Washington State Department of Financial Institutions

Escrow Agent Interpretive Letters

2003 | 2002-2000 | 1999-1998 | 1997 | 1996-1995 | No Action Letters

The opinions expressed in the interpretive letters are informal and non-binding. These opinions reflect the position of the Department of Financial Institutions at the time they were produced. The DFI could learn of additional facts, which would cause us to change our position. The letters may also contain policy statements providing a written description of the current approach of DCS to implementation of a statute or other provision of law.

Readers are cautioned that the opinions in both the interpretive letters and policy statements may have changed because of statute or rule revisions or other additional facts presented. Consult your attorney for advice regarding the current state of the law and how it may apply to the issue or situation you have in mind.

Note: Only letters directed to all escrow agents, designated escrow officers, and other interested parties are available by "hyperlink" from this page. If the letter you're interested in does not have a live hyperlink to the letter text, you may order a copy using the Public Records Request Form.


2003 Interpretive Letters

Number 03-01ES
Date 01/07/03
Statute 208-660D
Subject Changes in Real Estate Commission
Summary Changes in the escrow instructions regarding real estate commission. Modifying commission amounts is a "material change" and must be in writing and agreed to and signed by all parties.

Number 03-01ES Alert
Date 05/28/03
Statute 18.44
Subject Trust Account Alert
Summary This alert reiterates the Department’s zero tolerance for trust account violations. Disbursements in excess, commingling of funds and other violations will result in enforcement actions. Escrow Agent Alert #95-1 from December 18, 1995 attached.

Number 03-02ES
Date 08/08/03
Statute 208-680D
Subject Changes in Real Estate Commission
Summary This alert reminds the escrow industry that real estate commissions included in closing agreements cannot be changed without written agreement between the principal parties. The Department views commission changes as "material changes" under WAC 280-680D-040. The person paying the commission should approve changes in commission amount. If the parties cannot agree on a change in commission, the escrow agent should have them interplead the funds so a court will have an opportunity to make a determination.

Number 02-01A ES
Date 08/08/03
Statute 18.44
Subject Excise Taxes
Summary This letter rescinds 02-01 ES, which authorized escrow agents to pre-disburse a check for excise tax to a title company. Upon further analysis the Department determined that such practice would violate chapter 18.44 RCW.

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