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Madison, WI
210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., Madison, Wisconsin, 53703

Step-by-Step Guide to Buying Madison, Wisconsin, Neglected, Vacant and Abandoned Real Estate

City-owned real estate in Madison, WI falls under the jurisdiction of the Office of Real Estate Services.  The department is responsible for selling surplus property and land.  It also expedites any redevelopment activities.

About the Properties

Madison real estate listed on Derelict.com are properties that have been reported to the city as vacant.  They may or may not be abandoned and may or may not be for sale by the owner.  Oftentimes these properties are owned by absentee owners who are willing to sell when approached since they have no existing use for the building.

Note: We highly recommend finding a good real estate lawyer to help you through the acquisition process.

Step 1 - Check City of Madison

Start with the following site and cross-check the property you found on Derelict.com.  If you find the property there then it makes things much easier as it means the property is city-owned.  Simply follow the instructions on the site and contact the Office of Real Estate Services. 

Office of Real Estate Services - Check for city-owned property and land that is being sold as surplus. 

Dane Count Sheriff - Conducts foreclosure auctions.

Step 2 - Identify the Property Owner

There are two places online that will help you find the owner of the property using just a street address. You should check them both.

City of Madison Assessor - The Assessor's site will give you the owner's name, current valuation, and property tax information.

Access Dane - Dane County parcel search.  If taxes are past due they would need to be settled if you took ownership

If that didn't work, try PublicData.com or PeopleFinders. These are both paid services, so they have access to a lot more databases.

Step 3 - Research Property Background

This step is very important to help you get a better understanding of the property's history and potential issues before you approach the owner to see if they are willing to sell. 

Existing Permit Search - Sometimes the property has already begun to be rehabbed.  Check here to find out.

Wisconsin Court System -  Search for court cases that may be tied to the property owner and the property.

Step 4 - Contact the Owner

At this point you should have enough information to be able to contact the owner to see if they are willing to sell.  If the contact information for the owner is old, you may need to do a little more digging to find them.Again, you might need a paid service like PublicData.com or PeopleFinders. There is also a possibility that the owner is deceased and their estate is probated.  To find the will of the deceased and learn the name of the new owners you can use the following site:

Wisconsin Court System -  Search for probate cases that may be tied to the property owner and the property.

If you've determined the owner is deceased and there was no will recorded, the process for acquiring the property becomes much more involved and can take years to complete.  To acquire the property you would need to have the property escheated.

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