When to Form an LLC for Real Estate?

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Let’s talk about a major mistake that real estate investors make: when to form an LLC for real estate…


We get phone calls like this all the time:

“Hey, I just did some research and realized I need to setup an LLC for my real estate in order to protect my assets.”

The very first thing I ask is, “Did you close on the property already?”

Far too many real estate investors say “Yes.”

I shout through the phone: “Nooooooooooo!” (picture that scene in the movie where the main character just loses his best friend)

Okay, I don’t shout through the phone.

But instead, I have to help them get their head straight.

They’ve learned that they need to set up an LLC for their investment properties so that they can protect their personal assets, but they already bought their property in their name.

They think that just setting up the LLC is going to somehow magically protect their assets.

That’s not the case.

If you think about it, those properties are owned by you personally.

Just setting up an LLC does not automatically “attach” it to the property.

In fact, the LLC is not affiliated with the property at all.

I wish just forming an LLC magically protected all we do.  But nope.  It doesn’t work that way.

You’re creating an entity. That entity, therefore, needs to own the property and “do the business”.

What I mean by that is, the LLC is purchasing the real estate, not you. Your purchase contract/agreement of sale, the deed, and any financing… all of that has to be in the name of the LLC.

The LLC needs to hold title to the property, not you personally.

I got a phone call today from a guy in California who owns three different properties all financed by three different banks (in his personal name) and wanted to set up an LLC to protect his assets.

I said, “Yeah, just so you know, don’t go ahead and set the LLC up right now. What you need to do is call each one of the different banks to see if you can transfer the title and how that’s going to affect the loan.”

He was bummed by the wake-up-call.

My advice to him was to first call all 3 banks to see what they have to say.

Due on Sale Clause

Many banks will have a due-on-sale clause if the property is transferred to another name.

If they agree to the transfer, he’ll need to deed the property from himself to the LLC for $1 (often called a ‘dollar deed’).

Depending on what state the real estate is located, the name of the deed may be called something different.

There will also likely be transfer tax.  Now the transfer tax will not be the same amount as if it were a full-price sale, but it could be a couple hundred dollars.

After you speak with the bank, you’ll need to call a title company and double check on transfer fees/taxes and any other closing costs (there will be small miscellaneous title fees).

Now, some people are going to be out of luck because some banks may not allow the transfer.

To the bank, there’s a new buyer (the LLC)… and the bank may need to qualify the new buyer.

Even with you personally guaranteeing the loan, it’s usually no longer going to be residential loan.

It’s therefore a commercial loan (because of the LLC) and commercial loans take place usually within a different department in the bank.

Commercial loans have different terms and they have different rates.

You’re essentially refinancing the property in the name of the LLC.

It can be a bit of a mess really.

Hopefully you’re watching this video before you purchased your property.

Purchase Real Estate and Obtain Financing in the name of the LLC

To get full liability protection, you need to purchase your property and obtain your financing in the name of the LLC and order for that LLC to protect your personal assets.

However, if you’ve already bought property in your personal name and you want to transfer it to the LLC the biggest thing that’s going to hold you up is a mortgage.

You need to talk to the lender/the bank.

Let them know about your situation and see if you can go ahead and do a dollar deed or a dollar sale to transfer the property.

If you can, you’re going to have to pay some title fees.

You shouldn’t have to pay full blown transfer tax… but again, you’ll need to call a title company in your county/city to double-check on this.

Hopefully, that makes sense and is helpful.

And hopefully you’re seeing this video before you’ve purchased properties in your own personal name.

Even with strong liability insurance, you’ll want to have your properties owned by your LLC(s).

In worst case scenarios, both liability insurance and your LLC will really be your strongest combination for asset protection.

Just having one or the other is a weak scenario.

You want to protect your assets to the fullest.

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Video Transcript:

Hey, folks. Matt Horwitz, LLC University. Hope you’re doing well. Let’s talk about a major mistake that real estate investors make in regards to set up their LLC. Just got a phone call today and we’ve gotten dozens and dozens and dozens of these phone calls. People phone in saying, “Hey.” They’ve done some research. They’ve learned that they need to set up an LLC for their investment properties so that they can protect their assets, but they already bought their property in their name. They think that just setting up the LLC is going to somehow magically protect their assets. That’s not the case. If you think about it, those properties are owned by you personally. Just setting up an LLC, it’s not affiliated with that at all. An LLC doesn’t protect anything you do magically, right? You’re setting up an entity. You’re creating an entity, you’re creating an entity by state statue. That entity, therefore, needs to own the property and do the business. What I mean by that is that when you’re purchasing the properties, you’re purchase contract, your agreement of sale, the deed, any financing, all of that is in the name of the LLC.

