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Agency Law

The Law of Real Estate Agency
 

This Pamphlet describes your legalrights in dealing with a real estatebroker or salesperson. Please read itcarefully before signing any documents.

The following is only a brief summary of the attached law.

Sec. 1. Definitions. Defines the specific terms used in the law.

Sec. 2. Relationships between Licensees and the Public. States that a licensee who works with a buyer or tenant - unless the licensee is a listing agent, a sellers subagent, a dual agent, the seller personally or the parties agree otherwise. Also states that in a transaction involving two different licensees affiliated with the same broker, the broker is a dual agent and each licensee solely represents his or her client - unless the parties agree in writing that both licensees are also dual agents.

Sec. 3. Duties of a Licensee Generally. Prescribes the duties that are owed by all licensees, regardless of who the licensee represents. Requires disclosure of the licensees agency relationship in a specific transaction.

Sec. 4. Duties of a Sellers Agent. Prescribes the additional duties of a licensee representing the seller or landlord only.

Sec. 5. Duties of a Buyers Agent. Prescribes the additional duties of a licensee representing the buyer or tenant only.

Sec. 6. Duties of a dual Agent. Prescribes the additional duties of a licensee representing both parties in the same transaction and requires the written consent of both parties to the licensee acting as a dual agent.

Sec. 7. Duration of Agency Relationship. Describes when a agency relationships begins and ends. Provides that the duties of accounting and confidentiality continue after the termination of an agency relationship.

Sec. 8. Compensation. Allows brokers to share compensation with cooperating broker. States that payment of compensation does not necessarily establish an agency relationship. Allows brokers to receive compensation from more than one party in a transaction with the parties consent.

Sec. 9. Vicarious Liability. Eliminates the common law liability of a party for the conduct of the partys agent or subagent, unless the agent or subagent is insolvent. Also limits the liability of the broker for the conduct of a subagent associated with a different broker.

Sec. 10. Imputed Knowledge and Notice. Eliminates the common law rule that notice to or knowledge of an agent constitutes notice to or knowledge of the principal.

Sec. 11. Interpretation. This law replaces the fiduciary duties owed by an agent to a principal under the common law, to the extent that it conflicts with the common law.

Sec. 12. Effective Date. This law generally takes effect on January 1. 1997.

 

Sec. 1. Definitions

As used in this act, unless the context clearly requires otherwise.

  • Agency relationship means the agency relationship created pursuant to this act or by written agreement between a licensee and a buyer and/or seller relating to the performance or real estate brokerage services by the licensee.

  • Agent means a licensee who has entered into an agency relationship with a buyer or seller.

  • Business opportunity means and includes a business, business opportunity and goodwill of an existing business, or any one or combination thereof.

  • Buyer means an actual or prospective purchaser in a real estate transaction, or an actual or prospective tenant in a real estate rental or lease transaction, as applicable.

  • Buyers agent mean a licensee who has entered into an agency relationship with only the buyer in a real estate transaction, and includes subagents engages by a buyers agent.

  • Confidential information means information from or concerning a principal of a licensee that:

    was acquired by the licensee during the course of an agreement with the seller;

    the principal reasonably expects be kept confidential;

    the principal has not disclosed or authorized be disclosed to third parties;

    would, if disclosed, operate to the detriment of the principal; and

    the principal personally would not be obligated to disclosed to the other party.

  • Dual Agent means a licensee who has entered into an agency relationship with both the buyer and seller in the same transaction.

  • Licensee means a real estate broker, associate real estate broker, or real estate salesperson, as those terms are defines in chapter 18.85 RCW.

  • Material fact means information which substantially adversely affects the value of the property or a partys ability to perform its obligations in a real estate transaction, or operates to materially impair or defeat the purpose of the transaction. The fact or suspicion that the property, or any neighboring property, is or was the site of a murder, suicide, or other death, rape or other sex crime, assault or other violent crime, robbery or burglary, illegal drug activity, gang-related activity, political or religious activity, or other act, occurrence or use not adversely affecting the physical condition of or title to the property is not a material fact.

  • Principal means a buyer or a seller who has entered into an agency relationship with a licensee.

  • Real estate brokerage services means the rendering of services for which a real estate license is required under chapter 18.85 RCW.

  • Real estate transaction or transaction means an actual or prospective transaction involving a purchase, sale, option, or exchange of any interest in real property or a business opportunity, or a lease or rental of real property. For purposes of this act, a prospective transaction does not exist until a written offer has been signed by at least one of the parties.

  • Seller means an actual or prospective seller in a real estate transaction, or an actual or prospective landlord in a real estate rental or lease transaction, as applicable.

