WA REALTORS: Clarifying Statutory vs Fiduciary Duties for Brokers …January 27, 2013 by antiinteresting | Filed under irradiate.
Since I?m not an attorney, I have a bit more freedom in explaining an important legal issue for real estate agents. ?I?ll try to make this as straight forward as possible, since it?s a complex topic but has a very easy fix.
Statutory Duties of Real Estate Agents/Brokers:
In 1996, the state of Washington passed new statutes that defined the licensing and agency laws for real estate agents. ?They clarified, in detail, what is required to receive a license, and what duties agents owed to their buyers and sellers.
These statutes created statutory duties which:
- Allow consumers to clearly understand an agent?s role
- Allow agents and brokers to understand their legal responsibilities
- Remove the need for courts to define agents? responsibilities and liability on a case-by-case basis
Fiduciary duties are different. ?They are part of common law, and are subject to a different interpretation by the legal system.
The 1996 statutes were created to override specific parts of common law/fiduciary?duties. The legislature wanted to make an agent?s legal role crystal clear, and it did so with these statutory duties. ?Common law still applies to real estate agents in some cases, but fiduciary duties have been superseded in many ways by more defined statutory duties for this specific occupation.
?Statutory Fiduciary Duties? do not apply
Recent court decisions have confused the issue, referring to the ?Statutory fiduciary duties? of real estate agents. ?The statutory duties of real estate agents in Washington are very specifically not fiduciary. ?This is how legislature, the licensing department, and the real estate industry intended the duties to be defined. ?To combine the two terms is to create confusion, litigation, and liability.
Housekeeping: ?Create consistency in the law and clarity for consumers
The legislature will have a bill shortly that will simply clarify the terminology. ?It will reassert the defined statutory duties that are currently in license law. ?Consumers, courts, and real estate practitioners will all benefit from knowing exactly what our roles are.
Washington?s Real Estate Licensing/Agency Law: ?RCW 18.85 and RCW 18.86
Up Next: ?Real Estate Agents/Brokers are Independent Contractors (And We Like It That Way)
? SeattleHome.com: ? Sam DeBord, Managing Broker, Realtor
Coldwell Banker Seattle: Coldwell Banker Danforth & Associates
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