The 1031 Exchange Ultimate Guide for Real Estate Investors

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Taxes suck, don’t they?

Sure, they pay for our roads, our schools, our bank bailouts, and our welfare system… but they are kind of the pits.

But what if I told you there was a way to make them suck a little less?

Enter: The 1031 Exchange. To a lifelong real estate investor, this little trick might completely revolutionize your business and help you save on taxes AND build significantly more wealth. This post will be your road map to make this happen.

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What is a 1031 Exchange?

If you decide to sell a rental property at some point, you will need to pay taxes on that gain.


Now, this might not be a big deal if you are a terrible investor or have had some bad luck and you don’t have any financial gain. But hopefully you are a smart real estate investor. You read BiggerPockets, after all. You aren’t going to make some measly profit or sell at a loss. You are going to rock this game and make some serious moolah when you sell! In short, you are going to have so much cash that you’ll need to get yourself some bigger pockets. (See what I did there!?)

But then Uncle Sam is gonna come a-knockin’ for his piece of the pie. And trust me, he’s got quite an appetite.

Don’t fret, though! I’ve got some good news: The IRS wants to partner with you on that money by allowing you to do a 1031 exchange.

Seriously? Partner? With the IRS? 

Yep. Through a 1031 exchange.

A 1031 exchange (pronounced “ten thirty-one exchange” if you are cool like me), is a tax strategy so named because of its inclusion in Section 1031 of the IRS tax code. It also commonly known as a “Starker exchange” or a “Like Kind exchange.” In essence, a 1031 exchange allows an investor to “defer” paying any property taxes on the property when it is sold, as long as another “like-kind” asset is purchased using the profit received. We’ll talk about exactly what that means in just a moment, but let’s cover the big picture first.


First, understand that the 1031 exchange is NOT just for real estate, but real estate is the most common use. In reality, a person could use a 1031 exchange to defer taxes on numerous asset types, from paintings to businesses to cattle to automobiles, but seeing that this is a real estate blog the best real estate blog on planet Earth, we’re going to focus on that aspect!

I mentioned a moment ago that the IRS wants to “partner” with you. Now, the IRS doesn’t come right out and say that, but in a way, that’s exactly what they are doing. When you make money, you need to pay taxes. But instead, if you follow the strict rules of a 1031 exchange, the IRS is basically telling you (in a whiny, nasally pitched voice, of course):

Hey… you obviously have been doing pretty well with this real estate thing. So why don’t you hang onto our money for a while and reinvest it in your next deal? This will help you make more money next time, and we’ll get an even bigger share. Unless you want to partner again on the next one after that.”

This is what is meant by “deferred.” The taxes are still going to be due someday (unless you die, but we’ll talk about that later), but until that point, it can be extremely advantageous to keep using the government’s money to invest in properties. In addition to the government “partnering” with you, the entire US tax system is designed to encourage certain behaviors in society by rewarding or penalizing people for certain actions. In this case, the US Government is rewarding real estate investors because we are providing housing for the masses.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Real Estate Investment Tax Benefits

The logical reason for the 1031 exchange makes sense. After all, if you make $100,000 on a property and then use that $100,000 to buy another property, it’s not like you are out spending your $100,000 on shiny new toys. In fact, as we’ll discuss in a minute, the money never even touches your bank account after the sale of the property, but is held by an “intermediary.” So, the IRS in all its benevolence has decided to be fair and not require us to pay those taxes yet.

Nice guys, the IRS. Right? Well, maybe. We’ll get to that.

Even more than the tax-savings advantages, the 1031 exchange has several other benefits as well. It can allow a real estate investor to shift the focus of their investing without incurring the tax liability. For example, perhaps you are investing in properties that are low-income and thus high-maintenance. You could exchange the high-maintenance investment for a low-maintenance investment without needing to pay a significant amount of taxes. Or perhaps you want to move your investments from one location to another without the IRS knocking. The 1031 makes this possible.

Now, to illustrate how a 1031 works in the real world, let me share with you a few examples:

1031 Exchange Examples

Because 1031 exchanges can be slightly complicated, let’s look at a couple examples of BiggerPockets Members who have recently used the 1031 exchange to defer a lot of money on the sales of their real estate investments.

