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  • Writer's pictureAttorney Jason A Greller

Risks and Benefits to Selling a Wisconsin Property by Land Contract.

A land contract, also known as an installment sale contract or contract for deed, is a financing arrangement where the seller retains legal title to the property while the buyer makes payments over time. Once the buyer has fulfilled the payment terms, the seller transfers the title to the buyer. Here are some potential risks and benefits of selling a property by land contract:


  1. Seller financing: A land contract can attract buyers who may have difficulty obtaining traditional financing. By offering seller financing, you can potentially sell your property more quickly and to a broader pool of buyers.

  2. Higher sale price: Sellers may be able to command a higher sale price for their property since they are offering financing. Buyers might be willing to pay a premium in exchange for the convenience and flexibility of a land contract.

  3. Potential for interest income: As the seller, you can potentially earn interest income on the outstanding balance of the land contract, which can provide a steady stream of income over the term of the contract.

  4. Defer capital gains: If the sale of the property will trigger a capital gains tax then there may be some tax advantages to deferring the capital gain over time.

  5. Retain legal title: Until the buyer fulfills the payment terms of the land contract, you retain legal title to the property. This can be an advantage if the buyer defaults, as you may have an easier time reclaiming the property compared to a traditional foreclosure process.


  1. Buyer default: If the buyer defaults on the land contract payments, you may need to initiate a legal process called forfeiture to reclaim the property. This process can be time-consuming and costly, and you may be responsible for any property maintenance or taxes during this period.

  2. Difficulty in selling: While offering seller financing can attract a broader pool of buyers, it may also deter some buyers who prefer traditional financing options. Additionally, not all buyers are familiar with land contracts, which may require more effort to educate them on the process.

  3. Responsibility for property taxes and insurance: In some land contract arrangements, the seller may still be responsible for paying property taxes and insurance until the buyer fully pays off the contract. You should carefully consider these ongoing costs when structuring the land contract.

  4. Loss of immediate liquidity: Unlike a traditional sale, a land contract does not provide the seller with immediate access to the full sale proceeds. If you rely on the sale proceeds for another purpose, a land contract might not be the best option.

Before entering into a land contract, it is essential to consult with a real estate attorney familiar with Wisconsin property law. They can help you understand the legal requirements and structure the contract to protect your interests.

Please note that this information is for general informational purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice. Consult with a qualified attorney to discuss your specific situation and understand your legal options.

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