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Home Buyer Topics
  1. Seller's Real Estate Condition Report
2. Looking for Homes with a Buyer's Broker
3. Residential Offer to Purchase
4. Mortgages & Lenders
5. Home Inspections
6. Homeowner's Insurance
7. Subdivision Regulations
8. Neighborhood Associations
9. Title Insurance
10. Environmental Concerns
11. Condominiums
12. Wells and Septic Systems
13. Additional Links for Buyers
14. Current Real Estate News

1. Seller's Real Estate Condition Report
Chapter 709 of the Wisconsin Statutes requires that owners of residential real estate make certain disclosures prior to transfer of the property. In order to comply with that statute, Sellers will provide the buyers with a Real Estate Condition Report. It is best to have a copy of that report prior to making any offer to purchase the property. Buyers should beware that the standard offer to purchase does not allow for an item listed as a defect in the condition report to be objected to as a defect in the inspection contingency. Because there are a number of important issues that can arise as a result of the condition report, buyers should have an attorney review the condition report with them prior to making an offer.

To review the standard, unedited version of a Chapter 709 compliant Real Estate Condition Report, visit

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2. Looking for Homes with a Buyer's Broker
Some buyers may choose to have a real estate agent work exclusively for the buyer. These agents are commonly referred to as a buyer's broker. A buyer's broker will work with the buyer to find a home that meets the criteria set by the buyer. In exchange for this service, the broker charges a fee that is usually a percentage of the purchase price of the property. As a result, the use of a buyer's broker can be expensive and a potential buyer should consult with an attorney prior to signing any agreements with a buyer's broker. Real estate agents, including buyer brokers, are not attorneys and are prohibited from giving legal advice. An attorney who practices in residential real estate should review all exclusive agency agreements, offers and counter-offers before you sign the document. Additionally, buyers should beware of some potential conflicts that may arise in the use of a buyer's broker.

In some companies the broker/owner and all the agents in that office only work with buyers. This specialization is usually referred to as "exclusive buyer agency", and their office structure is referred to as an "exclusive buyer office" ("EBO"). Because the EBO office does not have seller contracts ("listings"), they do not have a conflict of interest within their own firm, and can therefore concentrate all their efforts on finding the buyer exactly what he or she is looking for, wherever it may be: a for-sale-by-owner, foreclosure, not-yet-listed, or a property listed by traditional companies.

In some locations there are no EBO offices. Buyer agents within traditional companies also can prove to be good agents to work with if they have an individual commitment to objectively present to you all available properties that meet your criteria, and if they disclose to you what they will do in the case of an in-house conflict of interest. A built-in conflict of interest occurs any time you are interested in a property already listed within a firm, because the firm already has a contract with the sellers to get the highest price and best terms for that property. How this situation is handled is different from company to company, and is an important question to ask when interviewing a buyer broker.

If you choose to work with a buyer's broker, you should make sure that your agent is a member of the Wisconsin Realtors Association. Additionally, you should have an attorney review the listing contract prior to signing on with an agent.

For more information of buyer brokers and Realtors please visit the Wisconsin Realtors Association.

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3. Residential Offer to Purchase
When you are ready to buy a property, most buyers submit a residential offer to purchase to the seller. The offer is the contract for the transaction and all the terms and conditions of the contract are listed in the offer. It is imperative that buyers have an attorney draft or review the offer to discuss how the terms of the offer may impact the buyer's bottom line. The standard offer should often be modified to adequately protect the buyer's interests in the transaction. An attorney should also assist the buyer in reviewing and drafting any necessary counter-offers. To adequately protect your transaction, we urge you to speak with an attorney prior to drafting any offer to purchase.

To review the standard, unedited version of Wisconsin's WB-11, Residential Offer to Purchase, visit

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4. Mortgages & Lenders
For most homebuyers, finding a home to buy is only half of the process. The next hurdle is finding the right financing. There are a number of different products available in today's mortgage market. You should contact different lenders to find out what products are available to you and the respective costs of those products. It is a good idea to get pre-qualified for a loan prior to beginning to look for a home. Pre-qualification lets you know how much house you can afford. Additionally, some home sellers may require a pre-qualification letter from a lender within a couple of days of acceptance of the offer.

If you are relying on financing to purchase a property, you should have an attorney draft a financing contingency to your offer to purchase.

The Mortgage Banker's Association of America provides a clear guide to the mortgage process that is available at

Additionally, Fannie Mae, provides financial products and services that make it possible for low, moderate and middle income families to buy homes of their own.

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5. Home Inspections
When you make an offer on a home, it is essential that you make your offer contingent on a home inspection. An independent authorized inspector should conduct the inspection. The cost of the inspection is usually placed upon the buyer. This cost is well worth the few hundred dollars the inspector will charge. The inspection may reveal that the home will cost you far more than you expected in repair costs.