1031 Exchange Example #1:

Jason Mak 1031 ExchangedIn July of 2013, Jason Mak purchased an 81-unit apartment building in Riverside, CA. Paying $3.1 million dollars for the property, he immediately set out to improve the building. He worked on both the business side, evicting bad tenants and improving management efficiencies, as well as on the physical condition of the property, adding a new roof and elevator, painting, landscaping, and more. After increasing occupancy from 60% to 95% and stabilizing the entire operation, Jason sold the property for $5.5 million dollars in the spring of 2015. Overall, he netted a final profit of $2,000,000 on the two-year apartment turnaround!

Had Jason simply sold this deal, he would have needed to pay close to $600,000 in capital gains tax, but he knew better. Jason used a 1031 exchange to parlay his cash into two new properties, a 24-unit apartment building and an upscale office building. Although reducing the number of units, Jason was able to buy nicer properties in significantly better locations that will be easier to manage and increase his ability to grow wealth.

1031 Exchange Example #2:

big_1399484891-avatar-sfcgeeIn 2012, Serge Shukat (who we have interviewed TWICE on the BiggerPockets Podcast, episodes 60 and 131) purchased a newer single family home for $70,000, located in Casa Grande, Arizona. The home was a foreclosed property that quickly climbed in value. When Serge sold the home two years later for $135,000, he cleared almost $60,000 in profit. According to Serge, he would have had to pay close to $15,000 in capital gains tax plus an additional $3,000 or so for the recapture of depreciation. Instead, Serge spent $600 on the 1031 exchange process and was able to roll his entire profit into the purchase of a newer, larger single family home AND a 2006 mobile home on one acre of land. Essentially, he turned one $1,000 per month rental into two that gross $1,950.

When talking to Serge about this deal, he also mentioned:

“This is the most typical 1031 deal I do. I don’t sell a home via 1031 until I have first identified a replacement and then start marketing the home that has the lowest return on equity (not return on investment). This point is key. It is nearly impossible to source an adequate replacement in the short time period they give you, and the trade becomes not worthy unless you can source the replacement at a deep discount, which is rare and takes time. I’m lucky to have a pipeline of turnkey investors ready to purchase the inventory that I want to sell. I also continue to PM these homes, so add another $100 monthly to the gross transaction. When it’s all said and done, I double my gross rental income and pay no tax in the process. It’s slow going, but I’ve used this method at least 15 times and it’s an ideal way to slowly build wealth.”

Hopefully those examples helped you to see the big picture benefits of the 1031 exchange! Now, as you probably noticed in both Jason and Serge’s story, a 1031 exchange does NOT mean you are selling your property to JimBob, and JimBob is selling his property to you. I know the word “exchange” sounds like you are trading someone a pair of sneakers for his Pokemon cards, but you’re simply exchanging your property for another property (or multiple properties), though through two different individuals.


1031 Exchange Rules

If you plan to use a 1031, understand that there are some pretty strict rules that MUST be followed. If you don’t, you won’t get the tax-deferred exchange. It’s as simple as that. So let’s talk about those 1031 exchange rules now.

1. Properties Must Be “Like-Kind”

The IRS requires that the property being sold (the “relinquished” property) and the property being acquired (the “replacement” property) must be “like-kind assets.” In other words, you can’t trade a car dealership for a rental house, as they are different kinds of assets. However, you can exchange almost any type of investment real estate for any other type of investment real estate. For example:

  • Exchanging a duplex for an apartment complex would be allowed.
  • Exchanging a piece of raw land for a rental house would be allowed
  • Exchanging a vacation rental property for a strip mall would be allowed.

Also, keep in mind that the property must be an investment, not your primary or secondary home. Additionally, both properties must reside within the United States of America to qualify.

Finally, sorry house flippers: Properties that are designed for a quick purchase and resale do not count.

2. The Replacement Property Should Be of Equal or Greater Value

In order to completely avoid paying any taxes upon the sale of your property, the IRS requires that the replacement property being acquired is of equal or greater in value than the property being relinquished, although that value could be spread out over multiple properties.

For example, let’s say you have a property that you are going to sell for $1,000,000. To get the full benefit of the 1031 exchange, you must buy at least $1,000,000’s worth of like-kind real estate through the 1031 exchange. Now, that could be a $1,000,000+ apartment complex OR four different $250,000+ properties. It doesn’t matter. (Also note: Acquisition costs, such as inspections, escrow fees, commissions, etc., DO count toward the total cost of the replacement property.)

