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.

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

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

Madison Plant Sales

Spring is finally here and it’s time to get planting! If you are selling a home, a beautiful garden can add curb appeal. If you’re staying put, a garden can add to your home’s value, the sustainability of your property, and your happiness. If you know of another, upcoming plant sale in the Madison area, let us know and we’ll add it to the list.

Homestead Title takes pride in being green and sustainable. Every year we provide a list of local garden sales in the Madison area. Enjoy!

Date Location Event
May 12th, 11am-5pm Olbrich Gardens Plant Sale with the Pros: Olbrich Gardens annual fundraiser.
May 13th-9am-3pm Olbrich Gardens Plant Sale with the Pros: Olbrich Gardens: annual fundraiser.
May 13th, 10am-2pm Troy Community Farm: 502 Troy Drive Spring Plant Sale: All plants Certified Organic.
May 11, 9am-2pm UW Arboretum Visitor Center Native Plant Sale
May 13th, TBD Shorewood Hills Garden Club: 1008 Shorewood Blvd Plant and Mulch Sale
May 13, 9am-2pm Oregon Garden Club: 8th Annual Oregon Garden Club Charitable Plant Sale
May 13, 8:30am-11am Mound Vue Garden Club: 709 Brookstone Crst Mound Vue Garden Club Plant Sale
May 12 – May 13 West Side Garden Club: 3918 Nakoma Rd West Side Garden Club Plant Sale
May 21, 2017 Master Gardener Plant Sale: 1 Fen Oak Ct.  Master Gardener Plan Sale


Madison Farmers’ Markets

Spring is finally here and it’s time to get outside and enjoy the Wisconsin weather. Homestead Title takes pride in being green, sustainable, and local. Each year we provide a list of the local Farmers’ Markets for you to check out. Happy Spring!

Farmers’ Markets in Madison When Where

Eastside Farmers’ Market 

Tuesdays 4pm -7pm April to October Central Park

Capital View Farmers’ Market

Wednesdays 3pm -7Pm June to October 5901 Sharpsburg Dr.

UW Health at The American Center

Tuesdays 2pm – 5pm June to October 4602 Eastpark Blvd

Wednesday Markets

Wednesdays 8:30am -2pm April to November 200 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Saturday Market on the Square Saturdays 7:30am – 12pm April to November Monona Terrace

Union South Farmers’ Market

Thursdays 10am -2pm September to October 1308 W. Dayton St

UW Health at University Hospital

Thursdays 2pm -5pm May to October 1111 Highland Avenue

Northside Farmers’ Market

Sundays 8:30am – 12:30pm May to October

Northside Town Center


Rimrock Road Market

Mondays 2pm – 6pm June to October 2524 Rimrock Road

Hilldale Farmers’ Market

Wednesdays and Saturdays 7am – 1pm May to November Hilldale Mall

Cyber-fraud is a constant, growing problem especially prevalent in the Real Estate industry. This post examines “Spoofed” emails and how to recognize them.  A video tutorial of this post can be seen here.

Scammers create fake emails that look like they came from a bank, title company, or Realtor. Clicking links in the email may download viruses, take you to malicious sights, or convince you to enter passwords or send money.

Always be suspicious of any email that asks you to click on a link, enter a password, provide personal information, or send money.  

Never send money until you call the contact at a phone number NOT provided in that email.

One recent scam involved a common Email Encryption program used by many banks and title companies called ZixCorp.  ZixCorp is a legitimate service that Homestead and other companies use for secure email . Fake or “spoofed” ZixCorp emails look exactly like a bank or title company has sent you a secure or encrypted email. How can you tell the fake from the real thing?

Click Here for a Short Video on how to detect Spoofed Email: https://www.screencast.com/t/0ItwBtOVKCm


Here’s how to recognize a fake or spoofed email:

1.  The Subject line is empty, vague, or unrelated to you. A statement that you have received a “secure message” is too vague.

cyberfraud12.  The email of the sender is not quite right. For example, if you receive an email from Microsoft, you should not open it if the address is @mxll2.microsoft.com.  The random letters at the beginning are sure sign of fraud. The ZixCorp message was harder to detect.  The scammer added ‘S’s in the name: @zixcorpmesssagescenters.com.

3.  The Link has a fake hyperlink. Always hover your cursor over a link before clicking — it will show you where you will be taken.

cyberfraud24.  There are grammatical or typographical errors. An email with errors is a red flag of potential fraud.

You can safely open emails from ZixCorp – the real emails are safe and secure.  The trick is recognizing the fakes.  If you have any suspicions or are unsure, always call the company that sent you the email.  Find their number in your contacts or their website, not on the suspicious email.  And, never wire any money without first calling to confirm all information.  Scammers used spoofed emails to try to convince people to wire money. Once the money is sent, it is usually gone to a foreign country and impossible to return.

Be cautious, vigilant, and safe.

Homestead Title

2015 Real Estate Market

 2015 Early Market Update

This is the time of year for forecasts and market predictions.  What will 2015 bring?  Will the market improve?  What kind of year can we expect?

We are hearing cautious optimism of a solid to strong year in real estate.  Our very early numbers are consistent with this prediction, with Sales orders from December 1st through January 15th up 28% over the same time last year!

Interest rates continue to influence the market, again nearing historic lows.  Mortgages traditionally follow the movement of the bond market. On Friday, the 10-year Bond Yield dipped to 1.76%.  To put this in perspective, Bond rates have only dipped lower for a short time in 2012, when Mortgage rates hit their all time low (just under 3.5%).


Indeed, local Mortgage Rates dropped from 3.8% at the beginning of the year to today’s 3.6%.  It is conceivable they could go lower. This is good news for home affordability (and a good thing for buyers to know when considering houses), but signals weakness in the economy and markets.  Despite the weak stock market, NAR, Freddie Mac, and the Mortgage Banker’s Association all predict robust growth in housing sales in 2015 and an even better 2016!


Thank you to my friend Joe Long at Waterstone Mortgage for this graphic and information. It is significant and unusual that all three predictions match so closely.  Interest rates will likely rise by year end, and this could dampen the market.  Nevertheless, interest rates may not be as important as consumer confidence, especially confidence about Jobs.  If people feel secure in their jobs and confident in their ability keep employed, they buy houses. The national jobs numbers have been strong, with 2014 having the best rate of job creation since 1999.

All of this should translate into a solid 2015. And, so far, our numbers are consistent with this hopeful prediction.  Happy New Year and we hope you have a healthy and prosperous 2015!

Homestead Title Company