Real Property Questions

What information do you have?
This Office maintains data regarding property values for all assessable properties, both real and personal in Washington County. Also maintained in this Office is a large portion of the County's Land Information System. This includes review of the parcel mapping plus the collection and management of survey plats. Included in this information are a variety of other items useful to surveyors, attorneys and other users of land information.

What is the difference between real and personal property?
Under Wisconsin Law, real property or real estate includes not only that land itself but all buildings and improvements thereon. Personal property includes all goods, wares merchandise, chattels and effects having any real or marketable value and not included under real property. See Chapter 70.03 and 70.04 of the Wisconsin Statutes for a more complete explanation.

What information is available on property in Washington County and is it public?
Almost all information in the Real Property Lister is available to the public. A query on any parcel of land will reveal its owner, type of ownership interest, physical and mailing address, brief legal description, assessed value and parcel history. Additionally parcel maps are available and, if filed, any plats of survey. Assessed values for properties will be made available after approval by the appropriate "Board of Review."

What format is your information in?
Besides the standard hard copy products of maps and assessment rolls, the Land Information has information in digital form. Washington County uses ESRI products. For further information on obtaining these types of files please contact the Geographic Information Systems Division of the Planning and Parks Department.

How can I find out who owns a particular parcel of land and how much they paid for it?
Ownership information can be found using the Office records or the country's Interactive Mapping Application. These records are indexed by parcel number and cross-referenced by owner name and physical address (if assigned). You may also use the County's parcel maps to assist any research if only a geographic area is known. The sale price of a property may be found by either consulting our list of sales or by calculating the sale price using the transfer fee. Sale prices are not available for properties not requiring a transfer fee.

My neighbor and I disagree on our common parcel line what can I do?
You may research our records and those of the REGISTER OF DEEDS for any available information related to the problem. If research fails to clarify the situation you may need to seek the help of a title company, a land surveyor and or an attorney. It must be remembered that the Real Property Lister staff are not surveyors or attorneys and as such can not give legal advice nor can we recommend a specific professional for services.

How do I combine two parcels of land or split a parcel into two parcels?
A form is available in the Real Property Lister that will help guide you through the split combination process. This form will put you in contact with local officials who can advise you on the requirements for such actions in your community. The splitting or combining of parcels may require the use of a Quit Claim Deed, depending on how the title to the property was originally deeded.

Does the creation of a Certified Survey Map (CSM) convey title?
No, the creation of a Certified Survey Map does not transfer title to property. It reconfigures the shape or size of the parcel. A CSM, or for that matter both Subdivision or Condominium plats can in fact co-mingle interests in property. This can be intentional or accidental. It may be necessary to clarify interest by the use of a Quit Claim Deed.

How do I remove, change or add a name from the tax bill?
The Real Property Lister is required to show an owner's name and legal description as shown on the latest records in the Register of Deeds. In the case of a divorce the preferred method is to have a Quit Claim Deed between the grantor and the grantee. Property owned by a surviving spouse or remainderman, (interest holder) can be transferred by using the Termination of Joint Tenancy form. If your name has changed, it is not always necessary to have a Quit Claim Deed issued to the individual with the new name. In order to add an additional name and subsequently vest that person with an interest in the property, it will be necessary to issue a Quit Claim Deed.

Adverse Possession, what is it and how does it work?
Adverse possession is a means by which property with a "clouded" or unclear title may be cleared and claimed legitimately by an individual. It is a term that is often used but frequently misunderstood. There are several ways in which adverse possession may be used, but all applications of adverse possession must meet the following criteria:

1. Exclusive, the claimant must be the exclusive possessor and to have actually entered the property.
2. Open and notorious, the claim must be public and known.
3. Adverse, the claim must be adverse to another's claim
4. Hostile, the claimant must have actively exerted the claim.
5. Continuous, the claim must have been made for a specific period of time.

The recording of a "Notice of Adverse Possession" in the Register of Deeds does not convey title to the claimant but it does begin the clock to tick regarding any specific period of time. The only way a claim of adverse possession can be granted is either by agreement between the parties involved or by a court order. If a claim of adverse possession is to be used it is always advisable to seek legal assistance.

Washington County Real Property Lister
432 East Washington Street
Room 2040
West Bend WI, 53095
Telephone: 262.335.4370