Giving Real Estate

© Martin Harvey / WWF

Most people don’t think of using real estate when they consider making a charitable gift, but property such as a house, apartment, condominium or vacation home constitutes a significant percentage of many people’s assets—and can also be an important philanthropic planning tool.

As with most charitable gifts, real estate gifts can be tax deductible and may offer a number of personal and financial planning advantages. As with all charitable donations, you should consult with a financial or tax professional when considering making a gift of real estate.

Almost any type of marketable real estate, including a residence, vacation home, a farm, rental or commercial property, and undeveloped land, may be given to charity.

A current, outright gift of real estate would allow your gift to make a difference now and could generate significant tax and other savings.

Another option is to transfer property to a charitable trust. This could allow you and/or someone you name to receive income based on the full value of the property for life, or for a set number of years, and when the trust terminates, WWF will receive what remains.

In some cases, it is possible to give your home and continue to live in it for the remainder of your lifetime. This arrangement is called a retained life estate.

There are many benefits to giving real estate, and there are a number of factors to consider, such as: the type of property, your tax situation and your personal objectives. All these will help you and your advisors determine which strategy is most beneficial in your situation.

When considering a gift of real estate, keep the following in mind:

  • Because WWF will not be keeping the property you donate, instead using the proceeds to support our global conservation work, the property must be readily salable.
  • Taking advantage of certain tax benefits may require that you obtain an appraisal from a qualified appraiser.

Call us to discuss the gift you are considering. We will need to determine if a particular gift will work for us, and we will work with you and your advisor to ensure that the gift is appropriate for WWF while meets your charitable and personal objectives. You should also discuss your plans with your financial advisor or attorney.

Questions & Answers About Giving Real Estate

Q. What type of real estate can I give?

A. You can give almost any type of marketable real estate, including a residence, vacation home, rental or commercial property and undeveloped land. If you own readily marketable property, you might consider donating it to WWF, either now or through your future estate plans. Please note that real estate received by WWF will be sold, with proceeds used to fund WWF’s global conservation efforts.

Q. How can I give property?

A. There are many ways to give real estate to WWF. The type of property, your tax situation and your personal objectives will determine which strategy is most appropriate.

An outright gift of real estate allows your gift to make a difference now and could result in up-front tax savings and other financial benefits.

Another option is leaving real estate to WWF as part of your will or living trust. This may offer you an efficient way to make a significant future gift without impacting your current situation.

Q. Is there a way to make a gift of real estate and receive an income in return?

A. Yes. Some donors choose to transfer donated property to a charitable “split interest” trust.

Working with your financial advisor, you may be able to set up a trust that pays out income to you or a beneficiary for life or for a set number of years based on the full value of the property, with remaining value going to WWF when the trust terminates.

Q. Can I give my residence and still continue to live there?

A. In some cases it is possible to give your home or farm and continue to live there for the remainder of your lifetime. This arrangement is called a retained life estate and may allow you to receive an immediate income tax deduction while continuing to enjoy use of the property for your life or another pre-determined period of time before ownership is transferred to WWF.

Q. What are the advantages of making a gift of real estate?

A. Some of the main advantages are:

  • Depending on the timing and type of gift, you may be able to claim an income tax deduction based on the full current value of the property and avoid capital gains tax on increases in the property’s value since you acquired it.
  • If you own income property, you may be able to maintain or increase your income while eliminating management responsibilities.
  • If given through your estate plan, you may reduce or eliminate any estate tax due.
  • Provide you with a way to make a large, meaningful gift to WWF that provides advantages to you and supports programs you care about.

To Summarize:

When considering a gift of real estate, keep the following in mind:

  • The property must be readily salable.
  • To meet IRS requirements, you will need to obtain an appraisal from a qualified appraiser.
  • The exact tax savings depends on your specific situation.

More Information

Contact us to discuss the gift you are considering. We will work with you to ensure that your gift meets your charitable and personal objectives, as well as ours. You should also discuss your plans with your financial advisor or attorney.