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Buying and Selling TDRs

Buying and Selling TDRs

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Certified Transferable Development Rights can be bought and sold just like any other commodity. Once TDRs become certified, the owner can sell them to any willing buyer in a private transaction. Several special conditions apply to buying and selling TDRs in King County:

  • Purchase and sale of TDRs is a real estate transaction, so the seller will pay the Real Estate Excise Tax.
  • If an interested buyer cannot reach a sales agreement with private TDR owners, it may be possible to purchase rights from the TDR Bank.
  • When development rights are sold, a new certificate must be issued in the name of the new owner and the documents must be recorded with the County.

Buyers and sellers typically complete a Purchase and Sale Agreement.

TDR Exchange

The TDR Exchange makes it easy for TDR certificate holders (owners) and potential buyers (often developers) to connect. Anyone can visit the TDR Exchange and see lists of TDRs for sale, and TDR "want-ad" posts. Registered users can view detailed information about TDRs for sale and TDRs wanted listings, as well as contact owners and potential buyers directly.

Go to the TDR Exchange

Q & A

If I purchase development rights, am I the only one who can use them?

No. If you purchase development rights, you may sell them to someone else. TDRs may be bought and sold over and over prior to being "redeemed" for use. However, the applicant for a development permit where development rights will be used must also be the owner of those development rights.

Do TDRs expire?

If you purchase development rights, they are "good" until they are redeemed at a receiving site. After they are used once, they cannot be used again.

Can I use development rights from any certified sending site?

If your receiving site is located in an urban area, then you may use development rights from any sending site. If your receiving site is in the rural area, then the development rights may only come from rural sending sites. TDRs used for adding lots in the RA-2.5 zone must originate from a sending site located in the Rural Forest Focus Area.

Do all TDRs for a receiving site need to come from the same sending site?

No. A receiving site project can use TDRs from multiple sending sites. If you need more development rights than a particular sending site has available, you can purchase additional rights from other sending sites.

Can TDRs from a single sending site go to more than one receiving site?

Yes. TDRs from a single sending site can be sold to multiple developers using them at multiple receiving sites It is not necessary to transfer all of the development rights from a particular sending site together.

Can TDRs be used at receiving sites within incorporated city limits?

Receiving sites within incorporated city limits are subject to zoning code of the city and interlocal agreements with King County. These agreements may contain additional rules for the designation of receiving sites and how development rights may be applied to a parcel. For example, a city may require that development rights being transferred into the city come from a particular watershed or location of importance to the city. The TDR program will make every effort to track the various requirements and assist developers with obtaining rights that meet the specific criteria of their receiving site.

For questions about the TDR Program, please contact Nicholas Bratton, TDR Program Manager, or Anne-Gigi Chan, Land Conservation Project Manager, King County WLRD Rural and Regional Services Section.