How to Transfer Land in Washington

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Washington state landowners must document most real estate transactions by filing a copy of a conveyance document at the county government offices in the county where the property being transferred is located. The participants to the real estate transfer must also pay state and local real estate excise taxes and county filing fees.

Complete the conveyance document. Washington state law 64.01.010 requires that the conveyance of real estate be documented by a deed. The conveyance document will be reviewed by the county recorder to ensure it meets the document formatting standards established by Washington state law. The law states that the deed must be in writing and signed by those making the agreement. You can obtain a copy of a blank deed designed to comply with state law from the website of the Washington State Bar Association.

Pay the excise tax. Washington state government requires the seller of the property to pay a state excise tax of 1.28 percent of the selling price of the property. The tax must be paid within one month of the sale and before the document of conveyance is recorded in the county office. Additionally, cities may also levy an additional excise tax. For instance, the seller of property in Tacoma city limits must pay a total excise tax of 1.78 percent.

File the conveyance document with the appropriate county official. In a large county, this function may take place in the office of a county official specifically designated with the responsibility of recording. In smaller counties the recording function may be combined with the offices of another county official.

Pay the recording fee. You will be asked to pay a fee to the county official charged with the responsibility of recording your document. As an example, Spokane County residents must pay the Spokane County Auditor a fee of $62 for the first page and $1 for each additional page of the conveyance document.


  • It is unlikely that employees at the county recorder's office will be willing to give legal advice. Landowners are advised to contact an attorney or title company for legal advice and logistical support.

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