I get this question a lot so let’s clear it up.
Admittedly, there are several legal entitities to choose from.
LLC, S-Corp, Partnership, even you personally. Yes, you are considered a legal entity too!
I have to say this is not legal or accounting advice, but I can point you in the right direction based on great counsel I’ve received on this topic over the last 15 years of full-time investing.
The first thing I want to say is that I want you to be protected legally, but I DON’T want you to make the entity setup the priority for you. Make money first.
If you haven’t achieved getting a good contract signed from your leadflow yet, then you have a lead problem not a legal problem.
Investing in tax sales like we do is slightly different in that you are probably buying liens and it’s nice to register an entity with the county instead of your personal name, but many of you are in the “regular” lead flow arena.
So assuming you are actually getting leads and talking to sellers and getting contracts, THEN, the right answer you should be given is to ask a great CPA what is best based on YOUR financial situation.
Did I mean attorney? Isn’t CPA a typo? Nope.
All of the entity choices you have provide basically the same legal protection in that liability falls on the new entity and not you personally. The nuances are usually not important.
However, they differ significantly in how they are taxed. That means your entity choice is an ACCOUNTING question not a LEGAL question.
Get the CPA answer first, THEN get the attorney to agree or offer reasons why it’s not a fit for your case.
Most investors weren’t told this so they end up asking an attorney what is “best”, he gives advice, and off they go not realizing they could be costing themselves thousands of dollars in taxes.
With that said, we really like the LLC for it’s flexibiilty and lack of reporting burden to maintain the entity legal status.
No one wants a lot of administration hassles when they’re trying to get investments going and making money.
Speaking of hassles, I don’t recommend an LLC PER PROPERTY. This got traction years ago and has lingered as a viable option with some people.
I personally think it borders on paranoia, and it becomes expensive to manage the tax returns, bank accounts, the separate books,etc.
Even if you do what is called a “series” LLC, it doesn’t reduce it much. I’ve never found it helpful. If I feel I want higher liability, I get more insurance or a business insurance policy.
I’ve had plenty of legal challenges doing a lot of real estate over the years and an LLC or two to GROUP projects into buckets has been fine.
You can decide what grouping is best for your business model. At least flips vs holds (rental) should be held differently to help avoid your holds being labeled as merely delayed flips by the IRS should they audit you.
AFTER you’re making great money, you can start to explore cool structures like limited partnerships to go along with your living trust, irrevocable trusts, etc..to get more sophisticated in your tax avoidance strategies.
In our IAccelerate program this is usually one of the topics and we help get people tied into the right accounting people to get those kinds of things done. But again, be making solid money first.
Hope that helps you find the answer that’s right for you so you can focus on the important part, Investing!