The LLC holds title to the property, not you personally. Got a phone call today from a guy in California who owns three different properties all financed by three different banks and wanted to set up an LLC to protect his assets. I said, “Yeah, just so you know, don’t go ahead and set the LLC up right now. What you need to do is you need to call each one of the different banks to see if he can refinance or transfer the title and how that’s going to affect the loan.” Once people kind of understand like, “Okay, cool. I realize that I need to transfer the title into the name of the LLC.” Right. They realize they need to do that. Sometimes it’s called a dollar deed.

Basically, where you are in the United States, it’s going to be sometimes the name of the deed may be called something different. There may be different fees, but essentially you’re going to be selling the property for one dollar from yourself to your LLC, but if you have financing and you have mortgages attached to those properties you can’t just knock it out and do it really quickly. You have documents and documents and mortgages and clauses and things that you signed at settlement. Just because it’s going from you to your own LLC, it doesn’t matter. To the finance company, it’s going from the seller to a different buyer, right? You need to pick up the phone, call the different bank and say, “Hey, look. I need to get this title out of my own personal name and put it into the name of the LLC.”

Now, some people are going to be out of luck because some banks may not allow it. If they’re going to be lending to an LLC even with you personally guaranteeing the loan, it’s no longer going to be residential loan. It’s therefore a commercial loan and commercial loans take place usually within a different department in the bank. They have different terms and they have different rates. You’re essentially refinancing the property in the name of the LLC. It’s a bit of a mess really. Hopefully, if you’re watching this video you’ve caught it before you purchased your property. You need to purchase your property and obtain your financing in the name of the LLC and order for that LLC to protect your personal assets.

However, if you’ve already bought property in your personal name and you want to transfer it to the LLC the biggest thing that’s going to hold you up is a mortgage. You need to talk to the lender. You need to talk to the bank. Let them know about your situation and see if you can go ahead and do a dollar deed or a dollar sale. Transfer the property. You’re going to have to pay some title fees. You’re not going to pay full blown transfer tax. In different places it’s called different things. Sometimes it’s called the common level ratio. It’s really, basically, cheap and affordable way to do the transfer tax because you’re basically selling it to yourself for a dollar. This is much more of a title based question than it is a LLC formation based question. You really need to be calling the bank and the title company to figure out what needs to take place. Just so you know, in order to get that asset protection you have to transfer those properties out of your personal name into the name of the LLC. That’s the sale of real estate. Needs to take place at a title company and if you have mortgages and finances in place you’re going to need to be refinancing or I’m calling it a transfer, but there may be a more technical name for that.

Hopefully, that makes sense. Hopefully, that helps. Hopefully, you’re watching this video before you’ve purchased properties in your own personal name. Even with strong liability insurance, you want to have an LLC. In worst case scenario, both of those together are really going to be your strongest combination. Just having one or the other is a weak scenario. You want to protect your assets to the fullest. Hopefully, this video makes sense. If you have any questions, you know where to find us. Thanks.

Matt Horwitz
Founder & Educator, LLC University®
Forming an LLC shouldn't be so complicated. Our step-by-step guide will make the process a breeze – and no complex legal jargon! LLC University® teaches people how to form an LLC for free in all 50 states. We hope you find our free guides and resources helpful in your business journey.
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Disclaimer: Nothing on this page shall be interpreted as legal or tax advice. Rules and regulations vary by location. They also change over time and are specific to your situation. Furthermore, this comment section is provided so people can share their thoughts and experience. Please consult a licensed professional if you have legal or tax questions.

