Looking to sell a house “as is” in Wisconsin? Whether you’ve got a fixer-upper or recently inherited a relative’s home, sometimes the goal is to skip repairs, get a fair offer, and move on.
According to Scott Klaas and Jeremy Rynders of Lifetime Realty Group, while they don’t get a ton of as-is listings in their area of Wisconsin, when they do pop up, it’s usually for one of two reasons. “Either there are a couple of issues with the house that they want to disclose but not necessarily repair or they’re selling a house as part of an estate sale and don’t know a lot about it.”
However, selling a house “as is” usually means accepting a lower offer and it doesn’t always prevent buyers from trying to negotiate savings. Let’s take a closer look at how to sell a house “as is” in Wisconsin, your options for getting an offer, and what to expect from the process.
Fast facts about selling a house ‘as is’ in Wisconsin
|Median sales price in Wisconsin||$265,501 (April 2022)|
|Average days on market for Wisconsin||46 Days (from listing to contract)|
|Disclosures||Wisconsin law requires sellers to disclose material facts about the property through the Disclosures by Owners of Real Estate.|
|MLS has field to mark a listing “as is”?||No|
|Is a real estate attorney required?||Real estate attorneys are not considered essential for closing in the state of Wisconsin.|
|Real estate transfer taxes?||0.30%|
What is ‘as is’ condition in real estate?
“As is” is a type of home sale where it’s understood that no improvements will be made to the property. When selling a house “as is,” the seller is choosing not to entertain requests from buyers to complete repairs or provide a credit for fixes.
An as-is sale may also indicate that the functionality and longevity of certain components of the home, such as a stove on its last legs or an older roof, is not guaranteed.
When selling a house “as is,” the general condition of the property should already be accounted for in the purchase price of the home to the best of the seller’s knowledge.
“A lot of times, sellers are trying to remove some future liability by listing their house ‘as is,’ but buyers do, of course, still have the opportunity to inspect it and ask for any repairs or a price reduction,” Rynders says. “So while the intent is to sell ‘as is,’ it still doesn’t mean that buyers can’t negotiate later on.”
Which types of homes are sold ‘as is’?
Homes sold “as is” often need some work or may be cosmetically outdated. It’s not a label you’re likely to put on a listing in pristine, move-in-ready condition. As-is sales often attract investors searching for their next flip or buyers seeking a bargain, perhaps on a home in a great location with lots of potential.
“When a home is in truly terrible condition, then probably only a flipper or investor would buy it and have the funds and resources to fix it up,” Rynders says. “But then there are some cases where the house being sold is part of an estate sale. Maybe it was grandma’s house…and while it was well taken care of, the seller just doesn’t know everything about it so it’s being sold ‘as is.’ You can usually tell by the price point of a house what kind of condition it’s in.”
What problems do you have to disclose in Wisconsin?
Selling a house “as is” in Wisconsin doesn’t mean sweeping known problems about the house under the rug.
A good time to fill out Wisconsin’s Disclosures by Owners of Real Estate is prior to listing your home or requesting an offer so that you know it’s taken care of.
The Wisconsin legislature updated the state’s Disclosures by Owners of Real Estate form (709.02) in 2018, so it’s important to verify you’re using the correct form. The older version of the form (which is still available online) was worded with affirmative statements by the seller, while the new version poses questions to the seller regarding potential defects. The new version also provides examples of the types of defects the seller is responsible for disclosing.
Structural and mechanical
Sellers must respond to a series of questions about the structural and mechanical integrity of the property. This includes defects with the roof, gutters, or eaves, as well as:
- Defects with the home’s electrical system
- Leaks or defects in the property’s pipes, toilets, interior or exterior faucets, bathtubs, showers, or sprinkler system (including overflow from sinks, tubs or sewers)
- Problems with the home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems
- Defects related to a wood-burning stove or fireplace
- Non-operational smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors
- Structural defects related to the walls, foundation, driveway, patios, decks, fences, windows, floors, ceilings and stairways
- Basement or foundation defects (flooding, cracks, seepage)
- Mechanical system defects including problems with an appliance, central vacuum or garage door opener
Sellers must provide information about their knowledge of any potentially toxic substances or pest control issues that exist on the property. Examples include their awareness of:
- Unsafe levels of mold
- The presence of lead paint, radon, asbestos, or other potentially dangerous substances
- Current or previous animal and insect infestations
- Water quality issues related to unsafe concentrations of lead
Wells, septic systems, storage tanks
Sellers must disclose any known issues related to wells, septic systems, and storage tanks, including:
- Well defects due to construction issues, improper closure or contamination
- Whether the property has a septic system, as well as its current condition
- Whether there are fuel storage tanks on the property
Taxes, special assessments, permits, etc.
