(1) What are trust funds?
Trust funds are all funds received from borrowers, or on behalf of borrowers, for payments to third-party providers. The funds are considered to be held in trust immediately upon receipt. Trust funds include, but are not limited to, borrower deposits for appraisal fees, credit report fees, title report fees, and similar fees to be paid for services rendered by third-party providers in the borrower's loan transaction.
(2) Are lock-in agreement fees paid by a borrower to the mortgage broker considered trust funds?
Yes, these fees are considered trust funds and must be deposited in the mortgage broker's trust account, unless the check is made payable to the lender. If the check is made payable to the lender, the mortgage broker has a duty to exercise ordinary care to see that the check is not used for any unauthorized purpose. The mortgage broker must deliver the check to the lender pursuant to any agreement with the lender, or within three business days of receiving the funds.
(3) Must I have a trust account if I receive funds from borrowers for the payment of third-party providers?
Yes. All funds received from borrowers, or on behalf of borrowers, for payments to third-party providers are trust funds and are considered held in trust immediately upon receipt. You must deposit those funds in a trust account in your name as it appears on your license, or if exempt in the name of the exempt broker, in a federally insured financial institution's branch located in this state within three business days of receiving the funds. The funds must remain on deposit until disbursed to the third-party provider except as permitted by the act and these rules. The mortgage broker is responsible for depositing, holding, disbursing, accounting for and otherwise safeguarding the funds in accordance with the act and these rules.
(4) Must I have a trust account if I do not receive any trust funds?
No. If you do not accept trust funds at any point before, during, or after a loan transaction, a trust account is not required.
(5) Must I have a trust account if I am a mortgage broker exempt from licensing under the act?
Mortgage brokers exempt under RCW 19.146.020
(1)(a), (b), (c), (d), and (g) are not required to have a trust account even if they receive trust funds.
(6) What does it mean to receive trust funds "on behalf of borrowers"?
Trust funds are identified by purpose rather than source. Funds received by the mortgage broker from the borrower for the payment of third-party provider services are trust funds. Funds received from relatives of borrowers, the seller in a real estate transaction, or an escrow company or lender reimbursing a mortgage broker for payments advanced are trust funds. Funds deposited to a borrower's subaccount by the mortgage broker as an advance are funds received on behalf of the borrower and are trust funds.
(7) What forms of payment must trust funds take?
Trust funds may be in any form that allows deposit into the trust account, including, but not limited to, cash, check, or any electronic transmission of funds, including, but not limited to bank wires, ACH authorization, credit card or debit transactions, or online payments through a web site.
(8) How do I receive trust funds through electronic transmission?
(a) The trust funds must be transmitted directly from the borrower, or other person on behalf of the borrower, into your trust account, in a federally insured financial institution located in the state of Washington.
(b) Each electronic transmission must be evidenced by a record including a traceable identifying name or number supplied by the federally insured financial institution or transferring entity. Electronic transmissions must be included in the monthly trust account reconciliation.
(9) When must I deposit trust funds?
You must deposit all funds you receive, that are required to be held in trust, before the end of the third business day following your receipt of the funds.
(10) How must I document deposits?
(a) You must document all deposits to the trust account(s) by having a bank deposit slip which has been validated by bank imprint, or an attached deposit receipt which bears the signature of an authorized representative of the mortgage broker indicating that the funds were actually deposited into the proper account(s).
(b) You must post the deposit of funds by wire transfer or any means other than cash, check, or money order in the same manner as other receipts. Any such transfer of funds must include a traceable identifying name or number supplied by the federally insured financial institution or transferring entity. You must also retain a receipt for the deposit of the funds which must contain the traceable identifying name or number supplied by the federally insured financial institution or transferring entity.
(11) May I deposit funds other than trust funds into my trust account?
You may advance your own funds into the trust account(s) to prevent a disbursement in excess of an individual borrower's subaccount, provided that the exact sum of deficiency is deposited and detailed records of the deposit and its purpose are maintained in the trust ledger and the trust account(s) check register. Any deposits of your own funds into the trust account(s) must be held in trust in the same manner as funds paid by borrowers for the payment of third-party providers and treated accordingly in compliance with the act and these rules.
(12) May a loan originator accept trust funds?
