Administration of funds held in trust—General procedures.
Any real estate broker who receives funds or moneys from any principal or any party to a real estate or business opportunity transaction, property management agreement, contract/mortgage collection agreement, or advance fees, shall hold the funds or moneys in trust for the purposes of the brokerage service contract or transaction, and shall not utilize such funds or moneys for the benefit of the broker, managing broker, real estate firm or any person not entitled to such benefit. Designated brokers are responsible for ensuring their affiliated licensees safeguard client funds by following these rules. Funds or moneys received in trust shall be deposited in a bank, savings association, or credit union insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or the share insurance fund of the National Credit Union Administration, or any successor federal deposit insurer. The financial institution must be able to accept service in Washington state. The designated broker is responsible for the administration of trust funds and accounts to include, but not be limited to:
• Accounting to principals;
• Notifying principals and cooperating licensees of material facts; and
• Reconciling and properly setting up a trust account. The designated broker is responsible for handling trust funds as provided herein.
(1) Bank accounts shall be designated as trust accounts in the firm name or assumed name as licensed.
(2) Interest credited to a client's account must be recorded as a liability on client ledger. Interest assigned or credited by written assignment agreement to the firm may not be maintained in the trust account. The designated broker is responsible for making arrangements with the financial institution to credit this interest to the general account of the firm.
(3) The designated broker shall establish and maintain a system of records and procedures approved by the real estate program that provides for an audit trail accounting of all funds received and disbursed. All funds must be identified to the account of each individual client.
(4) Alternative systems of records or procedures proposed by a designated broker shall be approved in advance in writing by the real estate program.
(5) The designated broker shall be responsible for deposits, disbursements, or transfers of clients' funds received and held in trust.
(6) All funds or moneys received for any reason pertaining to the sale, renting, leasing, optioning of real estate or business opportunities, contract or mortgage collections or advance fees shall be deposited in the firm's real estate trust bank account not later than the next banking day following receipt thereof; except:
(a) Cash must be deposited in the firm's trust account not later than the next banking day;
(b) Checks received as earnest money deposits when the earnest money agreement states that a check is to be held for a specified length of time or until the occurrence of a specific event; and
(c) For purposes of this section, Saturday, Sunday, or other legal holidays as defined in RCW 1.16.050
shall not be considered a banking day.
(7) All checks, funds or moneys received shall be identified by the date received and by the amount, source and purpose on either a cash receipts journal or duplicate receipt retained as a permanent record.
(8) All deposits to the trust bank account shall be identified by the source of funds and transaction to which it applies.
(9) An individual client's ledger sheet shall be established and maintained for each client for whom funds are received in trust, which shows all receipts and disbursements. The firm will maintain the minimum amount required by the financial institution in the trust account to prevent the trust account from being closed. A ledger sheet identified as "opening account" will be required for funds that are used to open the account or to keep the trust account from being closed. The credit entries must show the date of deposit, amount of deposit, and item covered including, but not limited to "earnest money deposit," "down payment," "rent," "damage deposit," "rent deposit," "interest," or "advance fee." The debit entries must show the date of the check, check number, amount of the check, name of payee and item covered. The "item covered" entry may indicate a code number per chart of accounts, or may be documented by entry in a cash receipts journal, cash disbursements journal, or check voucher.
(10) The reconciled real estate trust bank account balance must be equal at all times to the outstanding trust liability to clients and the funds in the "open account" ledger. The balance shown in the check register or bank control account must equal the total liability to clients and the "open account" ledger.
(11) The designated broker shall be responsible for preparation of a monthly trial balance of the client's ledger, reconciling the ledger with both the trust account bank statement and the trust account check register or bank control account. The checkbook balance, the bank reconciliation and the client ledgers (including the "open account" ledger) must be in agreement at all times. A trial balance is a listing of all client ledgers, including the "open account" ledger, showing the owner name or control number, date of last entry to the ledger and the ledger balance.
(12) All disbursements of trust funds shall be made by check, or electronic transfer, drawn on the real estate trust bank account and identified thereon to a specific real estate or business opportunity transaction, or collection/management agreement. The number of each check, amount, date, payee, items covered and the specific client's ledger sheet debited must be shown on the check stub or check register and all data must agree exactly with the check as written. No check numbers on any single trust account can be duplicated.
(a) No disbursement from the trust account shall be made based upon wire transfer receipts until the deposit has been verified.
(b) The designated broker must provide a follow-up "hard-copy" debit memo when funds are disbursed via wire transfer.
(c) The designated broker shall retain in the transaction file a copy of instructions signed by the owner of funds to be wire-transferred which identifies the receiving entity and account number.
(13) Voided checks written on the trust bank account shall be permanently defaced and shall be retained.
(14) Commissions owed to another firm may be paid from the real estate trust bank account. Those commissions shall be paid promptly upon receipt of funds. Commissions shared with another firm are a reduction of the gross commissions received.
(15) No deposits to the real estate trust bank account shall be made of funds:
(a) That belong to the designated broker or the real estate firm, except that a designated broker may deposit a minimal amount to open the trust bank account or maintain a minimal amount to keep the account from being closed; or
(b) That do not pertain to a client's real estate or business opportunity sales transaction or are not received in connection with a client's rental, contract or mortgage collection account.
(16) No disbursements from the real estate trust bank account shall be made:
(a) For items not pertaining to a specific real estate or business opportunity transaction or a rental, contract or mortgage collection account;
(b) Pertaining to a specific real estate or business opportunity transaction or a rental, contract or mortgage collection account in excess of the actual amount held in the real estate trust bank account in connection with that transaction or collection account;
(c) In payment of a commission owed to any person licensed to the firm or in payment of any business expense of the firm. Payment of commissions to persons licensed to the firm or of any business expense of the designated broker or firm shall be paid from the regular business bank account of the firm.
(d) For bank charges of any nature, including bank services, checks or other items, except as specified in WAC 308-124E-110
(1)(a) and (d). Bank charges are business overhead expenses of the real estate firm. Arrangements must be made with the bank to have any such charges applicable to the real estate trust bank account charged to the regular business bank account, or to provide a separate monthly statement of bank charges so that they may be paid from the firm's business bank account.
(17) The provisions of this chapter are applicable to manual or computerized accounting systems. For clarity, the following is addressed for computer systems:
(a) The system must provide for a capability to back up all data files.
(b) Receipt, check or disbursement registers or journals, bank reconciliations, and monthly trial balances will be maintained and available for immediate retrieval or printing upon demand of the department.
(c) The designated broker will maintain a dated source document file or index file to support any changes to existing accounting records.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 18.85.041
. WSR 13-14-077, § 308-124E-105, filed 7/1/13, effective 8/1/13. Statutory Authority: RCW 18.85.040
. WSR 10-06-078, § 308-124E-105, filed 3/1/10, effective 7/1/10.]