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Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:25 am
by finfire
I have a neighbor who is selling their house. I was thinking of buying it.

I do not want them to know that I am the purchaser (long story, don't ask).

Is there a way to do this through the complete process?

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:32 am
by 4th and Inches
My general response is that yes you can. Here is my personal story from when I was a kid. My Dad owns a small residential home construction company in Nebraska. Occasionally he would get an offer he couldn't refuse for the house we were living in and we would sell it and move to another house my Dad built for us. Well one time when I was 15 (25 years ago) an offer my Dad couldn't refuse came up that was unplanned and the buyer needed our house before my Dad could build a new one. So the solution was that my parents bought a spec home from a direct competitor for us to live in for about 1.5 years while a new house was built. The competitor had zero idea of who bought the house until after the deal was done. So yes, it has been done, but I'm not sure about your situation. I would talk to a realtor.

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:36 am
by snackdog
I expect you can set up an LLC and use that name on all the paperwork. You can give a friend or attorney signature authority if a person needs to be present at the closing for signatures. Of course, your realtor will need to keep their mouth shut also.

If you are paying cash, you could have a friend do the deal and then just title it in your name after the sale.

You should speak to a local real estate attorney.

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:40 am
by 8foot7
This is fairly easy if you don't need a mortgage and probably next to impossible if you do need a mortgage unless you have a private banker willing to pull some strings.

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:42 am
by Turbo29
I helped someone do this who wanted to buy a restaurant. He didn't want anyone (other restuarants in the area) knowing he was buying it so I went in, asked if it was for sale, negotiated the price with another friend of his. It was 20yr ago so I don't remember exactly how we did it but at the last moment my name was removed from everything and his name was switched in. The other friend who helped said that large companies do this all the time.

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:46 am
by rascott
Sure, you setup an LLC and make the offer via that. If cash, may need proof of funds....which means setting up a bank account for the LLC, and putting the funds in there. Varies by state....but the online business registry is going to need a manager listed. So now you've got to get an attorney or some such person that can act on the behalf of the LLC.

If you need a lender, would need to be a commercial loan. Talk to some local bankers.

Really would need to discuss with an attorney best way forward in your state.

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:46 am
by Gill
Many ways to do this. Consult with a real estate attorney as to the best way for your purpose. How do you think Disney quietly acquired all the land around Orlando for Disney World? Certainly not by telling the citrus growers and cattle ranchers that Disney wanted their land!
Gill

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:48 am
by rascott
8foot7 wrote: Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:40 am This is fairly easy if you don't need a mortgage and probably next to impossible if you do need a mortgage unless you have a private banker willing to pull some strings.
I have obtained several commercial loans for properties held in LLCs. Not really that big a deal....will be personally guaranteed. Actually can be a much easier process than a traditional mortgage if you have a decent banker, as everything is in-house.

Terms worse (to much worse) than a conventional mortgage. Usually only fixed rate for 5-10 years, can have a balloon, etc....

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:51 am
by bsteiner
Either an LLC with someone else as registered agent and with someone else's address for the principal office or a revocable trust with someone else as the trustee.

You might ask the bank if they'll give the trustee a conventional mortgage loan if you guaranty the loan.

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:10 am
by finfire
Thanks all.

It would require a mortgage. I wish I could pay cash.

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:18 am
by rascott
finfire wrote: Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:10 am Thanks all.

It would require a mortgage. I wish I could pay cash.

Well if you really, really want to make it happen....do the LLC, get a commercial loan to close it (or some other loan). Then quit claim it back into your personal name and refi it as a conventional mortgage.

Going to cost some money to do all of this, pls ac decent amount of time. But maybe it's worthwhile. Must be quite a story on your neighborly relationship. Lol.

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:23 am
by adamthesmythe
finfire wrote: Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:10 am Thanks all.

It would require a mortgage. I wish I could pay cash.
Even with a cash purchase a seller often wants enough information about the seller to be confident that he will (can) close. Perhaps even more so if there is a mortgage contingency.

