How to Become an Escrow Officer in Washington? (exam| income)


How to Become an Escrow officer in Washington

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Being an escrow officer is a respectable profession in the real estate industry. To help you better understand this occupation, I spent hours going through the Washington State Legislature and the Washington Department of Financial Institution’s website. 

To become an escrow officer in Washington, you must pass the Escrow Officer Licensing Test, provider coverage proof of E&O and fidelity bond, submit an application and fee to the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions. You also need to pass the background check and fulfill the financial requirement. 

In Washington, there are three types of Escrow Licenses. They are the Escrow Agent, Designated Escrow Officers (DEO), and Escrow Officers license.

To give you a general idea, an Escrow Agent license is for a company. Then they would hire a Designated Escrow Officer (DEO) to look after the company’s trust accounting and other management duties. An Escrow Officer would be working on the frontline to ensure the real estate transaction can be processed smoothly and they will be working under the supervision of a DEO.

In this guide, you’ll find out the steps to become an escrow officer in Washington, income updates, and FAQ about this profession. I’m confident that this valuable info may lead you to make a better-informed career decision. 

But before we start, I want to give a brief disclaimer. This post is not intended as legal advice or state/federal escrow training. It is for general information only. Please check with your state whether escrow officers/agents are utilized in the closing process. Always follow your State laws and best practices.

A Table Summary to Become an Escrow Officer in Washington

CourseExamCoverage VerificationRenewal PeriodFees
NoYesE&O and Fidelity Bond 1 year$388.51 (exam, application, background check)

5 Steps to Become an Escrow Officer in Washington

Steps to Become an Escrow Officer in Washington

Step 1: Pass the Escrow Officer Test

It is a 3 hours exam administered by PearsonVue. Its purpose is to test your knowledge of escrow laws and practices. It consists of 110 items and 5 pretest questions. The required passing score is at least 75.

Your score is weighted on the number of correct answers. Even if you are uncertain about a question, it’s always better to guess it rather than leave it blank.

The exam fee is $175. You may pay it with a credit/debit card or electronic check. Although you may retake the Escrow exam as many times as needed, extra fees may apply.

You will find more about the exam topics and tips to prepare for it later in the post.

Step 2: Work for an Escrow Agent

Work for an Escrow Agent

In Washington, you must work with a licensed Escrow Agent to provide escrow services. On the application, you will be asked to provide the Escrow Agent’s name and license number.

You may search for employment through online job forums, LinkedIn groups, or join the Escrow Association of Washington

Once you are on board, you will be working under the supervision of a Designated Escrow Officer. (DEO)

Step 3: Conduct a background check

Washington escrow officer fingerprinting card

It is to ensure you are a trustworthy professional and will serve the public’s best interest. After all, an escrow officer will handle a significant amount of other people’s money on a day-to-day basis. 

An escrow officer may not be convicted of, or plead guilty or no contest, to a felony or a gross misdemeanor involving dishonesty within the last seven years. 

To determine your person’s character, you need to obtain a fingerprint background card. This can be done at the Department of Financial Institutions or your local law enforcement. There is a $34.25 processing fee.

You also need to complete an “Applicant’s Privacy Rights” form. 

However, if you find any inaccuracy to the background check results, you may challenge it with the Washington State Patrol (WSP) or Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). But you must do so within a reasonable amount of time.

In addition, you need to provide a personal credit report. It must be pulled within 30 days that the Department receives your application.

Step 4: Provide verification of coverage

Each escrow agent must have an E&O coverage and fidelity bond. This is to protect clients against wrongdoing, which results in financial damage. Then they can file a claim against the policy or the bond.

When you submit the application, you need to attach the verification of those coverages. You may get it from the Escrow Agent who employs you.

Step 5: Submit an Escrow Officer Application to the Department of Financial Institutions

Submit an escrow application to the Department of Financial Institutions

This is a 7-pages application where you will include many details about yourself. You will use the same form regardless of applying for an Escrow Officer license or a Designated Escrow Officer (DEO) license.

In addition to the basic info (i.e., name, address, contact number, date of birth), you are required to provide residential and employment history in the past ten years.

You also need to disclose criminal history or had any disciplinary history. If so, you must provide further details about the incident. Since you will represent an escrow agent when providing the escrow services, the company official needs to sign it. 