Technically, it is possible to carry out a partial 1031 exchange and actually purchase something of lower value, but you will need to pay taxes on the difference. For example, if the relinquished property is being sold for $1,000,000 and you purchase a new property through the 1031 exchange for $900,000, you will need to pay the normal capital gains tax(es) on the $100,000 difference. This extra $100,000 is known as “boot.”

Finally, understand that when I talk about the sale price of the relinquished property, I am talking about the entire sales price, not just the profit you made. In other words, let’s say you purchased a piece of property for $100,000 and sold it later for $200,000. The replacement property would need to be greater than $200,000, not just the $100,000 in profit you made.

Related: Don’t Pay Taxes on Your Capital Gains: 1031 Exchanges

Now, once you have the price range understood, it’s time to start looking for the replacement property–and you better hurry up!

3. The 45-Day Identification Window

The IRS imposes a very strict timeline on identifying the property you plan to buy: 45 days.

That’s right, you must identify the property you plan to close on within 45 days or lose the entire benefit of the 1031 exchange.

Now, if you are an experienced investor, you probably recognize that this is not a lot of time to find a property, especially in today’s hot market. Sometimes I will go six months without buying a property, simply because I can’t find a deal worthy of buying! I think this is a great indication that the creators of this rule didn’t invest in real estate, but this 45 day rule is unlikely to change anytime soon, so just understand that the day you sell your relinquished property, the clock begins ticking.

Of course, you likely will have more time than just 45 days, as the timer doesn’t start until the day you sell your property. You will likely list the property for sale several months before closing, so if you are confident that you want to do a 1031 exchange, start looking for deals long before your property is officially sold. Ideally, the day that you list the property for sale can be the day you begin your search, or as in the story with Serge above, consider selling an asset using the 1031 exchange AFTER you find a new deal to purchase. Also keep in mind, you can also negotiate a long escrow period on the property you are selling, giving you more time before the countdown begins.

In addition to the countdown the IRS places on real estate investors, there are some strict procedures you must follow in this process. For example, you are allowed to officially identify three potential deals, which is helpful in case the first one doesn’t go through. If you only identify one deal and something happens later in the due diligence period, you might miss out on the entire 1031 exchange. However, while you might be thinking that you’ll just identify a ton of properties, hold your horses! The IRS generally allows you to identify up to three potential replacement properties, no more.

(There are a few exceptions to this rule, known as the 95 percent rule and the 200 percent rule. These exceptions state that you can identify more than three properties, but you are required to actually purchase 95 percent of those you identify, OR the total combined cost of all those identified properties is less than 200% of the sales price of your relinquished properties. For example, if you formally identify twenty different potential properties, you would either have to actually end up purchasing nineteen of those–95% of the twenty) or the combined value of all twenty would need to be less than 200% of your sales price. I’m sure you can imagine the difficulty in both these scenarios, but they are exceptions to the rule, though seldom used.)

Now, what exactly does it mean to “identify” a property? According to the IRS:

“The identification must be in writing, signed by you and delivered to a person involved in the exchange like the seller of the replacement property or the qualified intermediary.  However, notice to your attorney, real estate agent, accountant or similar persons acting as your agent is not sufficient” (Like-Kind Exchanges Under IRC Code Section 1031).

Once the properties have been identified, it’s time to move toward closing on those properties because another timer has already begun ticking…


4. The 180-Day Closing Window

A moment ago we discussed the fact that the clock for the 45-day window starts ticking the moment the relinquished property is sold. At this same moment, another clock begins counting down as well, known as the 180-day closing window. The IRS requires that the new replacement property be fully purchased (the title officially transferred) within 180 days of the sale of the relinquished property. This rule, along with the 45-day rule, is strictly enforced, and your entire 1031 exchange will fail if you do not meet both rules.

5. No Touchy, No Touchy

Finally, one of the most important rules governing the entire 1031 exchange process is this: You may not touch the money of the relinquished property if you hope to avoid the taxes!

Although there may be up to 180 days in between the sale of the relinquished property and the purchase of the replacement property, the proceeds may never enter your bank account or an account controlled by you. Instead, you are required to use a qualified intermediary. An intermediary is someone who holds onto your money while you wait to buy the new property.

