A gift of real estate may be a principal residence or vacation residence, a farm, a commercial building, a subdivision lot, or unimproved land. The gift may be the entire property or a fractional interest in the property. All gifts of real estate require approval by Duke's Gift Policy Committee. Duke's Office of Gift Planning can walk you through the approval process.

Before accepting a gift of real estate, Duke's Gift Policy Committee will consider the following:

  • the fair market value of the property
  • the marketability of the property
  • potential liability for environmental risks associated with the property
  • the existence of restrictions, reservations, easements, and other limitations
  • the existence of encumbrances such as mortgages and mechanics liens
  • carrying costs, such as property owners' association dues, taxes and insurance
  • the usefulness of the property for the school's purposes
  • other factors that may be relevant to a particular property

The university will ask you to provide the following:


Please submit a qualified appraisal of the property as early in the process as possible. The cost of the appraisal is the responsibility of the donor.

Environmental Survey or Audit

Because of the potential liability assumed by charitable institutions for environmental hazards on donated property, you may be required to provide, at the your expense, an environmental audit prepared by a licensed environmental engineer in advance of the gift. In the case of gifts of residential real estate located in long-established residential neighborhoods, an environmental survey may be sufficient. Download Duke's environmental survey (.doc format).

Indemnification letter

When Duke accepts a gift of real estate, the university requires a signed letter indemnifying and holding Duke University harmless for any and all liability arising from acts occurring prior to Duke's ownership of the property.

Other documents

In addition to the information requested above, you will be asked to provide Duke with all surveys, title policies, and other documentation relating to the subject property.

Duke's general policy is to sell property as soon as practicable after it has been gifted. Once the property is sold, the proceeds—minus any costs associated with the selling, holding, or maintaining of the property—will be used by the university as directed by the donor. Gifts of real estate can be used to create or build

When you make a gift of real estate, you can claim a charitable tax deduction for the full fair market value of the real estate and avoid capital gains taxes on the appreciation. Duke will issue a gift receipt without a gift value, and you can substantiate the fair market value of the property for tax purposes through a qualified appraisal.

Your gift of real estate can be used to create a charitable remainder unitrust at Duke. A charitable remainder unitrust can provide you and/or your loved ones with an annual income and may provide a hedge against inflation. Learn more.