Last updated on October 19th, 2023 at 07:31 am

Quick Facts:

  • Yes you can, and the most common reason for selling a house for $1 is to transfer the property to a family member.
  •  In some states, a homeowner may be able to sell a house for $1 to avoid paying transfer taxes.
  • It can be used as a way to transfer a property to a charity or other non-profit organization.
  • It an also be used as a way to avoid foreclosure.
  • According to the IRS, the filing threshold for an estate in 2023 is $12,920,000.

The idea of selling your house for just $1 may sound too good to be true, but it can actually be done.

However, before you jump into this option, it is important to weigh the pros and cons that come with it.

We will explore every aspect of selling a house for $1 – from understanding the legal implications to minimizing risks and avoiding inheritance tax.

We will also look at relevant statistics about this trend in 2023. 

So whether you’re looking to sell your house quickly or are simply curious about this option, read on to learn everything you need to know about selling a house so cheap.

Although it’s legal to sell your house for $1, it may not be financially wise due to potential tax implications.

Consult with a real estate agent or attorney before making the decision.

Additionally, selling for $1 won’t credit score and future mortgage eligibility (assuming your house it paid off).

When might someone sell a house for one dollar

Selling for so cheap may seem strange, but there are several situations where it could be beneficial.

  • One common reason is in cases of charitable giving. Donating a home to a charity and selling it can result in a significant tax write-off for the donor.
  • Selling a house for one dollar may be done in situations where a family member is transferring ownership to another family member, as well as in cases where it’s required by law or court order, such as in divorce settlements or probate proceedings.The family member might be a child.
  • Other situations might include when renovations are too costly or when the property is distressed or is in bad shape.

Gifting a house to a family member

Transferring ownership of a property to a family member for $1 is a common occurrence, with many choosing this option to avoid inheritance tax or to help out a loved one.

Quick note:

If you use a gift letter, you will want to include the exact amount plus other important information

Cons of Gifting a Home

One of the potential downsides is the loss of control over the property, which may not be ideal if the person who receives the home decides to sell or mortgage it without consulting you.

For example, if you sell the house to a person, but you have an agreement to live there, they can still  sell the house and force you out!

Another issue is the potential strain on family relationships, which happen all the time in these situations. 

Many family members may become jealous. 

Donating a house to charity

Giving back to the community is a noble act, and donating a house to charity can be a great way to do so.

By selling their home well under market value, homeowners can receive tax deductions for the full market value of the property while supporting a worthwhile cause.

However, it’s important to work with reputable non-profit organizations , as fraudulent charities that take advantage of vulnerable people do exist.

Homeowners should also thoroughly research potential charities before entering into this sort of agreement.

Another downsize for the seller

$1 houses can generate buzz and attract potential cash home buyers, making it an effective marketing strategy.

A dollar sale can help the seller get rid of a property quickly, but its financial implications must be taken into account before proceeding with such a transaction.

There may be tax complications that need to be considered such as gift tax return, capital gains tax, exemption, estate tax exemption, and lifetime exemption.

The IRS website has detailed amounts for the estate tax. And here is form 709 for the United States gift tax

More on taxes below.

Sellers should also consider fair market value when pricing their home and avoid listing it too low to avoid triggering IRS scrutiny.

How Estate taxes can affect the sale

Estate taxes won’t affect most people.

An estate tax, also known as an inheritance tax or death tax, is a tax placed on the estate of a deceased person. 

It is usually based on the total value of the deceased person’s assets at the time they pass away.

According to Foley, gift and estate tax exemption is $12.92 million ($25.84 million per married couple)

What the IRS says about selling houses

Property sales for $1 can have significant tax implications that need to be considered before making any decisions.

The IRS may view the transaction as a gift, which could lead to gift taxes being imposed on you.

According to the IRS, the donor is most likely party to pay the gift tax. 

For 2023; the maximum amount for exclusions is $17,000 for an individual, and $34,000 from two spouses. 

This doesn’t mean the recipient will owe taxes on the home.

Let’s say your parents sold you their house for one dollar,  but they paid $250,000 for it 20 years ago. The cost of the home for you will now be $250,000 even though it may be worth $600,000 today.