Of course, there are a lot of people out there who would love to hold onto your money for you, but I would recommend using a qualified intermediary, also known as an accommodator. There are hundreds of companies that can serve this role for you, as a quick Google search will point out. I would just recommend going with an established company that has a long history and solid reputation to avoid fraud or other unfortunate situations.

Also keep in mind, while the IRS doesn’t specifically state what a qualified intermediary is, they do define what a qualified intermediary is not. A qualified intermediary cannot be you, your agent, your broker, your spouse, your family member, your investment banker, your employee, your business associate, or anyone who has had one of these roles in the past two years (Like-Kind Exchanges Under IRC Code Section 1031).

Related: Property Depreciation: Why the Tax Benefits Could Come Back to Bite You

How to Do a 1031 Exchange, Step by Step

At this point, we’ve covered all the dirty details about the 1031 exchange. Now, let’s put it all together and walk through the step by step process for carrying out a 1031 exchange. Keep in mind, the following is just a general outline, and specific deals may vary slightly from this process.

  1. Decide to Sell and Do a 1031 Exchange: Not every purchase is worth doing the 1031 exchange. After all, with all the requirements, costs, and countdown timers, it may be advantageous to simply pay the tax and move on. That is definitely a discussion for you and your accountant to have.
  2. You List Your Property For Sale: You will then list your property for sale as you ordinarily would. Your agent will likely include language in the listing paperwork regarding your desire to do a 1031 exchange and their willingness to play along.
  3. Begin Looking for Replacement Properties: Remember, the moment the relinquished property is sold, the countdown of 45 days begins. Therefore, begin looking for deals immediately.
  4. Find a Qualified Intermediary: Look for someone professional with a good reputation.
  5. Negotiate and Accept an Offer: When someone agrees to buy your property, you will need to make sure the paperwork clearly states that a 1031 exchange is taking place on your end, and they will need to comply. Although there is not a lot of work for the buyer to do, there may be paperwork they need to sign off on, such as assignments or disclosures.
  6. Close on the Sale of Your Relinquished Property: The title company or attorney will handle the closing like any other real estate transaction, except your qualified intermediary will be actively involved in the process, and the funds will transfer to their bank account, not yours.
  7. Identify Up to Three Properties Within 45 Days: It’s now time to officially designate the properties you might pursue. Keep in mind, you can identify up to three properties, or more if you close on 95% of them or the total combined value of the identified properties is less than 200% of the sales price of your relinquished property.
  8. Sign Contract on the First Choice Property: Most likely, of the three properties you identified, one will stand out as your first choice. You will need to get that property under contract and open escrow, making sure the seller knows you are purchasing through a 1031 exchange. You could also go under contract on all three of your identified properties, using contingency clauses to back out on the ones that you choose not to pursue.
  9. Let Your Qualified Intermediary Work With the Title Company: You, your agent, and your qualified intermediary will work with the title company or closing attorney to make sure all the i’s have been dotted and t’s have been crossed. This is actually a fairly simple process that your qualified intermediary should be familiar with
  10. Close on the Replacement Property: Finally, the qualified intermediary will wire over your money to the title company or attorney, and the property will close like a normal transaction, deferring your need to pay the taxes until some point in the future, if ever. (We’ll talk about the “end game” in a moment.)

The beauty of the 1031 exchange is the ability to repeat this process over and over again on properties and continue deferring taxes indefinitely. This can help you build some serious wealth over time, greater than if you simply paid the taxes each time. Let me share with you some of the greatest benefits of the 1031 exchange, starting with my favorite: faster wealth growth.


How a 1031 Exchange Can Make You Millions

Below I’m going to show you a timeline for two different investors who bought and sold properties over a thirty-five-year span. The investors in both scenarios start with the same amount of money ($50,000), buy the same property (a $250,000 deal) and have the same growth (5% equity growth each year), reinvest their profits as a 30% down payment on their next deal, but end up with a very different amount due to the taxes. Take a look. (For simplicity, we’re not including closing costs, depreciation, loan pay-down, cash flow, and other obvious sources of income and expenses in this diagram. This is simply to illustrate a point.)


