Time of Sale Question and Answers

2015 State Law Bans Local Time of Sale Requirements

On July 12, 2015, Gov. Walker signed the 2015-17 state budget, 2015 Wis. Act 55, into law. One important provision to the real estate industry was the restriction on local time of sale (TOS) requirements in section 4595c. On February 29, 2016, Gov. Walker signed into law 2015 Wis. Act 176, legislation that expands the scope of the TOS restrictions to also apply to both the time of occupancy and to buyers of real property.

What is a TOS requirement?

A TOS requirement is an obligation that must be performed prior to closing when a property sold or prior to the time a property is occupied; a TOS requirement essentially is a condition of closing or occupancy imposed by local government. For example, a city requirement that the property must be inspected by a city inspector and noted items repaired before the property can be sold, or a community requirement that a multi-family property must be retrofitted for sprinklers prior to the sale of the property.

How do TOS requirements impact real estate transactions?

While some TOS requirements appear minor on the surface, others are more significant, such as requiring a property owner to pave a gravel driveway prior to the sale of their property. TOS requirements often create confusing and complex hurdles resulting in delayed closings and additional costs.

What is the new law?

  • Newly created Wis. Stat. § 706.22 stops local governments, such as cities, villages, counties or towns, from creating or enforcing TOS requirements.
  • Bars local government from restricting an owner from selling, occupying or transferring title by requiring compliance with an ordinance or paying a related fee at the TOS.
  • The prohibition applies to the occupancy, sale, refinancing, or transferring the title before, at the time of the event or within a certain period of time after the event.
  • Bans a TOS requirement related to the following: inspections, improvements or repairs; removing junk or debris; mowing or pruning; performance of maintenance or upkeep activities; weatherproofing; upgrading electrical systems; replacing or installing fixtures or other items; and actions relating to compliance with building codes or other property condition standards.
  • Existing TOS requirements are unenforceable. 
  • Statewide TOS requirements could still be imposed.

When do restrictions on the local TOS requirements go in effect?

The restrictions on local TOS requirements went into effect on July 14, 2015. The restrictions applicable to the time of occupancy and to buyers of real property went into effect on March 2, 2016. Beginning on these dates, local governments may no longer enforce new or pre-existing TOS requirements.

How does the new law impact transactions currently in progress?

Beginning July 14, 2015, pre-existing TOS requirements cannot be enforced. Accordingly, any transaction that is currently in progress would arguably not be subject to preexisting or new TOS requirements. Note: Any disputes regarding the applicability of a TOS requirement to a specific transaction should be referred to independent legal counsel.

What should REALTORS® do if local government continues to enforce a TOS requirement after the effective date of the new law?

REALTORS® should inform officials about the new law prohibiting the enforcement of local TOS requirements, both new and pre-existing, and provide them with a copy of the law. Note: Any disputes regarding the applicability of a TOS requirement to a specific transaction should be referred to independent legal counsel.

Additional TOS resources

  • "Time of Sale Requirements: Coming to a Community Near You?" in the October 2014 issue of Wisconsin Real Estate Magazine: click here
  • Wisconsin Statutes, section 706.22: click here
  • 2015 Wis. Act 176, sections 29-40: click here.
  • Pages 6-7 of the February 2016 Legal Update, "Landlord/Tenant Legislation for 2016": click here.
  • WRA LegalTalks video "New Time of Sale (TOS) Law" with Tom Larson: click here.
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