Sometime ago, it was very unusual to try and sell your home on your own. Although placing a "For Sale" sign in your yard is a big step, it is now more common and generally accepted in the real estate community. Every year more and more people are trying to sell their home on their own.

This page is designed to assist sellers and buyers alike with the for sale process. This page does not constitute legal advice. If you need legal advice, River Title Company advises you to contact Attorney Michael W. Vogel or another knowledgeable real estate attorney to assist you.

Below you will find information and helpful links to assist you with the sale or purchase of a home. The information provided on this page is written by the staff at River Title Company with the assistance of Attorney Michael W. Vogel of Vogel Law Firm LTD., in Janesville, WI.

Selling real estate without a realtor could be risky because you are limiting your potential market. One of the many assets a Realtor provides is his or her ability to list your property on the Multiple Listing Service (“MLS”). The MLS markets your property to every realtor in your particular locale. When you try and sell your property on your own, you do not have this tool available to you. But, you know your house better than anyone and you are self-motivated to sell your property.

Selling real estate generally involves the following four steps:


1. As a seller you must obtain an Offer to Purchase from a buyer. Once accepted by the seller, the Offer to Purchase creates a legally binding agreement between the buyer and seller. Below you will find a link to a standard Wisconsin Residential Offer to Purchase. This form should be used to create the contract between buyer and seller.

If the initial offer is not accepted by the seller, a counter-offer will be made by the seller. Click here for a Counter Offer Form. Sometimes, counter offers are countered as well until the parties come to a complete meeting of the minds on all aspects of the transaction. Both the offer and counter-offers spell out the various conditions of the sale, and must be adhered to by the parties. An Amendment to Offer Form can be used to change the terms of the Offer to Purchase once it has been accepted by the seller. Remember, an Offer to Purchase is a legally binding contract and can only be changed or amended in writing.

Typically, the Offer to Purchase contains one or more contingencies. A contingency is an event that must occur before a party is required to perform under the terms of a contract. For example, most Offers to Purchase are contingent upon the buyer being able to obtain financing necessary to make the purchase. If the buyer is unable to obtain the necessary financing, the buyer can back out of the contract based upon the contingency not being satisfied and then the seller is free to sell the real estate to a different buyer.

  2. The second step is the satisfaction of all contingencies. Each contingency must be satisfied or waived prior to closing. The buyer will need to arrange financing with his or her bank or mortgage broker and the seller may need to provide certain information or test results of well water or a septic system prior to closing. If commercial property is involved, the contingencies may be more complex and time consuming.

  3. After all contingencies are satisfied, the seller or seller’s attorney will need to contact River Title Company to handle the remainder of the transaction. Complete a Title Insurance Order via this web-site or print an Order Form and submit via fax to expedite this step. When you work with River Title Company you will have a knowledgeable staff assisting you, with professionals who can help you through every step. However, it will take some work on your part. You may need to handle many aspects that a real estate agent would generally handle on your behalf. River Title Company will move the transaction to an eventual closing. In every transaction, the ultimate goal is a successful closing. River Title Company will make it happen.

  4. The last step is the closing. After River Title Company has performed the necessary title search and produced a title insurance commitment for the buyer, seller and lender, the next logical step is a closing. A time and date for the closing will be scheduled. The closing will either occur at the lender’s office or at River Title Company. When the closing is at River Title Company, the lender will typically be present, a closing agent from River Title Company will be present, along with the buyer and seller. Funds for the transaction will be distributed to River Title Company by the lender and the buyer. In return, the seller will sign and deliver the deed transferring the real estate to the buyer. The seller will generally receive a check for the closing proceeds less any mortgage pay-off balances and closing costs. After closing, River Title Company will handle the recording of all necessary documents.

There are several other websites that offer hints and steps when you take on this adventure. One you may find helpful is

What forms will you need to fill out?

The seller must complete a Real Estate Condition Report which provides details on various defects. (This report generally must be provided to a potential buyer). A seller will need to have copies of this document available for prospective buyers.

To document an offer, fill out a Residential Offer to Purchase Form. This is a legal form you use to offer a purchase price and also describe the contingencies of the sale. Contingencies may include, but may not be limited to, financing, inspection, selling another house and so forth. This is a standard legal form used in almost every home sale in Wisconsin, but you need to read it carefully and fill it out completely. If you need assistance, River Title Company can offer you general guidelines but we suggest that you contact a knowledgeable real estate attorney to assist you. Generally, the Offer to Purchase is completed by the buyer and then presented to the seller. However, you may document this form together.

River Title Company is willing to assist you at any time. You may complete the Order Blank we provide on our website, or if you prefer, Contact Us or call and we will take an order over the telephone and answer any general questions you may have.