A loan originator may not solicit or receive fees for a third-party provider of goods or services except that a loan originator may transfer funds from a borrower to a licensed mortgage broker, exempt mortgage broker, or third-party provider, if the loan originator does not deposit, hold, retain, or use the funds for any purpose other than the payment of bona fide fees to third-party providers. The funds must be in the form of a check made payable to a licensed mortgage broker, exempt mortgage broker, or third-party provider. The loan originator must transfer the borrower's funds to the licensed mortgage broker, exempt mortgage broker, or third-party provider within one business day of receiving the check from the borrower.
(13) May a mortgage broker accept and hold a check from a borrower that is made payable to a third-party provider and intended to be used to pay for third-party provider services without depositing the check into a trust account?
Yes. The check must be payable to a specific third-party provider. The payee line may not be left blank. The mortgage broker has a duty to exercise ordinary care to see that the check is not used for any unauthorized purpose. The mortgage broker must deliver the check to the third-party provider within the time frames and requirements established in RCW 19.146.0201
(14) May a loan originator accept and hold a check from a borrower that is made payable to a third party and intended to be used to pay for third-party provider services?
A loan originator may only hold a borrower's check for the purpose of transferring the funds from the borrower to the licensed mortgage broker, exempt mortgage broker, or third-party provider. The loan originator must transfer the borrower's funds to the licensed mortgage broker, exempt mortgage broker, or third-party provider within one business day of receiving the check from the borrower.
(15) Is a lender or mortgage broker, or agent or employee of a lender or mortgage broker, considered a third party?
A lender is considered a third party only when the lender provides lock-in arrangements to the mortgage broker in connection with the preparation of a borrower's loan.
(16) If a mortgage broker receives funds from a third party, such as a closer, or a lender, as reimbursement for advancements for the payment of third-party provider services, are these funds considered trust funds?
Yes, all funds received by the mortgage broker on behalf of the borrower for the payment of third-party providers are considered trust funds.
(17) What books and records must I keep regarding my trust account?
You must maintain as part of your books and records:
(a) A trust account deposit register and copies of all validated deposit slips or signed deposit receipts for each deposit to the trust account;
(b) A record of all invoices for payments made on behalf of a borrower including but not limited to payments for appraisals, credit reports, title cancellations, and verification of deposit;
(c) A ledger for each trust account. Each ledger must contain a separate subaccount ledger sheet for each borrower from whom funds are received for payment of third-party providers. Each receipt and disbursement pertaining to such funds must be posted to the ledger sheet at the time the receipt or disbursement occurs. Entries to each ledger sheet must show the date of deposit, identifying check or instrument number, amount and name of remitter. Offsetting entries to each ledger sheet must show the date of check or electronic transmission, check number or identifying electronic transmission number, amount of check or electronic transmission, name of payee and invoice number if any. Canceled or closed ledger sheets must be identified by time period and borrower name or loan number;
(d) A trust account check register consisting of a record of all deposits to and disbursements from the trust account whether by check or electronic transmission;
(e) Reconciled trust account bank statements;
(f) A monthly trial balance of the ledger of trust accounts, and a reconciliation of the ledger of trust accounts with the related bank statement(s) and the related check register(s). The reconciled balance of the trust account(s) must at all times equal the sum of:
(i) The outstanding amount of funds received from or on behalf of borrowers for payment of third-party providers; and
(ii) The outstanding amount of any deposits into the trust fund of the mortgage broker's own funds in accordance with subsection (11) of this section; and
(g) A printed and dated source document file to support any changes to existing accounting records.
Any alternative records you propose for use must be approved in advance by the director.
(18) What is a "subaccount"?
A "subaccount" is a recordkeeping segregation of each borrower's funds held in the mortgage broker's single deposit trust account that holds the aggregated funds for the mortgage broker's clients. Alternatively, the mortgage broker may establish a separate bank account for each borrower. When added together, individual subaccounts must exactly equal the total of funds held in trust.
(19) May I transfer funds between a borrower's subaccounts?
If a borrower has more than one loan application pending with a mortgage broker, the mortgage broker must maintain a separate subaccount ledger for each loan application. The borrower must consent to any transfer of trust account funds between the individual subaccounts associated with these pending loan applications. The consent must be maintained in the borrower's loan file and referenced in the borrower's subaccount ledger sheets.
(20) May I be reimbursed for funds that I have advanced into the trust account?
