Unlocking the power of clients’ real estate: Why the bargain sale is a must-have in your charitable planning toolkit

Whether a nonprofit’s mission calls for office space, warehouse facilities, or something in between, most charitable enterprises need a physical location to serve their constituents. Unfortunately, nonprofit organizations are frequently left empty-handed when they search for competitively-priced commercial property to house their operations.

Enter the charitable bargain sale, a giving vehicle that allows a donor to facilitate the transfer of much-needed real estate to a favorite charity at a price the charity can afford, while at the same time earning the donor a tax deduction.

The bargain sale, frequently heralded as the earliest charitable giving vehicle, results in the real estate owner serving in both the role of a seller for the cash portion of the sale to a charity, and also in the role of a donor for the donated portion of the property.

As is the case with many types of charitable gifts, establishing fair market value of the subject real estate is critical and requires a qualified appraisal that complies with IRS regulations. Establishing the fair market value in turn determines the charitable donation portion, which is the difference between the fair market value and the lower cash amount paid by the charity to the donor/seller.

A post-pandemic world may create new opportunities for your clients to consider bargain sales of property to charities. Indeed, nearly $430 billion in commercial and multifamily real estate debt is set to mature this year, opening up conversations about what property is really worth and how owners can most efficiently unlock its value. And of course, bargain sales are not limited to commercial property. The U.S. housing market is estimated to have gained more than $2.5 trillion in value in 2020 alone, bringing the total value of housing in the U.S. to over $36 trillion.

This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal, accounting, or financial planning advice. If you have any questions or would like to discuss your giving strategy, please contact us.