61 Comments

  1. Bob Reichelderfer October 29, 2017

    I stumbled on to your site a bit late but here goes. I am purchasing two rental properties in Wyoming and live in Colorado. I have just set up an LLC in Colorado but have not yet conducted any business in Wyoming. The properties close to soon to change from my personal name on the title. I told I can, as soon as possible after closing, convert ownership to a Trust with the LLC as grantee. My question is before I start collecting money and set up a bank account, should I set up a Wyoming LLC and use that or do the foreign entity thing and use the Colorado LLC?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz October 29, 2017

      Hi Bob, great question. The short answer is that you can do either a Domestic Wyoming LLC or a Foreign Wyoming LLC (the Colorado LLC registering to do business in Wyoming). They both will work. There may be subtleties between the two (in terms of tax and legal consequences), but I am not abreast on all those details. You could use our “knights of the roundtable” strategy and phone a few accountants and lawyers to find out though. Also to keep in mind, if you were to form a Domestic Wyoming LLC, that can be filed online with the WY SOS and the approval is instant. So that would allow you time to assign your purchase contract and take title in the Trust/Wyoming LLC. Keep in mind though, that if you have financing in place, the bank will likely not allow this. If that’s the case though, you can close in your name, then quitclaim deed the property to the Trust/Wyoming LLC. On the other hand, a Foreign LLC registration in Wyoming must be done by mail, and that will take 4-7 business for approval. If doing a Foreign LLC registration in Wyoming, you’ll need a Colorado Certificate of Good Standing, but luckily, the CO SOS has those available online for immediate download (which will save you some time). Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any followup questions.

      reply
  2. Koteswara Rao January 22, 2018

    I am a little late. I have 2 rental properties in my name. However there is no mortgage on both of them. Recently I have formed an LLC as well. Do you have steps to transfer the properties to the LLC. I want the titles to be warranty changed as well as recording done for the changes.

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz January 22, 2018

      All you’ll need to do is get in contact with a local title company and sell the property from yourself to your LLC. Hope that helps.

      reply
  3. Richard January 31, 2018

    Thanks for the video. My wife and I purchased a rental property in a high traffic tourist town in SC and are currently using it for short term rentals. There is no mortgage against the rental property as we took a loan against our residence, which was paid off in full. Hope I explained that correctly. My wife is the CPA so she’s the brains of the organization. However, she doesn’t think it is necessary to put the rental home in an LLC. I, on the other hand, think its very risky not to. What are some of the ‘real world’ reasons that I can use to convince someone who has it all figured out?!?! Thanks so much.

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz January 31, 2018

      Hi Richard, sounds like a nice investment. And I hear your situation. I would suggest reading our asset protection article and then doing further research regarding liability issues in the context of real estate rentals. I feel that LLCs are cheap compared to the personal liability protection they offer. If you and your wife are sued and lose the case, your personal assets are at risk. Maybe suggest to your wife to call 5+ real estate lawyers and see what their thoughts are regarding liability. Hope that helps a bit :)

      reply
  4. Shana February 15, 2018

    Great video. So glad I found your site. I am planning on turning my primary residence (which is in my name) into a rental property. I did contact my bank and they said that if I transfer the property into a LLC that the due-on-sale clause will be enforced. I have only lived in the property for 3 yrs and so I have barely made headway with getting my mortgage down. What other options do I have to protect my asset? Can I form a LLC and use it to manage my property (i.e., paying all the bills to start building credit for the LLC) until I have attained enough equity to transfer it into a LLC?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz February 21, 2018

      Hi Shana, thank you! The “management” LLC will not protect you in the event of a lawsuit. It’ll still be you that is sued personally since you own the property. Best thing in your situation is liability insurance. You may also want to speak with a few real estate lawyers about the following. You could quitclaim deed the property from yourself to your LLC and not tell the bank. As long as you continue to make payments, it’s likely there won’t be issues. Of course though, there are certain risks, and this reply is not meant as an endorsement of such. Hope that helps.

      reply
  5. Josh February 28, 2018

    Hi Matt,
    Just read the articles and watched your video on forming the LLC in your home state. Very informative and well, just simple, great, communication! I felt confident and settled on doing that. I have four rental properties that are owned (no mortgage) in Missouri. I live in California. At the VERY END of the video, you state: EXCEPT in the case of real estate! lol. I was scrambling to find the next article/video to explain and couldn’t find anything helpful. So, any more detailed breakdown / info on why form the LLC in the state where the properties are located? Any info or link to something you’ve done? thanks so much for any input!

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz February 28, 2018

      Hey Josh, thank you for the kind words :) And I totally understand about the “where’s the next video/article” part… we’ll soon be addressing these concepts in more details in separate videos and articles, but for now, here’s an overview of your situation.

