Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1954 No. 256 - May 11 1954
Attorney General Don Eastvold


RCW 18.85.310 1953 Supp. applies to licensed real estate brokers and does not include closing companies or individuals, such as title insurance companies, banks, trust companies, attorneys or other qualified agencies.

Copies of papers, including closing statement, must be given to the parties signing same and also kept by broker even though funds are not handled by broker.

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                                                                   May 11, 1954

Honorable Murray E. Taggart
Prosecuting Attorney
Walla Walla CountyCourt House
Walla Walla, Washington                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 256

Dear Mr. Taggart:

            We have received your letter of April 30, 1954, previously acknowledged, requesting our opinion on the following two questions concerning RCW 18.85.310:

            1.  Does RCW 18.85.310 apply to closing companies or individuals, such as title insurance companies, banks, trust companies, attorneys or other qualified agencies other than real estate brokers?

            2.  If the answer is "no" is the broker relieved of the obligation of furnishing copies of papers (including closing statement) to the interested parties, and maintaining as required the same in his files when funds are not handled by him or his office?

            In our opinion both questions should be answered in the negative.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]


            The Title 18.85 RCW reads in part as follows:

            "An Act relating to real estate brokers and real estate salesmen * * *"

            RCW 18.85.010 1953 Supp. sets out the following definitions:

            "(1) 'Real estate broker,' or 'broker,' means a natural or artificial person, acting independently, who for commissions or other compensation, engages in the purchase, sale, exchange, rental, or negotiation therefor, of real estate, or interests therein, and for business opportunities or interest therein, belonging to others, or holds himself out to the public as being so engaged;

            "(2) 'Real estate salesman' or 'salesman' means any natural person who represents a real estate broker in any of his activities."

            RCW 18.85.110 specifically exempts certain parties from the act as follows:

            "This chapter shall not apply to (1) any person who purchases property and/or a business opportunity for his own account, or who, as the owner of property, and/or a business opportunity, in any wise disposes of the same; nor, (2) any duly authorized attorney in fact, or an attorney at law in the performance of his duties; nor, (3) any receiver, trustee in bankruptcy, executor, administrator, guardian, or any person acting under the order of any court, or selling under a deed of trust; nor, (4) any escrow agent."

            In our opinion a reading of the act in its entirety with special emphasis on the above quoted sections clearly shows that the legislature did not intend this act to apply "to closing companies or individuals, such as title insurance companies, banks, trust companies, attorneys or other qualified agencies, other  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] than real estate brokers."  The purpose of the act is clearly to regulate those businessmen who hold themselves out to the public as dealers in real estate.

            Whether funds are or are not handled by the real estate broker makes no difference as far as the application of the portion of RCW 18.85.310 1953 Supp. now in question is concerned.  The legislative purpose in passing this section was to give the public protection in real estate transactions as well as to provide the director with adequate records for inspection.  It would certainly frustrate the purpose of this section if the real estate brokers were excluded when funds were not handled by them.

            It is therefore our conclusion that RCW 18.85.310 1953 Supp. applies only to real estate brokers as authorized to do business under this act; and the possibility that they may not handle funds in a particular transaction will not relieve them from compliance with other provisions of the section.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General