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Rental Condo subject to ground rent: is entire purchase price depreciable?

 
 
Susan B.
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      10-11-2013, 01:31 AM
I am evaluating a the purchase of a single family house in a beach resort community in Delaware to convert to a rental. The house is legally setup as a condominium and is subject to an annual ground rent payment. Since I would theoretically only own the inside of the condo and I don't own the land (hence, the ground rent), can I depreciate the entire purchase price without allocating any portion of the price to land? Thank you for your input.

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Alan
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      10-11-2013, 10:18 PM
On 10/10/2013 7:31 PM, Susan B. wrote:
> I am evaluating a the purchase of a single family house in a beach resort community in Delaware to convert to a rental. The house is legally setup as a condominium and is subject to an annual ground rent payment. Since I would theoretically only own the inside of the condo and I don't own the land (hence, the ground rent), can I depreciate the entire purchase price without allocating any portion of the price to land? Thank you for your input.
>

If you don't own any land, then the purchase price can't be allocated
between land and building. Therefore, your cost basis for depreciation
is what you paid.

Assuming we are dealing with nonredeemable ground rent, you can deduct
the expense as Rent on your Schedule E.

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Stuart Bronstein
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      10-12-2013, 04:19 AM
Alan <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> Susan B. wrote:


>> I am evaluating a the purchase of a single family house in a
>> beach resort community in Delaware to convert to a rental. The
>> house is legally setup as a condominium and is subject to an
>> annual ground rent payment. Since I would theoretically only
>> own the inside of the condo and I don't own the land (hence,
>> the ground rent), can I depreciate the entire purchase price
>> without allocating any portion of the price to land? Thank you
>> for your input.
>>

> If you don't own any land, then the purchase price can't be
> allocated between land and building. Therefore, your cost basis
> for depreciation is what you paid.
>
> Assuming we are dealing with nonredeemable ground rent, you can
> deduct the expense as Rent on your Schedule E.


My guess is that ownership of the condo includes membership in the
HOA, which is the owner of the land and everything other than the
condos per se, rather than OP paying rent for the land the condo
occupies.

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http://DownToEarthLawyer.com

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MTW
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      10-12-2013, 02:42 PM
On Thursday, October 10, 2013 6:31:39 PM UTC-7, Susan B. wrote:
> I am evaluating a the purchase of a single family house in a beach resort
> community in Delaware to convert to a rental. The house is legally setup
> as a condominium and is subject to an annual ground rent payment. Since I
> would theoretically only own the inside of the condo and I don't own the land
> (hence, the ground rent), can I depreciate the entire purchase price without
> allocating any portion of the price to land? Thank you for your input.


I've seen a couple of examples like this, where a condo was located on a long term ground lease. But neither were "rentals" so I didn't have to address the depreciation ramifications.

It seems to me that part of what you have purchased is the "right" to occupy the land on a long term basis, and that right is susceptible to valuation. And, presumably, whatever value was allocated to that would not be depreciable or amortizable.

I also note, in the examples I've seen, that the county assessor treated the condo owners as the "owners" of the land for property tax purposes. So each owner's property tax statement included an assessment for "land" and "building," just like it would if the condo owners actually owned the land.

So, without further research, if the latter was the case with respect to local property taxes, I would treat the condo purchase price likewise. That is, I would allocate it between land and building values, and the land portion would be nondepreciable.

MTW

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Stuart A. Bronstein
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      10-12-2013, 04:12 PM
MTW <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
> Susan B. wrote:


>> I am evaluating a the purchase of a single family house in a
>> beach resort community in Delaware to convert to a rental. The
>> house is legally setup as a condominium and is subject to an
>> annual ground rent payment. Since I would theoretically only
>> own the inside of the condo and I don't own the land (hence,
>> the ground rent), can I depreciate the entire purchase price
>> without allocating any portion of the price to land? Thank you
>> for your input.

>
> It seems to me that part of what you have purchased is the
> "right" to occupy the land on a long term basis, and that right
> is susceptible to valuation. And, presumably, whatever value was
> allocated to that would not be depreciable or amortizable.


If it's a lease, then the lease payments are deductible. If it's a
lump sum payment up front for a lease of a number of years, it
should be depreciable over that number of years.

It may be different in Delaware, but in California all the condos
I've seen include an indirect (though membership in the HOA)
ownership interest in the land and common areas.

> I also note, in the examples I've seen, that the county assessor
> treated the condo owners as the "owners" of the land for
> property tax purposes. So each owner's property tax statement
> included an assessment for "land" and "building," just like it
> would if the condo owners actually owned the land.


That may be a pro forma calculation unrelated to actual values or
conditions. If it's not, it may be reasonable to use those
figures.

--
Stu
http://DownToEarthLawyer.com

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Alan
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      10-12-2013, 05:32 PM
On 10/12/2013 8:42 AM, MTW wrote:
> On Thursday, October 10, 2013 6:31:39 PM UTC-7, Susan B. wrote:
>> I am evaluating a the purchase of a single family house in a beach resort
>> community in Delaware to convert to a rental. The house is legally setup
>> as a condominium and is subject to an annual ground rent payment. Since I
>> would theoretically only own the inside of the condo and I don't own the land
>> (hence, the ground rent), can I depreciate the entire purchase price without
>> allocating any portion of the price to land? Thank you for your input.