      With rental property in Missouri, you’re legally “doing business” in Missouri, so that’s where the entities should be “formed” or “registered”.

      – “Formed” = formed as a Domestic LLC
      – “Registered” = registered as a Foreign LLC

      (related article: Foreign LLC vs Domestic LLC)

      In your case though, because you reside in California, things are different. For most people who reside in most other states, they could just form a Domestic LLC (or LLCs) in Missouri and be done with it. However, California law (both Corporate law as well as Revenue and Taxation law) is written in such a way that if you formed a Missouri LLC (a Domestic Missouri LLC) you would still be “doing business” in California, and therefore, you’d be required to register your Missouri LLC as a Foreign LLC in California. California has some of most strict laws in regards to what it means to be “doing business”. Something as simple as making a phone call from CA to your property manager in MO is “doing business”.

      And even if you don’t register your Missouri LLC as a Foreign LLC in California, you’re still on the hook for the annual franchise tax, as well as other California taxes. The California Franchise Tax Board (FTB) is very aggressive in hunting down those doing business in the state with unauthorized/unregistered LLCs and you’ll likely be subject to fines and penalties, as well as all unpaid annual franchise tax for all of the years you were illegally operating the Missouri LLC in California.

      So what’s the solution? Since a registration (or formation) needs to take place in California, do you go “California to Missouri” (Domestic CA LLCs registered as Foreign LLCs in MO) or do you go “Missouri to California” (Domestic Missouri LLCs registered as a Foreign LLCs in CA)? There isn’t a black and white answer to this, so I would recommend speaking with an attorney (or a few) to address your situation in more detail. One thing to consider (and to run by a real estate attorney) is what might be an ideal setup for you… one in which you’re properly registered to do business in Missouri as well as properly registered to do business in California.

      Since you have multiple properties, you’ll likely want to better protect your assets by setting up a different LLC for each property in Missouri. Here an idea for a structure: form 1 Domestic California LLC and have this LLC be the “parent” LLC (owner) of multiple “child” LLCs domestically formed in Missouri. This way, you are registered in both states where you’re “doing business” and you should only need to take care of one annual franchise tax payment in California (instead of multiple annual franchise tax payments for multiple LLCs). And it doesn’t matter if those multiple CA LLCs are Foreign or Domestic… you’d still owe multiple franchise tax payments.

      So, the rough news is that CA is strict and you’ll need to register/form an LLC there (and be subject to the annual franchise tax)… but this is the cost of doing business in CA. The good news is that Missouri is a very affordable state for LLC formation. At the time of this reply, the cost to form an LLC in Missouri is $50 ($50 if filed online; $105 if filed by mail) and there are no Annual Reporting requirements (no report and no payment). Hopefully this information was helpful and I’m curious to hear what you end up doing, so feel free to keep us posted :)

      reply
      • josh March 5, 2018

        Hi Matt,
        Thanks so much for the response. It has certainly helped narrow down the options. I am currently making some Attorney, CPA appts. to ask further questions about strategy, cost, etc. of setting up the LLC’s in Domestic or Foreign form in the California scenario. Will be happy to post conclusions for my situation at least. Thanks again!

        reply
        • Matt Horwitz March 10, 2018

          You’re very welcome Josh. I look forward to hearing about your progress! Thanks :)

          reply
  6. Debbie March 7, 2018

    Hi Matt,

    Nice concise video! So I have a bit of a different question for you. Let’s say I’m thinking about buying a property, but haven’t found what I’m looking for as yet… Then, all of a sudden, there it is! So I’m chomping on the bit to get a offer (contract) to the Seller.

    But IF I do that _before_ I set up the LLC, then your gonna yell at me!

    So here’s my question: is it possible to put wording in the Purchase Agreement (contract) which _initially_ has my name as the purchaser, but also allows (at closing) for the name to change to the LLC (which will be set up by that time)?

    Seems to me that such a *magical* clause could help someone who is _shopping_ for a property but doesn’t yet know if they will find something!

    Thank you!!!

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz March 10, 2018

      Hi Debbie, yup, of course. Many contracts are assignable unless their is a statement otherwise. However, it’s common for real estate investors to list the buyer as “Mary Doe and or assings”. Also make sure to strike out and initial any clauses that state the contract is not assignable. Hope that helps.

      reply
  7. Mike March 7, 2018

    Hi Matt,
    I am in the mortgage business. Many people contact me rearding buying a small rental property and wanting a nice 30 year fixed rate loan. They are dismayed that the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will not lend to LLCs and are dismayed that I would offer a portfolio ARM loan…..
    Have you had this experience, please advise.

