1. Wisconsin's Foreclosure Process
2. The Redemption Period

The Wisconsin foreclosure process goes through the courts and is only begun after a homeowner fails to make payments.

Wisconsin's Foreclosure Process

Foreclosures don't begin unless the homeowner defaults under the loan contract. The loan owner or lender may then engage a mortgage servicer to start the foreclosure process. Most lenders provide borrowers with a grace period in which to make monthly payments. The grace period may be anywhere from 10 to 15 days. On day 16, the lender may issue a late charge.

In Wisconsin, lenders must go to court for a judicial foreclosure proceeding. The court then issues a final judgment of foreclosure. After that, the property will be sold as part of a publicly noticed sale.

To start the judicial foreclosure process, the foreclosing party begins by filing a summons and complaint in court. A lender who seeks a deficiency judgment — or the right to collect any outstanding money after the sale — will include this in the complaint. Most lenders also file a “lis pendens.” This is a document identifying the property and describing the foreclosure. The lis pendens acts as a public notice of the foreclosure.

You have 20 days from the time you get the foreclosure complaint to file a formal answer in court. This is your chance to address all allegations in the complaint. You can deny any that you feel are inaccurate. You can present defenses against the foreclosure as well as claims you may have against the lender.

There is a Foreclosure Mediation Network in Wisconsin. Several counties across the state have mediation programs as well. Using mediation, you work with the servicer to try to come up with an alternative that benefits both the lender and you.

Solutions may include the following:

  • Repayment or forbearance agreement
  • Loan modification
  • Short sale
  • Deed in lieu of foreclosure

In most of these programs, the lender has to attach a notice of availability and application for mediation to the complaint. If the lender doesn't properly attach the right mediation notice forms,  you may have grounds to challenge the complaint. Consult with a foreclosure attorney if you choose to fight the foreclosure in court.

Borrowers have the right to fix any defaults before lenders obtain a judgment. Default cures may include paying all past-due amounts, along with the lender's attorney costs.

Following are the three ways for a lender to obtain a foreclosure judgment:

  • Default: If you fail to file an answer to the complaint, the lender will seek judgment by default, meaning the lender automatically wins.
  • Summary: You file an answer, but the judge finds that the foreclosure should go ahead, so it enters a summary judgment in the lender's favor.
  • Judgment after trial: In the event the case goes to trial, and the court rules in favor of the lender.

The Redemption Period

If you act within the redemption period time frame, you have the right to redeem your property before the sale. In order to redeem, you have to pay the entire outstanding debt, plus the lender's attorney costs.

Typically, the time to undertake a redemption is 12 months after the sale, unless a court order has confirmed the foreclosure. Some states allow homeowners to redeem for a certain period of time after foreclosure. In Wisconsin, however, redemption takes place before the sale.

For mortgages that were executed before April 27, 2016, the redemption period ranges from five weeks to one year. Mortgages executed after that date have a redemption period ranging from five weeks to six months. When the redemption period ends, the sale proceeds, and there's no longer a right of redemption after that.

If it's possible to divide the property into parcels, you may be able to redeem a portion of the property by giving appropriate notice to the court or coming to an agreement with the lender.

During the redemption period, borrowers may do the following:

  • Refinance
  • Sell the property in order to pay off the lender
  • Engage in a short sale, with the lender's permission

Homeowners in Wisconsin may want to consult with an attorney to find out what options they have before a foreclosure becomes final.

If you need help with the foreclosure process in Wisconsin or another state, you can post your legal need on Upcounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.