Sellers will be asked to disclose information on:
- Notice of an upcoming property tax increase
- Recent improvements that could increase the property value
- Pending special assessments
- Any remodeling, repairs, or replacements they completed without the required permits
Under the “Land Use” section of Wisconsin’s updated Real Estate Condition Report is the broad-reaching question: “Are you aware of flooding, standing water, drainage problems, or other water problems on or affecting the property?”
According to the Milwaukee Business Journal, one of the most common alleged water-related issues not revealed by Wisconsin home sellers is water infiltration in the basement. If a buyer moves into your home and discovers this or any other significant undisclosed defect, they may sue you, claiming that you either failed to disclose the issue or that you deliberately concealed it during the home sale transaction.
It’s in the seller’s best interest to disclose any significant water infiltration or damage caused by leaks or flooding.
Additional examples of disclosures covered in this section include:
- If the property is subject to a homeowners’ association (HOA)
- Co-owned common areas (if the property is not a condominium unit)
- If the property is in a floodplain, wetland, or shoreland zoning area
- Any known zoning code violations
- Any nonconforming uses
- Conservation easements on the property (to protect fish, wildlife, or plants)
- Restrictive covenants or deed restrictions
Sellers will also need to disclose any additional defects they’re aware of, including things related to drainage issues, earth movements, or grading problems. If they filed any insurance claims for damage to the property in the last five years, or if the home is a designated historic building, they will need to disclose that information, as well.
No matter what method you choose to sell your home, it’s required to make these disclosures to the best of your ability. However, Wisconsin does allow certain exceptions for sellers who haven’t lived in the home, including personal representatives, trustees, conservators, and fiduciaries who are appointed by, or subject to the supervision of, a court.
Review your options to sell ‘as is’ in Wisconsin
The main options to sell a house “as is” include:
List ‘as is’ with the help of a real estate agent
A great real estate agent will provide assistance throughout the process of listing and selling a home “as is.” An agent gives simple presentation tips to improve marketing, helps to set an appropriate price that reflects the home’s condition, and works to find a buyer willing and eager to buy your home in its current state.
According to Rynders, just because you’re selling a house “as is” doesn’t mean that you’ll magically be able to sell the house without putting in any work. “Having a Realtor® to help guide you through that process and properly set expectations is important.”
It also helps ensure that they aren’t leaving any money on the table, he says.
Sell directly to a cash buyer
Someone needing to sell their home “as is” can also work directly with a property investor or house buying company rather than list, where it may be difficult to get an offer from a limited buyer pool.
“We buy houses” operations buy “as is” properties at a discounted rate and generally seek out homes in need of significant repairs. These companies can help sellers cash out quickly and many will cover a seller’s closing costs.
Steps to list ‘as is’ with the help of a real estate agent
Find an agent willing to list the home ‘as is’
Your choice of real estate agent always matters, but especially when selling a property “as is.” It’s important to find the right match. You’re looking for an agent who doesn’t shy away from listings that need a little TLC and maybe has a strong network of investor connections.
Your agent should also be willing to go the extra mile on marketing. Considering 80% of Americans say they would prefer to buy a move-in ready home, an as-is sale likely has a reduced buyer pool from the start.
Consider a pre-listing inspection
A pre-listing home inspection is the same as a standard home inspection except that the seller pays for it before listing their home on the market. It may sound like a counterintuitive step for an as-is sale, but getting the inspection results upfront can illuminate any issues that could impact the value of the home and inform an accurate pricing strategy. If a buyer requests further deductions to the price based on their own inspection, you may be able to point to how the estimated cost of certain repairs was already baked into the list price.
According to Rynders, a pre-listing inspection is something that they recommend doing on a case-by-case basis.
“If they do a pre-inspection, they’ll have to legally disclose all of the defects that were found. So once you have an inspection and you’re aware of everything, you do have to disclose that to buyers. Sellers need to be OK with either disclosing any issues that came up during the inspection or making some repairs,” explains Rynders.
In other words, they need to be OK with the results — regardless of what the inspection report reveals.