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz March 10, 2018

      Hey Mike, yes, very common for the Fannie and Freddie loans. I’d look for a referral relationship with a commercial bank or a bank with a small commercial loan division. They group the LLC-owned purchases into the commercial division, although most are still residential properties. Hope that helps.

      reply
  8. Charlene April 7, 2018

    Hi Matt, just wondering if you might be able to give some advice. My mother-in law purchased a house and paid cash to help her son out in a situation. He convinced her to create an LLc in Missouri. Her son is living in the house and was to make payments back to her. He has not and she wants him out. She has 99% of membership. How can she disolve the LLC and does he have a right to live there.

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz April 8, 2018

      Hi Charlene, it sounds like your mother-in-law bought the house and then formed the LLC… if that’s the case, the home is owned by her personally, not the LLC that was setup later. Either way, this falls into the realm of real estate law and contract law. We definitely recommend you/she get in touch with a lawyer to handle the eviction process. Hope you get to the bottom of things.

      reply
  9. Sharon April 16, 2018

    Hi Matt,

    I have a condo in California with no mortgage, and I’m planning to form an LLC in NYC where I am living and then place that CA condo in my NYC LLC. How complicated it will be? Do I need to pay the transfer tax?

    Thanks!

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz April 17, 2018

      Hi Sharon, you’ll need to speak with a title company in California for the details. Is this condo being rented out or generating income? If so, you’re doing business in California… meaning, that NY LLC needs to be registered as a Foreign LLC in California, or you form an LLC in California (LLC owned by you), or you form an LLC in California owned by an LLC formed in New York. California is very strict regarding doing business and paying annual franchise tax. I recommend reading what is doing business in California.

      reply
      • Sharon April 20, 2018

        Thank you Matt.

        Another question, let’s say if I won’t transfer the deed of CA condo to NYC LLC, can NYC LLC do some business on the CA condo, such as collecting the rental, finding the tenant etc. ? Or I still have to form a CA LLC to do this kind of property management, although I live in NYC?

        reply
        • Matt Horwitz April 21, 2018

          You’re welcome Sharon. If the NY LLC wants to do business in California, it should register as a Foreign LLC in California. Whether you form an LLC in California or register your New York LLC in California, you’ll still need to to pay annual franchise tax and comply with any other California Franchise Tax Board reporting requirements. It’s not about whether or not the LLC takes title to the property. It’s whether or not the LLC is doing business in the state. Hope that helps.

          reply
  10. Eric Ebrahimi July 6, 2018

    I am in Washington State, and would like to know if it is possible to create an LLC that would control two other LLCs. If this is possible, then this concept would be the same as Series LLCs, or Limited Partnership Corporation?

    Thanks,
    Eric

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz August 12, 2018

      Hi Eric, the word “control” can be a bit ambiguous, however, if you want a Washington LLC to own (be the Member) of two other LLCs, then yes, totally possible. There are some similarities between this and a Series LLC, but it’s not the same thing. Hope that helps.

      reply
  11. Karen August 13, 2018

    I have a rental condo in Florida that I purchased for 160k 5 yrs ago in my personal name that is currently worth 300k. I just created an LLC but concerned that if I sell my property to the LLC for 1 dollar I will have capital gains on 300k when I sell it. If I make it my primary residence later could I still have first 250k exempt if I am sole proprietor of LLC? Appreciate your expertise!

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz August 16, 2018

      Hey Karen, we’re not as familiar with the tax details as we are LLC formation details, so this question would need to be ask to an accountant and/or a real estate attorney. I’m not sure if the tax basis carries over or not. Also, since your LLC will become the owner of the condo, I don’t think you can make it your primary residence. Therefore, I’m not sure about the 250k capital gains tax exemption. Additionally, there may be a few other strategies available in how you transfer title that provide asset protection and tax advantages. Feel free to share any of your findings as we’re curious to learn more. Hope that helps and thank you for your understanding.

      reply
  12. Lenee August 28, 2018

    Hi Matt, love your site. What if you already bought a property, and are now setting up LLC for real estate after the property has been bought but do not have a loan on the property? How would i handle this transaction? Thank you for your time and advice Lenee

