10 min read Jan 30, 2024

1031 Exchange: What Is It and How Does It Benefit You?

Edited By

Prayas Biswas

Edited By

Prayas Biswas

Editor, Houzeo

Prayas B. is a detail-oriented content editor specializing in American real estate. In his free time, he enjoys hitting the pitch for a game of football or watching motorsports.

Find Prayas Here

1031 exchange transactions amount to a value of over $100 billion annually. This shows that investors prefer 1031 exchanges as the go-to tax-deferral strategy. 

Investors can delay the payment of capital gains taxes on the sale of an investment property by making a 1031 exchange. However, a 1031 exchange only allows tax deferral when proceeds are reinvested in a comparable property within a time period.

Investors who want to make a 1031 exchange must identify replacement properties within 45 days of selling their original ones. This 45-day identification period is included in the total 180-day exchange period granted to the seller to complete the transaction.

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What Is a 1031 Exchange?

A 1031 exchange in real estate lets investors swap one property for another of a similar nature. This transaction is tax-deferred. As a result, it lets the seller reinvest the sale profits to buy a ‘like-kind’ property within a given time frame. 

The 1031 exchange follows IRS Code 1031 rules. The IRS allows a 45-day identification period for the ‘like-kind’ property. This is included in the strict 180-day total given to finish the transaction from the date of sale.

How Does It Benefit You?

There are several benefits to engaging in a 1031 exchange. For instance,

  • Tax Deferral: 1031 exchanges allow you to defer paying capital gains tax during the sale of the property. You can preserve more of your investment capital by investing the profit into buying a ‘like-kind’ property.
  • Portfolio diversification: It allows you to broaden the scope of your investments without immediate taxation. You can buy properties in different locations, and increase the stability of your portfolio.
  • Increased Cash Flow: Investors can use the tax benefits of a 1031 exchange to upgrade to properties with a higher earning potential. This can increase passive income and result in a stable flow of available cash.
  • Estate Planning: Investors often use estate planning, including 1031 exchanges, to pass wealth to future generations. By deferring taxes and potentially increasing the property’s basis after death, they can reduce the tax burden on their heirs.

Do You Qualify for a 1031 Exchange?

1031 exchanges apply to individuals, companies, partnerships, and LLCs. You must follow IRS regulations to achieve full tax deferral.

To qualify, you must buy a ‘like-kind’ investment property in lieu of the property you intend to sell. Land, commercial structures, and rental properties are examples of real estate that can be utilized in these replacements.

It’s crucial to remember that 1031 exchanges are not permitted for primary residences or properties held for sale. As a result, we advise you to consult with a tax expert to ensure all 1031 rules are met.

What Is the Criteria for a 1031 Exchange?

1031 exchanges have strict qualifying requirements. Failure to follow these rules could result in you having to pay capital gains taxes.

  • Investment or Business Property Only: Firstly, you can get a 1031 exchange only on an investment or business property. Personal residences are excluded from this tax benefit.
  • Like-Kind Requirement: The replacement property must be of “like-kind,” i.e., similar in nature, character, or class to the relinquished property.
  • Strict Timelines: After you sell a property, you have 45 days to identify replacements. This is included in the 180 days you have from the sale date to close on the new property.
  • Qualified Intermediary Required: A Qualified Intermediary (QI) is an independent entity that facilitates the exchange of properties. They ensure compliance with IRS rules and hold the sale proceeds. Subsequently, they hold the replacement property on your behalf.

Rules for Different Types of Property in 1031 Exchanges

Here are the rules for different types of property in a 1031 exchange you must know:

Depreciable Property

Depreciable property refers to properties that lose value over time due to wear and tear.

  • Like-Kind Requirement: The replacement property must be of the same nature or character as the depreciable property.
  • Depreciation Recapture: Depreciation tax deductions on ceded property are exempt from tax deferrals. This means that any gain from a 1031 exchange may be subject to depreciation recapture.

1031 Swap Residences

Swapping residences under the 1031 Exchange can be beneficial for real estate investors. However, certain rules still apply:

  • Primary Residence Exclusion: The property you’re exchanging must not be your primary home.
  • Timing: Make sure to follow the 45-day identification period and the 180-day exchange period.

Vacation Homes

Exchanging vacation homes can be tricky due to possible personal use:

  • Personal Use Limitations: If you’ve used the vacation home for personal purposes, the IRS imposes restrictions.
  • Mixed-Use Properties: Some vacation homes serve both personal and rental purposes. In such cases, consult a tax advisor to determine eligibility for a 1031 exchange.

What Is the Timeline for a 1031 Exchange?

The 1031 exchange follows two key deadlines, which are:

45-Day Rule

The timeline starts the moment you sell your property. Then, you have 45 days to identify suitable replacement properties in writing to a QI. This schedule is strict; no extensions are permitted.

Within 45 days, you must describe and identify the replacement property. This includes providing specifics such as the street location, legal description, or separate name of said property.

You can use the ‘Three-Property Rule’ to find up to three suitable replacements. Alternatively, utilize the ‘200% Rule’ to list more. However, the total fair market value should not exceed 200% of the selling price of your surrendered property.

180-Day Exchange Period

The 180-day period starts on the selling date of your surrendered property. You must close on one or more substitute properties within this time.

No extensions are given for the IRS’s strict deadline on 1031 exchanges. If you miss this 180-day window, you’ll have to pay capital gains taxes. However, following the 1031 criteria can help you legally delay those taxes.

What Are the Types of 1031 Exchanges?

Depending on unique needs, investors can choose from a variety of 1031 exchanges:

Delayed Exchange

When there is a postponed exchange, the buyer and seller swap properties at separate periods. As such, the sale of one property and the purchase of another need to be closely related to one transaction.

