ABC's of Wisconsin Contracts - All About Lines

Pictured are, (standing) 2022 LARA Board of Directors President Rick Geaslen with panel moderator Justin Immel-Esparza and panel member Kathie Allen. Other panel members, (seated) are Patti Zurla and Sue Miller.

State Line to Line-By-Line

On Wednesday, March 23, 2022 over 50 members of the Lakes Area Realtors® Association gathered at Hawk’s View Golf Club to discuss “The ABC’s of Wisconsin Real Estate Contracts.”

Moderated by Justin Immel-Esparza, a volunteer leader and member of the association’s Young Professionals Network Advisory Board, the panel of experts included Kathie Allen, Sue Miller and Patti Zurla, managing brokers licensed in both Wisconsin and Illinois.

“There are distinct differences in real estate transactions between Wisconsin and Illinois,” says CEO Denise Schultz. “Our proximity to the state line requires our members to be well-informed of those differences, to properly inform and guide their customers and clients.”

Sue Miller and others noted that when an Illinois-licensed Realtor® is showing property in Illinois and crosses over the state line to Wisconsin, they must have a discussion with consumers about those differences. Miller notes, “We must Discuss – Decide – Disclose and move forward.”

Dates and deadlines are extremely important, especially in today’s competitive market. It’s important to have a knowledgeable team of professionals working together with buyers and sellers. Even these dates are handled differently in Wisconsin and Illinois, regarding how days are defined. (“Business” vs. calendar days.) With limited inventory, timing is everything. Patti Zurla explains that in Wisconsin "Time is of the essence"is more than a phrase it is specifically defined as "to specify the time period in which one party must complete its contractual obligations to the other party."

Miller and Immel-Esparza discussed specific examples of critical differences in the way Wisconsin and Illinois real estate law handle inspection reports and sellers right to cure defects. What is expected on one side of the state line is not even allowed on the other. Zurla and Allen added differences between notices (unilateral) and amendments (require agreement.)

Zurla reminded all members that the Wisconsin Realtors® Association (WRA) provides wonderful resources which are available for members to download, print and share with consumers. (See: )

Kathie Allen stresses that “in the state of Wisconsin an accepted offer is a legally binding contract.” She adds that agents and/or consumers from Illinois may not realize that critical difference. The offer in Wisconsin is not subject to attorney review unless specifically addressed in writing, unlike the default expectation in Illinois. Wisconsin real estate licensees are allowed to complete state approved real estate forms. Knowledge and expertise in contracts as well as the area in which properties lie are integral to successful transactions. Referred to as competence, the most successful real estate professionals commit to the highest standards. “Do not go where you do not know!” says Miller.

Allen and others can not encourage WRA members enough to take advantage of the now free educational resource available in the “Line by Line” training videos in which WRA legal staff instruct members through every line of real estate contracts. “This member benefit is a phenomenal addition to every Wisconsin Realtor®’s toolkit,” says Schultz. I am so proud of and grateful for our local volunteer leaders that championed this benefit now being free for all WRA members. Regardless of other training opportunities available, every WRA member now has equal access to this top tier of education.” (See: )

Keeping Realtors® at the center of real estate transactions can assure consumers that this level of expertise is there to guide them through the process. Some consumers may not realize a Realtor® is a specific trade name that ensures a professional is a member of the largest national trade association and sworn to uphold a Code of Ethics. Not all licensed real estate agents are Realtors®. Our members are.

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