(1) It shall be unlawful for any person to engage in business as an escrow agent by performing escrows or any of the functions of an escrow agent as described in RCW 18.44.011
(7) within this state or with respect to transactions that involve personal property or real property located in this state unless such person possesses a valid license issued by the director pursuant to this chapter. The licensing requirements of this chapter shall not apply to:
(a) Any person doing business under the law of this state or the United States relating to banks, trust companies, mutual savings banks, savings and loan associations, credit unions, insurance companies, or any federally approved agency or lending institution under the national housing act (12 U.S.C. Sec. 1703).
(b) Any person licensed to practice law in this state if:
(i) All escrow transactions are performed by the lawyer while engaged in the practice of law, or by employees of the law practice under the direct supervision of the lawyer while engaged in the practice of law;
(ii) All escrow transactions are performed under a legal entity publicly identified and operated as a law practice; and
(iii) All escrow funds are deposited to, maintained in, and disbursed from a trust account in compliance with rules enacted by the Washington supreme court regulating the conduct of lawyers.
(c) Any real estate company, broker, or agent subject to the jurisdiction of the director of licensing while performing acts in the course of or incidental to sales or purchases of real or personal property handled or negotiated by such real estate company, broker, or agent: PROVIDED, That no compensation is received for escrow services.
(d) Any transaction in which money or other property is paid to, deposited with, or transferred to a joint control agent for disbursal or use in payment of the cost of labor, material, services, permits, fees, or other items of expense incurred in the construction of improvements upon real property.
(e) Any receiver, trustee in bankruptcy, executor, administrator, guardian, or other person acting under the supervision or order of any superior court of this state or of any federal court.
(f) Title insurance companies having a valid certificate of authority issued by the insurance commissioner of this state and title insurance agents having a valid license as a title insurance agent issued by the insurance commissioner of this state.
(2) The director may at his or her discretion waive applicability of the licensing provisions of this chapter if the director determines it necessary to facilitate commerce or protect consumers. The director may adopt rules interpreting this section.