Resources and publications: Real estate

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Course catalog

The Real Estate Education Course Catalog includes:

  • A list of schools approved to provide real estate education
  • The classes and course hours available at each school
  • Contact information for each school

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Guidelines

Law and policy changes

Changes to the agency law – July 2013

There were 3 important changes:

  1. The law terminology was updated to match the 2010 real estate licensing law changes,
  2. defines when a licensee is a dual agent, seller’s agent or buyer’s agent, and
  3. defines the licensee duties listed in the agency law as statutory obligations.

Read RCW 18.86.020 to help you understand the revised agency law.

The following summarizes the effects of this law.

Situation: In which case:
Licensee is the seller. The licensee is a seller’s agent.
In-house transactions, where one licensee represents the seller and one represents the buyer. The designated broker and the branch manager are dual agents.
In-house transactions where the managing broker manages the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent. The managing broker is a dual agent.
Licensee performs brokerage services for a buyer and there’s no agency agreement to represent the seller or the seller and buyer together. The licensee is a buyer’s agent.
The real estate firm has a written agency agreement appointing the licensee to represent the seller. The licensee is a seller’s agent.
The licensee has a subagency agreement with the seller’s licensee or firm. The licensee is a seller’s agent.
The real estate firm has written agency agreement appointing the affiliated licensee to represent both parties. The licensee is a dual agent.

Questions to consider when applying this law to your daily practice:

  1. Two different firms co-operate on a new housing development and co-list numerous homes. What considerations should be given?
  2. We use another licensed real estate firm that negotiates short sales with the lender. This firm co-lists the property with us. Is this an issue?
  3. The revised law dictates appointing a broker for the client’s representation. Who can make this appointment?
  4. What responsibilities does a licensee have when listing a house for a seller and simultaneously assisting the seller in purchasing a new home that is listed in-house?

There are several considerations when addressing these and similar questions. Licensing requirements and civil responsibilities should be considered. These questions will help give you guidance in complying with the revised law. Your designated broker and your company’s legal counsel along with your professional trade association or multiple listing services are good sources.

Responsibility of getting signatures on purchase and sale agreements

Getting signatures on a purchase and sale agreement falls under the definition of real estate brokerage services and can only be performed by a licensed real estate agent. If a real estate agent asks an escrow agent to obtain signatures, they are aiding and abetting unlicensed real estate practices unless the escrow agent is also a licensed real estate broker.

The duty of the escrow officer is to follow the instructions of the buyer and seller as presented in the negotiated purchase and sale agreement. When escrow officers are put in the position of getting documents signed that are part of the purchase and sale agreement, their neutrality is compromised and they’re conducting an unlicensed real estate activity.

The real estate licensee should provide escrow with signed negotiated documents. When changes are needed, it’s the real estate licensee’s responsibility to provide signed documents.

Using the title “Managing Broker” – September 2011

In mid-September 2011, the DOL and the Real Estate Commission received a letter from the Seattle-King County Realtors requesting the commission re-examine the application of the title “managing broker.” The letter stated that the title “managing broker” was being misunderstood by clients regarding the professional capacity and the licensee’s activities.

At the September commission meeting in Spokane, the commission decided to form a task force that would address the issues and make recommendations to the full Real Estate Commission and the Department of Licensing.

Commissioner Wright was asked to chair the task force. Commissioner Pilant and Salazar were also asked to be members. Commissioner Wright quickly put together representatives from Eastern Washington, Clark County, Washington Realtors and representatives from the commercial and property management disciplines.

Commissioner Wright gave a detailed report to the commission on December 6, 2011. However, one aspect of the discussion was to ensure that licensees understood the advertising rules on the use of the title “managing broker.” The task force was fortunate to have Annie Fitzsimmons as one of the representatives, and she was able to address the issue in the Realtors® Legal Hotline. Below is her question and answer which will help licensees in understanding the current rules regarding using the title of “managing broker:”

Question:
Managing broker is not managing any brokers and believes it is confusing to consumers to use the title “managing broker” on business cards and advertising. First, is it necessary that managing broker use that title as identification on business cards and other advertising? With that said, managing broker is proud of having worked hard to earn the managing broker license. Is there some other title managing broker can use to describe himself on advertising?

Answer:
Managing brokers are not required to use the term “managing broker” to identify or describe themselves in any advertising or marketing. Licensees have never been required to include their licensing status in marketing or on business cards.

Every licensee, managing broker, and broker may use any descriptive term to identify themselves as long as it’s not false, deceptive or misleading. Brokers often use descriptions such as “relocation specialist” or “waterfront sales” or “condominium expert.” As the description isn’t false, deceptive or misleading, the description can be used.

An example of a false description would be a person licensed only as a broker describing himself as a managing broker. The term “managing broker” is a defined term under the license law, and a person with only a broker’s license does not meet the definition of a “managing broker.” Therefore, use of that term in that situation, would be false.

Reprinted with permission from the Washington Association of REALTORS Legal Hotline. Hotline Attorney Annie Fitzsimmons writes the Legal Hotline Question and Answer of the week, a free service to members of the Washington REALTORS. The Legal Hotline provides legal information and education, not legal representation.

Policy on broker price opinions

We have received many questions from licensees about issuing brokers price opinions and if the licensee can receive direct compensation. A broker’s price opinion, often referred to as a comparative market analysis (CMA), is any oral or written report of a property value. RCW 18.140.010(4) requires individuals producing broker’s price opinions to be licensed under RCW 18.85.

We have determined that an individual must be actively licensed in order to issue a broker’s price opinion. Please be advised that it is considered a violation of RCW 18.85.230(19) for a licensee to receive a commission, compensation, or any form of valuable consideration from anyone except the licensed real estate broker with whom he or she is licensed.

Make sure you meet the earnest money delivery requirements

Audits of broker transaction files still indicate that a large number of firms do not comply with the delivery and/or deposit requirements regarding earnest money.

All earnest money funds must be deposited into the broker’s trust bank account no later than the next banking day unless the purchase and sale agreement states the check is to be held for a specific period of time or the occurrence of a specific event. The delivery of the funds to escrow is the broker’s responsibility.

We continue to receive complaints from sellers when the transaction fails that the funds were not deposited or never delivered to the escrow company. Not only is the untimely delivery of earnest money a licensing problem, but also not providing this information to the seller that the earnest money was never collected or delivered can be considered failure to disclose.

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