By reading this article you are either a real estate investor or an aspiring real estate investor. You have surely talked with people discussing LLCs (Limited Liability Companies.) One of the struggles investors run into is finding reliable information that they can trust. Learning about the benefits of forming an LLC is no different. Today I will tackle how to start an LLC. I will also list the risks involved in operating an LLC. After all, knowing the weaknesses of an entity can allow you to build a stronger strategy. This allows you to sleep well at night knowing all your bases are covered. Benefits of an LLC There are many benefits to using a LLC as the foundation of your real estate business. The most important benefit is that this entity limits liability and minimizes personal exposure in the event of a lawsuit. When a LLC owns a property it will be responsible for the property in court, not you. If the lawsuit it lost, the losses are limited to what is in the LLC. Avoids the issue of “double taxation.” The LLC gives you the ability to file the property as a pass-through entity. You list any profits, or losses, on your personal tax return. But LLCs are flexible! They can be taxed differently depending on your needs. See our article on the tax benefits of the LLC for more. The LLC can be formed and operated in all 50 states and is uniformly upheld across the United states. You can choose to form a LLC in your local state or in a any other state, depending on your needs. A LLC can also function as a “operating company.” Sometimes also referred to as a “shell company.” Using a LLC in this way allows investors to limit their exposure even further! Utilizing a LLC as an operating company means that it holds the liability for your business operations. The difference is that you don’t place any assets in it. When it gets involved in a lawsuit you aren’t risking your properties, just your LLC. This article and video explains what this structure will look like. Risks of an LLC There is no “perfect” business entity, and the LLC is no exception to this rule. The important thing is to understand its strengths AND weaknesses to ensure your asset protection strategy is effective. Most LLCs will have an annual fee and corporate management requirements. This will vary from state-to-state, so be sure to know what your state requires. You need to form and operate the LLC to ensure it provides the liability protection you want. If you don’t form and operate the LLC properly, you are investing into an entity that does not protect you! This type of work needs to be done right the first time. You can also pay someone experienced who will file the entity and teach them you how to operate it right from the start. The LLC will require separate banking, records and tax returns. This is to ensure that you are able to prove it operates separately from you. This also means more work for you. Once you get the hang of these entities it is very simple, but the learning curse can be rough. All properties owned by a LLC are held in a “pool,” and are not protected from each other. This is why we recommend that investors with more than a single investment property use the series LLC instead.