Hide public info from county website

16 Replies

Hi everyone, I am an investor in the Williamson county, TX area. As you know, information is publicly searchable on how many properties one owns. I do not have an LLC, so I buy properties in my name. Since I also have a Full time job, I would not like colleagues and acquaintances to be able to see how many properties I own and what is their value. Especially during property tax season, I do get a lot of taunts and questions. I have been able to remove personal information from the county appraisal district website but have not been able to get the tax assessor website to do so. They only do that for law enforcement, judiciary and victims etc. Any advice on how I can hide/mask my personal information? Thank you

Hi @Yuvaraj Vimawala !  Sorry to hear about your situation! 

I'm not an entity expert by any means, but perhaps you answered your own question? I think you can create a Nevada or Delaware LLC and hide your actual name and put the homes under that LLC. You will have to pay the LLC fee as well as pay for 'representation' in whichever state you choose, but if it's important enough for you, perhaps it's worth the price?

Once again, not an expert on this subject by any means, so take what I'm saying with a grain of salt!  I wish the best of luck on you endeavors however!

Cheers!

Thanks @Jon Crosby . I have definitely considered that, but I do have mortgages on almost all my properties and I have heard/read online that lenders shall not allow moving the ownership to an LLC. I am not opposed to spending for an LLC if it can solve my privacy problem. 

@Yuvaraj Vimawala

Also not an entity expert here but I have an NV LLC and it has pro's and con's. My understanding is that if go the LLC route you should have it in the state you are doing business. Some states will not recognize an out of state LLC and you could lose some of the protections that make an LLC worth while. Entity's are also public record and searchable online (at least in my state). You will need to research deeper to find out how to hold an LLC and have your identity concealed.

Another option is using trusts. I’m not sure on the details here or even what type of trust is best for your situation, but this is a great option for protection (1 trust/property) and also concealing identity. 

You may want to compare the pro's and con's of LLC's to trusts (of the appropriate type) and see which is a better fit for you.

Does anyone know if lenders allow changing the name on the property deed to an LLC or Trust?

To answer your original question: there is no way to hide who or what owns real property. It's public information. To hide your personal name, you need to transfer whatever property you own to the name of another entity that does not have your name on it. You can use an LLC, you can put it in the name of a trust, etc.

As far as lenders allowing the name change, this is something discussed a lot on here.  Google "due on sale clause" on BP and you can read up on debates on this.  It is not really about whether the lender will allow you to transfer ownership or not, it's about whether the lender will enforce a due on sale clause if you transfer ownership of that property to some entity and keep making the payments as usual.

Here is my opinion on it: Yes, loans have a clause in them that says you can't sell the property without paying the loan off first. That makes perfect sense, they want their loan paid when you sell it. But it also technically prohibits transfer of ownership, even if you transfer it from your name to your LLC. The reason is that they don't know your LLC, they haven't prequalified your LLC for that loan, etc. So many lawyers will say that you technically should not do this because you are breaching that clause. However, in the real world, my clients do this all the time with their properties. Can the lender call the loan due? Yes. Do they ever do that? No. I've heard of it in stories, but even in those cases I've heard the lender allowed them to transfer ownership back to their personal name, no harm no foul. 99% of the time they never realize a non-sale change in ownership and never check, or perhaps they just never care because the payments are still coming on time every month. I honestly wouldn't worry too much about it. BUT I'm not your lawyer and this isn't advice.

First you need to find out which entities are allowed to mask the true ownership under state law. It likely varies state to state. My understanding is that in NC an LLC is still an unmasked entity and all members or managers information is public record; however, there are trusts that truly do conceal that information. A visit to an estate attorney is likely in order.

@Yuvaraj Vimawala Double check my info, but I believe that changing the property title into a Revocable Trust should not be an issue. Irrevocable Trust is likely a different story though. I'm currently putting my primary residence into a Revocable Trust, and there should not be any due on sale clause exercised. 

Very interesting.. @Nicole A - I will definitely consider that. 

I would look into just getting a DBA and setting up your houses under that. DBA (doing business as) doesn't have the same tax implications as an LLC.

Hi all

LLC's will not accomplish what you have set out to do because in forming the LLC you must give a real president name (you) and a real address when registering. I can look up the LLC info and find you in a heartbeat.

This is not legal advice but by using Trusts you can mask ownership and transfer property very easily and no LLC fees

Let me know if this helps and if you need more info.

FYI I invest my self directed IRA into a trust using a trustee and my name appears nowhere. Unfortunately (or fortunately!) most attorneys are not well versed in this process that has been available to us since the 80's

that's 1880   

@Yuvaraj Vimawala
If you contact the County you can ask that your name be withheld. I know in Fairfax County Virginia you can have your name withheld. In order to see who owns it you have to go into the county and request it

While not completely hidden, not sure how many people will go to County to find out who owns homes like that

If your colleagues/acquaintances are not "very sophisticated" (meaning really explicitly looking for it), then an LLC would be good enough. Otherwise, a Trust is your best bet.

In my experience (and this can vary by state) you can use an llc to very effectively hide your name and address by using an agent in that state. I paid a lawyer to file my llc and his law firm is the address that is on file. You can google my llc and all you’ll see is that address, not my name anywhere.

Now I’m sure there would be a way to find my name but I can’t imagine it would be easy. I would not risk it though for the due on sale clause because unlike others here I have heard of lenders calling loans due and not budging on that. I don’t want to risk that.

For that reason I think your best way to go is a trust with an llc as a beneficiary. You do that and use an agent like I said above and it would be very difficult to find out who owns that. There are several attorneys on BP who do this sort of thing. I haven’t done to yet myself but I plan to in the future when I have more properties. Typical cost is around 3-5k usually I think to set up initially.

No legal advice given

@Caleb Heimsoth . If you go to the website of your security of state, will you be able to see the names of the managers and members of the LLC? In NC, you can see those names.

@Henri Meli  I just checked (this in Ohio) and you cannot see anything regarding members or managers.  All you see is the registered agent which in my case is an address in central clebeland.  

Keep in mind I’m using my llc as an operating company, not a holding entity.  In my case if this was used as a holding entity all the lawyer would see if that address and then they’d go there and be met with another attorney law office address.  I imagine that would get difficult fast. 

Thank you all -- Yes, I will be going for a trust. Appreciate this great BP community's support. 

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here