What is a Real Estate LLC?
A real estate LLC is a limited liability company that is created to buy and sell real estate properties. When a person forms an LLC, the LLC is a separate legal entity from the individual. This means the LLC has its own bank account and files its own taxes. This provides both liability protection and tax benefits to the company’s owner.
When a person purchases real estate using a limited liability company , the LLC is the legal owner of the property rather than the individual owner. LLCs can be formed for just one real estate transaction or can be maintained for various real estate investment properties.
Setting up a real estate LLC is reasonably simple and can be accomplished by following these five steps:
- Choose a name for your company and conduct a search to ensure it isn’t already in use
- File Articles of Organization with your Secretary of State
- Draft an operating agreement for your company
- Obtain all necessary business licenses and permits required to conduct business
- Apply for a tax identification number through the IRS and set up a business bank account
Each state will have its own business laws that regulate the formation of an LLC. Some states require that you publish an intent to file in your local newspaper, and required licenses and permits can vary. If you have questions about your state regulations, you can reach out to a corporate lawyer familiar with your state laws.
Should You Put Real Estate in an LLC?
Yes, it would be best if you put real estate in an LLC. Establishing an LLC for real estate transactions provides the owners with:
- Asset protection
- Liability protection
- Tax benefits
Owners of multiple properties are encouraged to place each property under its own separate LLC. They can then establish a parent LLC to manage all the individual LLC. Each limited liability company will provide the owner with another layer of protection, and it will keep the properties insulated from each other.
If you would like more information about investing in real estate, read this article.
Benefits of Using an LLC for Real Estate Investing
Using an LLC to purchase real estate and run rental companies will provide the owner with many benefits, from personal liability protection to tax savings.
Personal Liability Protection. There are two main situations in which personal liability protection is essential when owning real estate:
- Injury: If someone is injured on your property, they may file a lawsuit to recover damages. Even if you have insurance, insurance only covers up to certain limits. If an LLC owns your property, only the LLC can be named in the lawsuit. This means that only the LLC’s assets are subjected to collection if the plaintiff is awarded damages. Your personal bank accounts, real estate, and other properties under other LLCs are protected.
- Monetary Judgments: Similarly to a personal injury claim against your property, there is the possibility that the property could be caught in a financial dispute or targeted by creditors. Because the LLC is a separate legal entity from the owner, only the LLC’s assets are at risk in collection from a monetary judgment.
Credibility. When a real estate property is owned by an LLC rather than an individual, it creates a more business-like appearance. When someone is looking to lease property, whether it be commercial property for a business or residential real estate for personal use, contracting with a legally registered LLC makes the transaction feel more legitimate.
Ease of Transferring Property. Selling real estate is a complicated process. However, transferring LLC membership interest is a much easier way to buy and sell property. The current owner can transfer their interests in the LLC to the new owner. The LLC will still own the real estate even if the LLC ownership is transferred.
Tax Benefits. Real estate owners who operate through limited liability companies can receive substantial tax benefits. The benefits are even more significant for those who rent their properties. Some benefits include:
- Qualified business income deductions
- General business deductions
- Pass-through taxation
Qualified business income deduction allows taxpayers to deduct 20% of LLC income from their personal taxes. General business deductions can include auto expenses, utilities, travel, and meal associated with running the LLC.
How Are Real Estate LLCs Taxed?
At the federal level, real estate LLCs are pass-through entities . Any income earned by the LLC, like rental income, passes through the LLC and on to the individual members.
LLCs are not subject to federal taxes like a corporation, so they avoid double taxation. The LLC members are responsible for reporting all profits and losses on their individual federal tax returns.
Limited liability companies are also eligible for various tax deductions that can reduce the amount of taxes the owner must pay. Most rental properties are eligible for the qualified business income tax deduction in which the owner can deduct 20% of the LLC income from their personal taxes.
Other popular tax deductions for real estate and rental properties include:
- Mortgage interest
- Property taxes
- Repairs and maintenance
- Transportation expenses
Check out this article for more information about how real estate investments are taxed.
What’s Included in Real Estate LLC Operating Agreement
An LLC operating agreement is a written document that lays out how a company will be operated and governed. The operating agreement includes important information like management structure , investments , taxes , and profit-sharing .
Most states do not require limited liability companies to have an operating agreement; however, it is a good idea to have one anyway, especially if the LLC is a multi-member LLC which is typical for real estate LLCs.
The operating agreement outlines the roles and responsibilities of all the members and managers in a company and will help avoid and solve any business disputes that may arise.
It is common for real estate investors to go into business with a partner. This means that the real estate LLC will have more than one owner. An operating agreement will protect all partners because it is a legally enforceable contract.
An operating agreement is an important document, so it is best to consult with an experienced corporate lawyer to help draft the contract to ensure it meets your state’s legal criteria. Operating agreements will vary depending on the company, but an effective agreement will contain the following information:
- LLC name, address, and function of the business
- Names of each member with contact information
- Capital contribution from each member and what percentage of the company each member owns
- How profits and losses are distributed
- Management structure
- Financial administration like accounting methods and banking methods
- A process for making business decisions
- How and when a partner can sell shares
- How the LLC can be dissolved
- How disputes will be resolved
An effective operating agreement will help deter disputes, and if a dispute should arise, the operating agreement will help resolve the issue. If two or more people form a real estate LLC, it is imperative to have an explicit, effective operating agreement.
Get Help Forming a Real Estate LLC
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