If you’re preparing to invest in real property in the U.S. Virgin Islands, chances are you’ve been saving for quite some time to get to the point where you can make your purchase. With the amount of time and effort you’ve put into your savings and into researching the property you’ve purchased, it’s important you take whatever steps you can to protect that investment, as well as the assets you already have.
With this in mind, here are some asset protection tips that can benefit you as a real estate investor whenever you make a new purchase.
Property and casualty, as well as general liability insurance is absolutely critical for protecting any investment you make in property. This obviously includes homeowner’s insurance, which is often a prerequisite for the transaction to be able to go through at all. But if you have a larger real estate portfolio, it can also be beneficial for you to look at increased liability insurance coverage. You can also add on specific coverages such as flood insurance or earthquake insurance—these coverages are often not included in standard property insurance policies.
Asset protection through debt is one of the cheaper forms of asset protection you have available to you. If you do not have much equity in the home, that means there isn’t much for creditors to come after. There are some investors who purposefully put the maximum amount of debt against their property for this purpose—pulling equity out of their properties and then utilizing that money to reinvest in more real estate with almost little to no money down.
This can be a tricky strategy, and if you intend to employ it it’s a good idea to have expert guidance. But doing so can give you access to more tax write-offs from real estate debt and also allow you to maintain liquidity through other assets rather than tying everything up in your real estate portfolio.
Some investors choose to form LLCs to hold their properties and limit their own personal liability against potential lawsuits. It is typically not recommended to have multiple properties in one LLC, because should any one property in the LLC be subject to a lawsuit, the other properties could also be at risk by association. Typically investors will place property into a land trust that then gets transferred into an LLC.
Keep in mind that there is an initial cost associated with setting up an LLC, and then ongoing costs associated with maintaining it. LLCs are also a matter of public record. Depending on your goals and your financial circumstances, you might find it a better idea to simply own fewer properties and control them under your name or through a trust instead.
These are just three of the most common asset protection strategies that exist for real estate investors. For more advice, contact a skilled real estate attorney in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Tom Bolt is Managing Attorney of BoltNagi PC, a full service law firm in St. Thomas U.S. Virgin Islands.