Uncategorized December 29, 2023

Changes to Washington State Agency Law

Washington State just completed an overhaul of its real estate agency law (RCW 18.86) which came into effect January 1st, 2024. This was the most substantial revision since its inception in 1997 and it addresses the ever-evolving real estate brokerage landscape. Part of the law mandates delivery of the Real Estate Brokerage in Washington pamphlet which you will receive in conjunction with this Buyers Guide. This pamphlet has been updated to make understanding agency law easier for consumers and introduces enhanced safeguards and transparency for both buyers and sellers in Washington State.


To understand the impact of these changes, let’s rewind a bit and take a look at the history of agency law. Prior to 1997 Washington brokers exclusively represented sellers, leaving buyers without dedicated representation. In 1997 the Law of Agency was introduced which allowed brokers to extend representation to buyers, although without any mandatory agreement outlining the broker-buyer relationship – only sellers had that opportunity which came in the form of a listing agreement.

As of January 1st, 2024 the comprehensive overhaul of existing laws brought key updates such as:


  • A mandatory requirement for brokers to engage in a written agreement with buyers known as the Buyer Broker Services Agreement. This agreement delineates the terms of representation and compensation, affording buyers the opportunity to actively negotiate these terms. This is no longer an optional step – the law requires it of every broker.
  • Enhanced disclosure of limited dual agency, allowing consumers the opportunity to consent to such a relationship, departing from the prior passive consent model and the idea of dual agency not being a form of limited agency.
  • Requirements for brokers to provide the Real Estate Brokerage in Washington pamphlet to their clients, as well as any unrepresented parties.


What does this mean for you?

For Buyers:

In Washington State buyers are required to enter into a Buyer Broker Services Agreement before, or as soon as reasonably practical after, your broker starts to provide real estate brokerage services. This agreement covers critical elements such as the term of the agreement, the exclusivity of the working relationship, the agreed compensation rate, and where your brokers compensation will come from (By buyer, seller, or perhaps a combination of both). Additionally, buyers now have the right to request their broker to filter listings, ensuring they are not shown properties with compensation rates below their agreed terms.

For Sellers:

Notable changes for sellers include the ability to negotiate the compensation rate you may be offering to a buyer broker. Prior to 2022, NWMLS rules prevented buyers and their brokers from negotiating a seller’s advertised compensation rate. Furthermore, buyers can now influence the listing process by requesting their broker to filter out listings that do not align with their compensation agreement.


These changes signify a considerable stride toward modernization and heightened transparency within the real estate brokerage business in Washington State. The introduction of the Buyer Broker Services Agreement not only empowers buyers, but also ushers in a paradigm shift in negotiation practices for the benefit of sellers. As we embark on this regulatory transformation, it is evident that these changes will foster a more equitable and informed real estate environment for all parties involved.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know what compensation rate a seller is offering to a buyer broker?

In Washington state, all online listings provide a Buyer Agency Compensation (BAC) or a Buyer Brokerage Commission (BBC) section, ensuring transparency. This helps buyers prepare if the BAC/BBC is less than their agreed rate in the Buyer Broker Services Agreement.

What if the home I want to purchase offers a BAC/BBC rate less than agreed upon in the Buyer Broker Services Agreement?

If the compensation rate is lower than your agreement, have a conversation with your broker to explore options. You might discuss asking the seller to increase their rate, consider covering the difference yourself, or your broker may choose to waive the difference. Several options are available to you to address the delta in compensation rates.

How do I terminate the new Buyer Broker Services Agreement?

To end the agreement, request a termination form from your broker. Keep in mind there may be an agreed-upon tail provision; you might owe your broker compensation if you buy a home they showed you after termination within a specified time. Make sure to review your agreement to be aware of this timeline.

Can I enter into Buyer Broker Service Agreements with more than one broker?

The possibility depends on the nature of your relationship. If you have an exclusive agreement with a broker covering an unlimited area, they are your sole broker when it comes to purchasing a home. However, exclusive agreements for different areas (e.g., counties) with different brokers are possible. Non-exclusive agency agreements allow engagement with multiple brokers simultaneously.

Are all Buyer Broker Services Agreements the same?

Not exactly. While the law outlines the minimum terms required that everyone must include, variations do exist among forms in the form of optional clauses or requirements. Our Buyer Brokerage Services Agreement covers each term the law requires so you can be sure both you and your broker have complied with state law. It is important to review the agreement and included terms to understand the agency relationship you are entering in to.

Have more questions before you are ready to navigate the future of Washington’s real estate? Reach out and let’s connect!