For some of the same reasons people have chosen to acquire property in the name of a corporation, they also choose to acquire property in the name of a limited liability company or LLC. They typically want to protect themselves from liability related to the property, particularly if it is commercial or rental property. LLCs may also offer tax benefits to those who choose to place assets in them.
Determine how you will acquire money to purchase the property. If you are buying the property with cash, placing the property in your LLC should be easy: any LLC should be able to acquire property. If you must obtain a mortgage using the property as collateral, however, a lender may take issue with your titling the property in your LLC. Stringent lender requirements may restrict the capacity of your LLC to borrow money, particularly if the members refuse to personally guarantee the loan.
Create the LLC if it doesn’t already exist. The LLC may be formed in any state, even if the property you are acquiring is not located there, usually by the filing of articles of organization or certificate of formation with the secretary of state’s office where created. Typically, real estate investors will form one LLC for each property and name the LLC by using the property address.
Apply for a loan. Mortgage lenders will rarely extend a loan to a business without an extensive credit history. You will most likely need to take out the mortgage in your own name and assume personal liability for it. If you plan to deed the property to your LLC after obtaining the mortgage, check whether this is allowed: lender consent may be required, or the lender may allege that you have activated the due-on-sale clause set out in your mortgage, which means that all amounts are due and payable in full.
Obtain the financing, and then after closing the transaction in your name, deed your property to the LLC -- again, only if your lender allows it. If you took out the mortgage in your own name, you are still responsible individually for the debt, and the property will remain subject to the mortgage you made as an individual.
Buying multiple properties in multiple LLCs may further limit the liability of the LLC members.
Discuss with your accountant the tax implications associated with titling property in your LLC.
If your LLC transacts business in another state, you may be required by law to register your LLC as a foreign entity with the secretary of state.
- Robert M. Mendall, Attorney at Law, P. C.: Texas Limited Liability Companies
- Philadelphia Weekly: Is Owning Real Estate in LLC Smart?
- Time Magazine Business: Should you Sign a Personal Loan Guarantee
- Tennessee Secretary of State: Business Name Availability
- California Secretary of State Debra Bowen: Starting a Business-Entity Types
- Morris Law Group: Wealth Planning and Preservation Update, Multi-State Estate Planning
- Washington State Office of Regulatory Assistance: Open Your Business, Is Your Out-of-State Business Planning to Operate in Washington?
- Real Estate Investing 101: LLCs Can Create Problems as Well as Solutions for Home Investors
- First American: Who Signs the Papers at the Closing Table?
- Juris: What Entity is Right for Real Estate?
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