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz October 10, 2018

      Thanks Lenee! If you still want the LLC to own the property, you’ll want to speak to your title company about selling the property from yourself to your LLC. Hope that helps.

      reply
  13. Fatima October 7, 2018

    Hi Matt,
    Thanks for video. It’s really helpful and informative. I’m planning to purchase rental property out of the USA. Do I still need an LLC in the USA?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz October 25, 2018

      You’re welcome Fatima :) I have no idea about purchasing property outside of the USA.

      reply
  14. Victor November 22, 2018

    Hi Matt,

    Love your site. It’s super helpful. I’m just starting out and am in the early stages. I believe I’ll be able to get the LLC created before closing and put the properties in the LLC ahead of time.

    My question is should I create one LLC for all rental properties I purchase or a separate LLC for each rental property I have? I’ll be registering within the state of Indiana where the costs are quite reasonable.

    My second question is my residence is in California. Do I need to register a foreign LLC in California for my LLC in Indiana since the income is generated in Indiana?

    Thanks so much for your help

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz November 23, 2018

      Hi Victor, thank you! Happy to hear that. As a California resident, you’re likely doing business in California, even though the properties are in Indiana. California has strict corporate laws and tax laws regarding doing business. I would look into forming an LLC in California and registering as a Foreign LLC in Indiana or vice versa. And whether one LLC that holds the properties is needed versus multiple is a conversation you’d need to have with a real estate attorney. There are pros and cons and you’ll want to dive into the details with someone. Hope that helps and thanks for your understanding.

      reply
  15. Manny November 24, 2018

    Hi Matt, First of I love your site. Keep up the great work. so here’s my question. I am in the process of buying my first rental property in Buffalo, NY. its a 2 unit with tenants already living in it. I got my offer accepted and in the the process looking to close soon. I recently had a light bulb moment regarding liability and realized I need to protect my personal asset incase something happens so I decided to form an LLC and purchase It that way, I reached out to my lender and was told, since its now a LLC, They could no longer do the loan and that I should get a commercial loan to finance the property which will be difficult for me since my LLC is newly formed business. Therefore I spoke to a few attorneys and they suggested I purchase the property and transfer it to the LLC afterwards. it appears that the lender(bank) says its ok, Its possible to transfer the deed into the LLC name but the loan will still be in my name. Will that protect me if one of my tenants sues me. Or I have to get the loan in the llc name as well? Please advise what all I need to do if I go this route to ensure that I have 100% protection.

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz November 25, 2018

      Thanks Manny! Nice job on speaking to a few real estate attorneys. They are correct in that you can transfer the property from yourself to your LLC (via a quitclaim deed) and keep the mortgage in your name. The attorney(s) you spoke with should also be able to confirm that this will not affect the liability protection of your LLC in regards to potential lawsuits from tenants or visitors of the property. Hope that helps!

      reply
  16. Kellie December 1, 2018

    Hi Matt,
    I’m super confused about forming an LLC in Rhode Island and putting a commercial property under this LLC. I can’t use the property address for the llc until I own the property and I can’t put my name on the purchase agreement if I want it under the LLC. Can an LLC be formed the same day as the closing in order to add the name to all the documents?

    Warm regards,
    Kellie

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz December 5, 2018

      Hi Kellie, please check with the title company and your real estate agent, but you can usually enter “FirstName LastName and/or her assigns” as the buyer, then you can assign (transfer the rights) of the purchase agreement from yourself to your LLC sometime before closing. Make sure the title company knows ahead of time so they have your closing docs prepared properly. You can form your Rhode Island LLC with your current address now and later change the address after closing. Hope that helps!

      reply
  17. R Michelle Cooke December 12, 2018

    Hi, I have 2 questions. Myself and an investing partner is creating an LLC to buy rental property with. We’re buying the rental property with the LLC and he says we both will sign on the mortgage.

    1) Will both of us be able to sign on the mortgage?