Then you will possibly have to pay capital gains taxes on that home if you ever to sell it. Your cost basis will be $250,000.

There are amounts you can exclude from your gains of your sale!

There is also a definition for “fair market value” and how it is determined.

To minimize or avoid these taxes, certain exemptions and exclusions may apply, such as fair market value, lifetime exemption, and tax basis.

A real estate attorney or tax professional can assist you throughout this process.

By doing so, you can ensure that you make an informed decision about whether selling your home for $1 is a good idea or not.

Do I need Title Insurance

Yes, even if the sales price is one dollar, a real estate transaction like this needs to make sure there aren’t any liens or other issues that may create issues in the future. Using title insurance is a best practice. 

The cost of title insurance in Texas is under $1000, check rates here

Property Inheritance

$1 home sales can have both legal and tax implications that can be quite complex.

For instance, if you inherit a property, you may need to navigate through the estate laws and taxes.

While selling your home this way has its benefits, like avoiding real estate commissions and achieving a quick sale, be aware of all the tax implications involved.

Can You Avoid inheritance tax

Yes you can, but your not guaranteed to avoid inheritance tax and it can vary by location.

An attorney or financial advisor, accurately assess the property value, paying taxes,  and consider all implications before making any decisions regarding inheritance tax.

Are there any legal restrictions on this type of home sale

No, there aren’t any laws in any states about what price you can sell your house for.

What are the seller's obligations

The seller must disclose any issues with the property and document the transaction to avoid misunderstandings. 

There might be real estate commission involved.

If it is just $1, you may have to compensate the broker or buyers agent out of your own pocket.

Are There Any Risks in Selling

Yes, there might be tax issues. 

This could also cause buyers to question if there is something wrong with the house.

Are there major repairs needed or is something else going on.

Would it have any negative impact on the owner's credit score

Selling a property shouldn’t lower the owner’s credit score. 

Credit scores are usually factored in by other parameters including payment history, credit utilization, length of credit history, types of credit accounts, and new credit applications.

So selling a house shouldn’t impact your score.

Who would be interested in buying a house for $1

  • Real estate investors and property flippers 
  • Other realtors 
  • Low income buyers
  • Charities and non-profits
  • DIY enthusiasts
  • First time buyers
  • Property developers

What are the possible implications for the property's resale value if it is sold for $1

Severe Devaluation: Selling a property for $1 signals that it may be vastly devalued, which can negatively impact its resale value. If potential buyers know the property was sold for $1, they may assume that the value is low and offer significantly less than market price.

Perception of value: Selling a property at this lower price may lead potential buyers and the market to question the true value of the property.

It may create a perception that there are significant issues or flaws with the property, which could make it less attractive to future buyers. This perception can impact the property’s resale value negatively.

Comparable sales:

Appraisers and real estate agents often use recent comparable sales (comps) in the area to determine the market value of a property. 

Selling homes under market value like this could distort the local market data and affect the appraised value of neighboring properties, potentially leading to lower appraisals and resale values.

This may anger your fellow neighbors if they try and sell their home at full market value.

However, if this was an off market sale and was not listed on the multiple listing service, this won’t affect any comps. 

Final Take-aways

It is certainly possible to sell a house for cash and for a cheap price, but it comes with both pros and cons.

For the individual that just got a cheap home and did it without any negotiation, congratulations. 

If you have a house you want to sell off MLS ,or without a realtor, there are plenty of buyers who pay cash for houses in Fort Worth out there. 

It may seem like an attractive option to avoid inheritance tax or to get out of a difficult financial situation.

However, there are legal obligations and potential risks that must be considered before making such a decision. 

  • If you were gifted the home, you are going to have to pay property taxes 
  • Also if you ever decide to sell the home, your cost basis for the home won’t be $1. 
What are the drawbacks to selling a house for $1
  • While selling a property at this price may seem like an attractive option, it may not be really possible for some homeowners due to potential legal and tax issues.
  • The seller may receive less than the property’s value and struggle to find interested buyers think something is wrong with the house.

Can You Avoid inheritance tax