Reverse Exchange

The replacement property is purchased before the property that was given up is transferred. It is appropriate in scenarios where the ideal substitute was initially identified.

A QI can hold the new property for up to 180 days during the sale of the old property.

Build-to-Suit Exchange 

A build-to-suit or construction exchange is ideal when repairs need to be done on the replacement property. The 1031 exchange rules also permit construction on the land that you intend to buy in exchange for the property being given up.

Construction must also follow a given timeline and progress criteria under Section 1031. Any unspent funds must be invested in the new structure.

1031 Exchange Tax Implications: Cash and Debt

Real estate investors must understand that the 1031 exchange rules postpone taxes, not prevent them from being levied completely. 

Cash Received as “Boot”

Any cash proceeds you get after the QI buys the relinquished property counts as “boot”, and is taxable. You can avoid this by reinvesting the ‘boot’ in the transaction to buy or remodel the replacement property.

Debt Treatment as Equivalent to Cash

If the debt on the replacement property is less than the debt on the relinquished property, the difference (debt relief) is treated as “boot” and becomes taxable.

How to Carry Zero “Boot” in 1031 Exchanges?

To maximize tax deferral, exchange with property of equal or higher value/equity. Loans should not depend on the sale of the prior property.

How to Report 1031 Exchanges to the IRS?

To delay taxes, 1031 exchanges must be reported duly to the IRS. Follow these steps to report compliance with the 1031 exchange rules:

Gather Documentation

  • Sales and purchase contracts
  • Statements of settlement
  • The evaluation process
  • Accounting documents

Complete Form 8824

To report a 1031 exchange on a tax return, use Form 8824. Submit an individual form for each to account for multiple exchanges. The form requires:

  • Description of the properties
  • Periods of relocation
  • Accurate market values
  • The adjusted premise data

Changing Ownership of the Replacement Property Post-1031

The IRS could view hasty exchanges, also known as ‘flips’, unfavorably. It could view such transactions as not having the sincere intention of keeping the property for commercial or financial purposes.

  • Hold Period Requirement: The replacement property must be held for a reasonable time. An immediate transfer could result in the IRS denying the entire tax deferral.
  • Tax Implications of Sale: Selling the substitute property without another exchange constitutes a violation of the 1031 exchange rules. This can lead you to incur capital gains on the previously deferred amount. 
  • Option for Stepped-Up Basis: This provides investors with the ability to transfer the appreciated replacement property to successors on a stepped-up basis. This can help defer taxes.

Exchanging Partners: Drop and Swap 1031 Exchanges

Co-owners of a property can pursue separate 1031 exchanges by waiving their partial shares in separate properties. Following this, they can switch these partial shares for like-kind properties.

This type of exchange is referred to as a “mixing bowl” exchange or drop-and-swap 1031 exchange. It defers capital gains taxes and also enables co-owners to seek other investments.

Tenancy-in-Common Property Exchanges

Multiple investors co-owning a property trade their shares in TIC properties for other like-kind properties in TIC swaps. This can help TIC investors expand their real estate assets without paying immediate taxes. 

Completing TIC swaps within the 1031 exchange timeline needs solid preparation. Cooperation among co-owners is essential to complete this transaction.

Potential Risks

1031 exchange rules also outline the risks that real estate investors must understand. These risks include:

  • Complex Rules: One misstep in filing or reporting an exchange can void the entire tax deferral, so we highly recommend that you consult experts.
  • Time Pressure: You face strict 45- or 180-day deadlines to identify and acquire replacements. Rushing into suboptimal deals is a potential pitfall.
  • Future Tax Rates: A 1031 exchange defers taxes, but does not eliminate them. If rates rise before you exit the investment, you pay more taxes.
  • Inflated Prices: Sellers may overprice properties, knowing that 1031 exchange buyers face time constraints.
  • Regulatory and Market Changes: Tax law amendments or economic shifts could negate the benefits projected under the current 1031 exchange rules.


The 1031 exchange rules might be complicated, but tax deferral benefits make it an attractive option. These exchanges can help you build wealth and diversify your real estate portfolio. 

By careful use of the 1031 exchange rules, you can achieve long-term financial goals while delaying taxes. If you’re looking for a secondary home to conduct a 1031 exchange, Houzeo has got you covered. 

Houzeo is among the leading real estate listing platforms in the US and can help you find your second home easily. Check out our listings below for available homes near you.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Which categories of real estate qualify for a 1031 exchange?

The 1031 exchange rules require both the relinquished and replacement properties to be invested in or used for business. Common examples are vacant land, rental homes, offices, and retail stores. Private dwellings are ineligible.

What is the 1031 exchange deadline?

The 1031 exchange rules include a 45-day identification and a 180-day exchange deadline. Potential replacements must be identified and purchased within 180 days after the sale. The 45-day identification deadline is included in the 180-day period.

Can I take cash out of a 1031 exchange?

Financial profits are prohibited under the 1031 exchange rules. This income is deemed "boot" and is subject to immediate taxation. You can defer this taxation through a reinvestment of the “boot” in the transaction.

What occurs if the entire profit is not reinvested in the replacement property?

Any remaining proceeds not reinvested in the new property of a similar nature are considered taxable ‘boot’. It might nullify the tax deferral benefits of the 1031 exchange transaction.

Should I disclose my 1031 exchange to the IRS?

Yes, Form 8824 of the IRS tax return for the relevant year must reflect 1031 transactions. Failure to home-building costs declare a 1031 exchange may result in taxes, interest, and IRS penalties.

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