1031 Exchange Rules You Need to Know

Use 1031 exchanges for real estate investing to lower taxes.

A 1031 exchange is one of many real estate investing secrets wealthy people use to save money. Learning what a 1031 exchange is can allow you to defer taxes on the gains each time you trade investment properties, which allows you to reinvest more of the proceeds each time you trade. But, if you don’t follow the 1031 exchange requirements, you can end up blowing your entire exchange and wind up with a bigger tax bill. Read on to get information on a 1031 exchange explained.

Like-Kind Property Required for 1031 Exchange

The property that you use in a like-kind exchange must be of a like kind. The IRS considers real properties to qualify as long as all properties are in the U.S. This applies even if one property is improved and one isn’t, such as a construction exchange. Foreign real property isn’t considered like kind. You also have to treat paying off a mortgage the same way as you would treat cash. In addition, beginning on January 1, 2018, 1031 exchanges only apply to trades of real property that you hold for investment or productive use in your business. Previously, you could include other assets used in business, such as machinery or equipment.

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Using a Qualified Intermediary

If you aren’t exchanging your old property for the new property immediately, the 1031 rules require using a qualified intermediary to hold the properties or proceeds until you have completed the transfer. For example, say you are selling your rental property today but won’t close on a replacement property for two months. If you accept the cash in your bank account from the first sale, the purchase of the replacement property won’t qualify as a 1031 exchange. The qualified intermediary must be legally obligated in a written agreement to acquire the initial property and transfer it to the person buying it from you and to acquire the replacement property and transfer it to you.

Learn: How to Tell If You Can Deduct Your Property Taxes

Identifying Replacement Properties

If you sell your property prior to acquiring a new property, you need to observe the time limits for identifying your replacement property. Within 45 days, you must have identified a specific property or properties. You can identify up to three replacement properties regardless of the fair market value of them or any number of properties whose fair market value doesn’t exceed twice the fair market value of the properties you are selling.

Closing Your Exchanges

If you are selling your old property first, you must complete your 1031 exchange within the shorter of 180 days after you transfer your old property or the deadline, including extensions, for filing your tax return for the year that you transfer the old property. If you purchase your replacement property first with a reverse exchange, you must sell your old property not more than 180 days after the acquisition to qualify for the like-kind exchange.

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