Wisconsin Real Estate Practices

Attorney Involvement

Please describe any requirements under applicable state law for attorney, abstractor or other special professional involvement, for example, in the search, examination, opinion of title, signing, closing, disbursement, recording, preparation of documents, and/or policy-issuance.

Attorney involvement may be needed to the extent that drafting of documents is treated as the unauthorized practice of law. Wisconsin Statutes Section 757.30.

Cancellation/Commitment Fee

Does your state permit or require a cancellation fee or commitment fee upon cancellation?

The statutes are silent on this topic. If this is considered as an insurer charge, it may need to be filed with the State as a rate. Wisconsin Statutes Section 625.13.

Certificate of Release (of Mortgage)

If anyone other than the lender (such as a title agent, settlement agent, underwriter or attorney) has the authority to release the security instrument, please describe.

In Wisconsin, satisfaction of a mortgage is controlled by Wis. Stat. 708.15.  In almost all cases, the secured creditor has the authority to, and will issue the satisfaction of mortgage.  In the limited instance where a secured creditor fails to timely issue a satisfaction, Wis. Stat. 708.15(8)-(12) provides a procedure for a “Satisfaction agent” to record  an “affidavit of satisfaction”.  A recorded affidavit of satisfaction operates as a satisfaction of the underlying security instrument.  The affidavit of satisfaction method is limited to residential property, which is defined as property primarily used for personal, family or household purposes and is improved by one to four dwelling units.  Additionally, the affidavit of satisfaction may only be recorded after proper notice is given to the secured creditor and all the statutory requirements are followed.  Under the statute, a satisfaction agent can only be a title insurance company, acting directly or through an authorized agent.  A title insurance company is not required to act as a satisfaction agent, and this method is not commonly used to satisfy mortgages at this time.  For additional information please see: http://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/statutes/statutes/708


Please describe the kinds of deeds that are customary for commercial and residential transactions.  Please describe the kinds of deeds that are generally not insurable.

General warranty deeds, limited warranty deeds, quit claim deeds are available and used. Insurance will be generally available with these deeds.   

Good Funds Requirements

Is there a good funds requirement in your state?

Yes, Act 394 Statute 708.10 (9-4-19)

Joinder of Spouses

If a non-title holding spouse is required to join in the execution of a deed or a security instrument, please describe.  Any analogous rights, such as those in a civil union or equivalent, should also be addressed. 

The non-record spouse is required to join in the conveyance (deed or mortgage) of the homestead. Wisconsin Statutes Section 706.02 (1) (f).

Mortgage Tax

Is there a mortgage tax in your state?  If yes, is it uniform across the state or does it vary?  If it is uniform, please describe.  

Wisconsin does not have a mortgage tax.

Payment Customs

Who customarily pays for:
(a) Owner’s Policy?
(b) Transfer Tax & Recording Fee?
(c) Survey Charges?
(d) Closing/Settlement Fees?

(a) Owner’s Policy? —Standard Residential Purchase Agreement calls for Seller to pay.
(b) Transfer Tax & Recording Fee? —Grantor is responsible by statute for the Transfer Tax (Wis. Stat. Sec. 77.22).  Recording fee charges will vary depending on what is needed.
(c) Survey Charges? – Negotiable, not a mandated charge.
(d) Closing/Settlement Fees? –-In a sale, both buyer and seller can have their own closing charge.

Policy Countersignatures

Please describe any statutory or regulatory requirements for countersignatures in order to issue the policy (for example, residency requirements).

There are no requirements for who can countersign per statute.  Presumably, it would be anyone who is authorized by the Company.

Real Estate Taxes

Please describe the general tax year, due dates, and delinquency dates, including lien dates and payment cycle.

Real estate taxes become a lien on January 1 of the year when taxes are levied.  It is common to pay the taxes in two installments (January 31 and July 31).  See Chapter 70 of the Wisconsin Statutes.

Search and Examination Fees

Is it permissible and/or customary to charge a separate search and/or examination fee, and under what circumstances?  If your jurisdiction is all-inclusive, please state that.

Search and exam fees are customary.

Search Requirements

Is there a minimum period of time for a title search required: (a) by state law, (b) pursuant to marketable record title acts, or (c) by any other applicable title examination standards (e.g., state bar association)?  Please respond to each category.  If a minimum search period exists for any category, please state it.

(A)    No mandated state minimums.
(B)   Marketable Title Act (Wis. Stat. Sec. 893.33) 40 years for easements and covenants, 30 years for other interests.
(C)   There are no title standards in Wisconsin.

Security Instruments (Deed of Trust vs. Mortgage)

Please describe the customary and permissible form(s) of security instruments used in your state. 

Who can be listed as the trustee on the Deed of Trust (e.g., residency and/or natural person requirements, etc.)? Can an underwriter or title agent be designated as the trustee, and, if so, is it customary?

Wisconsin uses a mortgage as its customary form of security instrument.

Standard Exceptions and Requirements

Please identify the standard exceptions and requirements that are customarily used in your state.

Standard exceptions:

1.  Defects, liens, encumbrances, adverse claims or other matters, if any, created, first appearing in the public records or attaching subsequent to the Effective Date hereof but prior to the date the proposed Insured acquires for value of record the estate or interest or mortgage theron covered by this Commitment.

2.  Rights or claims of parties in possession not recorded in the Public Records.

3.  Easements or claims of easements not recorded in the Public Records.

4.  Any lien, or right to a lien, for services, labor, or material hertofore or hereafter furnished, imposed by law and not recorded in the Public Records.

5.  Taxes or special assessments which are not recorded as existing liens in the Public Records.

6.  Minerals of whatsoever kind, subsurface and surface substances, including but not limited to coal, lignite, oil, gas, uranium, clay, rock, sand and gravel in, on, under and that may be produced from the Land, together with all rights, privileges, and immunities relating thereto, whether or not appearing in the Public Records or listed in Schedule B.  The Company makes no representation as to the present ownership of any such interests.  There may be leases, grants, exceptions or reservations of interest that are not listed.

State-specific Policy Variations

If there are state-specific changes to the provisions in the ALTA policies (e.g., Arbitration, Minerals), please describe.


Title Insurance Form and Filing Regulations

Please describe the form and/or rate filing requirements, if any, related to policies and endorsements.  Please describe any applicable rating bureau. 

There is no rating bureau. Form filing is file and use (Wis. Stat. Sec. 631.20 ). Rate filing is use and file (Wis. Stat. Sec. 625.13).

Transfer Taxes

Is there a transfer tax in your state? If yes, is it uniform across the state or does it vary?  If it is uniform, please describe.

Yes. There is imposed on the grantor of real estate a real estate transfer fee at the rate of 30 cents for each $100 of value or fraction thereof on every conveyance not exempted. This fee is uniform across the state.  See Wis. Stat. Sec. 77.22 et seq.


Is usury coverage available?

Yes. Usury coverage is not prohibited under Wisconsin law.

Usury coverage is available: (i) if the loan is made to a corporation or limited liability company; (ii) if the interest rate of the loan is 12% or less; or (iii) if the principal indebtedness of a loan exceeds $150,000.00 and is not secured by a 1-4 family dwelling in which the borrower resides (Wis. Statute Sec. 138.05). 

Withholding Taxes

What are your state’s requirements, if any, with regard to withholding proceeds from a sale, similar to but not including FIRPTA?

There are no state-specific requirements to mandate withholding of sale proceeds by a closing agent. 

Witness Requirements

Are witnesses required on a deed or security instrument?  If so, please describe.

Witnesses are not required.