Summary of Wisconsin's Foreclosure Laws

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If you are facing foreclosure in Wisconsin, it’s important to understand some of the basics, including:

  • the most common type of foreclosure procedure (judicial v. nonjudicial) used in Wisconsin
  • how much time you have to respond
  • your rights and protections in the process, and
  • what happens afterwards (for example, whether you’ll be liable for a deficiency judgment).

Below we have outlined some of the most important features of Wisconsin foreclosure law. Keep in mind that this is just a summary; we’ve included statute citations so you can get more details from the laws themselves. And be sure to check out Nolo’s extensive Foreclosure section, where you can find information about all aspects of foreclosure, definitions of foreclosure terms (like redemption and reinstatement), and options to avoid foreclosure.

Topic

State Rule

Most common type of foreclosure process

Judicial

Notice of the foreclosure

After foreclosing party files lawsuit, borrower has 20 days to respond. If foreclosure is granted, court issues judgment and order of sale. Sale can’t be held until: one year after the judgment is entered if the borrower is living in the home and the lender has not waived its right to seek a deficiency judgment; six months after judgment if the borrower is living in the home and the foreclosing party waives its right to a deficiency judgment; or five weeks after judgment if the home is abandoned. A notice of sale must be published in a newspaper (and online sometimes) and posted publicly for three weeks prior to sale.

Reinstatement of loan before sale

Available any time before judgment. Borrowers may reinstate after judgment, but if they subsequently default, the foreclosure will continue.

Redemption after sale

Not available after sale. In Wisconsin, the redemption period (one year or six months, if you live in the home, or five weeks if you abandoned it) occurs prior to the sale. The property can be redeemed at any time during this period.

Special protections for foreclosures involving high-cost mortgages

Prohibition on certain things (such as interest rate increases after a default) for high-cost home loans. Wis. Stat. §§ 428.202 to 428.211

Special state protections for service members

Protections against foreclosure for members of the national guard or state defense force who are ordered into state active duty for 30 days or more. Lender cannot foreclose during or within 90 days after the service member's period of state active duty unless a court approves it before active duty and after the foreclosure. Applies to mortgages taken out prior to active duty. Wis. Stat. § 321.62

Deficiency judgments

Must be requested in the foreclosure complaint. The foreclosing lender will often waive the deficiency in order to shorten the redemption period to six months.

Cash exempted in bankruptcy

About $12,725 for one person, $25,450 for a married couple under federal bankruptcy exemptions. $5,000 ($10,000 if married filing jointly) under state bankruptcy exemptions.

Notice to leave after house is sold

Foreclosed homeowner may remain in possession through the redemption period up until the confirmation of the sale. The order confirming the sale may also include a writ of assistance, which is an order from the court directing the sheriff to remove the foreclosed homeowner from the home.

Foreclosure statutes

Wis. Stat. §§ 846.01 to 846.25

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