Accession Law LLC


Feb 3, 2015

Confirmation of sheriff's sale in WI

The "final" step in the foreclosure process typically is the confirmation by the court of the sheriff's sale.

After the sheriff's sale, the plaintiff typically moves to confirm the sale so that a deed can be given and the proceeds paid to the plaintiff.  The court must confirm that the sale was conducted in accordance with the judgment entered in the case and the law.

The Court of Appeals explained the process as follows in Countrywide Home Loans v. Russ, 09AP2873, (WI App 2010) unpublished, so not legal precedent:

The statute's command that the circuit court must be "satisfied that the fair value of the premises sold has been credited on the mortgage debt, interest and costs" is triggered by three things: (1) a deficiency judgment is sought; (2) the mortgaged property "sell[s] for less than the amount due and to become due on the mortgage debt and costs of sale"; and (3) the property's "fair value" "has been credited on the mortgage debt, interest and costs." Significantly, "mere inadequacy of price is not a sufficient reason for failing to confirm a sale." Citizens Bank of Sheboygan v. Rose, 59 Wis. 2d 385, 387, 208 N.W.2d 110, 111 (1973). Rather, "[t]here are two situations where refusal to confirm is warranted. The first is where there is an inadequate price which has resulted from circumstances such as a mistake, misapprehension, or inadvertence. The second is where the price is so inadequate as to shock the conscience of the court." Id., 59 Wis. 2d at 387­388, 208 N.W.2d at 111. Stated another way, a circuit court does not have the unfettered freedom to deny confirmation of a mortgage-foreclosure sale; there must be a demand for a deficiency judgment (so that if the sale is not for "fair value" the mortgagor is unjustly saddled with a deficiency judgment) and one or both of the conditions set out in Rose are present. See First Wisconsin Nat'l Bank of Oshkosh v. KSW Investments, Inc., 71 Wis. 2d 359, 367, 238 N.W.2d 123, 128 (1976) ("The language of the statute that 'no sale shall be confirmed and judgment for deficiency rendered[,] until the court is satisfied that the fair value of the premises sold has been credited on the mortgage debt, interest and cost' was subsequently interpreted by this court to mean nothing more than 'such reasonable value as does not shock the conscience of the court.'") (citation omitted).