Recording a Deed in Washington State

by Arthur Macomber

Spokane, Washington, May 20, 2019. In Washington State, all conveyances of real property or interests in real property must be by deed, signed and delivered to the grantee. The person owning the property, the grantor, must sign the deed. If the deed is to be recorded, then the deed needs to be acknowledged as signed by the grantor in front of a notary public. A notary public will verify the identity of the grantor, then sign and affix the notary’s seal to the document. This is a requirement if the document is to be recorded.

What about delivery? There are two primary methods of delivering a deed to a grantee, one being simply handing it to them after the grantor signs it. The second method is for the grantor to record the deed at the local county recorder’s office, and the law will consider it delivered to the grantee.

In Washington, a conveyance of real property does not have to be recorded at the county recorder’s office. But, if it is not recorded, its legal effect is only binding on the grantor and the grantee, and not on other people. Specifically, some of the people an unrecorded deed is not binding upon include a mortgage company, a second buyer, or a contractor who has a lien on the property. There have been cases where a property owner sells their property twice, and the second buyer pays full value and gets hoodwinked, because the first buyer’s deed was not recorded. Bristol George recommends all conveyances of real property be recorded to avoid confusion over who owns the property.

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