Investor #1 (above) purchased a $250,000 property with his $50,000 down payment. After five years, he sold it for $319,070.39. He was able to use the entire profit–and his equity built thus far–to put a 30% down payment on his next deal. This continues for 25 years with no tax due because of the continual use of the 1031 exchange. Now let’s take a look at investor #2, who chose not to use the 1031 exchange:


After 25 years, investor #2 ended up with just under $2.5 million. While still a respectable sum of money, notice that she trails investor #1 by over $1,000,000! This is because investor #1 was able to put the government’s money to work, helping him build greater wealth.

Now, what happens at the end of year 25 to investor #1? After all, the 1031 exchange is simply a method of tax deference, not tax avoidance. Or is it? Let’s talk about that next.

The 1031 Exchange End Game

In the example above, investor #1 ended year 25 with $3.8 million, while investor #2 ended with $2.4 million. But what happens after that? Typically, there are three common scenarios for any real estate investor when they are finished with their investment career:

1. Cash Out

Some investors decide to get out of the real estate game entirely, cashing in their chips and walking out the door. In other words, they decide that they will pay the IRS what they owe after selling all their properties. However, at this point, they are not simply paying the taxes on that final property’s profit, but (put very simplistically) on ALL the properties they have ever used the 1031 exchange to avoid. Because the “cost basis” of the property is carried forward on every deal, that final tax bill will likely be exceptionally large. However, because you were able to continually use the government’s money to buy larger and larger properties, even cashing out and paying the taxes will put you far ahead of where you would have been by paying the tax each time.

However… you probably don’t want to pay that tax if you can avoid it. So let’s talk about how you are going to avoid it–forever!

2. Die and Pass it On

That’s right, many investors simply choose to hold their properties until the day that they die, passing on the properties to their heirs. The benefit of this is that current inheritance laws allow the heirs to receive the property at a “stepped up basis,” which means the tax consequences virtually disappear.

For example, let’s say the adjusted basis on a property, after numerous 1031 exchanges and lots of time, is $200,000, and the property is worth $3,000,000. If the owner sold the property five minutes before death, they would owe taxes on the $2.8 million in gain. But if the estate passes to the heirs, the basis automatically is bumped up to the fair market value, or $3,000,000. The heirs could then sell the property and pay little, if any, tax. Of course, there are special rules and fine print that accompanies this (especially for the exceptionally wealthy), so be sure to talk with a qualified professional about your estate planning!

Related: Why the Perfect Time to Plan Your Exit Strategy is Right NOW

Of course, not every investor wants to hold onto properties until they are on their death bed. I know I don’t want to be dealing with tenants when I’m 40 years old, so being a hundred-year-old landlord is absurd!

So how does one get around this?

By trading up into properties that are significantly easier to manage! For example, perhaps you could 1031-exchange your equity into a multimillion-dollar shopping mall as part of a syndication with hundreds of other investors. Or trade into a NNN lease investment, where the tenant pays EVERYTHING and you sit back and collect a check.

There are hundreds of ways to make money with real estate, so simply trading up to a more passive method sounds pretty good to me.


Final Thought on the 1031 Exchange

I’ve just spent the last 4,000 words giving you more information about a 1031 exchange than you probably ever wanted to know. You should feel proud: You now know more than 99.99% of the U.S. population! Hopefully by now you have all the knowledge needed to decide if a 1031 is right for you and if so, how to accomplish such a task.

A 1031 exchange may be slightly complicated, but the long term benefits of using this tax loophole can pack a tremendous punch in your future wealth creation and should be considered by all serious real estate investors who are in this game for the long haul. But remember, if you are considering a 1031 exchange in your future, please speak with a qualified tax professional about your options.

Questions? Comments? Feel free to ask them below. Just remember, I’m not a lawyer or CPA or qualified intermediary. You should seek professional advice with legal questions!

And if you appreciated the time I spent putting together this ultimate guide, the best way to thank me is through a social share! (You can find links to share on Twitter, Facebook, and more at the top of this page.) 

(A special thanks to Keystone CPA for their help in making sure the information above is as correct as possible! Also – (The preceding is an excerpt from the new book from BiggerPockets, The Book on Rental Property Investing. If you are looking to buy more rental properties this year, pick up a copy today!)

