"If your association can see your backyard from space, you should probably be able to see association documents before you buy your home."   John Oliver HOA Segment - April 2023

DON'T GUESS!  Buying a home in a common interest community (condo, co-op, townhome, single family, attached, detached, etc.) should not be a gamble.   Purchasers should be prepared to perform appropriate due diligence and invest the time and money required BEFORE making a real property investment.

BUYER BEWARE: Your realtor may have years of experience, but probably lacks a deep understanding of the benefits, challenges and risks of community association ownership.  Property due diligence can help you avoid a $100,000+ special assessment.  Got Reserve Judgement?  Not sure?  Get help!

Washington State Resale Certificate Requirements

Washington State Resale Certificate Requirements
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Resale certificate fees are capped at $275 by Washington state statute.  Additional fees are invalid / illegal.

RCW 64.34.425 Resale of Unit & Related RCW 64.90.640

WUCIOA (RCW 64.90) allows for periodic inflationary adjustments to the $275 maximum.  RCW 64.34 does not.

"Transfer Fees" are Loosely Regulated

RCW 64.60 is Washington State's Private Transfer Fee Obligation Act.  Unlike resale certificates, and is is true for most (all?) states, there are no specific protections with regard to the amounts that can be charged to buyers and sellers for "transfer fees" imposed by a management company or other third party such as a title company.  Other states have similar provisions such as Texas' TPC 5.202.

Man warns others after surprise HOA fees revealed while selling Knoxville home | HOA fees to be aware of before buying or selling home

(1) "Association" means: An association of apartment owners as defined in RCW 64.32.010; a unit owners' association as defined in RCW 64.34.020; a homeowners' association as defined in RCW 64.38.010; a corporation organized pursuant to chapter 24.06 RCW for the purpose of owning real estate under a cooperative ownership plan; or a nonprofit or cooperative membership organization composed exclusively of owners of mobile homes, manufactured housing, timeshares, camping resort interests, or other interests in real property that is responsible for the maintenance, improvements, services, or expenses related to real property that is owned, used, or enjoyed in common by the members. [notably missing RCW 64.90 and 24.03A]

(2) "Payee" means the person or entity who claims the right to receive or collect a private transfer fee payable under a private transfer fee obligation. A payee may or may not have a pecuniary interest in the private transfer fee obligation.

(3) "Private transfer fee" means a fee or charge payable upon the transfer of an interest in real property, or payable for the right to make or accept such transfer, regardless of whether the fee or charge is a fixed amount or is determined as a percentage of the value of the real property, the purchase price, or other consideration given for the transfer. The following ARE NOT private transfer fees for the purposes of this section: 

(a) Any consideration payable by the grantee to the grantor for the interest in real property being transferred, including any subsequent additional consideration for the real property payable by the grantee based upon any subsequent appreciation, development, or sale of the real property, if such additional consideration is payable on a one-time basis only and the obligation to make such payment does not bind successors in title to the real property;

(b) Any commission payable to a licensed real estate broker for services rendered in connection with the transfer of real property pursuant to an agreement between the broker and the grantor or the grantee including, but not limited to, any subsequent additional commission for that transfer payable by the grantor or the grantee based upon any subsequent appreciation, development, or sale of the property;

(c) Any interest, charges, fees, or other amounts payable by a borrower to a lender pursuant to a loan secured by a mortgage against real property including, but not limited to, any fee payable to the lender for consenting to an assumption of the loan or a transfer of the real property subject to the mortgage, any fees or charges payable to the lender for estoppel letters or certificates, and any shared appreciation interest, profit participation, or other consideration, and payable to the lender in connection with the loan;

(d) Any rent, reimbursement, charge, fee, or other amount payable by a lessee or licensee to a lessor or licensor under a lease or license including, but not limited to, any fee payable to the lessor or licensor for consenting to an assignment, subletting, encumbrance, or transfer of the lease or license;

(e) Any consideration payable to the holder of an option to purchase an interest in real property or the holder of a right of first refusal or first offer to purchase an interest in real property for waiving, releasing, or not exercising the option or right upon the transfer of the real property to another person;

(f) Any tax, fee, charge, assessment, fine, or other amount payable to or imposed by a governmental authority;

(g) Any assessment, fee, charge, fine, dues, or other amount payable to an association pursuant to chapter 64.32, 64.34, or 64.38 RCW, payable by a purchaser of a camping resort contract, as defined in RCW 19.105.300, or a timeshare, as defined in RCW 64.36.010, or payable pursuant to a recorded servitude encumbering the real property being transferred, as long as no portion of the fee is required to be passed through or paid to a third party;  [notably missing RCW 64.90]

(h) Any fee payable, upon a transfer, to an organization qualified under section 501(c)(3) or 501(c)(4) of the internal revenue code of 1986, if the sole purpose of such organization is to support cultural, educational, charitable, recreational, conservation, or similar activities benefiting the real property being transferred and the fee is used exclusively to fund such activities;

(i) Any fee, charge, assessment, dues, fine, contribution, or other amount pertaining solely to the purchase or transfer of a club membership relating to real property owned by the member including, but not limited to, any amount determined by reference to the value, purchase price, or other consideration given for the transfer of the real property;

(j) Any fee charged by an association or an agent of an association to a transferor or transferee for a service rendered contemporaneously with the imposition of the fee, provided that the fee is not to be passed through to a third party other than an agent of the association. 

(4) "Private transfer fee obligation" means an obligation arising under a declaration or covenant recorded against the title to real property, or under any other contractual agreement or promise, recorded or not, that requires or purports to require the payment of a private transfer fee upon a subsequent transfer of an interest in the real property.

(5) "Transfer" means the sale, gift, grant, conveyance, lease, license, assignment, inheritance, or other act resulting in a transfer of ownership interest in real property located in this state.

Fees, Fees and more Fees...

The Washington State legislature was decisive when it increased the maximum resale certificate fee from $150 to $275 via SB 5224 which became effective July 24, 2011There is no ambiguity: $275 is intended to include all costs to provide a resale certificate.  Despite unambiguous statutory requirements, many management companies charge owners fees in excess of $275:

1) fees for "processing" ($20 to $50)

2) fees for "rush processing" (generally over $100)

3) fees for meeting minutes

Your association's management contract likely includes language about handling unit resale and transfer of ownership without disclosing a fee schedule for resale certificates.  Here's an example:

We may process Resale Certificates, as applicable to the Association, as well as certain financial forms and questionnaires necessary to complete loan packages for prospective purchasers. Such costs shall be assessed to the Owner or Buyer as appropriate and shall not constitute a charge to the Association.

The Illinois Supreme Court decision in Channon v. Westward Management proves that upholding limits on fees charged to sellers, even when the statutes cap such fees, is harder said than done.

As an example, California, Illinois, Texas and Washington State all have different statutes requiring sellers to furnish resale certificates to potential purchasers.  A key difference is that TX in 207.003(c) (but not in 82.157) and WA limit absolute resale fees to sellers, whereas CA Civil Code and the ILCS require "reasonable" fees.  There are obvious statutory similarities related to legislative intent and whether "protections" are primarily intended to only purchasers or to both purchasers and sellers.