Wisconsin Foreclosure Laws



How are mortgage liens treated in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin is generally known as a lien theory state where the property acts as security for the underlying loan. The document that places the lien on the property is called a mortgage.


How are Wisconsin mortgages foreclosed?

In Wisconsin, the lenders generally go to court in what is known as a judicial foreclosure proceeding where the court must issue a final judgment of foreclosure. The property is then sold as part of a publicly noticed sale. A complaint is filed in Circuit Court along with what is known a lis pendens. A lis pendens is a recorded document that provides public notice that the property is being foreclosed upon.


What are the legal instruments that establish a Wisconsin mortgage?

The documents are known as the mortgage or in a commercial transaction, a security agreement. Sometimes the mortgage document is combined with the security agreement. A mortgage is filed to evidence the underlying debt and terms of repayment, which is set forth in the note.


How long does it take to foreclose a property in Wisconsin?

Depending on the court schedule, it usually takes approximately 365 days to effectuate an uncontested foreclosure, unless the lender waives the right to deficiency because no sale can occur earlier than twelve (12) months unless this waiver is granted. If there is a waiver, the sale date must wait until six (6) months after a judgment, unless the property is abandoned at which the period of two (2) months must elapse. This process may be delayed if the borrower contests the action, seeks delays and adjournments of hearings, or files for bankruptcy.

Other notice requirements in Wisconsin include:

  1. Notice of the sheriffs sale must be published for six (6) weeks prior to the actual sale date, and notice of the sale must be posted at the real estate to be sold or at three public places in the town in which the property is to be sold for at least three (3) weeks prior to the sale date.

Is there a right of redemption in Wisconsin?

Wisconsin has a statutory right of redemption, which allows a party whose property has been foreclosed to reclaim that property by making payment in full of the sum of the unpaid loan plus costs. There is a time limit to undertake such redemption which is typically twelve (12) months after the sale unless the foreclosure has been confirmed by court order.


Are deficiency judgments permitted in Wisconsin?

Yes, a deficiency judgment may be obtained when a property in foreclosure is sold at a public sale for less than the loan amount that the underlying mortgage secures. This means that the borrower still owes the lender for the difference between what the property sold for at auction and the amount of the original loan. The fair market value of the property must be credited before any deficiency judgment can be granted.


What statutes govern Wisconsin foreclosures?

The laws that govern Wisconsin mortgages are found in Wisconsin Statutes and Annotations (2003-2004) Chapter 708.01 et. seq. (Mortgages & land Contracts).


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