Washington State Department of Financial Institutions

Escrow Memorandum #03-02 ES

DATE: August 8, 2003

TO: All Escrow Agent Licensees, and Interested Parties

FROM: Whittier Johnson, Program Manager

SUBJECT: Changes in Real Estate Commission

The Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) offers the following alert regarding the proper way to address situations when real estate commissions in a purchase transaction are changed.   An Escrow Agent is responsible for effecting and closing escrow agreements between principal parties.  This includes preparing or accepting agreements among or from the principal parties.  This alert addresses changes in real estate commissions, outlining the Department of Financial Institutions view on the matter.

When an Escrow Agent receives or finalizes an agreement and prepares instructions effectuating the agreement between a buyer and seller, the agreement often includes a commission amount for real estate broker(s).  Those commission amounts, typically outlined on documents called disbursement forms, may be modified at a later date.  If they are modified, the escrow agent must be careful to make certain the change is treated properly.

Here are some important considerations:

The Department of Financial Institutions will look for proper development and use of commission disbursement forms as part of escrow instructions in our regularly scheduled examinations of Escrow Licensees. We hope this alert will help Escrow Agents comply. If you have questions about this or other examination or compliance matters feel free to call the Department of Financial Institutions at 360-902-8700.

Sincerely,

Whittier Johnson
Program Manager

DFI