Knoll Greller, s.c. does not make referrals to individual inspectors. We recommend that your inspector be a member of The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). Established in 1976, ASHI is the oldest, largest and most respected national professional organization of home inspectors in North America. Their membership consists of over 6000 individual home inspectors representing solely owned, franchises and multi-inspector companies.

To learn more about home inspections and ASHI certified inspectors visit American Society of Home Inspectors.

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6. Homeowner's Insurance
Lenders require that you have homeowners insurance, to protect both your interest and their interest in the property. A good place to start is to contact your automobile insurance agent to see what products your existing company offers and whether they will offer you a discount on the homeowner's policy. Be sure to shop around for rates and compare the coverage of different policies.

Insurance Information Institute - 12 ways to lower your homeowner's insurance costs.

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7. Subdivision Regulations & Neighborhood Associations:
If the home you are buying is within a subdivision, that subdivision may govern how you may use the property. If the subdivision regulates the use of the property or if the homeowner's association has assessment power, it is a good idea to get a copy of those restrictions, and an itemization of current and pending assessments, prior to making an offer to purchase. Subdivision regulations may affect the nature of vehicles you may park in your driveway, whether you can install a satellite dish, and often address architectural requirements of homes within the subdivision. If there is a neighborhood association with assessment power, you need to find out what the amount of the annual assessment and what services the association provides. If subdivision regulations do affect the property, you will want to consult with an attorney regarding the addition of a contingency, to the offer to purchase, allowing for time to object to those conditions. It is also advisable to seek to have the seller warrant that the property conforms to all current restrictions. We believe that it is necessary to have an attorney review the subdivision regulations, and any contingencies or warranties, before entering into an offer to purchase.

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8. Title Insurance
The standard Residential Offer to Purchase requires that a Seller deliver merchantable title to the buyer. In most cases, the seller, for the benefit of the buyer, accomplishes this through the purchase of a title insurance policy. If you are working with an attorney from our office, we will review the title insurance commitment on your behalf and work to have removable exceptions cured prior to closing. If you are using a lender to finance your transaction, you will have to purchase a title insurance policy for your lender. That cost of the lender's policy is generally $150.00. It is advisable to speak with an attorney regarding the title insurance commitment provided by the seller.

The American Land Title Association, commonly known as ALTA, offers consumer information and has answers to questions about title insurance.

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9. Environmental Concerns
Many homebuyers are concerned about a number of environmental issues that may affect the home they are seeking to purchase. Whether it is radon, mold, asbestos or lead, your offer to purchase may be drafted to address these potential problems. The standard residential offer to purchase contains no language allowing for testing of these contaminants. If you are concerned about any of these issues, you should have an attorney draft a contingency allowing for inspection of these items. Additionally, your contingency should allow you to withdraw from the transaction if the problem cannot be cured to your satisfaction.

For more information on household contaminants, visit the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

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10. Condominiums
If you are considering buying a condominium, Wisconsin law requires sellers to make additional disclosures about the property. Section 703.33, Wis. Stats, governs these detailed disclosure requirements. If the sale involves a conversion condominium, additional disclosure requirements are mandated. In most cases, the seller will be relying on the unit owner' association to provide disclosure materials. It is important that the buyer have an attorney that is familiar with the disclosure requirements to assure that the materials provided are complete. It is also recommended that you familiarize yourself with the Condominium Association Rules & Bylaws prior to making an offer on the property.

To view Wisconsin State Statute Section 703.33, visit and search for the statute number.

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11. Wells and Septic Systems
If the property you are seeking to purchase has a well or a septic system, it is highly recommended that you consult with an attorney prior to making an offer to purchase. Please note that the standard offer to purchase does not contain any language addressing concerns about wells or septic systems. An attorney can draft a contingency that will allow for inspection of the well and/or septic system. Additionally, that contingency should allow the buyer to object to deficiencies in the delivery systems and/or problems with the chemical composition or clarity of the drinking water.

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12. Additional Links for Buyers
Consumer Information About Home Purchasing

U.S. Department of Housing
and Urban Development
451 7th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20410
For information about FHA-insured home mortgage loans on one-to-four family dwellings call: 1-800 CALL FHA (800-225-5342)

For information about buying a HUD home call: 1-800-767-4HUD (800-767-4483)

For consumer counseling referrals call: 1-888-HOME4US (1-888-466-3487)

For information regarding housing discrimination issues contact:
Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
(see above HUD address)

For information about RESPA contact:
Office of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
(see above HUD address)

For information about programs and pamphlets offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, contact your nearest VA Regional Office.

For information about rural housing loan programs contact:
Department of Agriculture
Rural Development/Rural Housing Services
Stop 0783
Washington, DC 20250

For information about the Truth in Lending Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act contact:
Federal Reserve Board
20th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20551

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