Resources and publications: Real estate brokers

Find resources for real estate brokers and managing brokers.

User guides

These guides include step-by-step instructions to help you get, renew, or update your license.

Professional license guides

Business license guides

Real estate school statistics

These documents show the pass rates for Washington real estate schools.

Candidate handbook

The Candidate Handbook includes general information on the exam and testing process.

Guidelines

Articles

Reports and studies

Law and policy changes

See relevant law and policy changes for brokers in Washington.

Changes to the agency law (July 2013)

There were 3 important changes to the real estate agency law:

  1. The law terminology now matches the 2010 real estate licensing law changes.
  2. The law now defines when a licensee is a dual agent, seller's agent, or buyer's agent.
  3. The law now defines the licensee duties listed in the agency law as statutory obligations.

Read the revised agency law for more details.

Situation: In which case:
The 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.
The 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 sub-agency 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.

Consider these questions when applying this law to your daily practice:

  1. 2 different firms cooperate on a new housing development and co-list numerous homes. What considerations should you make?
  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 also assisting the seller in purchasing a new home that's listed in-house?

These questions will help you comply with the revised law. You should consider licensing requirements and civil responsibilities among other things when addressing these and similar questions.

You can also get help from your designated broker, your company's legal counsel, your professional trade association, or listing services.

Responsibility to get signatures on purchase and sale agreements

Licensed real estate agents are the only people allowed to get signatures on a purchase and sale agreement. If a real estate agent asks an escrow agent to get signatures, they are encouraging unlicensed real estate practices unless the escrow agent is also a licensed broker.

An escrow officer must follow the instructions of the buyer and seller according to the negotiated purchase and sale agreement. When someone asks escrow officers to get documents signed for the purchase and sale agreement, they are engaging in unlicensed real estate activity and are no longer a neutral party.

Real estate licensees should provide escrow agents with signed documents. When changes are needed, it's a real estate licensee's responsibility to provide signed documents.

Using the title "managing broker" (September 2011)

In September 2011, the Department of Licensing and the Real Estate Commission received a letter from the Seattle-King County Realtors asking the commission to review the use of the title "managing broker." The letter stated that clients misunderstood the professional capacities and activities of managing brokers.

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

Commissioner Wright chaired the task force and Commissioners Pilant and Salazar served as task force members. Commissioner Wright quickly gathered representatives from Eastern Washington, Clark County, Washington Realtors, and representatives from commercial and property management disciplines.

The task force gave a detailed report to the commission on December 6, 2011. One of the representatives, Annie Fitzsimmons, posed a hypothetical situation to help licensees understand the rules for using the title "managing broker."

Problem:

A managing broker doesn't manage any brokers and believes consumers are confused when they put "managing broker" on their business cards and advertising.

Question:

Does the managing broker need to use that title on business cards and other advertising? Can they use a different title?

Answer:

Managing brokers don't need to use the title "managing broker" in any advertising or marketing. Licensees have never been required to include their licensing status in marketing or on business cards.

All licensees, including brokers and managing brokers, may identify themselves with any terms that aren't false, deceptive or misleading. Brokers often describe themselves with titles like relocation specialist, waterfront sales, or condominium expert.

An example of a false description would be a person licensed only as a broker describing themselves as a managing broker. A person with only a broker's license does not meet the definition of a managing broker under the law.

Policy on broker price opinions

Many licensees have asked us about giving broker price opinions and getting paid for them. A broker's price opinion or comparative market analysis (CMA) is any oral or written report of a property value.

According to RCW 18.140.010(4), you must be licensed under RCW 18.85 to give broker price opinions. It's a violation of RCW 18.85.230(19) for you to receive a commission, compensation, or any form of valuable consideration from anyone except the licensed real estate broker with whom you are licensed.

Earnest money delivery requirements

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 will be held for a specific period of time or until a specific event happens. The broker is responsible for delivering the funds to escrow.

Audits of broker transactions still show that many firms don't comply with these requirements, and we continue to receive complaints from sellers when transactions fail because of this.

In addition to being a licensing problem, it may also be considered a failure to disclose if you don't tell the seller that you never collected or delivered the earnest money.

Related information

Need additional help? Here's how to contact us:

call Phone: 360-664-6488
(TTY: Call 711)
mail Email: RealEstate@dol.wa.gov
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