Your offer probably has a better chance of success if the market is slow in your area.

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:26 am
by sk2101
I have some experience with this. Set up a Delaware LLC and buy it using that entity. Give your attorney power of attorney to sign all documents, from the offer to the closing so your name and signature does not show anywhere.

ETA: not sure if that's important to you, but if you do the transaction this way you will lose the ability to claim FL Homestead exemption
ETA2: a mortgage taken through an LLC would usually have a little higher interest rate

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:38 am
by sk2101
Just thought of another idea, which is to use a trust. You could set up a trust in your benefit (or your descendants if you so wish), and name someone other than you as the trustee (you can change that later). The trustee will be the one signing the documents.
The house can stay in the trust forever until you sell it or pass it on to your heirs, and it is a good estate planning tool. Or, if you wish, the trust can make a distribution of the asset to you..
The good thing is that trusts are allowed to claim homestead exemption, which LLCs are not.
Talk to an estate planning attorney about this.

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:43 am
by fru-gal
sk2101 wrote: Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:38 am The good thing is that trusts are allowed to claim homestead exemption, which LLCs are not.
What happens if after purchase the LLC hands the title to the OP? Does he not get a homestead exemption then? I am assuming once the sale goes through and the neighbor has moved out of the area, there's no reason to hide the ownership.

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:45 am
by finfire
Trusts are common here. I do not know much about them but this was the way I was thinking of going. If anyone has more info regarding this route, let me know.

Homestead exemption will not apply.

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:49 am
by finfire
I should also say that if I buy this (via trust etc), I would rent it out.

Can I rent a house owned by a trust?

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:58 am
by renue74
rascott wrote: Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:48 am
8foot7 wrote: Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:40 am This is fairly easy if you don't need a mortgage and probably next to impossible if you do need a mortgage unless you have a private banker willing to pull some strings.
I have obtained several commercial loans for properties held in LLCs. Not really that big a deal....will be personally guaranteed. Actually can be a much easier process than a traditional mortgage if you have a decent banker, as everything is in-house.

Terms worse (to much worse) than a conventional mortgage. Usually only fixed rate for 5-10 years, can have a balloon, etc....
I've bought an office condo using an LLC before. Yes...had to be personally guaranteed.

BB&T bank had 15 and 30 year mortgages for this. Terms a little bit higher, but not much. YMMV

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:08 am
by dm200
finfire wrote: Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:25 am I have a neighbor who is selling their house. I was thinking of buying it.
I do not want them to know that I am the purchaser (long story, don't ask).
Is there a way to do this through the complete process?
Is this an all cash purchase?

After the anonymous purchase, down the road do you care if it is know that you. now, own the house?

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:10 am
by dm200
renue74 wrote: Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:58 am
rascott wrote: Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:48 am
8foot7 wrote: Mon Jul 29, 2019 9:40 am This is fairly easy if you don't need a mortgage and probably next to impossible if you do need a mortgage unless you have a private banker willing to pull some strings.
I have obtained several commercial loans for properties held in LLCs. Not really that big a deal....will be personally guaranteed. Actually can be a much easier process than a traditional mortgage if you have a decent banker, as everything is in-house.
Terms worse (to much worse) than a conventional mortgage. Usually only fixed rate for 5-10 years, can have a balloon, etc....
I've bought an office condo using an LLC before. Yes...had to be personally guaranteed.
BB&T bank had 15 and 30 year mortgages for this. Terms a little bit higher, but not much. YMMV
Wouldn't the ownership of the LLC be easily obtainable?

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:20 am
by johnnyc321
I would use a land trust with a third party as trustee.

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:21 am
by Ellie
dm200 wrote: Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:10 am Wouldn't the ownership of the LLC be easily obtainable?
Many (if not all) states allow you to hire a registered agent to be the "public" owner of the LLC and to receive all notices. This is what some companies do to hide their ownership interests.

