Frequently asked questions: Real estate


How can I check the status of a license?
You can look up a business or professional license using our Search application.
How long can I remain inactive?
You can be inactive as long as you want. But you’ll need to continue renewing every 2 years. Education will not be due at the time of an inactive renewal. Depending on the amount of time you stay inactive; you may or may not owe education when you reactivate.
What if I have to answer yes to a criminal background question?
For any regulatory questions, email: or call: 360.664.6484.


May I be endorsed as the designated broker of 2 firms I own?
Yes, you may be endorsed as the designated broker of 2 firms if they are separate entities with individual Unified Business Identifier (UBI) numbers.
May I be endorsed as a designated broker of 2 firms owned by different people?
Yes, if you’re properly licensed as an active managing broker, you may be endorsed as a designated broker for more than one firm, regardless of the ownership of the firm, as long as the businesses are separate entities with unique UBI numbers.
May I be endorsed as a designated broker of 2 franchised firms?
Although the law, RCW 18.85, states that an individual may act as a designated broker for more than 1 firm. it doesn’t involve oversight of the various business models where the broker endorsement may possibly be used. You should consult with your legal counsel for guidance in many of these situations.
How can I be endorsed as a designated broker of real estate offices at multiple locations when I have only 1 UBI number?
You can establish 1 or more branch offices under the same name as the firm. Complete the proper application and pay the correct fee. Then we’ll issue a separate license for each branch office showing the location of the real estate firm and the particular branch.
If my firm’s license expires before my managing broker’s license with a designated broker endorsement, may my affiliated licensees continue to work as long as my license is active?
No, all affiliated licensees will be licensed to a firm. Licensees must be actively licensed to an actively-licensed firm at all times. If the firm’s license expires, all affiliated brokers and managing brokers may no longer conduct real estate brokerage services.
If my managing broker’s license with a designated broker endorsement expires while my firm’s license is still active, may the firm’s affiliated licensees continue to work?
No, even though all active real estate licenses are issued in the name of the firm, all firms must grant the authority to act on the firm’s behalf to a properly-licensed managing broker endorsed as the designated broker.


I’m licensed in another state, how do I get licensed in Washington?
Get a certified license history from the real estate agency in the state you’re currently licensed. Submit it with a cover letter, include your contact information and email address. If you’d like to take the exam outside of Washington, please specify this in your cover letter. Mail it to:
Real Estate Licensing
PO Box 9021
Olympia, WA 98507

If you’ve had an active license within the last 6 months, the education requirement and the National portion of the test will be waived.

When we get your License History and request for exam approval, we’ll email an approval letter, within 10 business days, with instructions on:
  • How to register for the exam,
  • Information to obtain the Washington State Real Estate Law Book, and
  • If applicable, a waiver to take the exam out of state.
I’m approved to take the state only portion of the broker/managing broker exam. I’d like to take a practice exam. Is the law booklet the only study material? Do I have to memorize everything in the booklet? Can you tell me what will be on the exam?
We don’t offer a practice exam for the State portion. The Licensing of Real Estate Brokers and Managing Brokers booklet is the only study material we provide. You can find an approved education provider in our Education Course Catalog or review the State content outline in the Washington Candidate Handbook (
I’m not licensed as a broker but I have many years of experience in property management. Can I use my experience to qualify for the managing broker exam?
It’s possible to obtain a managing broker approval if you have 5 years within the previous 7 working in Real Estate related fields such as property management, appraiser, etc. Submit a resume outlining your work experience to Debbie Wright, Real Estate Program Manager at After review, we’ll send you information regarding the approval process which includes completion of education and getting 5 letters of recommendation.
What should a letter(s) of recommendation include? Do you have a form letter that I can use?
The letter(s) should be written by people who have knowledge of your experience and support your endeavor to obtain a license. No, we don’t have form letters.