Some homes are truly in shambles, where only a flipper or investor could buy it and have the funds to fix it up. But others are just part of an estate sale and might have been well taken care of. So just because it’s being sold ‘as is’ doesn’t mean it’s in bad condition.
- Lifetime Realty Real Estate AgentCloseLifetime Realty Real Estate Agent at Keller Williams Realty - Milwaukee Southwest
- Years of Experience 13
- Transactions 1420
- Average Price Point $248k
- Single Family Homes 1228
Price to reflect as-is condition
The median sale price for homes in Wisconsin hit $265,501 in April 2022, a nearly 13% increase over the year prior.
Some of the top factors that impact the value of an as-is listing in Wisconsin include basement issues and the overall condition of the house. “Some homes are truly in shambles, where only a flipper or investor could buy it and have the funds to fix it up,” Rynders says. “But others are just part of an estate sale and might have been well taken care of. So just because it’s being sold ‘as is’ doesn’t mean it’s in bad condition.”
Rynders suggests sellers carefully evaluate before labeling and listing a home as an as-is property. “If a house is priced 50 to 75 percent of what it should be, it’s usually in bad condition. But if it’s 80 to 95 percent of what it should be, it could be a great house to put some sweat equity into.”
You can start with a free estimate from HomeLight’s Home Value Estimator (HVE).
Our HVE combs public data including tax records and assessments and pulls recent sales records for other properties in your neighborhood. Using a short questionnaire, we also factor in specifics about your home such as the property type and described condition. Input your address, and we’ll provide you with a preliminary home value estimate in under two minutes.
Do ever-so-light preparations
Even for as-is home listings in Wisconsin, Rynders and Klaas typically recommend sellers complete the following:
- Clean the house and remove any lingering odors (such as pet odors) that might turn buyers off
- Declutter the space so buyers can better see the house’s potential
- Pack up personal belongings to depersonalize the space
“It’s very much in your best interest to properly prepare the home,” Rynders says. “You’d much rather have 10 offers to pick from than three or five offers. We’ve had a few listings in the area lately where people liked what they saw online and then changed their mind when they came out to see the property in person because it wasn’t what they expected.”
Photograph to show potential
Your home listing warrants professional photography no matter what type of condition the property is in. A professional photographer will take steps to shoot each room from the best angle, ensure optimal interior and natural lighting, and edit for the ideal brightness and exposure.
A high-quality camera with a wide-angle lens is also essential to showcasing entire rooms rather than half or three-quarters of what’s there. For these reasons and more, professionally photographed homes can sell up to three weeks faster and bring in up to $11,000 more than their houses marketed without professional photos.
Your real estate agent will almost always arrange for professional photos as part of the listing process.
Highlight the surrounding area
A home’s location will be important to buyers seeking out a home with potential. Mention in your as-is listing if your home is close to any of the following:
- Good school district
- Convenient shopping
- Main Street/Downtown area
Include ‘as is’ in the listing
Unless you explicitly mention that your house is being sold “as is,” buyers will have no idea of your intentions with the listing. Other common descriptors mentioned in as-is listings in Wisconsin include priced to sell, an appeal to investors, or use of the word “opportunity.”
To balance the focus on as-is condition, work with your agent to craft a property description that highlights the best features of the home, such as the structural integrity (if applicable), lot size, proximity to good schools, or any newer updates that have been made to the property. In Wisconsin, there is no specific as-is checkbox or label for agents to mark on the multiple listing service (MLS), so that information will need to be included in the listing.
Understand buyers may still negotiate
Listing “as is” provides no guarantee that buyers won’t try to negotiate savings on their purchase, even on an asking price you felt was already reduced to reflect the home’s condition. One of the best defenses you can have is an agent who takes a hard stance to prevent a deal from going south for the seller.
Be aware of minimum property standards for certain loans
When you place your home on the market, it’s hard to predict if your top offer will come from a cash buyer or a buyer pre-qualified for a home loan.
But if you do end up working with a financed buyer, be aware that different mortgage types (such as conventional loans or government-backed FHA, USDA, or VA loans) have different minimum property standards. These are standards related to the overall condition of a property which will play a role in the willingness and/or ability of a lender to finance a buyer’s loan.
Before properties can be financed, their value and condition are typically examined by a state-licensed, independent appraiser contracted by the buyer’s mortgage company.
If you’re unsure whether your home will meet appraisal requirements, you can start by taking a look at the FHA minimum property standards. If your house complies with FHA, then it complies with most other lenders’ requirements.
