1031 News This Week


Using Section 1031 to Buy a House You Want to Live In

The subject of questions I get from clients seems to go in cycles – I won’t get any questions about a particular subject for a long time, and then all of a sudden I’ll get a lot of questions about that subject—and from different parts of the country. Such is the case with the subject of this article: “can you buy a residence as your 1031 replacement property and then move into it?”

Section 1031 rolls the taxable gain from the sale of your old investment property over to your new. The key word here is, “investment.” If you sell bare land and buy a rental house, Section 1031 rolls the gain on the land over to the house.


Speed Bumps: Selling Multiple Properties in a 1031 Exchange

Can you sell multiple properties in a 1031 exchange and roll all the gain into one larger property? A normal 1031 exchange has certain rules, and selling multiple properties doesn’t change those rules. But it certainly presents speed bumps that you’ll need to overcome. Nothing difficult, but things you will need to think about and that will take patience and discipline at the beginning of your transaction.

The first speed bump involves the money. Section 1031 requires that you 1) buy equal or up and 2) that you reinvest all the cash. Equal or up when you’re selling multiple properties means that the New Property’s purchase price must equal or exceed the sales price of all the Old Properties put together. Let’s say you want to sell four single-family rental homes and buy a 10-unit apartment building. If you’re selling each house for $250,000, the apartment building must cost at least $1,000,000 if you want to pay no capital gains tax.


Bankruptcy Court Ruling: 1031 Sub-Accounts Available to Creditors

In a ruling handed down on April 15, 2009, the Court in the LandAmerica Exchange Services (or “LES”) case ruled that exchange proceeds held in sub-accounts were assets available to all creditors.

LES was the 1031 exchange arm of LandAmerica Title Company – one of the largest title companies in the country. LES had about $300 million in a commingled, or “pooled,” account which held the exchange funds for about 400 clients. They also had about $100 million in separate sub-accounts for about 50 clients.

The entire pooled account was invested in auction rate securities until February, 2008 when that market froze, making the account illiquid, which made LES unable to complete 1031 exchanges for clients whose money was locked in that account. This ultimately brought down the entire company (not just LES, but the title company as well).

...They used to say, “we’re too big to fail”–we’ve come to learn no company can say that...


50% Partnership Interest Purchase: ‘OK’ says IRS in a Reverse Exchange

One of the provisions of Section 1031 is a prohibition against buying a partnership interest as the replacement property in a 1031 exchange. This provision assumes that you’re buying the actual partnership “shares” as your replacement property. This makes sense if you think about it since partnership interests are not real estate, (they’re an intangible – like stocks or bonds), even if the partnership-owned asset IS real estate.

As with most things in IRS-land there are exceptions, and the IRS has just carved out such an exception with a private letter ruling issued last month. In PLR 200909008 the IRS ruled that the taxpayer could acquire a 50% partnership interest in a reverse exchange and then subsequently take over that interest to complete their exchange.

...As with most things in IRS-land there are exceptions, like this one issued last month...


Where’s Your Pooled Exchange Account Invested?

If your exchange account isn’t in a separate account, do you know what it’s invested in? Last week one of the largest title companies in the United States filed for bankruptcy. While that may not be surprising is this time of trouble for the real estate industry, what was surprising to most people is that this was a $1.5 billion (with a B!) publicly held company that was brought down by its' 1031 exchange operation.

I’m adamantly against pooling, yet most intermediaries pool their client’s money. By pooling, I mean the placing of all the client’s exchange funds into one account. The benefit of pooled accounts is that the intermediary is investing a larger amount of money, and is therefore able to obtain a greater return.

...what WAS surprising is this was a $1.5 billion (with a B!) publicly-held company brought down by its’ 1031 operation...


Section 121 - Congress Limits Gain Exclusion on the Sale of Some Primary Residences

When Congress passed the Housing Assistance Act of 2008 a few months ago, their goal was to help those people who were losing their homes in foreclosure. One of the side affects of the bill, however, was a change that could effect taxation on the gain from the sale of your personal residence.

IRS law excludes $250,000 of the gain from taxation if you're single, and $500,000 if you're married, when you sell a primary residence you've lived in for at least two years of the last five years. This is so even if a portion of the gain was rolled over into the property in a 1031 exchange transaction.

...This new law penalizes you for the time your property was not your primary residence...


Capitalize on the Current Real Estate Market with a Reverse Exchange

With a typical 1031 exchange, you can sell your investment property without paying taxes when you purchase another investment property of equal or greater value. But, there's a hitch - you must sell your old property before you buy your new property within a strict 180-day time frame - in order to qualify for a 1031 exchange.

What happens if you need or want to purchase the new property before selling the old property? For example, you run into a delay on the sale of your old property or you want to take advantage of a down market to invest in foreclosed properties while you're waiting for the market to ramp back up - but you're not ready to sell your current property's? This is where the reverse 1031 exchange comes in.

...Sophisticated investors are using reverse exchanges to make purchases now, when the market is slow and prices are low...


Cost Segregation Studies and 1031 Exchanges

Coming from my background as a CPA, and making my living in the real estate industry, I’m amazed that more of my clients don’t have cost segregation studies done on their properties. If you are one of the vast majority of property owners who’ve never heard of a cost seg study (as they are called), or don’t know what one is, you should take a look at this great tax benefit.


Using 1031 Exchanges to Shift Gains Between Tax Years

As we start to wind down towards the end of the year, now is a good time to point out that 1031 exchanges are a great vehicle to use in shifting gain between two tax years. For example, if Fred and Sue sell their purple duplex on December 1, 2008, their 45-day identification deadline for their exchange is January 14, 2009. Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code requires that they send a list of potential acquisition properties to their intermediary no later than, in this example, this date. Failure to do so will terminate their exchange, causing the gain from the sale of their purple duplex to be taxable.


How Owner Carry Notes Impact 1031 Exchanges

In this current climate of lender uncertainty, we’re getting a lot of questions about “owner carry” notes and how they impact a 1031 exchange. Whether you call it seller financing, contract for deed or purchase money mortgage, what we are talking about is the amount of financing the seller of a property is willing to help the buyer with.

Let’s say that you are selling your investment property for $100,000, and the buyer of your property is able to put up $80,000 in cash (whether from a loan, his own funds or both), but the buyer needs you to carry back the difference of $20,000. You want to do a Section 1031 exchange, but you’re uncertain how the $20,000 note would affect it.


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