Escrow Agents – General

Escrow is crucial in real estate transactions because it provides a neutral third party to handle the documents and finances associated with the transaction. This position of trust is highly regulated through the Washington Department of Financial Institutions (DFI), which regulates escrow agents doing business in Washington State through the Division of Consumer Services. Recent years have seen high profile instances in which individuals and companies violated their position of trust as an escrow agent.

In 2010, the Washington legislature modified the Escrow Agents Registration Act that governs the admission, licensing, and conduct of Escrow Agents in Washington. All licensees are required to know and to comply with all sections of the Escrow Agents Registration Act RCW 18.44 et seq and the accompanying regulations in WAC 208-680.

Among the 2010 changes to the Escrow Agent Registration Act, and in response to legal decisions in lawsuits arising from the conduct of certain escrow agents, the Act now codifies that a violation of the Act can be based on a failure to comply with any applicable federal laws and regulations including:

Real Estate Procedures Act

Truth in Lending – Regulation Z

Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act

Equal Credit Opportunity Act

Escrow Agents can potentially face liability from two primary avenues: Escrow Agent – Regulatory Enforcement and Escrow Agent – Civil Litigation.

Ari Brown has litigated a variety of issues involving lending, loan origination, loan servicing, and debt collection for nearly twenty-five years such as violations of Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, Truth in Lending Act, Washington Mortgage Broker Practices Act, Escrow Agent Registration Act, and the Washington Consumer Protection Act. Years of litigating cases pertaining to banking and lending practices both on individual bases and as class actions have informed Mr. Brown’s approach to dealing with alleged violations and has heightened his ability to mitigate common mistakes and to help licensees avoid actions that DFI may perceive as misconduct.   

Robert Rhodes is a lawyer who works with Mr. Brown on an as-needed basis. He has handled hundreds of administrative and licensing investigations and enforcement actions in various forums. He draws on his extensive background in criminal and whistleblower law that occasionally becomes useful.  Other team members are available as necessary.