Quick Facts

–  Judicial Foreclosure Available: Yes
–  Non-Judicial Foreclosure Available: Yes
–  Primary Security Instruments: Deed of Trust, Mortgage
–  Timeline: Typically 90 days
–  Right of Redemption: Yes
–  Deficiency Judgments Allowed: Yes

In Wisconsin, lenders may foreclose on deeds of trusts or mortgages in default using either a judicial or non-judicial foreclosure process.

Judicial Foreclosure
The judicial process of foreclosure, which involves filing a lawsuit to obtain a court order to foreclose, is used when no power of sale is present in the mortgage or deed of trust. Generally, after the court declares a foreclosure, the property will be auctioned off to the highest bidder. However, in Wisconsin, no sale may be made for one year from the date the judgment is entered unless the lender waives the right to a deficiency, in which case the delay is six months, or two months if the property is abandoned. Sales by consent may be earlier.

Non-Judicial Foreclosure
The non-judicial process of foreclosure is used when a power of sale clause exists in a mortgage or deed of trust. A “power of sale” clause is the clause in a deed of trust or mortgage, in which the borrower pre-authorizes the sale of property to pay off the balance on a loan in the event of the their default. In deeds of trust or mortgages where a power of sale exists, the power given to the lender to sell the property may be executed by the lender or their representative, typically referred to as the trustee. Regulations for this type of foreclosure process are outlined below in the “Power of Sale Foreclosure Guidelines”.

Power of Sale Foreclosure Guidelines 
If the deed of trust or mortgage contains a power of sale clause and specifies the time, place and terms of sale, then the specified procedure must be followed. Otherwise, the non-judicial power of sale foreclosure is carried out as follows:

  1. The foreclosure notice must be recorded with the county prior to the time the first notice of foreclosure is published. The notice, which must include the time and place of sale, must be published once a week for six consecutive weeks in a newspaper in the county where the property is located.The notice must be served upon the borrower in the same manner that civil process in a lawsuit is served. In instances where the borrower can’t be found, then the notice shall be posted in a conspicuous spot on the mortgaged premises and served on any occupant.Said notice must specify the names of the borrower and lender, the date the mortgage was recorded, the amount due at the date of the notice, a property description and the time and place of sale.
  2. The sale must be held at the time and place stated in the foreclosure notice. The winning bidder will receive a certificate of purchase. If necessary, the sale may be postponed.
  3. Unless the foreclosure sale has been confirmed by court order, the borrower has one year (12 months) to redeem the property by paying the amount of the highest bid at the foreclosure sale, plus interest.

Wisconsin law allows a foreclosure sale to be confirmed by court order. If the lender states their intentions in the application for sales confirmation, then they may file a deficiency suit. Otherwise, deficiency suits are not allowed.

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