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Physician’s Acquiring Real-Estate

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Real estate can be acquired by physician-investors, even in these difficult times, in many different ways. For example, through direct purchase, participation in a real estate partnership vehicle with other investors [such as general partnerships, limited partnerships, various corporate entities, and, in most states, limited liability companies (LLCs), and investments in real estate securities such as Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs).

Section 1031

Real estate also can be acquired through tax-deferred exchanges under Section 1031 of the IRS Code, in which a client “trades” one investment property for another, deferring the taxes due on the sale of the exchanged property. This allows the doctor to reinvest “pre-tax” dollars in another real estate investment, potentially benefiting from appreciation on the larger investment. The physician may also exchange one larger property into two or several smaller properties and pay tax consequences on each one as those properties are sold as cash is needed.

Tax and Risk Management

The way a physician takes ownership of real estate will affect the tax treatment of income and profit. For example, having an LLC-owned investment property will provide him/her with the same protection from individual liability as a corporation, while allowing him/her to have much more favorable tax treatment. Real estate can be bought directly by purchasing it in the following manners:

1. Paying cash,

2. Paying a cash down payment and acquiring a loan,

3. Paying cash to the seller who is financing, or

4. Financing the purchase by using either new real estate financing, seller financing, or credit borrowing when a lender is willing to loan solely on the strength of, and the financial statement of, the borrower, or a combination of these.

Trading and Secured Loans

Real estate also can be acquired by trading other valuable assets, sometimes in combination with financing. A client can obtain interests in real estate by making loans on real estate assets that are secured by a deed of trust or a mortgage. Another method is to invest as a participating lender. In such an instance the borrower needs to agree to provide equity kickers or participation in cash flow whereby the lender (doctor) can benefit directly from the real estate performance.fp-book21

Equity Participation Plans

With an equity participation, the physician-investor can profit or gain from the sale of the property, sometimes in a preferential manner (i.e., the money the doctor loaned is returned, with interest, and a predetermined percentage or portion of the gain is given to the owner/borrower before distribution of the sales proceeds). Similarly, the doctor can participate in annual cash flow, giving a fixed or a fluctuating amount depending on the performance of the investment. As a lender, many of the benefits of ownership of real estate are not available to the MD, but the doctor should have a security interest in the property and no direct responsibility for operation of the real estate investment. Also, if possible, the borrower should provide additional guarantees of performance. The borrower could do this by providing additional security, such as the deeds of trust on the borrower’s house, other real-estate, and the acquired property; bank letters of credit; or guarantees of performance from people other than the party to whom the money is originally loaned.archway


If a physician-investor is considering acquiring or lending on real estate, s/he should check with his professional advisors, including accountants and attorneys, before proceeding. The doctor’s attorney should review any contracts or agreements before the client signs anything. The physician also will need a due diligence review to ascertain both the relative values of the real estate on which money is being loaned and the borrower’s track record and background.


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