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:25 am
by johnnyc321
LLCs require an initial and annual filing with the state in addition to extra costs, extra disclosures during sale. Land trusts (not to be confused with a revocable trust used for estate planning) are private and the privacy is protected by statute, which prevents any third party from receiving a copy of the trust. You can also obtain homestead protection through a land trust. You cannot get that through an LLC.

Moral of my story: Call a lawyer if this is important enough for you.

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:23 pm
by mchampse
A couple of questions:

1)Do you just want your neighbor to not know that you are the one making the offer or do you want them to never know that you own it?

2)What do you plan to do with the property? Rent it out? Live in it either by combining the two lots or selling/renting your current home?

If you are ok with them knowing you are the buyer eventually, you could look into whether a substitute buyer clause is standard in Florida. If you don’t want them to ever know and plan to rent it out, an LLC could help for both.

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:25 pm
by dm200
mchampse wrote: Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:23 pm A couple of questions:

1)Do you just want your neighbor to not know that you are the one making the offer or do you want them to never know that you own it?

2)What do you plan to do with the property? Rent it out? Live in it either by combining the two lots or selling/renting your current home?

If you are ok with them knowing you are the buyer eventually, you could look into whether a substitute buyer clause is standard in Florida. If you don’t want them to ever know and plan to rent it out, an LLC could help for both.
Yes - these factors come into play.

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:08 pm
by renue74
Ellie wrote: Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:21 am
dm200 wrote: Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:10 am Wouldn't the ownership of the LLC be easily obtainable?
Many (if not all) states allow you to hire a registered agent to be the "public" owner of the LLC and to receive all notices. This is what some companies do to hide their ownership interests.
Our state allows for a public agent to be listed. You can choose your attorney and they will receive all LLC correspondence.

But you know...with digging, I think my secretary of state website allows for me to pay $6 and download the Articles of Organization, which would have LLC members on it.

I'm sure there are ways to be anonymous. As others have said, consult your local attorney.

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:31 pm
by sk2101
dm200 wrote: Mon Jul 29, 2019 11:10 am Wouldn't the ownership of the LLC be easily obtainable?
Depends on the state. Try looking up a Delaware LLC.

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:32 pm
by sk2101
finfire wrote: Mon Jul 29, 2019 10:49 am I should also say that if I buy this (via trust etc), I would rent it out.

Can I rent a house owned by a trust?
Absolutely.

Caveat is that accountants love to charge a pretty penny to prepare trust tax returns, so be prepared for that. Or learn to DIY.

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 2:05 pm
by bsteiner
sk2101 wrote: Mon Jul 29, 2019 1:32 pm ... accountants love to charge a pretty penny to prepare trust tax returns ....
Revocable trusts (and most irrevocable trusts while the grantor is living) don't need to file tax returns.

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 3:27 pm
by finfire
mchampse wrote: Mon Jul 29, 2019 12:23 pm A couple of questions:

1)Do you just want your neighbor to not know that you are the one making the offer or do you want them to never know that you own it?

2)What do you plan to do with the property? Rent it out? Live in it either by combining the two lots or selling/renting your current home?

If you are ok with them knowing you are the buyer eventually, you could look into whether a substitute buyer clause is standard in Florida. If you don’t want them to ever know and plan to rent it out, an LLC could help for both.

1) Concerned about the offer and possibility of them knowing at time of signing. After I own it , I don't care if they know I own it.

2) Rent it out.

Re: Buying a house anonymously (Florida)

Posted: Mon Jul 29, 2019 7:36 pm
by snackdog
I once rented out a house next door to an older man and his wife. We became friendly and he told me that years earlier that the house I rented had a fence around the front yard which was full of barking dogs belonging to the then-current owner. The old man bought the house for cash the first opportunity he got, tore down the fence and landscaped the front yard, then flipped it. I think he tried to restrict any future fence building either via deed or sales clause. Hilarious.