2017 ORS 696.241¹
Clients’ trust accounts
  • commingling of funds
  • branch trust account
  • interest earnings on trust account
  • when broker entitled to earnest money
  • funds not subject to execution
  • rules

(1) As used in this section, “trust funds” means money belonging to others that is received or handled by a licensed real estate property manager or principal real estate broker in the course of conducting professional real estate activity and in the real estate licensee’s fiduciary capacity.

(2) A licensed real estate property manager, or a principal real estate broker who engages in the management of rental real estate, shall open and maintain in this state one or more separate federally insured bank accounts that are designated clients’ trust accounts under ORS 696.245 (Clients’ trust accounts). A principal real estate broker who engages in the management of rental real estate or a licensed real estate property manager shall deposit in a clients’ trust account all trust funds received or handled by the principal real estate broker, licensed real estate property manager or real estate licensees subject to the supervision of the principal real estate broker.

(3)(a) A principal real estate broker who receives or handles trust funds and does not deposit the trust funds in a licensed neutral escrow depository as described in paragraph (b) of this subsection shall open and maintain in this state one or more separate federally insured bank accounts that are designated clients’ trust accounts under ORS 696.245 (Clients’ trust accounts). Pursuant to written agreement of all parties to a real estate transaction having an interest in the trust funds, the principal real estate broker shall immediately place the trust funds in a clients’ trust account.

(b) A principal real estate broker may deposit trust funds in a licensed neutral escrow depository in this state.

(4) A principal real estate broker or licensed real estate property manager who opens a clients’ trust account under subsection (2) or (3) of this section, or to whom ownership of a clients’ trust account is transferred, is liable for all deposits and disbursements made using the clients’ trust account until the principal real estate broker or licensed real estate property manager closes the account or transfers ownership of the account.

(5) A principal real estate broker or licensed real estate property manager may not commingle any other funds with the trust funds held in a clients’ trust account, except for:

(a) Earned interest on a clients’ trust account as provided in subsections (7) and (8) of this section; and

(b) Earned compensation as provided in subsection (9) of this section.

(6) If a licensed real estate property manager or principal real estate broker maintains a separate clients’ trust account in a branch office, a separate bookkeeping system must be maintained in the branch office and a copy of the records required under ORS 696.280 (Records of licensed real estate property managers and real estate brokers) must be maintained in the main office of the licensed real estate property manager or principal real estate broker.

(7) Trust funds received by a licensed real estate property manager or principal real estate broker may be deposited by the licensed real estate property manager or principal real estate broker in a federally insured interest-bearing bank account that is designated a clients’ trust account under ORS 696.245 (Clients’ trust accounts), but only with the prior written approval of all parties who have an interest in the trust funds. The earnings of the interest-bearing account inure to the benefit of the licensed real estate property manager or principal real estate broker only if expressly approved in writing by all parties who have an interest in the trust funds before deposit of the trust funds.

(8) With prior written notice to all parties who have an interest in the trust funds, a principal real estate broker may place trust funds received by the principal real estate broker in a real estate sales, purchase or exchange transaction in a federally insured interest-bearing bank account that is designated a clients’ trust account under ORS 696.245 (Clients’ trust accounts), the earnings of which inure to the benefit of a public benefit corporation, as defined in ORS 65.001 (Definitions), for distribution to organizations and individuals for first-time homebuying assistance and for development of affordable housing. The principal real estate broker shall select a qualified public benefit corporation to receive the interest earnings.

(9) In connection with a real estate sales, purchase or exchange transaction, a principal real estate broker is not entitled to any part of any interest earnings on trust funds deposited under subsection (7) of this section or to any part of the earnest money or other money paid to the principal real estate broker as part or all of the principal real estate broker’s compensation until the transaction has been completed or terminated. The principal real estate broker and the seller shall negotiate and agree in writing to the disposition of forfeited earnest money at the time of execution by the seller of any listing agreement or earnest money agreement. An agreement about the disposition of forfeited earnest money must be initialed by the seller or immediately precede the seller’s signature.

(10) Trust funds in a clients’ trust account are not subject to execution or attachment on any claim against a licensed real estate property manager or principal real estate broker.

(11) The Real Estate Agency by rule shall establish an optional procedure by which a principal real estate broker may elect to disburse disputed funds held in relation to the sale, exchange or purchase of real estate from a clients’ trust account to the person who delivered the funds to the principal real estate broker. The procedure must allow disbursal not more than 20 days after a request is made for the disbursal. A disbursal pursuant to the procedure does not affect the claim of any other person to the funds.

(12) The agency may provide by rule for other records to be maintained and for the manner in which trust funds are deposited, held and disbursed. The rules adopted under this subsection may include requirements for interest or compensation held in a clients’ trust account pursuant to subsection (5) of this section to be disbursed from the clients’ trust account to a licensed real estate property manager or principal real estate broker.

(13) A real estate licensee who, for the purpose of transmitting a check, receives the check from a buyer or tenant that is payable to a property owner or seller is exempt from the deposit requirements of subsections (2) and (3) of this section. The agency may determine by rule the records that must be maintained for checks received as described in this subsection and the manner in which the checks must be transmitted. [1975 c.746 §18 (enacted in lieu of 696.240); 1977 c.649 §39; 1981 c.617 §11a; 1985 c.589 §4; 1991 c.5 §37; 2001 c.300 §21; 2003 c.224 §1; 2005 c.116 §18; 2005 c.393 §2a; 2007 c.224 §1; 2007 c.319 §9; 2007 c.337 §4; 2009 c.224 §5; 2009 c.324 §5; 2011 c.158 §4; 2013 c.145 §13; 2017 c.234 §15]

See also annota­tions under ORS 696.240 in permanent edi­tion.

Notes of Decisions

Since purpose of this sec­tion is to prevent abuses arising from commingling of funds entrusted to brokers with brokers’ other funds, “neutral escrow depository” means an escrow depository other than a broker, but includes escrow depositories owned or controlled by a broker. Banif Corp. v. Black, 12 Or App 385, 507 P2d 49 (1973)

Broker was not guilty of “conversion” of down pay­ment where clear evidence showed broker complied with statutory require­ments by depositing down pay­ment made by purchaser in trust fund account. Huszar v. Certified Realty Co., 278 Or 29, 562 P2d 1184 (1977)

Chapter 696

Atty. Gen. Opinions

Sales of subdivision lots by mobile home salespeople, (1975) Vol 37, p 865; sales or offers of interests in limited partnerships to invest in real estate, (1978) Vol 38, p 1971

1 Legislative Counsel Committee, CHAPTER 696—Real Estate and Escrow Activities, https://­www.­oregonlegislature.­gov/­bills_laws/­ors/­ors696.­html (2017) (last ac­cessed Mar. 30, 2018).
 
2 Legislative Counsel Committee, Annotations to the Oregon Revised Stat­utes, Cumulative Supplement - 2017, Chapter 696, https://­www.­oregonlegislature.­gov/­bills_laws/­ors/­ano696.­html (2017) (last ac­cessed Mar. 30, 2018).
 
3 OregonLaws.org assembles these lists by analyzing references between Sections. Each listed item refers back to the current Section in its own text. The result reveals relationships in the code that may not have otherwise been apparent.