>
> I've seen a couple of examples like this, where a condo was located on a long term ground lease. But neither were "rentals" so I didn't have to address the depreciation ramifications.
>
> It seems to me that part of what you have purchased is the "right" to occupy the land on a long term basis, and that right is susceptible to valuation. And, presumably, whatever value was allocated to that would not be depreciable or amortizable.
>
> I also note, in the examples I've seen, that the county assessor treated the condo owners as the "owners" of the land for property tax purposes. So each owner's property tax statement included an assessment for "land" and "building," just like it would if the condo owners actually owned the land.
>
> So, without further research, if the latter was the case with respect to local property taxes, I would treat the condo purchase price likewise. That is, I would allocate it between land and building values, and the land portion would be nondepreciable.
>
> MTW
>

My original reply was based on this being nonredeemable ground rent.
Here is how I think this works.

First there is no right to occupy the land in the purchase price. That
right is in the lease for the land. Therefore, there is no allocation to
land of the purchase price.

The ground rent is either going to be redeemable or nonredeemable. If
nonredeemable, then the payments are rent. Rent is deductible on
Schedule E for business property and not deductible if personal use
property. If the ground rent is redeemable, then the property is
considered to be subject to a liability (a mortgage) and the rent is
deductible as mortgage interest. Personal use interest goes on Schedule
A. Business use interest goes on Schedule E. Lastly, if it is redeemable
ground rent, then there is a leasehold interest in the land. The
capitalized value of that interest is an INCREASE to the basis of the
property. As that basis relates to land.... it is not included in the
cost basis for depreciation.

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MTW
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      10-13-2013, 03:23 PM
On Saturday, October 12, 2013 10:32:26 AM UTC-7, Alan wrote:

> First there is no right to occupy the land in the purchase price. That
> right is in the lease for the land. Therefore, there is no allocation to
> land of the purchase price.


Alan -

I agree with your comments on redeemable and nonredeemable ground rents. But I believe the question of whether the original purchase price needs to be allocated is one of "facts and circumstances."

Consider the following example: A friend of mine recently purchased a small mobile home in a trailer park located in a popular beach community. The price he paid was probably 2.5 - 3 times the FMV of the trailer itself. No land included, but it did include the implied right to occupy the ground rent lot (nonredeemable) on an indefinite basis.

Now, why would someone pay such an "exorbitant" price? Because of the three magic words of real estate: location, location, location. :-)

So it seems to me he has actually purchased TWO things. One is the trailer itself, the other is the right to occupy the lot. His purchase was for personal purposes, so we don't have to worry about depreciation. But if this had been a purchase for business or rental purposes, I believe the maximum amount of the purchase price that could be depreciated would be the FMV of the trailer.

The excess of the price paid over that would, I believe, be allocated to some kind of an intangible asset (I call it "land", but if you don't like that, call it something else). Whether that intangible could be amortized for tax purposes would be a question for research. But it seems to me a pretty good argument could be made that it has an "indeterminate" life (regardless of any terms in the ground lease itself, since the expectation of all parties is that it will be renewed endlessly) and therefore would simply be a non amortizable capitalized cost.

So, back to our original question, can you depreciate 100% of the price paid for a condo just because no land is officially included in the price??? I don't think it's that easy. :-)

MTW

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Alan
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      10-13-2013, 10:16 PM
On 10/13/2013 9:23 AM, MTW wrote:
> On Saturday, October 12, 2013 10:32:26 AM UTC-7, Alan wrote:
>
>> First there is no right to occupy the land in the purchase price. That
>> right is in the lease for the land. Therefore, there is no allocation to
>> land of the purchase price.

>
> Alan -
>
> I agree with your comments on redeemable and nonredeemable ground rents. But I believe the question of whether the original purchase price needs to be allocated is one of "facts and circumstances."
>
> Consider the following example: A friend of mine recently purchased a small mobile home in a trailer park located in a popular beach community. The price he paid was probably 2.5 - 3 times the FMV of the trailer itself. No land included, but it did include the implied right to occupy the ground rent lot (nonredeemable) on an indefinite basis.
>
> Now, why would someone pay such an "exorbitant" price? Because of the three magic words of real estate: location, location, location. :-)
>
> So it seems to me he has actually purchased TWO things. One is the trailer itself, the other is the right to occupy the lot. His purchase was for personal purposes, so we don't have to worry about depreciation. But if this had been a purchase for business or rental purposes, I believe the maximum amount of the purchase price that could be depreciated would be the FMV of the trailer.
>
> The excess of the price paid over that would, I believe, be allocated to some kind of an intangible asset (I call it "land", but if you don't like that, call it something else). Whether that intangible could be amortized for tax purposes would be a question for research. But it seems to me a pretty good argument could be made that it has an "indeterminate" life (regardless of any terms in the ground lease itself, since the expectation of all parties is that it will be renewed endlessly) and therefore would simply be a non amortizable capitalized cost.
>
> So, back to our original question, can you depreciate 100% of the price paid for a condo just because no land is officially included in the price??? I don't think it's that easy. :-)
>
> MTW
>

I believe it is simple for the OP. He said the condo was in the State of
DE and involved the payment of ground rent. As such, there will be a
lease agreement for his use of the land. No allocation of his purchase
price need be made to the land or any other intangible asset.

As to your hypothetical, I am not aware of anything in the IRC that
requires an owner of "real property" to allocate a part of cost basis to
land not owned or to any intangible asset unless some part of the
purchase contract created a leasehold interest in the land.

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