How To Sell an Investment Property for a Loss

With the recent economic meltdown, employees were laid off and lost their jobs. These people not only have families to feed and children to send to school but also have homes that are mortgaged. Some people had even bought big homes naturally financed by big equity loans while the prices were still inflating. Who would have thought of this recession a few years back?

If you ever find yourself and your family in this situation, here's what you should do to get a tax write-off for losses you have incurred on investment property:

  1. Know your basis. Determine the base variable that you will use to calculate gains and losses. Get the sum of all the buying expenses like title insurance, escrow fees, commissions, transfer of title and deed preparation, termite inspection etc. After you get the amount, add it to the price that you paid in buying the property.
  2. Know your adjusted basis. More often than not, homeowners install improvements to the property after moving in. Calculate all the expenses that you have incurred in making all the renovations and add them to the basis that you have already computed in the first step.
  3. Sell the property. You may sell it directly by doing all the legwork, like advertising and all, but it may take some time before you make a deal. An option would be to find a real estate agent or property sale consultant to help you.
  4. Determine the depreciation rate of your property. The amount of depreciation is calculated according to the length of existence of the property. A certified public accountant may help you in finding the appropriate depreciation amount. You have to use the total amount of depreciation, which is taken in tax returns over the years that you had the property.
  5. Compute for the sale expenses. This will include all your expenses while making the sale, like real estate agent commissions and advertising.
  6. Adjust your basis. You will need to add the sale expenses to the adjusted cost basis.
  7. Compute for losses. This will be the sum of your property's total depreciation and sales price, which is then subtracted from the new adjusted basis.
  8. Assure yourself that there is a loss. The sum of the adjusted cost basis and the expense of sale should be greater than the gross sale price plus the rate of depreciation.
  9. File IRS Form 4797. This is otherwise known as the Sale of Business Property and just informs the government that you are disposing of the property.

Now, with the burden of keeping the family's finances intact and reducing expenses, one of the solutions would obviously be to sell the house, even at a loss. Selling an investment property at a loss happens when the mortgage exceeds the actual net sale price. Aside from the possibility of still owing money to the bank, there is also the need to pay unexpected income taxes.


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