As in other states, Washington real estate is transferred using a deed. A deed is a legal document that allows one or more owners (grantors) to transfer Washington real estate to new owners (grantees). The deed is signed by the grantors and recorded in the real property records of the recorder’s office of the county where the property is located. Each deed must meet the requirements of Washington law, including specific formatting and legal requirements.
Our Deed Generator creates customized Washington deeds based on the information you provide in our interview. Each deed is attorney-designed to meet the requirements of Washington law and comes with step-by-step instructions for completing the transfer.
Types of Washington Deeds
Washington recognizes deed forms that are defined by the warranty of title they provide (or, with a quitclaim deed, do not provide):
- Statutory Warranty Deed Form – Provides a full warranty of title that covers the prior acts of all owners, including those that owned the property before the current The statutory warranty deed form includes the implied warranties of title described in RCW 64.04.030.
- Bargain-and-Sale Deed Form – Provides a limited warranty of title that covers only the period when the current grantor owned the property. The bargain-and-sale deed form includes the implied warranties described in RCW 64.04.040.
- Special Warranty Deed Form – Provides a limited warranty of title similar to a bargain-and-sale deed form, but with no implied warranties of title. Special warranty deed forms are used in Washington, but are not specifically authorized by statute.
- Quit Claim Deed Form – Provides no warranty of title. The grantee assumes the risk of any problems with title to the property. RCW 64.04.050.
In addition to these deed forms, two other types of deeds named after their use as estate planning tools for avoiding probate:
- Washington Transfer-on-Death Deed Form (TOD Deed Form) – A modern deed form authorized specifically by the Washington legislature to transfer property at the death of an owner without the need for probate. During the owner’s life, the owner can change his or her mind or otherwise sell, mortgage, lease, or deal with the property without involving the beneficiary. The beneficiary acquires no rights in the property until the owner’s death, and only if the owner has not revoked the deed. RCW 64.80.
- Washington Life Estate Deed Form – An older type of deed that transfers property to a new owner (remainder beneficiary) on the death of the current owner (life tenant). The life tenant retains the right to use the property during his or her lifetime, but cannot change his or her mind or mortgage, sell, or otherwise deal with the property as a whole without the consent of the remainder beneficiary.
Our Deed Generator uses the information you provide in the interview to create a Washington deed form that matches your answers. It also produces customized, step-by-step instructions for completing the transfer with the appropriate county office.
Washington Deed Requirements
Washington deeds must meet specific requirements for validity and recording. These requirements include:
- The deed must have one-inch margins on the sides of all pages, and the first page of the deed must have a three-inch margin that contains only the name and return address of the person to whom the deed should be returned. RCW 65.04.045.
- The deed must contain a properly drafted legal description that identifies the property for legal purposes. An address or description from the tax records is insufficient.
- The deed must identify how joint owners will hold title, include a statement of consideration (if applicable), and include Washington-accepted notary acknowledgments.
The deeds created by our Deed Generator were designed to meet these and other legal requirements. Local recorders sometimes require additional information. Questions about county-specific information should be directed to the county recorder.
Washington also charges a real estate excise tax on sales of Washington property. The rate of tax usually ranges between 1.53 percent and 1.78 percent of the sale price. A Real Estate Excise Tax Affidavit must usually accompany the deed when it is filed. A cover sheet may also be required.
Spousal Ownership of Washington Real Estate
Because Washington is a community property state, Washington law treats married couples as a single economic unit. With limited exceptions for separate property, each spouse is treated as jointly owning the property acquired during the marriage, even if that property is titled in only one spouse’s name. If one spouse wants to sell community property, he or she must obtain the signature of the other spouse to create a valid Washington deed.
Washington also provides special homestead protection for the home occupied by a married couple or domestic partners. To convey homestead property by deed, both spouses or domestic partners must sign the deed. RCW 6.13.060. This is true even if the homestead is the separate property of one spouse or domestic partner. RCW 6.13.020.
Forms of Co-Ownership of Washington Real Estate
There are several ways multiple owners of Washington real estate may receive property by deed:
- Tenancy in Common – A form of co-ownership in which each owner is treating as holding an undivided interest in the property. On the death of one owner, the deceased owner’s interest passes to his or her estate through the probate process.
- Joint Tenancy with Right of Survivorship – A form of co-ownership that is similar to tenancy in common, except that each deceased owner’s interest passes to the surviving owner or owners. The last surviving owner owns the entire property.
- Community Property – As described above, a form of joint ownership between a married couple where the couple is treated as a single economic unit and each spouse is treated as sharing an interest in property owned by the other spouse.
Washington does not recognize tenancy by the entirety.