Considerations on Seller Disclosures in Washington

Washington requires relatively extensive seller disclosures for both residential and commercial properties. The specific disclosure form required depends on whether the property is commercial, “improved residential,” or “unimproved residential.”

The Revised Code of Washington defines “improved residential real property” as real property with one to four residential dwelling units, certain residential condominiums, residential timeshares (unless subject to written disclosure by law), and mobile or manufactured homes.

“Unimproved residential real property” is property zoned for residential use that is not improved by any of the above.

The seller disclosure form for commercial property must contain, at a minimum, the information listed in Revised Code of Washington section 64.06.013.

The disclosure forms for unimproved residential property and improved residential property must contain the information listed in Revised Code of Washington sections 64.06.015 and 64.06.020, respectively.

The seller must deliver the disclosure statement to the buyer within five business days after the parties’ mutual acceptance of a contract to sell the land. The buyer then has three business days from the date the seller delivers the disclosure statement to rescind the contract (unless the seller corrects the issue at least three business days from the closing date).

Although a comprehensive discussion of the contents of these forms is beyond the scope of this article, some of the important points can be summarized here. Each disclosure form requires the seller to state whether they have title to the property, and whether the title is subject to any adverse interests, such as a right of first refusal, an option, a lease, or a life estate. Encroachments, boundary agreements, and easements must also be disclosed.

These forms also require disclosures related to water. For residential properties, sellers must disclose—among other items—the source of water, the existence of any easement(s) for access to or maintenance of the water source, and whether any repairs to the water system are needed.

For improved residential and commercial properties, the seller must make disclosures about any structural issues. This includes disclosure of whether the roof has leaked in the past five years. It also includes disclosure of whether there have been any additions, conversions, or remodeling and, if so, whether all permits were obtained and final inspections conducted. And the seller must disclose whether there are any defects with various parts of the structure, such as the foundations, the ceilings, or the walls.

Each of the required disclosure forms also has an “Environmental” section. This section requires disclosure of any flooding, standing water, or drainage problems on the property affecting the property itself or access to the property. The seller must also disclose any substances, materials, or products in or on the property that could be environmental concerns—such as asbestos, formaldehyde, radon gas, lead-based paint, fuel or chemical storage tanks, or contaminated soil or water. Disclosure of any soil or groundwater contamination is also required, as is disclosure of whether the property has ever been used as a dumping site.

Washington law allows the buyer to waive receipt of the disclosure form. RCW § 64.06.010(7). However, if the answer to any question on the “Environmental” section of the disclosure form would be “Yes,” then the buyer cannot waive receipt of the disclosures. Id. Moreover, the disclosure requirements do not apply to certain transfers of land, including: foreclosures or deeds in lieu of foreclosure; gifts between close family members; transfers between spouses in connection with marital dissolution; transfers where the buyer had an ownership interest in the property within two years of the date of transfer; transfers of life estates or other interests less than fee simple; or transfers made by the personal representative of an estate or a trustee in bankruptcy. RCW § 64.06.010(1)-(6). 

The above discussion covers only some of the required disclosures in Washington. For complete information about required disclosures for each type of real property, you should consult Revised Code of Washington sections 64.06.013, 64.06.015, and 64.06.020.

This posting is not legal advice. Legal advice is based on specific facts. This information is necessarily general in nature.