Posted inTax Planning

The Delaware Statutory Trust Exit for Landlords


Real estate investment is a cornerstone of wealth building for many individuals and businesses. However, as the real estate landscape evolves, so do the needs and strategies of investors, including landlords. One lesser-known tool that can be advantageous for landlords looking to diversify or exit real estate holdings is the Delaware Statutory Trust (DST). In this article, we will explore the DST as an exit strategy for landlords, a resource that many Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) may not be familiar with.

Understanding Delaware Statutory Trust (DST)

A Delaware Statutory Trust is a legal entity used for owning and managing investment real estate. It is specifically designed to provide a way for investors to acquire and manage fractional ownership in income-producing properties. DSTs are often utilized in the context of 1031 exchanges, which allow investors to defer capital gains tax on the sale of a property if they reinvest the proceeds into a “like-kind” property.

DST as an Exit Strategy

While DSTs are commonly used as a 1031 exchange strategy, they can also serve as an exit strategy for landlords looking to divest of their real estate holdings for various reasons, such as retirement, portfolio diversification, or simplifying their investments. Here’s how DSTs can be a valuable tool for landlords:

  1. Tax Benefits:


Tax-Deferred Exit: One of the primary advantages of a DST exit strategy is the ability to defer capital gains taxes. When a landlord sells a property and reinvests the proceeds into a DST, they can defer capital gains taxes, which can be a substantial financial benefit.

Step-Up in Basis: In the event of a landlord’s passing, the heirs receive a step-up in the basis of the investment, potentially minimizing or eliminating capital gains taxes entirely.


  1. Diversification:


Access to Different Markets: DSTs offer landlords the opportunity to diversify into various real estate markets without the need for hands-on management. This can help spread risk and enhance portfolio stability.

Professionally Managed Properties: DST properties are typically managed by experienced professionals, relieving landlords of the responsibilities and risks associated with active property management.


  1. Simplified Ownership:


Fractional Ownership: DSTs allow landlords to hold fractional ownership in multiple properties, streamlining their real estate holdings and simplifying their investment portfolios.

Eliminate Landlord Duties: By transitioning to DST ownership, landlords can exit their role as active landlords and enjoy a more passive and hands-off investment experience.


  1. Investment Flexibility:


Liquidity Options: DSTs offer more flexibility in terms of liquidity compared to traditional real estate ownership. Investors can sell their DST interests in a secondary market, providing an exit strategy that may not be available with traditional real estate holdings.

Variety of Properties: DSTs cover a wide range of property types, including apartment complexes, office buildings, retail centers, and more, giving landlords options to choose investments that align with their financial goals and risk tolerance.


The Role of CPAs and Advisors

CPAs and financial advisors play a pivotal role in assisting landlords who are considering a DST exit strategy. Here’s how they can help:

  1. Education and Assessment:


CPAs and advisors can educate landlords about the benefits and intricacies of DSTs, helping them assess whether this strategy aligns with their financial goals and objectives.

A thorough financial assessment is crucial to determine the tax implications, financial implications, and long-term benefits of transitioning to DST ownership.


  1. Structuring the Transition:


CPAs and advisors can assist in structuring the DST transaction to ensure it complies with tax regulations and minimizes tax liabilities.

They can help landlords navigate the legal and financial complexities of DST ownership, ensuring a smooth transition.


  1. Ongoing Management and Monitoring:


After the transition to DST ownership, CPAs and advisors can continue to provide guidance, monitor the performance of the DST properties, and help landlords adapt to changes in their financial situation.

Regular reviews and updates are essential to make informed decisions regarding DST investments.



The Delaware Statutory Trust is a powerful exit strategy for landlords, offering significant tax benefits, investment diversification, simplified ownership, and flexibility. However, it is a strategy that many CPAs may not be fully aware of, highlighting the importance of seeking professional guidance when considering a DST exit.

For landlords seeking to transition from active property management to a more passive investment approach, the DST can be a game-changer. It not only provides a tax-efficient exit but also opens the door to a diversified real estate portfolio without the headaches of day-to-day management. As the real estate landscape evolves, the Delaware Statutory Trust is an innovative solution that landlords should explore with the help of knowledgeable financial advisors and CPAs.