    2) What is the correct way to sign my name on a mortgage when the LLC I’m a member of is going to be on the deed to the property?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz December 18, 2018

      Hi R Michelle, 1) it depends on the lender. If you both want to be on the mortgage, it shouldn’t be an issue. 2) I’m not sure if the LLC is giving the mortgage (with you and your partner’s personal guarantee) or just you and your partner are giving the mortgage. You can speak with the lender and ask them how the mortgage and the promissory note are written up. Hope that helps.

      reply
  18. Regina January 7, 2019

    I need to form my own LLC, Should I use my personal address, a UPS Mailbox or my brother’s address? I can’t cash flow the mailbox at this point. I need to know which is better for my Real Estate Investing business?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz January 7, 2019

      Hi Regina, which state is your LLC and the property in?

      reply
  19. Regina January 7, 2019

    I’m in Connecticut. I did set-up the LLC earlier. I’m just waiting on the approval from the State. I hope that when my business start to expand I will have a place to run my business.

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz January 7, 2019

      Hi Regina, here’s an article we have on Connecticut LLC Registered Agent. You can use any of the addresses you listed, but of course, it keeping costs low, you could use your address or your brother’s address.

      reply
  20. Regina January 8, 2019

    Thank you for your assistance.

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz January 8, 2019

      You’re welcome Regina.

      reply
  21. James January 15, 2019

    What about a quit claim deed? Let’s say my LLC purchases a property and later I’d like to refinance into a better loan / lender? Can I transfer ownership out of the LLC with a quit claim deed? And if so, how would that work?

    Absolutely awesome site, by the way!

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz January 15, 2019

      Hi James, yes, quitclaim deeds are used. You’d want to speak with a real estate attorney and/or your title company.

      reply
  22. Mark January 18, 2019

    Hi Matt. You are awesome! Here’s my drama. Myself and 2 other relatives are planning to pool our recent inheritance to form an LLC to purchase rental real estate to create a passive income stream. Our intentions are to be more non interactive JV type investors within groups who purchase/upgrade/refinance out larger projects such as apartment complexes. We were hoping to keep each investment separate by possibly using a Series LLC. But we live in California where they do not yet allow a Series LLC. Also, more than likely, the properties we are looking at investing in are in a variety of other states. Do we set up our LLC in California then set up a foreign Series LLC in say Nevada, where we can separate each investment under that umbrella? It all seems a bit messy and we are worried about huge accounting and state fees. Do we even need to go this route when we will not be the sole owners of any of these properties?

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz January 22, 2019

      Thanks Mark! While we appreciate the question, this is far too detailed and complex for us to address. Best practice to discuss this with a few real estate attorneys. There are numerous ways to go about this. Thanks for your understanding.

      reply
  23. Jackie February 9, 2019

    Hi Matt, If I form and LLC and that LLC rents an apartment in the basement of the house I live in do I still have the personal liability protection I would have if this was an investment property? Thanks, Jackie

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz February 18, 2019

      Hi Jackie, at first read, your question is challenging to understand. I’ll try it in an inverse-statement format. I believe you are stating, and then asking: that having an investment property owned by an LLC provides personal liability protection from events that occur on the property… so are you asking that if your LLC rents a room in the house that you own, are personally protected form events that occur in the basement? Likely not. Since the property is owned by you. Is that what you were asking?

      reply
      • Jackie Garton February 21, 2019

        Yes, that was exactly it.

        reply
  24. Monita February 19, 2019

    Hi Matt,

    Great articles. I learned a lot from it and have a couple questions. My husband and I own a rental property with no mortgage. The property was purchased in 2017 at $400,000. We transferred the title to a LLC for $1 in 2018. Is there any consequence of transferring it at &1 instead of $400,000. If so, how to correct it?

    Thanks,
    Monita

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz February 19, 2019

      Thanks Monita! Sometimes there is, it all depends on the municipality (county, city, town, borough, etc.) where you transferred title. Each municipal jurisdiction handles transfer tax (or an equivalent tax) differently. The quickest way to find the answer would be to speak to a title in your area. Hope that helps.

      reply
  25. Monita February 19, 2019

    Thanks Matt on your reply. I will contact the county. I am struggling to find where to report the initial rental property contribution amount on IRS Form 1065 or Schedule B for our husband and wife LLC in NJ. Do you know where to enter that?

    Thanks,
    Monita

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz February 21, 2019

      You’re welcome Monita. We can’t get into specifics like that. It’s best practice to speak with an accountant. We have some tips here: how to find accountant for my LLC.

      reply
  26. Sarah February 26, 2019

    Hey Matt,
    Great videos. I will be renting my attic out as an airbnb. I plan to purchase extra insurance for liability purposes but is there any benefit to forming an LLC just for this small business? I do understand that as the owner of the house I will be liable – but for tax purposes would it still be beneficial to form an LLC?

