If you are a high net worth individual or are a high-income earner, you should consider real estate for these four reasons: tax benefits, passive income, long term asset appreciation, and leverage. Real estate is currently on the forefront of everybody’s radar since the last the crash in 2008-2010. But has anyone ever explained why it is such a wealth building and income protecting investment vehicle?
No? Well, as an investor and an attorney I routinely advise clients on real estate issues and help them with their investments. In this article I will explain to you why real estate should be part of your investment portfolio and why you should get in now while the market is cooling.
REAL ESTATE AND TAXES
Real estate is one of the few asset classes with multiple tax benefits that are under appreciated by financial advisors. Why? It could be that financial advisors don’t make a commission on them or that you actually do not need a financial advisor to get into real estate. Not to diminish the role of your advisor but you do not need a financial advisor to understand these tax benefits of real estate.
- Real Estate is Depreciable. Yes, you can depreciate residential real estate over 27.5 years and commercial real estate over 39 years. 26 USC Section 179 allows for the depreciation of real estate over the life of the asset class, and in the case of real estate, you can take a $500,000 residential property and depreciate it over 27.5 years. This means that you can deduct $18,181.81 each year in depreciation.
- Real Estate Capital Gains Can Be Deferred. Under Section 1031 of the Tax Code, if you hold a property for the requisite holding period, which is not defined in the Tax Code, you can sell that property via a like-kind-exchange using an intermediary to hold the funds while you identify a new property or properties within 45 days and close on those identified targets within 180 days. This allows you to defer capital gains taxation and forebear depreciation recapture while buying larger and, hopefully, better cash flowing real estate assets. Thus, this tax mechanism allows the investor to take their profits and leverage those into more assets thereby growing the real estate portfolio in a tax efficient manner.
- Cost Segregation. Depreciation of the real property can be accelerated by using cost segregation studies to break the assets into its various parts that fall under separate classes to allow the individual components to be depreciated over 5,7, or 15 years. This allows the property’s components to be utilized in a tax efficient manner instead of using the 27.5 or 39 year class life of the entire asset. A net result of a cost segregation study is to accelerate the depreciation to allow for more Section 179 depreciation to be taken earlier in the asset’s life.
While more tax nuances can be discussed, these are the tax benefits that high net worth individuals should look into. Additionally, by working with a sophisticated lawyer who understands the needs of the individual and their goals, tax losses can be carried forward to future years.
REAL ESTATE AND PASSIVE INCOME
Whether using long term residential real estate, commercial storage units, short term residential real estate or apartment syndication deals, real estate allows the owner and investor to take a passive role in the management of their real estate by utilizing property managers.
The use of property managers provides the investor with the peace of mind that their investment is in good hands for day-to-day matters such as maintenance, and that their tenants are safe in the knowledge that they have someone to turn to in the event a need arises. Moreover, for the cost of the monthly management fee, ranging from 3-40% of the monthly gross rents, higher percentages are usually found with short term rental management and lower fees with long term residential property management, there is no need to worry about late night phone calls about a clogged toilet.
Property managers will also ensure the yard is maintained, the utilities are being paid, the tenants are of the caliber desired, and any marketing efforts to rent the properties are being undertaken to ensure maximum rental potential. At the end of each month, a revenue statement is generated by the property manager, and a check or direct deposit is provided into the bank account the investor designates. A true passive investment.
ASSET APPRECIATION AND LEVERAGE
While your tenant is paying the rent each month or in the case of short-term rentals, multiple tenants, the note held by the investor is being paid down. Historically, real estate appreciates in value so the asset is increasing in value. As the asset increases in value and the debt is being paid down, the investor is receiving the benefit of equity growth. It is with that equity growth that the value of real estate cannot be overstated.
By tapping into the equity growth through a refinance or an equity line of credit, the investor can leverage that internal equity to purchase additional real estate. The additional real estate purchases allow the investor to generate more cash flow, and more tax benefits. Regardless of the asset type, short term, long term or commercial real estate, the benefits to the investor are tangible in the form of tax deductions while maintaining monthly cash positive receipts.
While many investors are looking at the current real estate market, it would be well worth their long-term goals to consider real estate as a supplement to their financial portfolio. As iconic long term investor Warren Buffet said, “Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful.”
Written by Brian T. Boyd, Esq.
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