(a) If you deposit your own funds into the trust account as provided in subsection (11) of this section, you may receive reimbursement for such deposit at closing into your general business bank account provided:
(i) All third-party provider's charges associated with your deposit have been paid;
(ii) The HUD-1 Settlement Statement provided to the borrower clearly reflects the line item, "deposit paid by broker," and the amount deposited;
(iii) The HUD-1 Settlement Statement provided to the borrower clearly reflects the line item, "reimbursement to broker for funds advances," and the amount reimbursed; and
(iv) Any funds disbursed by escrow at closing to you for payment of unpaid third-party providers' expenses charged or to be charged to you are deposited into the borrower's subaccount of the trust account.
(b) If you advance your own funds into the trust account as provided in subsection (11) of this section, and the loan does not close, the funds remain the property of the borrower.
(21) May I disburse trust funds through electronic transmission?
Yes. You may disburse trust funds from the trust account by electronic transmission. Each electronic transmission must be evidenced by a record including a traceable identifying name or number supplied by the federally insured financial institution or transferring entity.
Electronic transmission(s) must be included in the monthly trust account reconciliation.
(22) How must I handle trust account disbursements?
(a) Disbursements from trust accounts may be by electronic transmission or manual check. If a manual check is used, the check must on its face identify the specific third-party provider transaction or borrower refund, except as specified in this section. If an electronic transmission is used, each transmission must be evidenced by a record including a traceable identifying name or number supplied by the federally insured financial institution or transferring entity.
(b) Disbursements may be made from the trust account(s) for the payment of bona fide third-party providers' services rendered in the course of the borrower's loan origination, if the borrower has consented in writing to the payment. Such consent may be given at any time during the application process and in any written form, provided that it contains sufficient detail to verify the borrower's consent to the use of trust funds. No disbursement on behalf of the borrower may be made from the trust account until the borrower's or broker's deposit of sufficient funds into the trust account(s) is available for withdrawal.
(23) What are the requirements concerning the checks I write from my trust account?
You must use checks that are prenumbered by the supplier (printer) unless you use an automated check writing system which numbers all checks in sequence. All trust account checks must have the words "trust account" on the front. If you use an automated program that writes checks, the check number must appear in the magnetic coding which also identifies the account number for readability by federally insured financial institution computers and the program may assign suffixes or subaccount codes before or after the check number for identification.
(24) What disbursements are prohibited?
Among other prohibited disbursements, no disbursement may be made from a borrower's subaccount:
(a) In excess of the amount held in the borrower's subaccount (commonly referred to as a disbursement in excess);
(b) In payment of a fee owed to any employee of the mortgage broker or in payment of any business expense of the mortgage broker;
(c) For payment of any service charges related to the management or administration of the trust account(s);
(d) For payment of any fees owed to the mortgage broker by the borrower, or to transfer funds from the subaccount to any other account; and
(e) For the payment of fees owed to the broker under RCW 19.146.070
(25) When may a mortgage broker transfer excess funds from a borrower subaccount?
(a) A mortgage broker may, in the case of a closed and funded transaction, transfer excess funds remaining in the individual borrower's subaccount into the mortgage broker's general business bank account in full or partial payment of fees owed to the mortgage broker upon determination that all third-party providers' expenses have been accurately reported in the loan closing documents and have been paid in full, and that the borrower has received credit in the loan closing documents for all funds deposited in the trust account.
(b) Each mortgage broker must maintain a detailed audit trail for any disbursements from the borrower's subaccount(s) into the mortgage broker's general business bank account, including documentation in the form of a final HUD-1 Settlement Statement form showing that credit has been received by the borrower in the closing and funding of the transaction. The disbursements must be made by a check drawn or electronic transmission on the trust account and deposited directly into the mortgage broker's general business bank account.
(26) What if there are funds remaining in a borrower's subaccount after all third-party providers have been satisfied?
Any remaining funds in a borrower's subaccount must be returned to the borrower within five business days of the determination that all payments to third-party providers owed by the borrower have been satisfied.
(27) What if the mortgage broker cannot locate a borrower in order to remit excess funds in the borrower's subaccount?
The mortgage broker must follow the procedures provided by the department of revenue's unclaimed property division to handle any trust funds held for a borrower who cannot be located.
(28) Is a mortgage broker responsible for all disbursements out of the trust account?