    Thank you!
    Sarah

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz February 27, 2019

      Hi Sarah, thanks! From a tax standpoint, there will be zero benefit. Meaning, by default, both a Single-Member LLC (1 owner) and a Multi-Member LLC (2 or more owners) will be taxed as a pass-through entity by the IRS. So the owner(s) of the LLC will report the income and expenses on their personal income tax return. This is no different that just operating as a “non-LLC” (that’s not an official term), such as a Sole Proprietor or a Partnership. Alternatively, if the LLC elected to be taxed as a corporation (LLC taxed as a C-Corporation or LLC taxed as an S-Corporation), there could be tax benefits, but those likely won’t apply unless the business’ net income was roughly $70k to $100k, or more. Likely not to occur with one listing.

      Will there be extra liability protection with an LLC in place? Possibly. It’s best practice to ask something like this of an attorney. While you can form an LLC and connect it to your Airbnb account as the host, if something happened and you were sued, the plaintiff’s attorney will likely sue both the LLC and the homeowner (or just the homeowner). Will you be held personally liable or will the LLC? Hard to tell. All based on the details. The typical “it depends” answer. Will you be okay with Airbnb’s built-in insurance and your extra insurance? More than likely. However, that’s just a generic hypothetical response. Hope that helps though.

      reply
  27. TJ Singer June 24, 2019

    Hi Matt,
    Very informative site, I’ve learned a lot.

    1) Starting a new business and when applying for a LLC can I use my “nickname” I go by for the last 40 years or do I have to use my legal name on the LLC paperwork?

    2) How difficult is it to change a 1 member LLC to a multi-member LLC after say a year and what would be the steps to take?

    3) I also own two properties and lease one of them out. I purchased my orig home over 20 years ago and have been leasing for over 6 years now. I am thinking of buying a 3rd home and leasing out the one I live in now. What are the difficulties in your opinion of forming a real estate LLC and getting the 2 “personal bought properties” under the LLC umbrella?

    Thanks for your time.

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz June 25, 2019

      Hi TJ,

      Thank you! That’s great to hear.

      1. It’s best to use your legal name.

      2. It’s a bit involved. This is the general overview:

      – review LLC Operating Agreement to check procedure for adding an LLC Member
      – create a Resolution discussion the decision
      – prepare an Assignment of Membership Interest Agreement (you have to sell a portion on your 100% interest to the new Member)
      – amend the LLC’s Operating Agreement
      – amend the Articles of Organization or equivalent form (if applicable) with the state
      – notify IRS of change in tax classification (in your case, LLC is going from Sole Proprietorship taxation to Partnership taxation)
      – file an update with the state Department of Revenue or equivalent (if applicable)
      – update bank account

      3. It depends if there are mortgages involved. If there are, it can be a bit more complicated. Overview is to transfer title of the home(s) from yourself to your LLC. The steps are best discussed with your title company and/or a real estate attorney. You may have to pay a transfer tax, or equivalent.

      reply
  28. Raj June 30, 2019

    Very nice information about LLC. Thanks a lot for your time and knowledge sharing.

    4 of us bought a property in ID and mortgage is on my name. We have created LLC is Wyoming with registered agent and in the process of creating child / Idaho LLC. Lender is OK to transfer the title to LLC. We are planning to link or list WY LLC as a member in ID LLC . So we will be in safe position if some tenents or visitors sue us. So here comes the question: no where mentioned 4 of our names listed in WY LLC official documents , so if any dispute arises between partners how to resolve? Does court allows plain operating agreement which we all have signed , look in to it and resolves the issue? Or do we have to legalize operating agreement for this matter?
    Thanks
    Raj

    reply
    • Matt Horwitz July 6, 2019

      Hi Raj, the LLC’s Operating Agreement doesn’t need to be “legalized” as it’s already legally binding. However, you can get it notarized if you’d like. The LLC Members aren’t listed on the Wyoming Articles of Organization so yes, the Operating Agreement is the document that governs the internal affairs of the LLC and can also be used for disputes among the Members. Once all the Members sign the Operating Agreement, they are agreeing to be bound by its terms. In resolving disputes, courts will first look at the Operating Agreement. If something applicable is not stated in the Operating Agreement, then state statute will apply. Hope that helps.

      reply

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