If, Why, and How to Donate Real Estate to a Cause

Charity Begins at Home

Wondering how to donate a house?

Charitable donations can keep supporting your causes long after your lifetime. Gifts of land, homes, or easements make a lasting mark.

Of course, there are various reasons for real estate donations. Some donors are less interested in the cause than they are in offloading an investment property, or in getting out of the responsibility for an inherited home.

In any case, a gift deed can be used to donate to a non-profit organization or charity. Before committing to the decision, it’s important to know how to spot some key issues.

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Again, the White House Encourages Homeowners to Sell, and Renters to Buy. Is This Helping Anyone?

“For millions of Americans homeownership is a foundation for so many parts of their lives,” says the White House. “And for many it is also their primary source of wealth.” With this statement, the Biden administration has announced new actions to support homeownership.

Last year, the administration called its Housing Supply Action Plan “the most comprehensive all-of-government effort to close the housing supply shortfall in history.” An effort, yes. But is “all” the government in?

A year since the White House announced that plan, the typical listed home is now a luxury that most people can’t afford. We want to see real movement to increase homeownership — and, of course, that means more deeds. So we’re watching what the administration is doing. Here’s what we know.

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Digital Real Estate Titles? Watch What Wall Street Says About Blockchain

Some of Wall Street’s biggest banks — Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, the list goes on — are quietly integrating blockchain, the technology that spawned bitcoin, into their businesses. In fact, Wall Street firms have been experimenting with blockchain for years.

Regardless of what bitcoin does, blockchain technology will flourish. Tom Farley, ex-president of the New York Stock Exchange, says it will “rewire all financial services.”

Walmart Inc. has used blockchain in the company’s supply chain monitoring. In the world of deeds, some title companies have used it for recording homeownership, as the Wall Street Journal has reported.

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What’s Best in Retirement: Owning or Renting?

To transfer the deed or keep the deed? That is the question. And it tends to come up when retirement age approaches.

This phase of life often involves downsizing — to lower the household tax, insurance, and maintenance costs.

Paying off the home mortgage can net longtime owners enough to unlock some great options. Rent a nice space at a 55+ apartment property? Downsize? Explore life-plan properties? Or just stay home?

Let’s sort out some basic issues and questions related to each of these alternatives. 

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Blockchain for Good: Can Smart Contracts Play a Community-Building Role?

Holding the deed to real estate is long associated with stability and financial security. What if some of that security could be shared by — and build up— communities?

This article is a thought experiment. Let’s imagine how things could play out if local residents could invest small amounts in a building. How would this unfold? Could blockchain make community-based real estate investments happen?

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The “Post-MLS” Market: Is Being Your Own Agent the Future of Real Estate?

Some hopeful home buyers don’t want an agent. “Why, in the age of online marketplaces and bank apps,” they might ask…

“Can’t I find a home myself and make a deal with the owner?”

Some write to owners, asking who wants to sell person-to-person — no agents. No bidding wars. No agent commissions.

“And why not?” a seller asks. “Why should I list my home with the MLS (multiple listing service) gatekeeper? I’m not up to the task of putting my home on the market, but I would sell if the price were right!”

Where there’s a will, there’s an app — and a company called Galleon is seizing the moment.

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REALTORS® Reel From Burnett v. NAR Verdict

Bombshell Verdict Promises to Transform Home Sale Deals

At the end of October, a federal jury in Kansas City found some of the largest U.S. real estate players liable for inflating agent commissions. The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) and several large brokerages colluded to set commissions, the jury found. The verdict in the Sitzer/Burnett commission case says the defendants “conspired to require home sellers to pay the broker representing the buyer of their homes in violation of federal antitrust law.” Ouch.

Most U.S. homes are bought and sold, with commissions built in, through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which distributes home listings to popular real estate sites.

But now, a jury has told NAR, Keller Williams, and Berkshire Hathaway’s HomeServices of America to pay $1.78 billion in damages to many Midwestern home sellers — named plaintiffs who objected to the commissions.

The case could radically change U.S. home buying.

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Who’s Buying Into Rural Boom Towns—And What the Locals Think

There’s a new dynamic in real estate. Companies and people are moving to Indiana, Nevada, Nebraska, Georgia, and Tennessee. Change is happening in rural areas, as so many people have left the cities to live and work in the outskirts.

Counties in Florida and Idaho are dealing with similar growing pains. People have flocked to both states since the pandemic economy unfolded. Many of their counties’ home prices are rising. So are the property taxes.

Now, add in the major U.S. carmakers’ southern expansion to build electric cars and battery factories. It’s all new to some small towns.

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Indianapolis Rising: Where the Investor Buyers Are Going and Why

Some say the investment boom has fizzled. But mostly, it has changed tactics. Reacting to a sharp increase in the costs of mortgages, investors have shifted away from certain housing markets and into others.  

Investors are keeping deed recorders very busy in Indianapolis. Suddenly, Milwaukee is feeling the love, too. Columbus, Ohio? Yep, buyers are in.

Here, we check what markets the real estate investors are betting on now.

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Zoning It Up: “Downtowns Have to Evolve”

Since the pandemic unfolded, one of the most-used keywords for the way we live is flexibility.

Now, towns across the United States are asking if the old, rigid approach to zoning meets our evolving needs.

Take Seattle. There, the City Council has just decided to let condo and rental towers replace a string of struggling retail buildings along Third Avenue. The goal? Residential high-rises over storefronts. Taller towers (up to 440 feet — more than double Seattle’s prior height limit) will soon be allowed, as part of a downtown revitalization effort.

Councilmember Andrew Lewis summed things up: “Downtowns have to evolve.” The entire council agreed — though some still opposed this particular change, believing that it doesn’t go far enough in creating affordable units for the city’s downtown core.

That said, Seattle’s point is made. Struggling commercial downtowns are fair game to convert — at least partially — into residential zoning.

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