Supervising and delegating duties

Do branch managers need a delegation agreement with their designated broker?
Yes. WAC 308-124C-130: Branch manager responsibilities describes responsibilities the branch manager will be held accountable for, but doesn’t cover all the activities the designated broker may delegate to the branch manager. Therefore, a delegation agreement should be in place between the designated broker and branch manager. Some examples of delegation are provided in the WAC.
As a managing broker, may I supervise the training of new licensees for my firm?
Yes, you may supervise the training of new licensees if you and your designated broker have signed a written delegation agreement that includes authorization to supervise training. You will also want to know if part of your training supervision duties include responsibility for the heightened supervision of licensees with less than 2 years experience, as required by WAC 308-124C-125(9)(c).
What duties may a designated broker delegate to managing brokers?
You may delegate, in writing, some or all of the following duties:
  • Safe handling of client funds.
  • Maintenance of trust accounts and trust account records.
  • Maintenance of transaction records.
  • Supervision of brokers and other managing brokers licensed to your firm.
For more information, see WAC 308-124C-125(8):Designated Broker Responsibilities and WAC 308-124C-130(12): Branch Manager Responsibilities.
Can a designated broker delegate the signing of property management agreements and addendums?
Yes. Designated brokers may delegate the responsibility of signing each property management agreement or addendum to a managing broker or branch manager. (See WAC 308-124C-125(8)(b):Designated Broker Responsibilities.)
Are there standard delegation forms we have to use?
There is no standard format or language required for a written delegation of duties. It should use language agreed to by the participants and/or their legal counsel. The written delegation is an agreement between you, the designated broker, and your delegated managing brokers.
What do I do with the copies of the written delegations after they are completed and signed?
The designated broker must maintain a record of the firm’s managing brokers, and keep copies of the written delegations for our review upon request.
May I use short sale negotiators who are not real estate licensees to talk to lenders about what price they will take?
No, any individual who is directly or indirectly negotiating with a lender must hold an active real estate license or be appropriately licensed by the Department of Financial Institutions. Negotiators are considered to be indirectly negotiating real estate sales with the lender, and:
  • Must hold active real estate licenses.
  • or
  • Be appropriately licensed by the Department of Financial Institutions, and work under the authority of their designated broker.
Unlicensed short sale negotiators are considered to be conducting unlicensed real estate activity. They may be ordered to cease and desist, and fined up to $5,000 per violation. If you use unlicensed short sale negotiators, you can be charged with aiding or abetting unlicensed activity and are subject to disciplinary action.
Can someone who works for a managing broker, but isn’t licensed as a broker or managing broker, do property management of homes they don’t own?
Yes, if they limit their activities to:
  • Delivering a lease/rental agreement.
  • Receiving a check made out to the real estate firm.
  • Showing a rental unit or executing rental agreements under the direct instruction of the managing broker.
  • Providing information about the rental unit.
  • Assisting with the administrative, clerical, financial, or maintenance tasks.
The unlicensed person can’t advertise or tell the public that they are providing property management services, or hold or authorize disbursement of trust funds. For more information, please see RCW 18.85.151(12).

Doing business

How often does the interest need to be paid to the state from the earnest money trust account for real estate sales?
The bank will submit the funds to the state at least quarterly. The real estate office should keep appropriate records and ledger information on file. For more information, see RCW 18.85.285 and WAC 308-124E-105 (9).


Definitions of real estate terms

Active: Licensees are licensed to a firm or branch office and are not expired. Firm and branch licenses are not expired.

Delinquent: An active licensee that has not submitted a renewal prior to expiration. Their relationship to the firm is intact, but they are unable to perform Real Estate related activities in this status.

Inactive: A licensee who is not licensed to a firm and not expired. They are unable to perform active Real Estate related activities.

Inactive/Delinquent: A licensee in inactive status that is expired due to lack of renewal payment.

Inactive due to Company Inaction: Licensee shows this status when the firm or branch office they are licensed to is on an expired status, as they have not renewed their license.

Transfer: A licensee transferring from one firm/branch to another. Also, used in firm address changes.

Activation: A licensee that is in inactive status and is now being licensed to a firm or branch office for active work.

Pending docs/fees: This status indicates that a licensee has taken and/or passed the real estate exam. This status will change to active or inactive when the licensee’s first license application is processed.

Cancellation: A license expired for more than one year will cancel due to lack of renewal fee payment. Reinstatement of a canceled license is possible within 3 years of the expiration date upon receipt of the required education and fees.

Broker: Formerly called a salesperson. A person licensed to perform real estate brokerage services. When active, the broker is licensed to a real estate firm/branch. See active/inactive.

Managing Broker: Formerly called a broker. A person licensed to perform real estate brokerage services. When active, the managing broker may work under the supervision of the designated broker or supervise other licensees within the firm/branch. See active/inactive.

Designated Broker: A person whose managing broker’s license receives an endorsement from the department of “designated broker”. This person acts on behalf of the firm with a controlling interest, overseeing operations.

Controlling interest: The ability to control either the operational, financial, or both, decisions of the firm.

Fingerprinting and background checks

Why do I have to be fingerprinted?
In 2008, the Washington State Legislature passed legislation requiring all real estate licensees to have their fingerprints taken and submitted to the Department of Licensing. This requirement went into effect July 1, 2010. This requirement is common in other states and was proposed and supported by the Washington Realtor’s Association.
How often do I have to be fingerprinted?
The law requires current licensees to be fingerprinted every 6 years.
I received my request for fingerprints prior to the switch to MorphoTrust. What should I do?
If you received fingerprint cards from the Real Estate program and they are not yet completed, please visit to view and schedule an appointment. For more details, see Fingerprinting and background checks.

If your prints have already been taken on the fingerprint card, follow the directions provided to you in the packet.
I have been fingerprinted before (for a previous job, military, etc.). Do I still need to be fingerprinted for my real estate license?
Yes, you will need to submit fingerprints even if you’ve been fingerprinted before. The Washington State Patrol and the FBI will not share the information regarding your fingerprints or background information with the Department of Licensing.
Will issuing my license be delayed until you receive the results of my background check?
No, your license is not delayed while we wait for the background check.
Can the fingerprint requirement be waived?
No, there is no provision in the law to waive this requirement.
Where do I go to get fingerprinted, and how much does it cost?
For more details on fingerprinting locations and cost, please see Fingerprinting and background checks.

If you are outside of Washington State, please call 360.664.6484 or email

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