Picture this… You’re about to sell your house and retire to Florida. The documents are signed, movers are hired, and all you need to do now is confirm that the title company’s wire has hit your account. You receive a call from the closer that the funds have been wired. You check your account—no wire.
An hour goes by, then two, then twenty-four hours, then two days. When you ask the title company to confirm the wire instruction from “your” email, you discover to your horror that the wire instructions “you” sent were not from you, but from a hacker who got into your email, found out you were selling your house, and sent fake instructions to the title company.
This has happened before and will almost certainly happen again. But it doesn’t have to if you are diligent and careful.
The commercial real estate market breathed a sigh of relief when President Trump’s new tax bill, Public Law 115-97, preserved the use of 1031 transactions for commercial real estate properties.
Let’s review what a 1031 Like-Kind Exchange is defined by the IRS:
Whenever you sell business or investment property and you have a gain, you generally have to pay tax on the gain at the time of sale. IRC Section 1031 provides an exception and allows you to postpone paying tax on the gain if you reinvest the proceeds in similar property as part of a qualifying like-kind exchange. Gain deferred in a like-kind exchange under IRC Section 1031 is tax-deferred, but it is not tax-free.
With the domestic commercial real estate market thriving, income-producing real properties are being exchanged again with increasing popularity. Congress did not allow the continuation of 1031 exchanges for personal property, such as vehicles, jewels, and stocks, but the capital gains tax will continue to be deferred when parties exchange like properties—as long as the strict 1031 rules are met.
As a result, in this increasingly active real estate market, we are witnessing a revival of 1031 exchange transactions at our firm.
Over 300,000 new people became Florida residents in 2017, continuing a growth trend that shows no signs of slowing. With the new tax act squeezing many residents of high tax states in the northeast, the trend of continued population growth in the sunshine state is only expected to rise in 2018. Many new residents purchase new homes or convert their previous vacation or second homes in Florida into their primary residence. If this purchase or conversion is completed by December 31, those new residents may be eligible to apply for a Florida Homestead Exemption the following year.
Florida has two types of homestead:
The first is set forth in the Florida Constitution under Article X, Section 4, which is an automatic provision to protect homeowners from claims of creditors or spouses who exclusively hold title, and to insure that a surviving spouse is not made homeless. This protection is automatic based upon purchasing a house, condominium or cooperative and making it your primary residence.
The second form of homestead is known as the Homestead Exemption, and it is also set forth in the Florida Constitution under Article VII, Section 6, which provides a financial exemption from real property taxation of up to $50,000 in home value. Additional exemptions are available for veterans over 65, low income senior citizens, surviving spouses of a veteran or first responder that died in the line of duty, and certain disabled persons.
There has been a lot of talk recently about the Tax Reform Act that was passed by the Federal government and primarily deals with income tax. However, there has also been recent activity with a different type of taxes, real property taxes. In December of 2017 the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Florida issued an opinion in the case of Jenifer E. Calendar v. Stonebridge Gardens Section III Condominium Association that dealt with the distribution of surplus funds from a tax sale of an owner’s condominium unit.
Owners of real property have an obligation to pay their property taxes each year. If they do not, the Tax Collector holds an auction for a tax certificate sale to pay off the delinquent taxes. The successful bidder at the auction is issued a tax lien certificate. This entitles the holder of the certificate a lien on the property and interest on the lien. If the tax lien certificate and accrued interest is not paid off within two years, the holder of the certificate may force a public auction of the property. This is called a tax deed sale. At the tax deed sale, the winning bidder purchases the property. The tax lien certificate holder is paid, and any remaining lienholders and the prior property owner may apply for any excess funds. Continue reading →
Summer break has come to an end, and children have started school again. In South Florida this means that “season” is right around the corner. Season is the time of year when many snowbirds come down to avoid the cold winter, as well as many international folks who are involved in the equestrian community. It is the perfect time when investors, and others who vacate their homes for a few months, provide housing for those coming down for season as they can usually obtain a good rental premium.
While seasonal renting can be lucrative for landlords, it is important that they are protected while doing so. A well-written lease agreement that protects a landlord is a must. A useful tip for landlords with seasonal rentals, as well as yearly rentals, is to try to obtain the entire rental amount up front or as much as possible. Besides the obvious benefit of collecting the money at the beginning and not wondering if the tenant will make the next payment or not, there is another benefit as well. Should the lease need to be terminated, say because the tenants throw an unruly party, if the lease is properly terminated by the landlord, the landlord could be entitled to keep the remaining amount of money that was paid for advanced rent. Continue reading →