Physical location required for WA state property management firm?

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Greetings all!

I just signed up and have been really enjoying the site and podcasts. I'm going to jump right in and try and tap all the BP knowledge!

I am hoping to start a property management firm in Washington state. State law requires property managers be licensed managing brokers, I will be licensed but I came across this:

RCW 18.85.231

"Every licensed real estate firm must have and maintain an office or records depositories accessible in this state to representatives of the director. The firm must maintain and produce a complete set of records as required by this chapter. The director may prescribe rules for alternative and electronic record storage."

I was hoping to work out of my home until it makes sense for a commercial location. Does anyone know what qualifies as a "records depository"? Does anyone know of alternative solutions?



Hey @David Pendergraft  - I'm not sure on your question, but it's a really good one that I wanna follow, hence me jumping in. Also wanted to say hello to a fellow Washingtonian! Glad to have you here. Be sure to set up some Keyword Alerts for "Seattle" so you'll be notified of conversations that mention that word... just as I was notified about this one! 

@David Pendergraft Welcome to BP! This such a wonderful site and full of information. You have come to the right place!

At last check, the company would have to have a physical location outside of your personal residence. It was several years ago that I looked up this information, so it may no longer be accurate. I also recall that the guidelines regarding record-keeping and storage were pretty strict as well.

Also, for clarification, are you planning on being an agent or a designated broker?

As an agent, you can provide property management services without owning a company, and then you can operate out of your home office (as the designated broker is responsible for providing access to the director of licensing and his representatives). However, you might have a hard time finding a designated broker who is flexible enough to let you hang your license without paying them hefty fees. Additionally, they would have to be property management friendly, as well as be able to provide access to the services (and the associated record-keeping) you need (i.e., trusts, ect.).

Honestly, most of the brokerages that meet this criteria will already have their own property management companies in place. Most likely you will be required to sign on with them and to work as an agent on their behalf (and by their rules).

If you want to own the property management company, that you have to first have to become a designated broker before opening your firm.... And then I do believe you will be required to have a physical location separate from your home address. Again, there are a lot of rules and regulations, along with education requirements.

My final advice is to consult a real estate attorney before making any decisions.

Anything worth doing, is worth doing right.

Keep us posted!

If you are going to offer PM service to landlords and investors what are you going to say when they ask for your business address, and they want to visit your office.

Joe Gore

I would call department of licensing and ask them directly. They are usually really helpful when I need clarification on the RCW's.


You were right, the DoL was very helpful.

I spoke with an auditor about having a real estate firm and a physical office or records depository. She stated that a home office is perfectly acceptable. A business sign needs to be posted, with company name and hours, etc., but it can be the size of a business card. You licenses need to be visible.

We were concerned about the home office requirement as we read elsewhere that the home office had to have a public entrance and that it must be closed off from the rest of the house. That is an old rule and does not apply. I asked that they would have "no problem walking through our living room into our home office", and she confirmed.

A records depository is the same as a home office. I asked about electronic records and having all of our documents in the cloud. She said the DoL is behind the times so we will have to provide a list of files available in the cloud, they will mark the ones they want to see, and then we will have to print them out for them.

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