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June 27, 2017 • Stay Connected!
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QUESTION:  I am the buyer's agent. On form 21, item #13, "Charges and Assessments," I typically check the box "assumed by buyer". My reasoning is that if the sewer capacity charge has not been paid off, a buyer will agree to take over payment after closing. Also if I check the other box that says "prepaid in full by seller at closing" the listing agent always requests that it be changed to "assumed by buyer." Is this the correct thing to do, should I allow this change to be made?

ANSWER:  On the "Charges and Assessments" provision, buyer's broker should ALWAYS check the box indicating "seller will prepay in full, at closing." If buyer is aware of a capacity charge that buyer is willing to assume, then buyer should agree, on a separate addendum, to assume the specified capacity charge. Buyer should never mark the box stating that buyer will assume "charges and assessments" because there could be other charges or assessments, unknown to buyer, that buyer will also assume by marking that box. If listing broker requests that buyer mark the box indicating buyer's assumption of "charges and assessments," the request back to listing broker should be for a complete accounting of all the "charges and assessments" buyer will assume. With provision of that list, buyer should then determine which of those buyer is willing to assume. The best practice for a buyer's broker is then to keep the "prepaid by seller" box marked and identify specific charges that seller and buyer agree buyer will assume, on a separate addendum, with buyer's agreement to assume those specific charges and assessments only. This approach allows the parties to freely negotiate responsibility for payment of "charges and assessments" and it keeps seller as the party responsible for knowing the "charges and assessments" associated with ownership of seller's property. There is no doubt that between buyer and seller, seller is the party in the best position to know the "charges or assessments" that flow from ownership of the property.


The Legal Hotline Lawyer does not represent Washington REALTORS or its members. To browse through our database of past Q & A's, visit Attorney Annie Fitzsimmons writes the Legal Hotline Question and Answer of the Week. Please submit questions to . Please tell us your NRDS number when you e-mail the Hotline with your question.


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