Yes. A mortgage broker is responsible for all disbursements from the trust account whether disbursed by personal signature, signature plate, signature of another person authorized to act on its behalf, or any authorized electronic transfer.
(29) If a mortgage broker receives a check from closing that includes both the mortgage broker's fee and a payment or payments for third-party providers, how does the mortgage broker lawfully handle the funds?
The mortgage broker may either:
(a) Split the check at the teller window at the time of deposit and route any moneys due to third-party providers to an approved trust account, and moneys due it to its general account; or
(b) Deposit the entire check into the trust account. After paying any and all moneys due to third-party providers and insuring that the borrower has received credit for all funds deposited in the trust account, the mortgage broker may transfer excess funds remaining in the individual borrower's subaccount into the mortgage broker's general business bank account. This amount must be equal to the fee disclosed on the final HUD-1 Settlement Statement, less any amounts already received by the mortgage broker, and must be duly recorded in the trust subaccount ledger. The mortgage broker may not transfer moneys from the trust account to its general business bank account before the loan is closed.
(30) Is the mortgage broker allowed to transfer funds out of the trust account for any reason other than for payment to a third-party provider?
The mortgage broker may transfer the borrower's funds out of the trust account by check back to the borrower or to any party so instructed in writing by the borrower. A mortgage broker, when complying with these rules, may transfer excess trust funds to itself; however, failure to comply with these rules is a serious violation punishable by imprisonment, other penalties, or both as authorized by the act.
(31) How do I pay a third-party provider's fees if escrow disburses the funds to me and I don't have a trust account?
You must return the funds to escrow for proper disbursement, or maintain a trust account for such incidental occurrences.
(32) If I choose not to have a trust account, and a closing agent did not follow written instructions and issued a check to me after closing that has fees in it for third-party providers, may I deposit the check into my business account and pay those third-party providers immediately?
No. You must not deposit those fees into your business account under any circumstances.
(33) After closing, if an escrow agent, title company, or lender wires funds into my general account that are intended for third-party providers, will the department take action against me for a violation of the trust fund requirements?
Provided that the number of times funds are mistakenly wired to your general account is immaterial compared to the total number of loans you closed and you can provide proof that you took the following steps, the department will not take action against you for a violation of the trust account requirements under RCW 19.146.050
(a) You gave the escrow agent, title company, or lender clear written instruction not to send funds intended for third-party providers to you; and you forwarded all funds mistakenly wired to your general account to the proper party on or before the end of the third business day after receipt; or
(b) You provided accurate wire instruction for the trust account and the funds transmitter caused the error by accidentally placing the funds into your general account, and within one day you transfer all trust funds to your trust account.
(34) How does a mortgage broker disburse funds from a subaccount when there is more than one borrower due to receive those funds?
When disbursing funds back to the borrowers, a mortgage broker must make the trust account disbursement check payable to all borrowers with the term "and" written between each borrower's name. When disbursing funds to another party instructed by the borrowers, all borrowers must sign the written notice of instruction.
(35) May mortgage brokers using an interest-bearing trust account keep the interest?
No. Mortgage brokers using an interest bearing account must refund or credit to the borrower the interest earned on the borrower's subaccount. The refund or credit to the borrower may be made either at closing or upon withdrawal or denial of the borrower's loan application.
(36) Are there any separate requirements for a computerized accounting system?
Yes. The requirements are as follows:
(a) Your computer system must provide the capability to back up data files;
(b)(i) You must print the following documents at least once per month and retain them as part of your books and records:
(A) Trust account deposit register;
(B) Trust account check register;
(C) Trial balance ledger;
(ii) You must print each subaccount at closure and retain the closure document as part of your books and records;
(c) You must ensure that all written checks are included within your computer accounting system; and
(d) You must print your computer-generated reconciliations of the trust account at least once each month and retain the printouts as a part of your books and records.
(37) Are there penalties for violating trust account requirements under RCW 19.146.050?
A violation of this section is a class C felony and may be punishable by imprisonment. In addition, a mortgage broker or other person violating this section may be subject to penalties as enumerated under RCW 19.146.220
[Statutory Authority: RCW 43.320.040, 19.146.223, and 2009 c 528. 09-24-091, § 208-660-410, filed 12/1/09, effective 1/1/10. Statutory Authority: RCW 43.320.040, 19.146.223, 2006 c 19. 06-23-137, § 208-660-410, filed 11/21/06, effective 1/1/07.]