real estate investment

Real Estate Investment Mini Portal

Posted Friday, September 22, 2023

We have written several different articles about various real estate investment considerations including cost segregation, fix and flips, short-term rental loophole, 1031 exchanges, among other things. As such we have created the real estate investment mini portal which is a collection of snippets from other content on our website.

Real Estate Investing

WCG receives about 1-2 emails or phone calls per week from people saying, “I am jumping into real estate investing and need some guidance.” Cool! But there are several paths to the coveted real estate investor name tag, and this article walks you through the common ones plus some other tidbits.

This article discusses

  • buy and holds
  • fix and flips
  • fix and hold (sometimes called fix and can’t sell, so BRRRR it up)
  • vacation rentals including the AirBNB Host Reporting Guide from H&R Block
  • short-term rentals
  • rent arbitrage (subleasing)
  • NNN leases
  • holding companies

We also do some light reviews of 1031 exchanges, real estate professional designation and cost segregation.

Real Estate Professional

If you are a real estate professional as defined by the IRS and you materially participate in your rental activities, you can claim 100% of your losses and you are not capped by passive loss limits. But wait! There’s more. When the Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) was introduced along with the Affordable Care Act, the real estate professional designation became an important tax planning tool all over again. Huh? The NIIT is charged on all portfolio (interest, dividends, capital gains) and passive activity income (rentals). However, if you are a real estate professional your rental income is no longer deemed strictly passive and as such is not being taxed by the net investment income tax of 3.8%. That could be huge!

So, how do you become a real estate professional? It is not enough to simply own rentals or have a real estate license. There is a two part test… hours spent and material participation.

Cost Segregation

How does all this black magic work? With a cost segregation report, all the bricks are figuratively torn down and put into different piles. Some piles are eligible for instant depreciation (unlike the hominy grits in My Cousin Vinny), one pile might be a 5-year pile and the remaining pile might revert to the 27.5- or 39.0-year typical rental or business use depreciation.

Technically and with full-on geek-speak, cost segregation separates property elements that are “dedicated, decorative or removable” from those that are “necessary and ordinary for operation and maintenance of the building.” These piles are called asset classes and they are maintained separately within your property’s depreciation schedule.

cost segregationThere is a depreciable property value of about $500,000 where things change. Below that value, the statistical reliability and therefore predictability is very good, and most cost segregation reports can rely on basic property vitals such as address, age, price, square footage, etc. Conversely, if your property is above $500,000ish, then a “full” cost segregation report is needed where a specialist with an appraiser’s mind analyzes every component of the property and essentially does the brick and pile thing mentioned above. Appliances, floor coverings, window treatments, among several weird things are considered 5-year property. Decks, driveways and landscaping are considered 15-year property.

In other words, you are identifying certain elements of the property that are eligible to be depreciated using a shorter period of time.

Are there pitfalls and problems? Yes.

Short-Term Rental Loophole

The general gist of the STR loophole is quite simple. If the average stay of your guests over the course of the tax year and only considering actual rented days is 7 days or fewer, then your rental activity is not deemed passive. Taking this one step further, and since your investment into the rental property is considered at-risk, losses from this type of activity are not limited and may be deducted against other sources of income such as W-2, K-1 from an S Corp, investment income, etc. Yay!

In our short-term rental loophole article we also discuss-

  • Passive Loss Limitations (Form 8582)
  • 39.0 Years for STR Depreciation
  • Schedule C versus Schedule
  • Gaming the System
  • The 7-Day Crackdown

Real Estate Investment Help

Do you need help with launching your real estate investment portfolio? Are you wondering if you qualify as a real estate professional? Not sure if spending $5,000 on a cost segregation report is worth it? Let’s chat!



    We typically schedule a 20-minute complimentary quick chat with one of our Partners or senior Tax Professionals to determine if we are a good fit for each other, and how an engagement with our team looks. Tax returns only? Business advisory? Tax prep + planning?


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