Should I buy real property in an LLC (Limited Liability Company)?

Legal advice key on keyboardWritten by Morgan Jones, Esquire

Well, it depends.

Why do you want to buy in an LLC? If you would be the sole member of the LLC, the only asset in the LLC would be one property, and your only concern is liability, then it may not be worth it. Hazard insurance, including an endorsement for renting out the property, will always be your first line of defense. If your state of residence is different than the state where you own the property, you may not want to bother creating an LLC, registering it in the state where the property is located (if you don’t create the LLC in that state), and having a registered in-state agent who will most likely need to charge you a regular fee to file paperwork, etc…

Another thing to keep in mind if you are buying property in an LLC is that you may have trouble financing the property (either at time of purchase, or later). If the only asset in the LLC is the property, many lenders will not want to lend, especially if the property is not producing any income. It would be the equivalent of attempting to get a mortgage as an individual when you have no income. If you buy property with cash and take title in an LLC, you may have to transfer the property out of the LLC later, which may subject you to a transfer tax and additional attorney’s fees.

On the flip side, if you are planning on owning the property with multiple individuals and need to account for use of the property, responsibilities for expenses associated with the property, distribution of income from the property, and terms for termination of some or all owners, an LLC with a formal Operating Agreement can be extremely helpful. In addition, if you already have one or more LLCs in which you hold property for tax reasons, it may be advantageous to take title to investment property in one of those LLCs. An accountant would be able to advise you best on what would be the most advantages from a tax perspective.

If you do want to create an LLC to hold assets, we would be happy to help you with that. We can also help you negotiate and draft an Operating Agreement for the LLC if there will be multiple members.

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