Prioritize a cash offer if you receive one
On occasion, conventional lenders may even finance a fixer-upper property sold “as is,” and it’s not impossible to finance a fixer-upper with an FHA loan. However, if you’re selling a house “as is” — especially one that needs heftier repairs — you may want to consider accepting a cash offer if you receive one. Cash eliminates the lender-ordered appraisal as well as the time it takes to close on the buyer’s loan, creating a faster and clearer path to settlement.
“There are a lot of hurdles that can come up with financing since it’s the bank buying the house – not the person,” Klaas says. “Deals can go bad because of the bank and whether anything comes up during an inspection that needs to be fixed.”
“One thing that’s unique to this area is basement issues and problems,” Rynders adds. “It’s a common barrier for some houses that are listed ‘as is’ when people are using loans because the banks typically won’t want to touch them.”
Pros of listing a home ‘as is’
- Save time and money on prepwork
- Possibility of reducing negotiations from the inspection
- Solution for out-of-state owners and inherited homes
Cons of listing a home ‘as is’
- Limited buyer pool
- Expect lower offers
- Negotiations and repairs aren’t always off the table
Steps to sell directly to a cash buyer
Now that we’ve covered the general process of listing a home “as is,” let’s discuss the alternative of working with an investor. While the process varies from business to business, the steps to selling your home to a house buying company typically go something like this:
- Decision: A homeowner decides a traditional listing isn’t for them. Perhaps their house needs a lot of work or they do not want to host any showings or open houses. They’re concerned about finding a buyer willing to purchase their home “as is” in its current state.
- Contact: A seller contacts a company that buys homes in their area and provides some basic information about their home.
- Preliminary offer: At this stage, some house-buying companies will provide a preliminary offer that is subject to change after a house assessment.
- Assessment: The company schedules a walkthrough of the property to evaluate its condition, usually within 24 to 48 hours.
- Firm offer: The company makes a firm offer (usually within 24 hours, sometimes on-site after the walkthrough) which you can accept or decline. Most of these companies will not negotiate on price, so the offer is a take-it-or-leave-it scenario.
- Closing: If you accept the offer, you and the company will each sign the contract, and closing will begin. Some companies offer a large deposit or moving cost assistance, and a few may even pay for the home upfront.
- Payment: The seller receives payment quickly, typically within seven days to a few weeks. This can vary by company, and sellers who work with a house-buying company often enjoy flexibility in selecting a move-out date that works for them.
If you aren’t sure where to get a cash offer, consider Simple Sale, a solution from HomeLight. With Simple Sale, you tell us a bit about your home, such as whether it’s a single-family home or condo and how much work it needs. From there we’ll provide you with a no-obligation, all-cash offer to buy your home in as few as 48 hours.
No need to call the roof inspector or drain your savings to replace the HVAC. HomeLight will provide an offer for homes in almost any condition.
Sell when it’s convenient
Want to get out right away? Or need a little more time to pack? Either way, we’re flexible. Pick a move date that works for your schedule within 30 days of closing.
Close with certainty
Cash buyers don’t need a lender’s involvement to purchase a home, meaning they can move nimbly and quickly compared to someone who needs financing. With Simple Sale, you can close in as little as 10 days, compared to the 30-60 days it typically takes to close with a financed buyer.
Want to know more about the Simple Sale experience? Hear it first hand from one of our valued clients in the video below.
Additional ‘we buy houses’ companies in Wisconsin
Below we’ve compiled a list of some of the leading companies that purchase homes “as is” for cash in Wisconsin and information about each.
Plan B HomeBuyers
Plan B HomeBuyers is a Wisconsin-based homebuying company that has been working with homeowners in the Milwaukee area since 2005. It is locally owned and operated by Brian Meidam. The company purchases homes for cash in as little as seven days, providing sellers with a cash offer within 24 hours. Homeowners interested in getting a quote can fill out a form on the company’s website or call them directly to set up a quick walk-through of the house.
Locations: Plan B HomeBuyers purchases homes in the area of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, including the cities/towns of Whitefish Bay, West Allis, Wauwatosa, St Francis, Shorewood, and New Berlin.
Fees: Sellers do not pay closing costs. Plan B HomeBuyers covers them. There is no commission paid or other fees associated with using this company.
