For most people, the purchase or sale of a home, farm or business is one of the biggest financial transactions in their life.  It is smart to consult with a lawyer before you make a deal.  Curran Law Office can guide you through the purchase or sale, from start to finish, and explain the crucial details to protect you now and in the future. Furthermore, our long-standing relationships with realtors, title companies, banks, and Registers of Deeds help make your transaction efficient and seamless.

Our work with private parties:

We routinely represent landowners, business owners, real estate developers, condominium associations, subdivision homeowners’ associations and financial institutions in all kinds of real estate, development and land use matters.  We prepare hundreds of Deeds and Transfer Tax Returns each year.   Here is just a sample of the kinds of real estate matters we routinely handle:

  • Offers To Purchase for residential, commercial, farm and vacant property
  • Warranty Deeds, Quit Claim Deeds and Land Contracts
  • Mortgages, Notes and Subordination Agreements
  • Asset Purchase Agreements
  • Buy and Sell Agreements
  • Development Agreements
  • Title Insurance issues
  • Adverse Possession
  • Easements for roads, utilities and other uses
  • Zoning and Land Use issues
  • Condominiums
  • Leases for Residential, Commercial, Farm and other uses
  • Timber Sales
  • Managed Forest Law
  • Environmental issues
  • Plats and Certified Survey Maps (CSMs)
  • Options to Purchase
  • Rights of First Refusal
  • Deed Restrictions and Covenants
  • Tax Deferred Exchanges (IRS Sec. 1031)
  • Construction Contracts
  • Loan Disbursing Agreements
  • TIF (Tax Incremental Financing)
  • Partition of interests in real estate
  • Property tax disputes
  • Cell Tower Leases


Our work with the public sector:

For decades, Curran Law Office has represented cities, villages, townships, school districts, drainage districts, and other quasi-governmental entities in real estate and development matters.  Here is just a sample of the kinds of real estate matters we routinely handled for public entities:

  • Offers To Purchase
  • Warranty Deeds, Quit Claim Deeds and Land Contracts
  • Mortgages, Notes and Subordination Agreements
  • Buy and Sell Agreements
  • Development Agreements
  • Title Insurance issues
  • Easements for roads, utilities and other uses
  • Drafting and enforcement of zoning ordinances,
  • Conditional uses and variances
  • Comprehensive plans
  • Subdivision plats
  • Planned unit developments
  • TIF Districts
  • Redevelopment Districts
  • Annexations
  • Eminent domain (a/k/a condemnation)
  • Cell Tower Leases


Most real estate and development matters do not involve litigation.  However, when litigation becomes necessary, Curran Law Office has a wealth of experience litigating all types of real estate disputes, such as:

  • Boundary Line Disputes
  • Adverse Possession Claims
  • Prescriptive Easement Claims
  • Enforcement of Restrictive Covenants
  • Enforcement of Offers to Purchase
  • Trespassing Claims
  • Eminent Domain a/k/a Condemnation cases
  • Timber Trespass claims
  • Partition actions
  • Eviction actions
  • Zoning and property tax appeals

Common Questions

Do you have questions about real estate in Wisconsin?

Look below for answers to common questions.

Must I have an attorney to buy or sell real estate?

No.  However, attorneys can be helpful in explaining and guiding a buyer or seller through the important steps in a real estate transaction. Real estate is transferred from a seller to a buyer by the execution and recording of important written legal documents, which must be carefully and properly prepared.  Attorneys are almost always used to make sure the paperwork is done right.

Must I have a realtor to buy or sell real estate?

No.  However, realtors can be very helpful. For example, realtors can provide up-to-date information about what is happening in the local marketplace; they can provide information about pricing, financing and competition; they can recommend steps to improve your property’s appearance to enhance the sale price; they can develop and execute a marketing plan; they can “show” the property; they can help you negotiate a deal; and they can help you find property to acquire.

What is an “offer to purchase?”

It is a legal document which sets forth the terms and conditions of the agreement by which the seller agrees to sell and the buyer agrees to buy real estate.  Once properly executed, an offer to purchase becomes a legally enforceable contract.  Therefore, it is very important that it be carefully and accurately prepared.  Consider having an attorney review it before it is signed.

What is title insurance and why is it needed?

