Perfectly legal

Facade easements are (still) perfectly legal, and are still a perfectly legitimate preservation tool. Basically, ceding control of your facade to a charitable entity, you get to write off a charitable deduction equal to the value of your facade (which can be over 10% of the total value of your property).

The lessons to be learned from this article are a) make your easement donation to a bona fide charitable organization (not a charitable organization whose sole reason for being is to accept facade easements and make their employees money in the process); b) make sure that your appraisal is somewhat reality based; and c) get legal advice (preferably not from the charitable organization touting the facade easements in the first place).