  • Sellers agent means a licensee who has entered into an agency relationship with only the seller in a real estate agency relationship with only the seller in a real estate transaction, and includes subagents engaged by a sellers agent.

  • Subagent means a licensee who is engages to act on behalf of a principal by the principals agent where the principal has authorized the agent in writing to appoint subagents.

Sec. 2. Relationships Between Licensees and the Public.

  • A licensee who performs real estate brokerage services for a buyer shall be deemed a buyers agent unless:

    The licensee has entered into a written agency agreement with the seller

    The licensee had entered into a subagency agreement with the sellers agent;

    The licensee has entered into a written agency agreement with both parties;

    The licensee is the seller or one of the sellers; or

    The parties agree otherwise in writing after the licensee has complied with section 3(l).

  • In a transaction in which different licensees affiliated with the same broker represent different parties, the broker is a dual agent, and must obtain the written consent of both parties as required under section 6 of this act. In suck a case, each licensee shall solely represent the party with whom the licensee has an agency relationship, unless all parties agree in writing that both licensees are dual agents.

  • A licensee may work with a party in separate transactions pursuant to different relationships, including, but not limited to, representing a party in one transaction and at the same time not representing that same party in a different transaction involving that party, if the licensee complies with this act in establishing the relationships for each transaction.

Sec. 3. Duties of a Licensee Generally.

  • Regardless of whether the licensee is an agent, a licensee owes to all parties to whom the licensee renders real estate brokerage services the following duties, which may not be waived:

    To exercise reasonable skill and care;

    To deal honestly and in good faith;

    To present all written offers, written notices and other written communications to and from either party in a timely manner, regardless of whether the property is subject to an existing contract for sale or the buyer is already a party to an existing contract to purchase;

    To disclose all existing material facts known by the licensee and not apparent or readily ascertainable to a party; provided that this subsection shall be construed to imply any duty to investigate matters that the licensee has not agreed to investigate;

    To account in a timely manner for all money and property received from or on behalf of either party;

    To provide a pamphlet on the law of real estate agency in the form prescribed in section 13 of this act to all parties to whom the licensee renders real estate brokerage services, before the party signs an agency agreement with the licensee, signs an offer in a real estate transaction handled by the licensee, consents to dual agency, or waives any rights under section 2, 4, 5, 6or 6, whichever is soonest; and

    To disclose in writing to all parties to whom the license renders real estate brokerage services, before the party signs an offer in a real estate transaction handled by the licensee, whether the licensee represents the buyer, the seller, both parties, or neither party. The disclosure shall be set forth in a separate paragraph entitled Agency Disclosure in the agreement between the buyer and seller or in a separate writing entitled Agency Disclosure.

  • Unless otherwise agreed, a licensee owes no duty to conduct an independent inspection of the property or to conduct an independent investigation of either partys financial condition, and owes no duty to independently verify the accuracy or completeness of any statement made by either party or by any source reasonably believed by the licensee to be reliable.

 

Sec. 4. Duties of a Sellers Agent

  • Unless additional duties are agreed to in writing signed by a sellers agent, the duties of a sellers agent are limited to those set forth in section 3 of this act and the following, which may not be waived except as expressly set forth in of this subsection:

    To be loyal to the seller by taking no action that is adverse or detrimental to the sellers interest in a transaction;

    To timely disclose to the seller any conflict of interest;

    To advise the seller any conflict of interest;

    Not to disclose any confidential information from or about the seller, except under subpoena or court order, even after termination of the agency relationship; and

    Unless otherwise agreed in writing after the sellers agent has complied with section 3, to make a good faith and continues effort to find a buyer for the property; except that a sellers agent shall not be obligated to seek additional offers to purchase the property while the property is subject to an existing contract for sale.

  • A sellers agency may show alternative properties not owed by the seller to prospective buyers and may list competing properties for sale without breaching any duty to the seller.

Sec. 5. Duties of a Buyers Agent.

  • Unless additional duties are agreed to in writing signed by a buyers agent, the duties of a buyers agent are limited to those set forth in section 3 of this act and the following, which may not be waived except as expressly set forth in of this subsection:

    To be loyal to the buyer by taking no action that is adverse or detrimental to the buyers interest in a transaction;

    To timely disclose to the buyer any conflicts of interest;

    To advise the buyer to seek expert advise on matters relating to the transaction that are beyond the agents expertise;

    Not to disclose any confidential information from or about the buyer, except under subpoena or court order, even after termination of the agency relationship; and

    Unless otherwise agreed in writing after the buyers agent has complied with section 3, to make a good faith and continuous effort to find a property for the buyer, except that a buyers agent shall not be obligated to seek additional properties to purchase while the buyer is a party to an existing contract to purchase, or show properties as to which there is no written agreement to pay compensation to the buyers agent.