About Author

Brandon Turner

Brandon Turner is an active real estate investor, entrepreneur, writer, and co-host of the BiggerPockets Podcast. He began buying rental properties and flipping houses at age 21, discovering he didn’t need to work 40 years at a corporate job to have “the good life.” Today, with nearly 100 rental units and dozens of rehabs under his belt, he continues to invest in real estate while also showing others the power, and impact, of financial freedom. His writings have been featured on,,, Money Magazine, and numerous other publications across the web and in print media. He is the author of The Book on Investing in Real Estate with No (and Low) Money Down, The Book on Rental Property Investing, and co-author of The Book on Managing Rental Properties, which he wrote alongside his wife, Heather, and How to Invest in Real Estate, which he wrote alongside Joshua Dorkin. A life-long adventurer, Brandon (along with Heather and daughter Rosie) splits his time between his home in Washington State and various destinations around the globe.


  1. Rick L.

    Thanks Brandon. An excellent article! I believe you mentioned that an individual would be able to sell ONE property and 1031 exchange into TWO or more properties (as long as the value is larger than the original property). What about the other way around? Is it possible to sell two properties and combine the proceeds to 1031 exchange into acquiring ONE property?

  2. Alan Brown

    Hey, Buddy, thanks for the great article! one thing, though, and I hate to be a wet blanket, but I think you were using 20% down for the equity reinvestments, instead of 30%, which would change the final numbers quite a bit. I’m not usually a numbers checking try-to-find -fault-with-the-author’s- details kind of guy, but right now I’m about 30 days into my 45 day replacement property ID period, and pulling my hair out! Trying to find lending that will allow me to maximize my Cash on Cash returns; gone are the 20% down deals; so when I looked at your numbers, I was thinking, “how come his numbers look so much better than mine???”
    Thanks again

  3. Kathlyn Lewis

    Question on the ‘like kind” issue – we are building (ground up) a SFH that we plan to sell. Can that be used with a 1031 if we buy investment real estate? We bought the raw land originally and it’s take about 4 years to make this happen, probably 5 years total when all said and done, so definitely not a “quick flip” scenario, time-wise.

  4. Michael Swan

    Phenomenal Brandon,

    Presently, I am 1031 exchanging all my pricey San Diego Rental properties for apartment complexes in North East Ohio. It is difficult to explain and break down the amazing advantages of the 1031 exchange to friends, family, associates etc.. They get this blank stare look on their face and can’t fathom this financial freedom retirement plan that you have so eloquently explained.

    I started to trade in 10 condos in San Diego that have doubled in value, since I purchased them in 2011, 2012, and 2013.. I did a calculation of return on equity on all 10 rental properties at the end of 2014 and was amazed that my equity was only returning me barely 3%. That was unacceptable to me. Another factor I used to move to the 1031 exchange financial freedom retirement path was that I have lived in San Diego since 1978 and have witnessed this euphoric unsustainable rise in real estate prices many times before. I also heard at that time they were beginning to give loans to borrowers with subpar credit scores at a minimum of 608. I said to myself, here we go again.

    By the summer or fall of 2016, I will have 1031 exchanged all my rental properties at the peak of the San Diego real estate market. Maybe by that time the credit score minimum will drop under 590. Who knows. Also the $417, 000 loan limit will be significantly increased due to increased property values here in San Diego.

    Finally, I see your chart in the article about what you could do over a 25 year period on one rental property. Imagine if you multiply that final number by 10.

    I WILL have approximately $40,000,000.00 after 25 years, evidenced by your chart. Not to mention all the cash flow achieved throughout that period.

    How about this idea, you DON’T sell and have over $1,000,000.00 in tax deferred cash flow at the time you die. Than your kids inherit at a stepped up basis and they take all that tax deferred can flow and defer, defer, defer, defer, defer, and die too? Of course depreciation starts all over for your heirs. What a country!!!

    That’s what I am talking about!!! No speculating on the stock market etc… No depending on financial planners that make significantly less than I do. It doesn’t matter if a democrat or republican is the president of the United States with this plan. The Kennedys own an incredible amount of land. What are they? Democrats? Yep. This loophole or benefit to real estate investors will live on. Can you feel it!!

    Here are my new rules. 1. Never lose money. 2. It must cash flow. 3. You CAN’T get rich slow. I have cashed all 401k and IRAs. I already paid taxes and am not depending on anyone else for my retirement. It is all in my hands and what a great feeling!!! No more speculating. The value of apartment complexes is based on NOI. Comps are secondary. I educated myself by reading books, listening to podcasts, attending seminars, and Bigger Pockets.

