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NAHB grants $10,000 to support BIAW’s document fee lawsuit

February 6, 2023

BIAW President Gary Wray and General Counsel Jackson Maynard secured $10,000 from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) to support BIAW’s document fee lawsuit.

Maynard approached the committee for additional funding to support BIAW’s appeal before the Division II Court of Appeals. The association must file its initial appellate brief by Feb. 24, 2023.

NAHB’s legal committee approved the funds at recent meetings during the International Builders Show in Las Vegas.

BIAW’s document fee lawsuit challenges unconstitutional fees

In recent years, the Washington state legislature has gradually increased the “surcharge” added to the fees and taxes paid for filing and recording common industry documents. . These documents are filed throughout the homebuilding, home buying and home selling process, documents title transfers and sales.

County auditors currently collect and distribute roughly $200 in housing surcharges, including:

  • An Affordable Housing for All surcharge;
  • A Local Homeless Housing and Assistance surcharge;
  • A surcharge for growth management planning and review; and
  • A $100 housing surcharge enacted in 2021.

These charges accrue per document filed—and builders file and record an average of six per home built. This adds a minimum of $1,200 to the cost of every home built.

Washington state law and the state Constitution prohibit disguising non-uniform property taxes as fees.

Hidden fees make homes less affordable for families

While BIAW’s lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of these fees, Wray also spoke to concerns about hidden fees that make buying and selling homes increasingly more expensive.

The average price for a new home in 2022 was $565,603, requiring a $130,409 income just to qualify for a mortgage. Every $1,000 added to the cost of building a new home prices out 2,182 new homeowners.

Adding $1,200 in document fees to the cost of a new home denies 2,618 families the opportunity to purchase a home of their own. That’s 2,618 more people forced to remain in an overcrowded rental market. And that’s 2,618 families unable to take advantage of the benefits of homeownership and the path to building generational wealth.

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