Reviews: Plan B HomeBuyers has been BBB accredited since July 20, 2010, and holds an A+ rating. Customer reviews for Plan B HomeBuyers speak to the ease of working with the company, as well as how accommodating and professional Brian and his team are. They expressed appreciation for Brian’s assistance in helping them sell their homes quickly and overwhelmingly recommended Plan B HomeBuyers to others looking for a fast, easy sale. You can read these reviews on their BBB page, as well as on Google.
Cream City Home Buyers
Since 2016, Cream City Home Buyers has been helping homeowners in the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area sell their homes for cash — regardless of the property’s condition. The company is based out of Riverwest in Milwaukee and is owned and operated by real estate investors Kurt Walker and Chris Poniewaz. Since going into business together, they’ve worked with dozens of homeowners in the area.
The goal of Cream City Home Buyers is to purchase homes that they can fix up and rent to local residents at an affordable rate. The company holds on to these properties and maintains them on an ongoing basis.
Locations: Cream City Home Buyers purchases homes in the area of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, including all of Waukesha, Ozaukee, and Racine counties.
Fees: Sellers do not pay closing costs. Cream City Home Buyers covers them. There is no commission paid or other fees associated with using this company.
Reviews: Cream City Home Buyers has been BBB accredited since June 21, 2018, and holds an A+ rating. Customer reviews for Cream City Home Buyers speak to the professionalism of the homebuying team — especially when compared to other area companies. More than one review spoke about the fair and reasonable offer they received from the team, as well as the helpful guidance the company provided throughout the process. You can find these reviews on their BBB and Google pages.
Wisconsin House Buyers, LLC
Wisconsin House Buyers was founded by Dustin Williams in 2016. According to the company’s website, they’re one of the largest home buyers in Dane County. Their key differentiator is a focus on the homeowner and providing a consultative and educational service that helps them meet their real estate goals. They also provide sellers with a $5,000 earnest money guarantee, along with moving and homebuying support, if needed.
Locations: Wisconsin House Buyers purchases homes in Madison and Dane Counties.
Fees: Sellers do not pay closing costs. Wisconsin House Buyers covers them. There is no commission paid or other fees associated with using this company.
Reviews: Wisconsin House Buyers has been BBB accredited since June 15, 2017, and holds an A+ rating. Customer reviews for Wisconsin House Buyers speak to the responsiveness, professionalism, and ease of working with Dustin and his team, as well as the fairness of the offer they received on their home. They expressed gratitude for the level of service provided through the process and overwhelmingly recommended the company to other homeowners in the area. You can find these reviews on their BBB and Google pages.
Pros of selling ‘as is’ to an investor
- Save money on home preparations.
- Sell fast — receive an offer in as little as a few days, and close as quickly as one to two weeks later.
- Skip repairs. Most house-buying companies purchase properties in as-is condition, even those that need major repairs.
- No staging. No repeated showings. No open houses.
- Arrange for a flexible move-out date.
Cons of selling ‘as is’ to an investor
- Offers are likely to be much lower. Investors typically pay 70% of what they estimate to be the home’s after-repair value.
- Sellers will have room to negotiate. Most cash buyer offers are going to be “take it or leave it.”
- Although many homebuying companies are legitimate, some are not. It’s always a good idea to be vigilant about possible scams.
How much will you make from an as-is home sale?
There is no simple equation for calculating how much you’ll net from an “as is” sale. If you list on the market with an agent, you’ll need to account for the cost of agent commissions (around 5.8% on average) and other closing costs such as title fees and taxes, but are likely to field higher offers from buyers and see more competition for the home.
Different types of investors and house-buying companies also offer varying amounts for homes, largely dependent on their exit strategy. While fix ‘n’ flip investors usually pay around 70% of the home’s after-repair value, buy-and-hold investors who plan to rent out your property may be able to pay more. In addition, investors are often willing to cover a seller’s closing costs which can add up to around 1%-3% of the sale price. HomeLight’s net proceeds calculator can be helpful for running through some possible selling scenarios and estimating your take-home pay.
Ready to sell your house in Wisconsin?
While every home sale is different, you should now be familiar with the general process of selling a house “as is” in Wisconsin. Now, you can begin to weigh which method will work best for you.
Whether you choose to list “as is” with a real estate agent or work with a direct home buyer, a home doesn’t have to be in perfect condition to sell — so long as you provide disclosures as necessary, set the right price, and know what to expect going in. Whenever you’re ready to take the next step, HomeLight would be happy to assist with your real estate needs. Connect with a top agent near you or get started with a cash offer from Simple Sale.
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