    I commend you for explaining this 1031 exchange financial freedom path. Now. The hard part, people just need to take action. Talk is cheap people. Do it!!! Do it!!! Do it!!!!!



  5. Jeff L.

    Serge wrote: “This is the most typical 1031 deal I do. I don’t sell a home via 1031 until I have first identified a replacement and then start marketing the home that has the lowest return on equity (not return on investment).”

    What’s the difference between Return on Equity and ROI?

  6. Michael Swan

    Great Question Jeff,

    Return on Equity is the total income after taxes divided by how much equity you have sitting in your property. I bought a property for $125,000 in San Diego in 2012 and I noticed that the property had appreciated to $280,000 at the end of 2014. That property was earning me $5,000.00 in passive cash flow. By 2014, I only owed $85,000.00 on the property. So, I divided my cash flow ($5,000 a year) over my equity ($195,000.00) and came up with about 2.6 percent return on equity. That was unacceptable. That’s why I am 1031 exchanging all my pricey San Diego rental properties for Apartment complexes and putting 25% down on each apartment complex to increase my return on equity. Low interest rate leveraged Multifamily is the quickest way to wealth. My new rules now are, 1. Never lose money. 2. It must cash flow. 3. You CAN’T get rich slowly. By following these 3 rules and deferring, deferring, deferring, deferring, and then dying, My kid will inherit at a stepped up basis and he can do the same thing.

    Return on investment is the money you put in to the deal and your total return, including cash flow and appreciation. Return on Equity is what you need to look at after the first year and you need to watch how much equity you have in each of your properties and leverage to increase your return on equity.


    • David Roberts

      I don’t think debt matters. What i took from this was after selling a property, the replacement one must be the same or higher price you pay. And all profit you took from the sale must go into the replacement deal.

      I had the same question as the first comment. Can i sell 2 or 3 houses and roll the profit together into one replacement deal?

      My guess is not unless it is a package sale (bulk deal). But that’s my question.

      • Coley B.

        Does debt on the replacement property need to be greater than the CURRENT debt of your existing property? Or greater than the ORIGINAL mortgage amount? For example, if I originally had a loan of $100k…but I’ve paid down $10k over the years leaving a balance of $90k…do you I need the replacement property to have a mortgage greater than $90k? Or greater than $100k?

  7. John bennett

    Thanks for all the great info Mr. Turner!
    I was wondering what serge was talking about when he mentioned PM adding 100 a month to the profit? Is that Post management? I also wanted to know what NNN was?
    It is so refreshing to actually get information that is helpful, instead of a bunch of run around that leads to a request for money!
    I really appreciate you guys!

  8. My in-laws own a home valued at $200K. They owed $30K on it. They wanted us to have the home since they will be going into an Assisted Living facility. The home is a manufactured home. We paid the $30K to pay the house off and put it in our name. When we sell it will it be considered an inheritance or would we still need to do a 1031?

  9. Deep Patel

    Great article with very in-depth information on 1031 !!

    Question – Is the seller (i.e. investor) allowed to use the same agent/lender/closing attorney (any party other than Qualified Intermediary) with whom they would have dealt with in past two years? I understand QI needs to be someone who is at arms length relationship, however I would like clarify regd other parties involved.

    Appreciate the information being shared here.

  10. In terms of deferring taxes, I think you meant to type “capital-gains taxes” instead of “property taxes” in the paragraph toward the beginning of the article; the paragraph just above the picture of the model house, note pad, and $2000 in $100 bills.

  11. Chris Field

    I keep toying with the idea of doing a 1031 on one of my multi sites. The market is hot right now and I could probably pull out about $1m from it. I’d love to get into either a larger site or maybe a nice strip mall.

    But the problem is that the market is good and you have a limited time window. So you pretty much have to have a deal fall into your lap. I refuse to overpay because I’m in a rush. Top dollar out top dollar in is a waste of time.

    Another investor I know just ran out of time on their 1031 and paid the taxes.

    Also trading up sounds great on paper but if you already have nice property why? Anything that’s bigger will be in worse shape unless I build it new, and big multi million dollar new builds come with their own risk. Why keep hanging your butt out trading up if you already
    have a lot.

  12. Sarah P.

    Brandon- once depreciation stops benefiting the property, I know the option to do a 1031 might be tempting so my question is, what if you find another investment property owner with a like-property? Can you do a quit claim deed to each other and bypass all the craziness or will that trigger a tax event?