The application fee is $179.26. You may make a check payable to the “Washington State Treasurer”. 

You also need to attach the:

  • Personal credit report
  • Fingerprint card 
  • Applicant’s Privacy Rights form
  • Escrow officer examination passing score certificate
  • Verification of E&O and fidelity bond coverage

Once all the required documents are ready, you may mail them to:

  • Dept. of Financial Institutions, Division of Consumer Services, P.O. Box 41200, Olympia, WA 98504-1200

Here is more info about the escrow officer exam

Washington Escrow Officer test details

The weighting of each exam topic

Exam TopicsWeighting
Escrow Agent Registration Act (EARA) (RCW 18.44 and WAC 208-680)55 items
DFI process items6 items
General state, federal, and property tax issues8 items
Calculations based on scenarios and information provided18 items
Real estate and appraisal law (RCW 18.85 and RCW 18.140)3 items
Mortgage, deed of trust and real estate contract including community property law, and condominium issues (Title 61 and 64 RCW)16 items
RESPA, UCC, and FHA4 items

You should study the Washington State Legislature!

Washington State Legislature Escrow Officer, Agent

The financial well-being of many people depends on the accuracy and completeness of your escrow services. You must equip yourself with the necessary escrow knowledge.

When you read Chapter 208-690 WAC and Chapter 18.44 RCW, they pretty much cover everything you need to know about being an escrow officer or agent. They are indeed a useful reference if you want to know more in-depth about each escrow topic.

However, its wording is more technical and formal. So I would go through the FAQ page on the Department’s website first, then read the Legislature only if I need further clarification.

How long does it take to become an escrow officer in Washington?

It may take as little as three weeks to become an escrow officer in Washington. But application review also depends on the completeness of the required documents. 

How much does it take to become an escrow officer in Washington?

How much does it take to become an escrow officer in Washington?

It takes approximately $388.51 to become an escrow officer in Washington. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Exam fee: $175
  • Background check fee: $34.25
  • Escrow officer application fee: $179.26

How much do escrow officers make in Washington?

How much do escrow officers make in Washington?

Escrow officers in Washington make $53,079 on average. The income range usually falls between $42,962 and $64,349. (+) The earning would depend on your skill level, location, years of experience and also the number of transactions you can successful closed.

Furthermore, the type of property that you specialize in working with may also impact your income.

As I’m reviewing the income figures, Commercial Escrow Officers in Washington have a higher average annual income of $73,286. They mostly earn between $50,169 to $97,642. (-)

Source: (+) Salary.com – September 25, 2020; (-) ZipRecruiter.com- Oct 25, 2020

Is there a demand for escrow officers in Washington?

Is there a demand for escrow officers in Washington?

Some states require an attorney to handle the real estate closing and not an escrow office. The good news is, according to the First American Title, Washington is not an attorney state.

As I’m writing this post now, I see many job listings for escrow officers in Washington. However, they tend to look for applicants with at least two years of escrow industry experience. You may get a foot in the door by working as an escrow assistant first.

Furthermore, there were 5.34 million existing homes (+) and 682,000 newly constructed homes sold in 2019 across the country(-). As long as people buy and sell properties in the state, there is a demand for escrow officers in Washington.

Source: (+) National Association of REALTORS ®; (-) U.S. Census Bureau.

When to renew the escrow officer license in Washington?

You must renew the escrow officer license every year. You may do so through the DFI website. There is a $179.26 annual renewal fee that you can pay by a credit card or eCheck.

Once your renewal application is approved, the Department will email you the license.

Where can I obtain more details about being an escrow officer in Washington.

You may contact the Washington Consumer Services Licensing:

Further Explanations on the Different Escrow License Types in Washington

As explained earlier, there are three types of Escrow Licenses in Washington. They are the Escrow Agent, Designated Escrow Officers (DEO), and Escrow Officers license. 

1) What is an Escrow Agent?

Washington Escrow Agent License

Every escrow company needs to have a Licensed Escrow Agent. The Escrow Agent is responsible for fulfilling the financial responsibility. For example, setting up a trust account, maintain a fidelity bond. They also need to ensure their employees trustworthy that could serve the best interest of the general public.

