Real Estate

Transforming Realty to Gift Reality

Want to make a gift to Michigan State University without touching your bank account? Consider giving us real estate, such as a personal residence, vacation home, farm, commercial property or undeveloped land. Such a generous gift helps us continue our work for years to come. And a gift of real estate also helps you. When you give Michigan State University appreciated property you have held longer than one year, you qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction and you may minimize or eliminate capital gains tax. And you no longer have to deal with that property's maintenance costs, property taxes or insurance.

Another benefit: You don't have to hassle with selling the real estate. You can deed the property directly to MSU or ask your attorney to add a few sentences in your will or trust agreement.

Ways to Give Real Estate

You can give real estate to MSU in the following ways:

An outright gift+

When you make a gift today of real estate you have owned longer than one year, you qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction equal to the property's full fair market value. This deduction lets you reduce the cost of making the gift and frees cash that otherwise would have been used to pay taxes. By donating the property to Michigan State University, you also eliminate capital gains tax on its appreciation.

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A gift in your will or living trust+

A gift of real estate through your will or living trust allows you the flexibility to change your mind and the potential to support our work with a larger gift than you could during your lifetime. In as little as one sentence, you can ensure that your support for MSU continues after your lifetime.

A donor advised fund+

When you transfer real estate to your donor advised fund, you avoid capital gains taxes and qualify for a federal income tax deduction based on the fair market value of the property when you itemize your taxes.

A deferred charitable gift annuity+

Are you tired of the hassles of maintaining your property such as paying taxes, utilities and repair bills? Consider donating the property to MSU in exchange for reliable payments for life for you (and someone else, if you choose). When you arrange a charitable gift annuity, you receive a federal income tax charitable deduction in the year you set up the gift annuity when you itemize on your taxes. If you use appreciated real estate to make a gift, you can usually eliminate capital gains tax on a portion of the gift and spread the rest of the gain over your life expectancy. A gift of unmortgaged property to fund a deferred gift annuity is preferable and generates the greatest tax benefit.

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A retained life estate+

Perhaps you like the tax advantages a gift of real estate to our organization would offer, but you want to continue living in your personal residence for your lifetime. You can transfer your personal residence or farm to MSU but keep the right to occupy (or rent out) the home for the rest of your life. You continue to pay real estate taxes, maintenance fees and insurance on the property. Even though MSU would not actually take possession of the residence until after your lifetime, since your gift cannot be revoked, you qualify for a federal income tax charitable deduction for a portion of your home's value.

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A charitable remainder unitrust+

You can contribute any type of appreciated real estate you've owned for more than one year, provided it is unmortgaged, in exchange for an income stream for life or a term of up to 20 years. The donated property may be a residence (a personal residence must be vacant upon contribution), undeveloped land, a farm or commercial property. Real estate works well with only certain variations of charitable remainder trusts. Your estate planning attorney, who will draft your trust, can give you more details.

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A bargain sale+

When you make a bargain sale, you sell your property to our organization for less than what it is worth. The difference between the actual value and the sale price is considered a gift to MSU. A bargain sale can be an effective way to dispose of property that has increased in value, and it is the only gift that can give you a lump sum of cash and a charitable deduction (when you itemize) at the same time.

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A charitable lead trust+

This gift can be a wonderful way for you to benefit MSU and simultaneously transfer appreciated real estate to your family tax-free. You should consider funding the charitable lead trust with real estate that is income-producing and expected to increase in value over the term of the trust.

A memorial or endowed gift+

A gift of real estate may be a perfect way to honor your loved one in perpetuity. When you make an endowed gift of real estate, your contribution is invested with and becomes part of our endowment. An annual distribution is made for the purpose you designate. Because the principal remains intact, the fund will generate support in perpetuity.

Make a Gift Today

Learn more about the many ways to use real estate to support Michigan State University in the FREE guide Ways to Donate Real Estate.

An Example of How It Works

Fred and Susan LeitertAlums Fred and Susan Leitert both loved the people they met at Michigan State—friends, faculty and each other. The couple, who live in Ashtabula, Ohio, created the Fred and Susan Leitert Engineering Endowed Scholarship Fund through a retained life estate gift of their home and multiple charitable gift annuities.

The retained life estate gift allowed Fred and Sue a significant charitable deduction when they deeded their home to MSU in 2011, yet they can live in it as long as they wish. When they no longer live in their home, MSU will sell the property and the sale proceeds will be directed to their endowed scholarship fund at MSU.

“We both agree that for our society to continue to be successful, providing opportunities for higher education, particularly in engineering, is essential,” says Fred.

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Next Steps

  1. Contact MSU Office of Gift Planning at 800-232-4678 | 517-884-1000 or giftplan@msu.edu to discuss the possibility of giving real estate to MSU.
  2. Seek the advice of your financial or legal advisor to make sure this gift fits your goals.
  3. If you include MSU in your plans, please use our legal name and federal tax ID.

Legal name: Michigan State University
Address: 535 Chestnut Road, Room 300, East Lansing, MI 48824
Federal tax ID number: 38-6005984