Sitting at the closing table, the closing officer turns to the seller with a smile and asks, “Have you done any construction, work, or improvements on the property in the last six months?”

The seller replies, “just the floors, some drywall, painting, electrical and plumbing work.  It was about $5,300 and I paid for most of it.”

Ohhh boy!  The title company cannot close without assuring that all contractors were paid and waived their rights to put a lien on the property. The closing is delayed!

Owner’s Affidavit and Construction Liens 

While the title company can search for most liens, some liens are hidden or “secret.”  Construction liens are one such “secret lien.”

If a contractor does work on a property, they can file a construction lien for the amount they are owed.  They have six months after the last time they performed work to file the lien.  But, the lien is effective as of the date the contractor started work.  So, if an electrician rewired the attic a week before closing, he can file a lien 6 months later but that lien will be effective as of a week before closing — before the buyer purchased the property.  In other words, the buyer will purchase a property with a lien against it!


In order to insure against this happening, the title company asks the seller to swear in an Owner’s Affidavit that no work, labor, or improvement was done in the last 6 months.  And, if any such work was done, the title company will ask for signed lien waivers from each contractor.

Realtors and Sellers Should Be Prepared

Sellers and their Realtor should be prepared with lien waivers for any work done prior to closing.  Addressing this issue for the first time at the closing table can lead to delay or even cancelling the closing.  Realtors should communicate to sellers that they will need all lien waivers and that a cancelled check or PIF invoice likely is not enough (although, some title companies will accept those if the amount is very small).  By avoiding surprises and preparing the seller for closing, the Realtor will assure a smooth closing, a happy client, and avoid delays.

As always, if you have questions about this or other title issues, call Homestead Title and we’ll guide you through.

As of July 1, 2018, Wisconsin home owners must use a new Real Estate Condition Report (referred to as the RECR).  If you are a Realtor, attorney, or for sale by owner (FSBO) seller, you should be aware of the changes.


Wisconsin law has long required that sellers provide a disclosure report identifying various conditions of the property.  This applies to almost all residential properties with only a few exceptions.  Unfortunately, the form can be confusing, disorganized, and hard to use.  As of July 1st, a new form will be used that is intended to be easier, clearer, and less confusing.


Many of the changes appear fairly minor, but the intent is to make the entire form clearer and easier to use.

Questions v. Statements: First, the seller now must answer questions instead of agreeing or disagreeing with a statement.  Thus, “I am aware of . . . ” is replaced with “Are you aware of . . . ”  New check-boxes are available, rather than lines.recr2

Categories and Sections: Second, the form is now organized by category, with disclosures for “Structural and Mechanical” issues, “Environmental” issues, “Well, Septic, and Storage Tanks,” “Taxes, Special Assessments, Permits, etc.,” “Land Use,” and “Additional information.”  In the old form, any “Yes” response would be explained at the very end of the form.  In the new form, explanations are to be provided at the end of each category or section.

Realtor Disclosure: For Realtors, there is a new and helpful disclosure.  Realtors should always tell their sellers that they are prohibited from offering advice or guidance on how to fill out the RECR or what is or is not a defect.  The new disclosure provides just that: “Real estate licensees may not provide advice or opinions concerning whether or not an item is a defect for the purposes of this report or concerning the legal rights or obligations of parties to a transaction.”

New Disclosures:  The new form contains a number of new disclosures including:

  • Rented items such as water softeners;
  • Water quality issues including unsafe lead levels;
  • Meth labs and the manufacture of methamphetamine and other toxic substances;
  • The existence of conservation easements;
  • Burial sites;
  • Insurance claims filed within the last 5 years;
  • Agreements that would bind the future owner (leases, electric cooperatives, etc.)
  • How long the owner has owned the property.

Be cautious when relying on the internet to find the RECR.  Many sites have the old form available.  As of July 1, 2018, all Realtors, Attorneys, and Sellers should be using the new form.  Your Realtor or Brokerage should have the new forms and you can also find the text in the Wisconsin Statutes here.

Homestead Title Had Moved

We are excited to introduce our new office at:

555 Zor Shrine Place, Suite 120

Move Annoucement

We look forward to seeing you at closing!

waiting room

conf room

Homestead is Moving!

On January 3, 2018, Homestead Title’s West office will be briefly closed as we move.  (You can still schedule closings on the 3rd at our other offices). Our new space is just next door — a beautiful, brand new office on Zor Shrine Place.


We will be posting pictures of the new space soon and can’t wait to see you at our next closing!

Happy new office for us and a VERY Happy New Year to you!

Halloween Hours & More

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Check out these trick-or-treat safety tips and please consider participating in the Teal Pumpkin Project. You can find more info about that by clicking on the link above.

Here’s a list of the hours/events for Trick-or-Treating:

Cottage Grove: 10/31/17: 4:30 – 7 PM

Madison: 10/31/17: 4-8 PM

Downtown Madison: 10/25/17: 3-6 PM at participating Businesses!

Monona: 10/27/17 from 5:45-7 PM @Winnequah Park

McFarland: 10/31/17: 4-8 PM (No set hours)

Oregon: 10/31/17: 5-8 PM

Stoughton: 10/28/17: 3-5 PM Downtown Trick-or-Treating

Sun Prairie: 10/31/17: 5-7 PM

Verona: 10/31/17: 5-8 PM

Waunakee: 10/31/17: 5-7 PM 
Continue Reading »

The Scoop on Scoops

Homestead Title (1)

Madison Garage Sales

Spring is finally here! These neighborhood-organized rummage sales are a great opportunity to score some bargains.  It’s also a great opportunity to see how much Madison has to offer. Check out the full list HERE of all the local neighborhood garage sales happening around MadTown!

Have fun and enjoy!

Date Event Location
May 11 – May 13 Oregon Community Wide Garage Sale Oregon, WI
May 11 – May 13


Waunakee Garage Sale Days Waunakee, WI
May 13, 2017 Nakoma Garage Sale


Nakoma Neighborhood
May 18May 20 Hawks Landing Hawks Landing Neighborhood
May 19 – May 20 Deforest/Windsor City Wide Garage Sale Deforest/Windsor, WI
May 19 – May 20


Wexford Village Garage Sale Wexford Village Neighborhood
May 19 – May 20 Spring Harbor Neighborhood


5156 – 5148 Spring Court
May 19 – May 20 Blackhawk Garage Sale


Blackhawk Neighborhood
June 3, 2017 Emerson East Garage Sale Emerson East Neighborhood


June 3, 2017 Marquette Neighborhood Garage Sale Marquette Neighborhood


June 2 – June 3 Hill Farms Garage Sale


Hill Farms Neighborhood
June 8 – June 10


Portage Citywide Garage Sale Portage, WI