Washington State House passes bill to end 40-year exclusive real estate listing contracts

Washington is now a step closer to ending 40-year exclusive real estate listing contracts forever.

Senate Bill 5399 — legislation that would curb those contracts to five years — made it through the House on Friday with a unanimous 98-0 vote.

“We fixed all that in the bill that passed. So the time limit went from 40 years down to five years,” said Sen. Mark Mullet, a sponsor of the bill. “And we’ve also corrected all the other bad, unintended consequences realized from the bills that they’ve had, you know, from the contracts they’ve had people signing in Washington.”

For as little as a few hundred dollars, consumers signed 40-year contracts giving real estate companies the right to sell their home and make thousands in commissions. Use another agent, and you could be forced to pay tens of thousands to break the deal.

And if you die, the contract runs with the land, not the person — so your heir must assume the contract or pay up.

Washington’s law would end that practice for these kinds of deals.

“I think it’s going to make those companies relook at that business model,” said Sen. Mullet. “We don’t see a lot of customer satisfaction from Washington residents, and this will fix that.”

In our investigations, we’ve told you about Puget Sound-area homeowners impacted by a company named MV Realty.

Betty Wiedenhoft told us about her 66-year-old son, Ronn Glenn. He signed with MV Realty for $2,300 dollars.

When he died four months later, his mother said she had no idea he had signed with the company.

“He wouldn’t tell me nothing,” Wiedenhoft said.

But since she says she was unaware of the contract, she used another real estate agent and was forced to pay MV Realty 3% of the contracted value of the home — some $23,000, or face getting a potential lawsuit.

“I just, I just don’t understand why he would have even considered it,” Wiedenhoft said.

When we contacted MV Realty about the Ron Glenn contract, the company told KIRO 7, “MV operates with transparency and in full compliance with the law.”

The company is currently being sued by attorneys general in four states for its deceptive and unfair business practices. Two more states have opened investigations.

Now in Washington, the bill’s fate sits with Gov. Jay Inslee.

MV Realty has denied the allegations made by all of the attorneys general suing the company.