Washington Real Estate Practices

Attorney Involvement

Please describe any requirements under applicable state law for attorney, abstractor or other special professional involvement, for example, in the search, examination, opinion of title, signing, closing, disbursement, recording, preparation of documents, and/or policy-issuance.

Escrow documentation may be prepared by attorneys or by Limited Practice Officers (LPOs) licensed under Admission to Practice Rule 12 (APR 12). The latter are limited as to the scope and nature of the pre-authorized documents that the LPO may complete for execution by the parties, as opposed to the source of the Escrow Officer functions in other jurisdictions.

Cancellation/Commitment Fee

Does your state permit or require a cancellation fee or commitment fee upon cancellation?

Yes, but the cancellation fee can be waived in certain circumstances.

Certificate of Release (of Mortgage)

If anyone other than the lender (such as a title agent, settlement agent, underwriter or attorney) has the authority to release the security instrument, please describe.

On May 1, 2013, statute RCW 61.24.110 was amended to clarify agency relationships in reconveyances of deeds of trust and set out procedures if the trustee is unable or unwilling to recovney the deed of trust within 120 days following payment. 

Deeds

Please describe the kinds of deeds that are customary for commercial and residential transactions.  Please describe the kinds of deeds that are generally not insurable.

Customary:  Warranty Deed (maximum warranties conveyed), Bargain and Sale Deed (warrants only against those encumbrances done/suffered by grantor), and Quit Claim Deed (warrants nothing).

Not Insurable:  Tax Deed, Trustee’s Deed (may be insured under special circumstances).

Joinder of Spouses

If a non-title holding spouse is required to join in the execution of a deed or a security instrument, please describe.  Any analogous rights, such as those in a civil union or equivalent, should also be addressed. 

A non-title holding spouse is generally required to execute the deed of trust.  If and when the beneficiary forecloses, the non-title holding spouse’s community interest will be included in the foreclosure.

Mortgage Tax

Is there a mortgage tax in your state? If yes, is it uniform across the state or does it vary? If it is uniform, please describe. 

No.

Payment Customs

Who customarily pays for:
(a) Owner’s Policy?
(b) Transfer Tax & Recording Fee?
(c) Survey Charges?
(d) Closing/Settlement Fees?

(a) Seller
(b) Transfer - Seller, Recording - Buyer
(c) Buyer
(d) Both may pay agreed upon portion
All are negotiable.

Policy Countersignatures

Please describe any statutory or regulatory requirements for countersignatures in order to issue the policy (for example, residency requirements).

There are no special requirements for policy countersignatures. The issuing agency must be licensed in Washington and anyone that is authorized to sign on behalf of the agency may countersign the policy.

Real Estate Taxes

Please describe the general tax year, due dates, and delinquency dates, including lien dates and payment cycle.

Taxes are liens on the property from January 1 in the year levied until paid. Due dates are April 30 (first ½) and October 31 (second ½). Delinquent taxes are subject to a 12% per annum interest rate computed on a monthly basis from delinquency date, and an additional 3% penalty is assessed on the amount of tax delinquent on May 31 of the year in which the tax is due. An additional 8% penalty is assessed on the total tax delinquent on November 30 of the year in which the tax is due. 

Search and Examination Fees

Is it permissible and/or customary to charge a separate search and/or examination fee, and under what circumstances? If your jurisdiction is all-inclusive, please state that.

Not customary. Extra-work charges may be made under some circumstances, but are considered part of the premium.

Search Requirements

Is there a minimum period of time for a title search required: (a) by state law, (b) pursuant to marketable record title acts, or (c) by any other applicable title examination standards (e.g., state bar association)?  Please respond to each category.  If a minimum search period exists for any category, please state it.

  • No.
  • No.
  • No.

Security Instruments (Deed of Trust vs Mortgage)

Please describe the customary and permissible form(s) of security instruments used in your state. 

Who can be listed as the trustee on the Deed of Trust (e.g., residency and/or natural person requirements, etc.)? Can an underwriter or title agent be designated as the trustee, and, if so, is it customary?

Deed of Trust (common) and Mortgages (rare). The trustee of a deed of trust must be 1) any domestic corporation of which at least one officer is a Washington resident, or 2) any title insurance company authorized to insure title to real property in Washington, or its agents, or 3) any attorney who is an active member of the Washington state bar association at the time he/she is named trustee, or 4) any professional corporation, LLC, LLP, incorporated under the applicable Washington statutes, all of whose shareholders, members, or partners, respectively are either licensed attorneys or entities, provided all of the owners of those entities are licensed attorneys, or any domestic corporation wholly owned by any of these entities, or 5) any agency or instrumentality of the U.S. Government, or 6) any national bank, savings bank, or savings and loan associated chartered under the laws of the United States. It is customary that a title agent (not underwriter) be listed as a trustee on a deed of trust.

Standard Exceptions and Requirements

Please identify the standard exceptions and requirements that are customarily used in your state.

Standard Exceptions

  • Rights or claims of parties in possession not shown by the Public Records.
  • Easements, or claims of easements, not shown by the Public Records.
  • Encroachments, overlaps, boundary line disputes, or other matters which would be disclosed by an accurate survey or inspection of the Land.
  • Any lien, or right to a lien, for services, labor, or material heretofore or hereafter furnished, imposed by law and not shown by the Public Records.
  • Taxes or special assessments which are not shown as existing liens by the Public Records.

State-specific Policy Variations

If there are state-specific changes to the provisions in the ALTA policies (e.g., Arbitration, Minerals), please describe.

None.

Title Insurance Form and Filing Regulations

Please describe the form and/or rate filing requirements, if any, related to policies and endorsements. Please describe any applicable rating bureau. 

Rate and form filings are done on a “file and use” basis. Rates may be used 15 days after submission and forms may be used 30 days after submission.

Transfer Taxes

Is there a transfer tax in your state? If yes, is it uniform across the state or does it vary? If it is uniform, please describe.

Yes, a real estate excise tax. The excise tax varies from county to county. Certain transactions are exempt.

Usury

Is usury coverage available?

Yes.

Withholding Taxes

What are your state’s requirements, if any, with regard to withholding proceeds from a sale, similar to but not including FIRPTA?

None.

Witness Requirements

Are witnesses required on a deed or security instrument? If so, please describe.

None, other than acknowledgment.