  • A buyers agent may show properties in which the buyer is interested to other prospective buyers without breaching any duty to the buyer.

Sec. 6. Duties of a Dual Agent.

  • A licensee may act as a dual agent only with the written consent of both parties to the transaction after the dual agent has complied with section 3, which consent must include a statement of the terms of compensation.

  • Unless additional duties are agreed to in writing signed by a dual agent, the duties of a dual agent are limited to those set forth in section 3 of this act and the following, which may not be waived except as expressly set forth in and of this subsection:

    To take no action that is adverse or detrimental to either partys interest in a transaction;

    To timely disclose to bother parties any conflicts of interest

    To advise both parties to seek expert advise on matters relating to the transaction that are beyond the dual agents expertise;

    Not to disclose any confidential information from or about either party, except under subpoena or court order, even after termination of the agency relationship;

    Unless otherwise agreed in writing after the dual agent has complied with section 3, to make a good faith and continuous effort to find a buyer for the property; except that a dual agent shall not be obligated to seek additional offers to purchase the property while the property is subject to an existing contract for sale; and

    Unless otherwise agreed in writing after the dual agent has complied with section 3, to make a good faith and continuous effort to find a property for the buyer, except that a dual agent shall not be obligated to seek additional properties to purchase while the buyer is a party to an existing contract to purchase or show properties as to which there are no written agreement to pay compensation to the dual agent.

  • A dual agent may show alternative properties not owned by the seller to prospective buyers and may list competing properties for sale without breaching any duty to the seller.

  • A dual agent may show properties in which the buyer is interested to other prospective buyers without breaching any duty to the buyer.

Sec. 7. Duration of Agency Relationship.

  • The agency relationships set forth in this act shall commence at the time that the licensee undertakes to provide real estate brokerage services to a principal and shall continue until the earlier of the following;

    completion of performance by the licensee;

    expiration of the term agreed upon by the parties; or

    termination of the relationship by mutual agreement of the parties.

  • Except as otherwise agreed in writing, a licensee owes no further duty after termination of the agency relationship, other than the duties of:

    Accounting for all monies and property received during the relationship; and

    Not disclosing confidential information

Sec. 8. Compensation.

  • In any real estate transaction, the brokers compensation may be paid by the seller, the buyer, a third party, or be sharing the compensation between brokers.

  • An agreement to pay or payment of compensation does not establish an agency relationship between the party who paid the compensation and the licensee.

  • A seller may agree that a sellers agent may share with another broker the compensation paid by the seller.

  • A buyer may agree that a buyers agent may share with another broker the compensation paid by another broker the compensation paid by the buyer.

  • A broker may be compensated by more than one party for real estate brokerage services in a real estate transaction, if those parties consent in writing at or before the time of signing an offer in the transaction.

  • A buyers agent or dual agent may receive compensation based on the purchase price without breaching any duty to the buyer.

  • Nothing containing in this act shall obligate a buyer or seller to pay compensation to a licensee, unless the buyer or seller has entered into a written agreement with the licensee specifying the terms of such a compensation.

Sec. 9. Vicarious Liability.

  • A principal is not liable for an act, error, or omission by an agent or subagent of the principal arising out of an agency relationship.

    unless the principal participated in or authorized the act, error or omission, or

    expect to the extent that the principal benefited from the act, error or omission and the court determines that it is highly probably that the claimant would be unable to enforce a judgment against the agent or subagent.

  • A licensee is not liable for an act, error or omission of a subagent under this act, unless the licensee participating in or authorizing the act, error or omission. This subsection does not limit the liability of a real estate broker for an act, error or omission by an associate real estate broker or real estate salesperson licensed to such broker.

Sec. 10. Imputed Knowledge and Notice.

  • Unless otherwise agreed in writing, a principal does not have knowledge or notice any facts known by a agent or subagent of the principal that are not actually known by the principal.

  • Unless otherwise agreed in writing, a licensee does not have knowledge or notice of any fact known by a subagent that are not actually known by the licensee. This subsection does not limit the knowledge imputed to a real estate broker of any facts known by an associate real estate broker or real estate person licensed to such broker.

Sec. 11. Interpretation.

This act supersedes only the duties of the parties under common law, including fiduciary duties of an agent to a principal, to the extent inconsistent with this act. The common law shall continue to apply to the parties in all other respects. Nothing in this act affects the duties of a licensee while engaging in the authorized or unauthorized practice of law as determined by the courts of this state. This act shall be construed broadly.

Sec. 12. Effective Date.

This act shall take effect on January 1, 1997, except that this act shall not apply to an agency relationship entered into before January 1, 1997, unless the principal and agent agree in writing that this act will, as of January 1, 1997, apply to such agency relationship

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