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Q & A on Call to Action: Oppose HB 1951


Why is Washington REALTORS® opposing HB 1951? How will it impact real estate brokers and consumers?


If HB 1951 becomes law, the most likely long-term outcome is that lawyers will advise sellers not to complete the Form 17 and instead, require a buyer to waive the right to rescind the purchase agreement or take seller's chances that buyer rescinds the purchase agreement prior to closing. Both of those outcomes would be preferable to the risk a seller will necessarily assume if seller delivers a completed Form 17 based on HB 1951.

HB 1951 would do two things of enormous consequence. First, the bill would eliminate the option of a seller answering "don't know": to a Form 17 question leaving the only option being "yes" or "no" to a question that is applicable. For example, a question asks about permitting and inspections of construction for the original installation of a septic system. A resale owner may have no knowledge of the answer to that question, which is clearly applicable. Should the seller risk saying that all permits were properly obtained without knowledge of that or should the seller exercise caution and state that the septic system was not properly permitted, risking loss of a buyer on that basis? How does a seller who owned a home for three years give a yes or no answer to the question asking if the roof has leaked in the last five years?

There are many examples of questions that deserve a "don't know" answer. A "don't know" answer is, in and of itself, instructive to a buyer that the buyer may want to research that issue.

The second significant problem with HB 1951 is that it eliminates the limitation on seller's liability associated with seller making disclosures based on seller's actual knowledge. What if seller discloses that there are no defects with the foundation, because seller has never experienced a problem with the foundation, but 2 years after closing the buyer discovers that the foundation is being undermined and the damage has been slowly occurring for years? If seller's disclosure obligation was not limited to seller's actual knowledge, then seller's disclosure was wrong and may create liability for seller. Again, there are numerous examples of how this change to the law could create significant, unfair liability to a seller.

HB 1951 is a dangerous bill that will have the unintended consequence of giving buyers less protection instead of more. It will give buyers less protection because sellers will refuse to provide buyers with a completed Form 17.

WR's Government Affairs Director, Nathan Gorton urges you to oppose House Bill 1951 in this critical call to action here.

Take 2 minutes today to send a pre-written message to your Representative and help us stop this harmful legislation...