Title insurance insures that a buyer is receiving good, clear title to the property which the buyer is purchasing.  Before the “closing,” the title company searches the records to see if there are any problems with the seller’s title to the property.  If a problem is detected (such as a mortgage, judgment, tax lien or easement) the title company will disclose it to the parties so that the parties can determine what steps, if any, are needed to resolve the problem so that the seller can transfer good clear title to the buyer at the closing.  After the closing, the title insurance company issues a policy of title insurance insuring that the buyer now has good, clear title to the property, subject to various standard exceptions explained in the policy and subject to such other exceptions as the parties agreed.

What is a property survey?

A survey is a process by which a licensed surveyor evaluates the legal description of the property and then visits the property to locate the boundaries and any other items of interest on the property (i.e., the location of fences, buildings, roads, driveways, easements, etc.).  In most cases, the surveyor then prepares a scale drawing which illustrates this information.

What is a Deed, and why is it needed?

A deed is a written legal document by which title to real estate is transferred from one owner (the grantor) to a new owner (the grantee).  The deed is recorded with the Register of Deeds to establish that the buyer is the new owner of the property.  The deed identifies who owns the property.

What is a mortgage and why is it needed?

A mortgage is a written legal agreement between a borrower and a lender by which the borrower gives the lender an interest in the borrower’s real estate to make sure that the borrower repays the loan. If the borrower defaults on payment of the loan, the mortgage gives the lender the ability to seize and sell the property to pay off the loan. This process is called “foreclosure.”

What is a land contract?

A land contract is a written legal agreement between a seller of real estate (called the “vendor”) and a buyer (called a “purchaser”), in which the vendor agrees to give the purchaser a deed to the property if and when the purchaser pays for the property pursuant to the terms and conditions set forth in the land contract agreement.  Land contracts take the place of a bank loan and mortgage.

What is earnest money?

Earnest money is money paid by a buyer to show a seller that the buyer is serious and to cover some of the seller’s expenses should the buyer fail to close the transaction.  Earnest money is usually held by a third party (the realtor, a title company or a lawyer) until the deal is closed.  The terms and conditions applicable to the earnest money are typically set forth in the offer to purchase.

What is an easement?

An easement is a legal right to use and/or enter upon the real estate owned by another.  A common example is the easement of your local electricity provider, who probably has an easement to string its electric cable across your property.  There are many types of easements, such as easements for gas, water, electricity, ingress/egress, runoff, and air flight.

What is the difference between a Warranty Deed and a Quit Claim Deed?

Both deeds transfer a grantor’s interest in real estate to a grantee.  However, a warranty deed provides a “warranty,” that is, a guarantee that the grantor actually has good title to the property and is authorized to transfer it.  If the grantee of a warranty deed learns that the warranty deed did not transfer good title to the property, the grantee can sue the grantor for damages and other relief.  However, if the grantee received a quit claim deed, no such remedies are available.  The grantee of a quit claim deed only receives whatever ownership interest the grantor may have had in the property, and if it turns out that the grantor had little or no interest in the property, then the grantee has received little or no interest in the property.

What is a 1031 exchange?

A 1031 exchange is a process authorized by Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue code that allows for a seller of property to defer the payment of capital gains tax, which would otherwise be due on the sale, by exchanging the property being sold for a new replacement property. When the replacement property is sold, the capital gains tax will be due, unless the tax is deferred again in another 1031 exchange.

What is foreclosure?

Generally, foreclosure is the legal process by which a lender attempts to recover the amount owed on a defaulted loan by taking control of the mortgaged property and having it sold at a sheriff’s sale to generate money to pay the loan.

What does it mean to buy or sell property “as is”?

When property is sold “as is,” it means that the seller is not making any warranties or representations as to the condition of the property. If the buyer finds a problem with the property after the closing, the buyer cannot look to the seller to pay to fix it.

What must a seller tell the buyer about the property offered for sale.

Wisconsin law requires most sellers of residential real estate to provide a real estate condition report to the buyer no less than 10 days after an accepted offer to purchase.  Such reports require sellers to disclose their knowledge as to the condition of the property in answer to a long series of questions.

What is zoning?

Zoning is a tool used by most local governments to control the use and development of real estate.  In Wisconsin, counties, cities, villages and townships may enact zoning ordinances which typically divide land into zones in which certain land uses are permitted or prohibited. The type of zone determines the type of development and use which is allowed on the property.  It is important to know the type of zoning for any property you are purchasing.

What happens at the closing?

The “closing” is the final event at which your real estate transaction is completed.  Most closings are conducted in person, but they can be conducted through the mail or electronically.  At the closing, the Seller executes and delivers a deed transferring ownership to the buyer, in exchange for payment of the purchase price from the buyer to the seller.  Other documents are also executed at the closing.

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