  13. Rohan J.

    How would you 1031 a single family (that was under your own name) into an apartment complex if you were hoping to get financed?

    I own a $400K single family in LA that is financed under my name. I want to 1031 this into an apartment complex, but the lender only lends to LLCs.

    Are you allowed to 1031 a single family that is financed under your name into an apartment complex that would be financed under an LLC?

  14. Thanks for a great article! I have a question… I’m in the middle of conducting a 1031 exchange. We are past the 45 day identification period but before the 180 days to close. We entered a standard real estate contract, the closing date was after the identification period, the sellers acknowledged that it was a 1031 when they signed the contract, and then 4 days before closing they said they need to pull out because they didn’t realize there was a lien on the property and they don’t have enough money to go to closing. If they won’t sell the property to me, am I just out of luck? What are my options?

  15. Dede Christensen

    @lauren. I hope your situation worked out. I went through a two property exchange into one. Out of state, too, so it required an excellent QI (Qualified Intermediary) and a very sharp 1031 exchange attorney along with two sharp real estate agents.

  16. Shasha Jhaveri

    This was such a great starting point. We are doing a 1031 exchange now, but heard about it a bit late in the game. The first property is in escrow now, so we are hustling to find a new one. Can’t wait to report back when we successfully find a new place.

    • Suly B.

      Who did you work with?

      My role involves meeting with commercial and real estate investors to raise awareness of the benefits of cost segregation. I have had a lot of questions from real estate investors about combining cost segregation and 1031 exchange.

      I am limited understanding of 1031 so I’m interested in talking to an expert who can help answer the question: is cost segregation and 1031 exchange a match made in heaven?

  17. I’m the only person who loses money. In real estate
    I want to dump one of the pieces of a three- piece starker deal. Will take a loss. How does that affect my taxes. ?
    Thank you.

  18. Hi Brandon,

    Question on the 1031 side. I bought land for $200,000 and market rate is now $250,000. I want to sell $50,000 worth of land today and use it for a 1031 and sell the remaining $200,000 later this year. My total gain will be $50,000 on the property. Am I able to split it up like this and avoid capital gains since all transactions will happen in the same taxable year?


  19. Darrell Crawford on

    can someone comment on how depreciation works in a 1031? My property that I would exchange is almost fully depreciated. It seems that I will not be able to depreciate the new property. Am I correct?


  20. Ketch Rogers

    Hi Brandon. I’m new to BiggerPockets and this is one of the first articles I’ve read. I found it helpful. Here is some constructive input for you to consider.

    Proof read your content. You mention a 35-year span in the text but it is 25-years in the chart. You also mention 30% down but it is 20% by the math. For me, finding errors like these in your article looks sloppy and reduce your credibility. Attention to detail matters. I still appreciate the article but double check it.

    Also, do you have the more complex complete math comparison including closing costs, depreciation, loan pay-down, cash flow, and other obvious sources of income and expenses? It would be interesting to see the impact.

    Thank you for the article.

  21. Alim Abrahim

    Hey, this is an open question for anyone that can advise. I’m a commercial RE agant, and I have a client with some 1031 funds to place. I know of a real estate fund that he could invest with… I’m pretty confident that he can move his funds into the fund…. but as a realtor, how can I be paid? If they offer commission, is it normal/legal for me to accept commission on fund investment? Thanks

    • Dave Finigan

      Not likely, unfortunately. Maybe even illegal for the fund to pay you. If you are involved (committing time, making contacts, providing expertise) in placing the funds for your client, perhaps your client will pay you a fee to do that. Otherwise, why would you be involved, right? p.s. I am a commercial RE agent too.

  22. Isaac Agbolosoo

    On step # 3: Begin Looking for Replacement Properties: Remember, the moment the relinquished property is sold, the countdown of 45 days begins. Therefore, begin looking for deals immediately.

    Does the investor has to find and close on a deal within 45days or find and sign the PA within 45days? What if the next home closes beyond 45days?

  23. Suly B.

    My role involves meeting with commercial and real estate investors to raise awareness of the benefits of cost segregation. I have had a lot of questions from real estate investors about combining cost segregation and 1031 exchange.

    I am limited understanding of 1031 so I’m interested in talking to an expert who can help answer the question: is cost segregation and 1031 exchange a match made in heaven?

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