2) What is a Designated Escrow Officer (DEO)?

Designated Escrow Officer Washington

Designated Escrow Officer (DEO) is responsible for the business activities at the branch level. They would supervise other escrow officers and ensure that all transactions, records, and activities are properly done. Each branch office must have a Designated Escrow Officer (DEO).

Although they could work for more than one licensed escrow agent, they must first obtain written content from the director.

3) What is an Escrow Officer?

An Escrow Officer makes sure all the required documentation and conditions are fulfilled for a real estate transaction. Then they will disburse the funding accordingly.

When comparing to the other two licenses, escrow officers are working more on the frontline. They would work together with different professionals (i.e., notary loan signing agent, a mortgage lender.) to facilitate a smooth and accurate transaction.

Here is the official wording about the responsibilities of an Escrow Agent, Designated Escrow Officer, and Escrow Officer

Every licensed escrow agent shall ensure that all escrow transactions are supervised by a licensed escrow officer.

In the case of a partnership, the designated escrow officer shall be a partner in the partnership and shall act on behalf of the partnership.

In the case of a corporation, the designated escrow officer shall be an officer of the corporation and shall act on behalf of the corporation. The designated escrow officer shall be responsible for that agent’s handling of escrow transactions, management of the agent’s trust account, and supervision of all other licensed escrow officers employed by the agent.

Responsibility for the conduct of any licensed escrow officer covered by this chapter shall rest with the designated escrow officer or designated branch escrow officer having direct supervision of such person’s escrow activities. The branch designated escrow officer shall bear responsibility for supervision of all other licensed escrow officers or other persons performing escrow transactions at a branch escrow office.

Quote from RCW 18.44.071

Helpful tips for building your escrow services career in Washington

Tip#1: Network with other real estate professionals in Washington

Arizona Escrow officers Association

In addition to connecting with other escrow companies, networking with other real estate professionals would be a great idea. Mortgage agents, lenders, notary loan signing agents, and realtors can all provide you with valuable insight, which could help your career building in the long haul.

Here’s a list real estate professional groups on our resource page. Hope this will be useful to you.

Tip#2: As you master the skills and experience in the escrow industry, you may consider becoming an Escrow Agent.

Become an escrow agent in Washington

This license allows you to set up your own company and hire other escrow officers. Thus, lead to a scalable business model. 

To become an Escrow Agent in Washington, you must:

  • Domiciled in the U.S.
  • Provider a fingerprint card
  • Passed the escrow officer test
  • Set up a trust account in a financial institution in Washington
  • Maintain a fidelity bond with a $1 million coverage with a deductible not more than $10,000. It needs to cover each corporate officer, partner, escrow officer, and employee who engages in escrow transactions.
  • Obtain a minimum $10,000 surety bond (unless the fidelity bond has no deductible)
  • Have an E&O policy with at least $50,000 coverage
  • Provide business history and personal credit report for yourself and all of the officers, directors, owners, partners, and control persons
  • Submit an Escrow Agent Application and a $386.55 license fee

Reference:

  • Washington State Legislature
  • Washington Department of Financial Institutions (source)
    • General Licensure Requirements for Escrow Agent and Officer Applicants (source)
    • Summary of Costs for Escrow Agent and Officer Applicants (source)
    • Summary of Escrow Agent Registration Act Regulations (source)
    • Fingerprint Background Checks (source)
  • Washington Designated Mortgage Broker and Escrow Officer Exams Candidate Handbook Feb 2018 (source)
  • Suretybonds.com – Washington Escrow Agent Bond (source)
  • Salary.com – Escrow Officer Salary in Washington (source)
  • ZipRecruiter.com – Commercial Escrow Officer Salary in Washington (source)
  • US Census Bureau – New Residential Sales (source)
  • National Association of REALTORS – Quick Real Estate Statistics (source)
  • First American Title- Your Guide to Real Estate Customs by State (source)

Jacob Coleman

Jacob is a content writer and a real estate investor. He has experience working with different real estate professionals throughout the years. (i.e., appraisers, real estate agents, property managers, home inspectors.) In order to build a career you love, Jacob believes not only you need a thorough understanding about the profession, but you also have to find out what type of jobs could match your personality, lifestyle and expectation.

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