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Maximizing Investment Returns with a 1031 Exchange

Understanding 1031 Exchange

Are you looking to sell your investment property but don’t want to pay heavy taxes? That’s where a 1031 exchange can help.

A 1031 exchange, also known as a like-kind exchange, allows the seller to defer paying capital gain taxes on the sale of investment property. In this article, we will discuss the requirements of a like-kind exchange, the treatment of assets, and changes in 1031 exchange policy.

Like-Kind Property Requirement

To qualify for a like-kind exchange, the property being sold and the property being purchased must be “like-kind”. This means that both properties must be of the same nature or character.

For real property, any type of real estate used for investment purposes will qualify. For example, a rental property can be exchanged for an office building.

However, personal property such as machinery or equipment does not qualify as like-kind property to real estate. Personal property must be exchanged for like-kind personal property.

Therefore, if you sell your construction equipment, you cannot exchange it for a rental property.

Treatment of Mortgage and Other Assets

If there is a mortgage on the property being sold, the mortgage must be paid off before the sale. In the replacement property, the taxpayer must either buy a property with equal or greater value or else put additional cash proceeds into the replacement property.

Additionally, if the taxpayer receives cash proceeds from the sale, the proceeds may trigger capital gain taxes. It is important to note that while personal property does not qualify for like-kind exchange to real estate, cash proceeds from the sale of personal property can be used to fund a 1031 exchange.

The cash proceeds must be held by a qualified intermediary and used to purchase like-kind property.

Changes in 1031 Exchange Policy

Effective January 1, 2018, the 1031 exchange policy limits the offer to trade real property. It no longer includes personal property or assets such as artwork, vehicles, or antiques.

Moreover, the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act significantly impacted 1031 exchanges and the seller’s ability to avoid paying taxes. Prior to the bill, the taxpayer can exchange an unlimited amount of real property.

But the new bill limits the taxpayer to exchanging $500,000 worth of real property annually.

Using a Qualified Intermediary

Due to the complexity of 1031 exchanges, taxpayers are required to work with a qualified intermediary to facilitate the exchange. A qualified intermediary can be a bank, brokerage firm, or any independent third party who is neither the taxpayer nor a related party.

The qualified intermediary is responsible for holding the proceeds from the sale until the replacement property is purchased.

Importance of a Qualified Intermediary

The use of a qualified intermediary is essential for a successful 1031 exchange. The intermediary ensures that the exchange is completed properly and avoids the taxpayer receiving cash proceeds that nets capital gain taxes.

It is crucial to select a reputable and experienced intermediary and establish a written agreement.

Time Constraints for Reinvestment

When the taxpayer sells the property, they have 45 days to identify the replacement property and 180 days to close on the replacement property. The identification of the property must be done in writing and sent to the qualified intermediary.

Additionally, the taxpayer must reinvest all of the proceeds from the sale, less any amount that is used to pay off the mortgage or expenses related to the exchange.


Investors have taken advantage of 1031 exchanges for years to defer capital gain taxes. To be eligible for a 1031 exchange, the property being sold must be like-kind property to the property being acquired.

If a mortgage is involved, it must be paid off before the sale. The use of a qualified intermediary is critical to successful completion of the exchange, and identifying replacement property must be done within 45 days and within 180 days.

These changes can affect investors’ decision to exchange property. Choose the best allocation of real property that suits you to maintain continued success in your investment portfolio.

Identifying Replacement Properties

Once the taxpayer has sold their investment property and identified another property that meets the like-kind property requirements, they must identify the replacement property within a 45-day time frame. This 45-day window is strictly enforced and cannot be extended for any circumstances.

Time Frame and Limitations

The 45-day limit begins on the day the investor sells their property. It includes weekends and holidays, and there are no exceptions to the deadline.

To ensure compliance with the 45-day limit, the investor should immediately begin searching for replacement properties upon selling their property. Prospective properties should meet the like-kind exchange requirements to ensure eligibility for the exchange.

Number of Replacement Properties

In a 1031 exchange transaction, the taxpayer can identify up to three replacement properties as long as their combined fair market value does not exceed 200% of the relinquished property’s fair market value. Thus, the investor can select multiple properties as long as the total value does not exceed two times the value of the exchanged property.

If the replacement properties’ total value exceeds the limit, then the IRS may disqualify the exchange. To identify their replacement properties, investors can go through multiple channels.

They can research online, seek the help of a real estate agent, or tap into their real estate network. The three identified properties should be directly presented to the qualified intermediary within the 45-day window.

Doing so will ensure that the intermediary does not accidentally disqualify the exchange.

Closing Your Exchange

Deadlines for Completing Exchange

The 1031 exchange provides taxpayers with a 180-day time frame to complete the exchange fully. Once the replacement property is identified, the taxpayer has 180 days to complete the exchange by closing on the replacement property.

This deadline starts at the same time as the 45-day limit. Unlike the 45-day limit, the 180-day limit cannot be extended, and any remaining transaction will be ineligible for 1031 exchange tax deferment.

Additionally, taxpayers must ensure that their tax returns for the previous year are submitted within the statutory deadline. The tax returns should also include form 8824, which is specific to a 1031 exchange.

Reverse Exchange Requirements

Unlike traditional 1031 exchanges, where the taxpayer first sells the property before buying a replacement property, a reverse exchange involves the purchase of a replacement property before the sale of the old property. To qualify for a reverse exchange, the taxpayer must first identify the “parking property,” which is the property purchased as a replacement for the old property before it is sold.

The parking property must be held by an Exchange Accommodation Titleholder (EAT) during the period before the old property sale. The EAT can purchase the parking property on the taxpayer’s behalf, although the taxpayer has to pay the EAT stress-free during the period.

The taxpayer must sell their old property within 180 days of the parking property purchase. Once the sale is complete, the EAT must sell the parking property to the taxpayer and the proceeds from the sale of the old property must be then used to reimburse the EAT.

A reverse exchange offers more practical flexibility and is used primarily to relieve parking difficulties. However, the reverse exchange is subject to strict regulations and can be more costly than traditional exchanges.


A 1031 exchange can be a useful tool for investors to defer capital gain taxes. To successfully complete the 1031 exchange, they must understand the rules regarding replacement properties and the deadlines in the transaction.

To ensure compliance, taxpayers should hire a qualified intermediary to help them navigate the 1031 exchange process. In summary, a 1031 exchange allows investors to defer capital gain taxes by trading their investment property for like-kind property.

To qualify for a 1031 exchange, the properties in question must adhere to specific guidelines, and taxpayers have a set time frame to identify and purchase their replacement property to complete the exchange successfully. Working with a qualified intermediary can help ensure compliance and avoid tax penalties.

The new tax laws have some notable changes that could impact your investment decisions. Investors should weigh their options carefully before choosing to exchange their property.

The importance of 1031 exchanges should not be underestimated, as they offer a way for investors to save money on taxes and build their financial portfolio.

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