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.

2002-2000 Interpretive Letters

Number 02-01ES
Date 11/15/02
Statute 18.44
Subject Excise Taxes for Real Estate Transactions
Summary This letter clarifies the policy of the Department of Financial Institutions with respect to the payment of excise taxes for real estate transactions.

Number 01-01ES
Date 04/17/01
Statute 208-660
Subject New Rule Increasing Fees
Summary The fees and assessment charges increase by the “fiscal growth factor,” a rate established with the passage of I-601.

Number Quarterly Trust Accounts Letter
Date 08/17/00
Subject Escrow Licensees to Submit Quarterly Trust Account Reconciliation Reports
Summary The level of theft and embezzlement from escrow agent trust accounts is a serious problem. In response, DFI will use a risk factor approach to scheduling audit visits to licensees. DFI also intends to audit all new licensees within six months of receiving their license and to implement a voluntary off-site monitoring system of trust account reconciliation. Beginning October 1, 2000, the Department will request that all licensed escrow agents voluntarily submit quarterly reports to the DFI.

Number 00-04ES
Date 08/11/00
Statute 18.44.400
Subject An Out-of-State Escrow Company and the Requirement to Maintain the Trust Account in a Washington Bank
Summary In the event that the escrow agent is licensed in both states, and performs an escrow for a transaction involving a consumer located in another state, and a consumer located in Washington, then it faces the practical dilemma of an inability to simultaneously comply with the in-state trust account provisions in both state laws. This letter describes the requirements for the decision as to which state the trust funds should be held in based on the property location.

Number 00-03ES
Date 03/31/00
Statute 18.44.201
Subject 30-day Notice Prior to Insurance Cancellations
Summary The insurer must give DFI (the certificate holder) 30 days written notice prior to cancellation of an Escrow Agent’s fidelity or surety bond, or E & O insurance.

Number 00-02ES
Date 03/30/00
Statute 208-680E-011
Subject Zero Tolerance for Non-Reconciled Trust Accounts
Summary Failure to reconcile trust accounts monthly may result in an order to take no new business until the account is current or closure of the Escrow Agent’s business.

Number 00-01ES
Date 02/02/00
Statute 18.44.201
Subject Escrow Agent Registration Act (the Act) Including Endorsements Adding an Additional Loss Payee on its Fidelity Bond.
Summary It is a violation of RCW 18.44 for an escrow agent to include endorsements adding an additional loss payee to the fidelity bond required under RCW 18.44.201. The fidelity bond required under the Escrow Agent Registration Act is for the sole protection of the escrow agent. However, it is not a violation for the escrow agent to obtain more than one type of bond for other entities the agent does business with, including fidelity bonds.