Argued October 8, 2013.
Appeal from King County Superior Court. 10-2-24428-0. Honorable Jay V. White.
David A. Leen (of Leen & O'Sullivan PLLC ), for petitioner.
Aaron S. Okrent and Scott R. Scher (of Sternberg Thomson Okrent & Scher PLLC ), for respondents.
Shannon Smith and Marc Worthy on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General, amicus curiae.
AUTHOR: Justice Steven C. Gonzalez. WE CONCUR: Chief Justice Barbara A. Madsen, Justice Charles W. Johnson, Justice Susan Owens, Justice Mary E. Fairhurst, Justice James M. Johnson, Justice Debra L. Stephens, Justice Charles K. Wiggins, Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud.
[179 Wn.2d 759] ¶ 1 When Lawrence Jametsky lost his job during the fall of 2008, he feared foreclosure on his home. He already owed King County over $ 10,000 in back property taxes and had no foreseeable means of paying off the debt. Desperate to save his house, Jametsky sought help securing a loan. At the time, he had significant equity in his home and was willing to borrow against it. Through a series of connections, he was introduced to Matthew Flynn, a mortgage broker. Eventually, Flynn made Jametsky an offer. Jametsky was relieved; he thought Flynn was extending him a $ 100,000 loan that would cover his debts, save his house, and allow him to regain financial solvency. With this understanding, he agreed to the transaction. The offer, however, was not what it seemed. Instead of receiving a loan, Jametsky deeded his house to Rodney Olsen for $ 100,000 and entered into an 18-month lease with a buy-back option.
¶ 2 After Jametsky realized what had happened months after the fact, he sought relief under the distressed property conveyances act (DPCA), chapter 61.34 RCW, among other
things. His suit was dismissed at summary judgment. The Court of Appeals affirmed, finding that Jametsky's property was not distressed at the time of the sale because no certificate of delinquency had been issued by King County. Jametsky v. Olsen, noted at 171 Wn.App. 1019 (2012). We reverse the Court of Appeals, vacate the grant of summary judgment, and remand for further proceedings. We hold that a property can be distressed under RCW 61.34.020(2)(a) before a certificate of delinquency is issued and instruct the trial court to consider a variety of factors in making this factual determination.
I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
¶ 3 Jametsky inherited his grandfather's home and has been living there for over 25 years. Though there were liens on the house, the property was not mortgaged or otherwise [179 Wn.2d 760] encumbered. But, in the fall of 2008, Jametsky suffered significant financial and crushing personal hardships and he sought to borrow money against his house. Jametsky lost his job and was already struggling to pay his property taxes. He was two and a half years behind on his property tax payments, and without a steady source of income he feared he could ...