation Center for Consumers (the “Center”) is to provide parties to real estate transactions with a highly qualified pool of specially trained, objective and reliable mediation professionals to assist them in resolving their real estate related disputes. The goal of the Center is to provide consumers with an affordable, supportive and confidential process that working with the mediator of their choosing, will assist them to reach a mutually agreeable settlement and thereby avoid the time, expense and uncertainty of litigating their dispute in court.
2. Cases Eligible for Mediation. The Center will accept all real estate disputes, with a focus on real estate disputes among consumers arising under the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Residential Purchase Agreement and Joint Escrow Instructions (“RPA-CA”). In addition, the Center may consider and accept other types of disputes on a case-by-case basis.
3. Communication. All communications with our Center and mediators is to be professional at all times. While persuasive and forceful communication is not prohibited, civility and mutual respect is vital and will increase the likelihood of the parties reaching a mutually agreeable settlement. The conduct of all participants to the mediation ideally will reflect the goal of mediation to efficiently, swiftly and affordably resolve the parties' dispute.
4. Fees and Costs. Center mediators are required to keep their mediation fee schedule and any associated policies up-to-date at all times. Mediator fees and policies along with a full profile of each mediator is accessible within the mediator fee and policy schedules page.
a. Filing Costs. A $500 filing fee is paid directly to the Center and is non-refundable. The filing fee must be received with your Request to Mediate to begin the process. You may contact the other party to your dispute to confirm they have agreed to mediate at the Center prior to submitting your request, but you are not required to. In most cases, the initiating party will pay the filing fee. Your mediator will reduce the deposit due from the initiating party by $250 and increase the deposit due from the responding party by $250 to offset the initiating party's advance payment of the filing fee. Fees to the mediator are separate and paid directly to the mediator as provided below.
b. Fees for Preparation and Travel. In general, Center mediators provide scheduling, local travel and preparation time without charge for up to two hours. The first 2 hours of billable mediator time will be $200 per hour and the mediator's hourly rate thereafter. The parties and their counsel are encouraged to independently coordinate their availability for mediation to avoid incurring excess fees. There may be additional preparation fees for complex disputes (e.g., disputes arising from a non-standard C.A.R. agreement, or disputes that require extensive review of documents). See the fee and policy schedule for further details.
c. Initial Hourly Fees to Parties. Center mediators agree that the first 2 hours of billable mediator time will be $200 per hour. Parties commit to a minimum of 4 hours of mediation hearing time, unless otherwise noted in the fee and policy schedule. Hourly fees after the first 2 hours are at the rate provided in the mediator’s fee and policy schedule. All mediator fees are billed in advance by and paid directly to the mediator.
d. Fee Deposit. Center mediators generally require a minimum deposit equal to 4 hours of mediation hearing time prior to reserving the mediation date. See the mediator fee schedule for actual requirements.
e. Cancellation/Continuance Fees. $250 for cancellation or continuance notices received by the mediator after the mediation date is reserved by the mediator and confirmed with all parties. Fee to be paid to the mediator by the party requesting cancellation or continuance unless otherwise agreed to by the parties. $500 for cancellation or continuance notices received by the mediator three (3) calendar days or less prior to the scheduled date for the mediation. Fee to be paid to the mediator by the party requesting cancellation or continuance unless otherwise agreed to by the parties. NOTE: Each mediator on our panel is an independent contractor and is permitted to have and enforce written cancellation and continuance policies that are different from the above if the mediator provides such policies to the parties in advance of scheduling the mediation. Notices of cancellation/continuance must be submitted in writing directly to the mediator.
5. Interested Persons. At times, the mediator may allow for the participation of interested persons if the mediator believes their participation may be helpful to the mediation process. Before inviting an interested person to attend the mediation, you should contact your mediator to obtain all necessary approvals.
6. Conflicts Check. Center mediators are required to perform a conflict of interest check in connection with all mediation participants to determine matters potentially affecting their impartiality. Prior to proceeding with the mediation, the mediator must obtain the written consent of all mediation participants for any waiver of a conflict of interest.
7. Scheduling Process and Time Frames. Once your file has been accepted by your mediator, your mediator will begin the scheduling process and contact all parties, counsel and other interested persons who you have identified to participate in the mediation. Your mediator will generally have twenty (20) calendar days from the date of assignment for the scheduling process. If your mediator is unable to schedule the mediation within this time frame, the mediator may submit a request to the Center requesting a one-time thirty (30) day extension. Any further extension is at the discretion of the Center. All scheduling is performed by your mediator and any scheduling inquiries should be made directly with your mediator. Once scheduled, any request to cancel or continue the mediation will incur an associated fee. See Fees and Costs above.
8. Notice to the Parties. Once the mediation has been scheduled, the mediator will provide written notice to the parties of the details of the mediation and mediation process.
Representation by Counsel. Any party may be represented by counsel. If a dispute involves a small sum and is not complex, parties may choose not to be represented by counsel. If a party will be represented by counsel at the mediation conference, the mediator and all parties must be notified in writing at least ten (10) days in advance of the conference date of such party's intent to be represented by counsel. Failure to comply with this notice requirement may result in the need for a continuance and application of a continuance fee as provided in Fees and Costs.
10. Post Mediation Survey. Following the mediation, you will be asked to complete a survey about the mediation process. The Center will maintain your survey responses as confidential and use this information solely to evaluate the Center program and distribute general statistical data related to the Center program (in the aggregate without disclosure of confidential identifying data).