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Can i sell a house for one dollar?

Oak Forest, IL |

I want to sell a house to my future son-in-law. then after remodeling the home he will sell it for market value. how long does he have to wait to resell the house?

Attorney Answers 2


You can sell your house for one dollar, but the difference between the fair market value of the house and the $1 is considered a gift, for which you will have to file a federal gift tax return. Then when the buyer sells the house he will have to pay capital gains tax on the profit over the $1. An exception applies if he lives in the house for two years, after which he can exclude up to $250,000 in gain ($500,000 if married). I urge you to consult with a tax attorney before completing this transaction.

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From a real estate perspective, you can do so. Your question, however, has important tax ramifications and you each should consult your tax practitioner (CPA or attorney) to review the best options.

This will be considered a gift, which raises gift tax questions. You can exclude a certain amount of gifts each year, but a gift tax return will need to be filed. If it can be done to more than one person, for example your daughter and future son-in-law, then you can exclude more. If it can be done from more than one person, for example you and your spouse, if married, you can again double the exclusion. Even if the home is not currently titled in both you and your spouse's name, this can be done because gifts to your wife can be excluded, so you can move the property into both names and then make the gifts to the child(ren). You may also find a way to spread this out over at least two years. So, for example, you may deed a fractional interest to the two of them this year and the remaining fractional interest on January 1. Depending on the value of the property, you may be able to avoid a lot of tax consequences by having a professional, familiar with these laws and their regulations and exceptions, advise you more fully. You should not risk the potential tax consequences of doing this on your own.

When the property is resold with improvements, capital gains will be an issue. Considerations for minimizing gains include keeping good records of the costs of improvements, maintaining the property as a residence for some time before selling, reinvesting the proceeds into another investment (IRS procedures need to be adhered to perfectly).

Your best avenues would need to be reviewed in a face to face consultation with your professional adviser.

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