What FinCEN’s New Real Estate Reporting Rule Means for Residential Real Estate Investors  

What FinCEN’s New Real Estate Reporting Rule Means for Residential Real Estate Investors  

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, is taking a significant step to enhance transparency and accountability in the real estate sector with a newly proposed rule aimed at reducing illegal activity in the residential space. This initiative is aimed at curbing the longstanding issue of money laundering through non-financed transfers of residential real estate to specific legal entities and trusts across the United States. 


The real estate market’s vulnerability to illicit financial activities, particularly money laundering, has been a concern for the U.S. government for decades. By allowing the anonymous purchase of properties, the sector has become a haven for corrupt officials and criminals to launder their ill-gotten gains, undermining the integrity of the U.S. financial system and national security. However, the past few years have seen a significant ramping up of enforcement activity, with a wide-reaching plan put into place in February 2024. 

Key Provisions of the Proposed Rule: 

The proposed rule mandates that certain individuals involved in real estate closings and settlements report and keep records of identified non-financed transfers of residential real estate to specified legal entities and trusts. This requirement aims to shed light on transactions that have historically been opaque and susceptible to abuse. Importantly, transfers made directly to individuals are not within the scope of this rule, focusing the efforts on transactions that pose the highest risk for illicit activities. 

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Implications for the Real Estate Industry: 

This rule could significantly impact the real estate industry by imposing new reporting obligations on parties involved in specific types of transactions. The emphasis on non-financed property transfers to legal entities and trusts targets a critical gap in the existing anti-money laundering framework, ensuring that these high-risk transactions are subject to scrutiny. 

Compliance and Reporting: 

The rule outlines detailed requirements for what information must be reported, who is responsible for filing these reports, and the deadlines for submission. The objective is to collect data that will be instrumental for the Treasury, law enforcement at all levels, and national security agencies in identifying and addressing vulnerabilities in the residential real estate sector. 

Strategic Considerations for Real Estate Investors 

The proposed regulations emphasize the need for real estate investors to adapt to the evolving regulatory landscape, particularly in the context of non-financed residential real estate transactions. Historically, the real estate sector, especially transactions not involving financing, has been less regulated in terms of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) filing requirements compared to other financial sectors.  

The Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) includes “persons involved in real estate closings and settlements” as financial institutions, suggesting an expectation for compliance with AML/CFT rules applicable to financial institutions. However, an exemption issued in 2002 temporarily relieved these persons from such obligations, pending further study of money laundering risks within the sector. 

Given the recognized money laundering risks associated with non-financed residential real estate transactions and the potential for such transactions to facilitate and obscure illicit activities, there is a push for comprehensive AML/CFT regulations. The proposed changes aim to make real estate transactions more transparent and accountable, aligning them with the standards applied to other financial transactions. 

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Streamlined SAR Requirement 

The proposed regulations introduce a streamlined SAR filing requirement for real estate transactions, diverging from the standard requirements imposed on other financial institutions. This streamlined approach is designed to alleviate the potential burden on small businesses and individuals within the real estate sector, who may find it challenging to implement a full-scale AML program.  

The new requirement would mandate the reporting of basic, standardized information for all relevant transactions nationwide, enhancing the utility of BSA reporting for combating financial crimes without the need for risk-based judgments or narrative assessments typical of traditional SARs. 

The Broader Impact: 

The proposed rule is expected to have far-reaching implications for U.S. economic and national security by making it more difficult for illicit actors to exploit the real estate market for money laundering purposes. By enhancing transparency in these transactions, the rule also aligns with global efforts to combat financial crimes in the real estate sector. 


FinCEN’s proposed rule represents a critical step toward closing longstanding vulnerabilities in the U.S. real estate market. By requiring reporting for specific, high-risk transactions, the rule aims to prevent illicit actors from using real estate purchases to launder money, thereby protecting the integrity of the U.S. financial system and contributing to national security. 

Read the filing for yourself on the Official Federal Register, here. 



March 5, 2024