Oct. 7, 2020 – This past summer saw record home sales with a total of 27,795 homes sold in Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin Realtors® Association.
Wisconsinites remain actively buying and selling homes, and many will need the advice of an attorney. How can you be sure you have the necessary information to look out for your client’s best interests?
Attorneys in Wisconsin are fortunate in having high-quality sources available to guide them so they may successfully complete the real estate transaction process.
Background: Statutes and Regulations
Several Wisconsin statutes and regulations relate to real estate practice and conveyances, including:
- Wis. Stat. chapter 452 – real estate practice firms, brokers, and salespersons;
- Wis. Admin. Code chapters REEB 11–25 – real estate board, brokers, and salespersons;
- Wis. Stat. chapter 458 – real estate appraisers;
- Wis. Admin. Code chapters REEB 85-87 – real estate appraisers;
- Wis. Stat. chapter 703 – condominiums;
- Wis. Stat. chapter 706 – conveyances of real property; recording; titles; and
- Wis. Stat. chapter 709 – disclosures by owners of real estate.
Other related statutes and regulations that may be of interest include:
- Wis. Stat. section 215.21 – mortgage loans;
- Wis. Stat. chapter 224, subchapter III – mortgage bankers, loan originators, and mortgage brokers;
- Wis. Stat. chapter 428 – first lien real estate and other mortgage loans;
- Wis. Stat. chapter 708 – mortgages and land contracts;
- Wis. Admin. Code chapters DFI-BKG 40-46 – mortgage banking;
- Wis. Admin. Code chapter DFI-SL 13.03 – mortgage loans;
- Wis. Admin. Code chapter ATCP 114 – real estate advertising, advance fees;
- Wis. Stat. chapter 440, subchapter XI – home inspectors;
- Wis. Admin. Code chapters SPS 131–139 – home inspection;
- Wis. Stat. section 106.50 – open housing; and
- Wis. Admin. Code chapter DWD 220 – fair housing.
Wisconsin Real Estate Forms
In Wisconsin, the Department of Safety and Professional Services Real Estate Examining Board (REEB) prepares and approves contractual forms. Such forms have a numeral preceded by the letters “WB.” Each approved form has an optional use date and a mandatory use date. Forms are available on the DSPS website.
Amy Crowder is State Law Librarian with the Wisconsin State Law Library. She is a member of Law Librarians Association of Wisconsin (LLAW). Members of the LLAW are regular contributors to InsideTrack.
The State Bar of Wisconsin Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section (RPPT) also creates and approves forms including deeds, land contracts, mortgages, mortgage notes, partial release of mortgage, satisfaction of mortgage, assignment of mortgage, and assignment of land contract. Members of the section can access approved conveyance forms free of charge by logging in to WisBar.org, visiting the RPPT section homepage, scrolling down to the Section Member File Cabinet, and clicking on State Bar of Wisconsin Real Estate Forms.
State Bar of Wisconsin PINNACLE® provides the Real Estate Forms Library which contains numerous forms, sample language documents, and checklists to help complete real estate transactions. Select individual forms may also be purchased through the State Bar Marketplace on WisBar.org.
Wisconsin Real Estate Books
Real Estate Transactions System published by PINNACLE is a comprehensive guide to the purchase and sale of real estate. The book describes the basic residential real estate transaction while also covering transactions for condominium units, vacant lands, unimproved development property, improved commercial property, and land contracts. Marital property and environmental liability considerations are discussed.
Also published by PINNACLE, Wisconsin Attorneys Desk Reference provides a useful checklist to the purchase and sale of real property.
The U.W. Law School and the Wisconsin REALTORS® Association collaborate to produce three books that are considered standards. Wisconsin Real Estate Law discusses legal and regulatory issues that commonly occur. It contains chapters on disclosure and misrepresentation issues, listing contracts, offer to purchase, real estate trust accounts, deeds, housing discrimination, land-use controls, and more.
Wisconsin Real Estate Clauses: Contingencies and Other Standard Provisions explains drafting considerations and contains sample clauses dealing with issues raised in real estate transactions. A third book, Real Estate Trust Accounts in Wisconsin – A Broker’s Guide to Complying with State Regulations provides a practical explanation of trust account procedures established by the Real Estate Examining Board.
A title within the Wisconsin Practice Series published by Thomson Reuters, Methods of Practice provides an overview of real estate law and discusses joint ownership, curing title defects by affidavit, and remedies to resolve disputes relating to real property interests.
Written for attorneys representing condominium developers, unit sellers, or purchasers the WisconsinCondominium Law Handbook published by PINNACLE will prepare one to handle the special requirements and issues related to this area of real estate.
Chapters cover marketing units, drafting condominium instruments, and the conversion process. Tax, securities, and other issues are also discussed. A companion book by PINNACLE is the Drafter’s Guide to Wisconsin Condominium Documents.
Other related PINNACLE titles include Commercial Real Estate Transactions in Wisconsin, which discusses every aspect of purchasing commercial property, and a comprehensive book on easements, Wisconsin Law of Easement and Restrictive Covenants.
Key treatises related to real estate law include:
Law of Real Property, by Richard Powell (LexisNexis®) – also known as Powell on Real Property – provides analysis of case law, statutes, and regulations. The book contains over 130 chapters on everything related to real estate law including tax aspects of transactions and investments, the effect of bankruptcy law on real estate transactions, and the effect of telecommunications laws on real property interests.
Thompson on Real Property (LexisNexis) – analysis of all elements of real property law, including specialty areas of agricultural and farm law, international property issues, waste, and public and private nuisances.
Several Restatements address real property topics and provide a thorough explanation and analysis of the law. Restatements may be used online through HeinOnline and accessed with a Wisconsin State Law Library card.
- Restatement of the Law, Property: Landlord and Tenant
- Restatement of the Law, Property: Mortgages
- Restatement of the Law, Property: Servitudes
- Restatement of the Law, Property: Wills and Other Donative Transfers
Keep Up-To-Date with CLE Sessions and State Bar Section
PINNACLE offers OnDemand CLE seminars such as the Annual Real Estate Update and Basic Real Estate Transactions. To see a complete list of seminars and course manuals, visit WisBar.org’s Marketplace.
The State Bar Real Property, Probate, and Trust Section (RPPT) offers additional benefits to members beyond the forms mentioned above. Joining provides an opportunity to affiliate with fellow lawyers who practice in real estate law. The section also monitors and recommends legislation and maintains a blog examining property related issues. To join the section, log in to WisBar.org and visit the RPPT section webpage.
The books listed in this guide are available through the Wisconsin State Law Library. Remember, you can always ask a law librarian for help locating the information you need.