Who has to fill out a real estate seller disclosure in Washington state?

All states have their own seller disclosure laws for the sale of residential real estate. In Washington, this disclosure is known as “Form 17” and is required to be filled out by most, but not all sellers of real estate. The seller disclosure form outlines details and history of the property that the seller knows about, specifically calling out defects or other material facts about the particular piece of real estate. The seller disclosure requirement in Washington applied for residential dwellings of up to four units, new construction, condominiums not subject to a public offering statement, certain timeshares and manufactured and mobile homes.Form 17 Seller Disclosure

Here are the instances where you would not be required to receive a seller disclosure in Washington:

  1. A foreclosure or deed-in-lieu of foreclosure – This exempts properties during the foreclosure process. This does exempt banks during the transfer of property AFTER a foreclosure, which is commonly misunderstood by agents and banks alike. So the sale of a bank-owned home technically requires the bank to provide a seller disclosure, but the bank has no direct knowledge of the property, and will fill out “don’t know” for 100% of questions. If you are buying a bank-owned property, do not rely on information in the seller disclosure, if there is any. You must inspect the property to your own satisfaction.
  2. You don’t have to give a seller disclosure if you are selling to a direct family member (parent, spouse, domestic partner, child)
  3. You also don’t have to provide a seller disclosure if you are transferring a property during a divorce.
  4. If you have owned the property you are buying in the last two years, or even a portion of the property, then the seller doesn’t have to provide a disclosure.
  5. If you are buying an interest that is less than fee simple, then a seller disclosure is not required. The most common example would be entering into a lease on the property.
  6. When a seller dies, the estate has no direct knowledge of the property and doesn’t have to provide a seller disclosure.
  7. When a seller enters bankruptcy, the bankruptcy trustee takes over control of the property and also does not have direct knowledge of the property and doesn’t have to provide a seller disclosure.
  8. A buyer may expressly waive the receipt of the seller disclosure statement. However, there is a section about environmental questions that is still required if any of the answers are yes.

In most purchases of residential real estate in Washington, you are required to receive a seller disclosure statement, but keep in mind that you should always inspect the property to your own satisfaction. The disclosure statement is not a replacement for a competent home inspector or direct review of other property details.