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Investing in real estate can be highly lucrative, but it often comes with significant tax burdens when you sell a property at a profit. Fortunately, the U.S. tax code provides savvy investors with powerful tools to defer these taxes and maximize their investment potential. 1031 Exchanges and 721 Exchanges are the tools chosen by veteran and elite real estate investors when managing taxes on property investments. Here's how to use these strategies to avoid taxable events and keep more of your money working for you.

1031 Exchanges: Like-Kind Swaps As Tax Deferral Strategies

A 1031 Exchange, named after Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code, allows investors to defer capital gains taxes when they sell one investment property and purchase another "like-kind" property. Here's how it works:

Sell and Identify

The first step in a 1031 Exchange is to sell your current investment property. Once the sale is complete, you have 45 days to identify potential replacement properties. This identification must be made in writing, properly signed, and delivered to the appropriate parties.

Purchase Replacement Property

After identifying potential replacement properties, you have 180 days from the sale date of your original property to complete the purchase of a new property. This timeline is strict, so careful planning and coordination are essential.

Defer Taxes

By reinvesting the proceeds into a new like-kind property, you defer paying capital gains taxes on the sale. This deferral allows you to leverage your entire investment, potentially enhancing your overall portfolio.

What Types Of Properties Qualify For A 1031 Exchange

The parameters of the 1031 Exchange have changed significantly over the years. Knowing what you can and can't Exchange under the 1031 Exchange rules is essential before deciding to pursue a 1031. 

Acceptable Exchange Properties:

  • Vacant Land
  •  Residential (Investment) Property
  •  Commercial Property

Non-Acceptable Exchange Properties: 

  • Personal Residences 
  • Vacation Homes 
  • Second Homes
  • Inventory Properties (Short-Term "Flipped" Properties) 

One thing to note is that all real estate is considered "like-kind" property, meaning you can exchange any property for a different type of property, and it will still qualify under the 1031 Exchange rules. The only restriction in this exchange would be between foreign and domestic property, which must be exchanged for the same type of property. 

Why Choose a 1031 Exchange?

A 1031 Exchange can be an excellent option for investors looking to move their money into another investment property. 1031 Exchanges allow investors to take advantage of:

  • Tax Deferral: Keep your money working for you instead of paying immediate taxes.
  • Portfolio Growth: Reinvest in larger or more profitable properties, enhancing your portfolio.
  • Flexibility: Swap out underperforming properties for better opportunities without a tax penalty.

1031 Exchanges (mostly) only allow investors to exchange property for property, while 721 Exchanges allow investors to exchange their property for something else. 

721 Exchanges: Contributing to REITs for Tax Advantages

A 721 Exchange offers another powerful tax deferral strategy by allowing you to contribute property to a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) or an Operating Partnership (OP) of a UPREIT in exchange for OP units. Here's the process:

Contribute Property

In a 721 Exchange, you transfer your property to an OP or REIT. This transaction is similar to a 1031 Exchange but involves exchanging property for units in an OP or shares in a REIT rather than another piece of real estate.

Instead of cash, you receive OP units, representing a share in the partnership. These units can later be converted into REIT shares, providing liquidity while deferring capital gains taxes.

So, what's the difference between 721 and 1031 Exchanges? With a 721 Exchange, you can switch from an active investor who owns the property to a passive investor with shares in a professionally run fund or trust. 

Tax Deferral

Like a 1031 Exchange, the 721 Exchange defers capital gains taxes until you sell the OP units or REIT shares. This deferral can result in significant tax savings and allow for continued investment growth.

Why Choose a 721 Exchange?

  • Diversification: Gain exposure to a diversified portfolio of properties, reducing risk.
  • Professional Management: Benefit from the expertise of professional property managers within the REIT.
  • Liquidity: Convert OP units to publicly traded REIT shares, offering easier access to cash when needed.
  • Continued Tax Deferral: Defer taxes until you sell your REIT shares, potentially benefiting from further appreciation.

These investment strategies can greatly affect your ability to maximize investment properties and execute your exit strategy more effectively. Still, if you're not careful, you can make costly mistakes. 

Common 1031 and 721 Mistakes To Avoid 

When making these exchanges, you need to keep track of a lot of information. It can become difficult to organize, weigh your options, and make the right moves simultaneously. 

Maximizing your investments and gains is the ultimate goal. To secure that outcome, here are some common mistakes to avoid: 

  • Missing Deadlines and Bad Timing: Failing to identify replacement properties within 45 days of the sale or not completing the purchase of the replacement property within 180 days of the original sale are huge mistakes for 1031 Exchanges. Mistiming your 721 Exchange to match a REIT's acquisition period will set you back. 
  • Inaccurate Documentation: For 1031s, not explicitly identifying the replacement property, not meeting the Like-Kind Rule, or the Equal or Greater Value Requirement will stop the exchange. For 721s, not maintaining thorough and accurate documentation for tax reporting and compliance purposes will hurt you in the long run.
  • Not Consulting Professionals: For both exchange vehicles, not consulting professionals in the field will lead to costly mistakes that you could avoid. Professionals can help you navigate the complexities of each transaction and even help you work through roadblocks if needed. 

Combining Strategies for Optimal Tax Efficiency

Savvy investors often use both 1031 and 721 Exchanges in their investment strategies. For example, you might use a 1031 Exchange to trade up to a more valuable property and then, later on, use a 721 Exchange to transition into a REIT for greater diversification and liquidity.

Combining these strategies allows you to defer taxes at multiple stages of your investment journey, maximizing your returns and keeping you playing the game even longer.

The more your profits work for you for a longer amount of time, the more wealth you'll be able to generate.

Keep More of Your Profits Working for You

Leveraging 1031 and 721 Exchanges allows real estate investors to defer hefty capital gains taxes, allowing for more significant growth and investment opportunities. Whether you're looking to swap properties seamlessly or transition into a diversified REIT portfolio, these strategies provide essential tools to help you maximize your investments and build lasting wealth.

Understanding and implementing these tax-deferral techniques can substantially improve your investment outcomes. By keeping more of your profits working for you, you'll be set on a path to achieving your financial goals more quickly and efficiently. Don't leave money on the table—explore 1031 and 721 Exchanges and take control of your investment future today. Learn more about 1031 and 721 exchanges here


Dutch Mendenhall represents RADD Companies, yet his expressed views are his own and may not necessarily align with the company's perspectives, guarantee outcomes, or indicate future results. The content provided is for informational purposes only and should not be considered professional advice. Please read further at https://dutchmendenhall.com/disclosures/.

Dutch Mendenhall
Post by Dutch Mendenhall
Jun 14, 2024 9:35:27 AM
A husband, father, and man of faith. He's a force of nature marked by extraordinary achievements. He is the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of "Money Shackles." President of the Alternative Investment Associations (AIA). Recipient of the Patriot Legacy Award. Dutch has partnered with thousands and thousands of people who have achieved direct results in their money game.

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