Buyer/Seller Mediation Program

Buyer and Seller Mediation


Buyer-Seller Dispute Mediation Program Intake Form

The SMDRA Buyer-Seller Dispute Mediation Program has been designed to implement the mediation clause presently in Colorado real estate contracts to provide a solution for disputes between buyer and sellers. This program is not intended to replace the REALTOR® Professional Standards Program, which addresses disputes between REALTORS® or REALTORS® and their clients or customers, but is an option for those disputes which are not covered under mandatory or voluntary arbitration.

If your dispute is a “contractual dispute or specific non-contractual dispute as defined in Standards of Practice 17-4 between REALTOR® (principals) associated with different firms, arising out of their relationship as REALTORS®, the REALTORS® shall submit the dispute to arbitration in accordance with the regulations of their Board or Boards rather than litigate the matter”. Please refer to the Professional Standards page on the website, which addresses Arbitration – Mandatory or Voluntary.

What situations are appropriate for this Buyer/Seller Dispute Mediation Program?

Mediation can be helpful in resolving almost any dispute arising out of a real estate transaction, including:

  • Disputes over Earnest money deposits
  • Condition of property & repair conflicts
  • Builder/REALTOR® disputes

What exactly is mediation?

Mediation is the process of resolving disputes in which an impartial, trained, third party – the Mediator – helps people in disagreement negotiate a mutually-acceptable solution. When the disputing parties have reached and agreed upon a mutually-acceptable solution, they sign a written agreement outlining 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.

Parties are also given the Mediation-Arbitration Option. Mediation-Arbitration (med-arb) combines the processes of mediation and arbitration, utilizing one person to serve in both roles. If resolution is not reached through mediation, the med-arbiter is empowered by the parties to make a binding decision. This option is available to all parties.

Why mediate over other alternatives such as small claims court or litigation?

There are several benefits to using mediation rather than litigation, such as:

  • Less expensive
  • More timely
  • Confidential
  • Greater flexibility – you maintain control of the process
  • Preservation of relationship

How much does the program cost?

Mediation can save parties thousands of dollars over litigation. The fee is hourly plus a onetime administrative fee of $30. Unless agreed otherwise, fees will be split equally among the parties.

  • For disputes involving amounts of less than $2,000.00, we recommend that the parties attempt to resolve it themselves or seek a volunteer mediator to assist them.
  • For disputes involving amounts of $2,000.00 up to $10,000.00, the mediation hourly fee is $180.00, the administrative fee is $30.00, and each of the parties are requested to submit in advance of the mediation, one-half of three hours of time plus one-half of the administrative fee, a total of $285.00.
  • For disputes involving amounts of $10,000.00 and up, the mediation hour fee is $200.00, the administrative fee is $30.00, and each of the parties are requested to submit in advance of the mediation, one-half of three hours of time plus one-half of the administrative fee, a total of $315.00.

Do I need to be represented by legal counsel?

Parties to mediation have the right to be represented by counsel; however, attorneys are not required to participate in the mediation process. Parties should consult an attorney if they have any questions or concerns about mediation. The mediator does not give legal advice.

How do I begin the mediation process?

To begin the mediation process, there is some basic information that the SMDRA staff is required to get from the parties who are looking at mediation as an option. Please e-mail or fax the following information to initiate the process:

  • ALL parties names, addresses, and especially phone numbers
  • Property address in dispute
  • Amount of dispute
  • And a brief explanation of the nature of the dispute (i.e. earnest money dispute)

Once this information is obtained from the party initiating mediation, a letter and forms are sent to the buyer and seller to complete and submit to the mediation firm. Within a few days to a week from submitting the Intake Form, a mediator will contact all parties (usually by phone) to set up a meeting date and get a brief explanation of the dispute. From this point on, all contact is made by the mediation firm.

The offices of Sally K. Ortner have been designated to perform mediations for SMDRA. Ms. Ortner’s offices are a full-service mediation firm established to help businesses and individuals develop agreements, make decisions and solve problems. Sally is an experienced attorney, mediator and arbitrator. She has been practicing law since 1979 and mediating since 1983. The emphasis of her legal practice is real estate law. She has successfully mediated thousands of cases including hundreds of real estate disputes.

SMDRA staff is not involved in the process or terms, which is controlled by the parties. SMDRA provides access to this program to our members and their clients and customers. All detailed questions should be directed to the mediation firm which is given the parties’ information once the Intake Form is submitted to SMDRA by fax – (303) 797-0109 or e-mailed to

Click here to get a copy of the Intake Form required to begin the process