This week our resident real estate expert, Josh Ostroski, shares some great background on a real estate trade called a 1031 Exchange. If someone wants to defer capital gains taxes on an investment property, a 1031 Exchange is a great way to do it, and it can mean opportunities for nonprofits, too. How? Read on! ~Helen
In my research (and in my previous work as a real estate agent) I’ve come across a particular real estate exchange a few times and wanted to share what I’ve learned and how it can be used for prospect research purposes.
What is a 1031 Exchange?
In a nutshell, a 1031 exchange is an IRS rule that allows real estate investors to defer capital gains taxes to some point in the future by swapping an investment property for another property of equal or higher value. For example, you could sell a single-family rental, apartment complex, etc. and purchase a similar or upgraded investment property and defer paying property gains tax. You are allowed to continue exchanging properties as many times as you want and for as long as you are alive.
Benefits of a 1031 Exchange
Deferring property gains tax allows the investor to have more buying power by having more money to put down on the next property. The investor could also sell their current property for one with a better return on investment.
The investor could diversify their portfolio by adding properties in a different market that may be hot, since there are no restrictions on where the new property is located. They could also improve their portfolio by either consolidating properties, or investing in multiple properties, which would create more potential for wealth. You could also increase your cash flow.
Rental properties are considered depreciating assets, and you can deduct a percentage of the cost of the rental property from your taxable income each year. If you exhaust the amount that can be depreciated, you could do a 1031 exchange, which would allow you to recapture your investment properties depreciation.
You can gift the investment properties to your heirs, and they won’t have to pay the accumulated capital gains. The heirs will inherit the properties in a step-up basis, meaning they will inherit the properties at the current fair-market price of the asset.
Downfalls of a 1031 Exchange
When you sell the property, you need to put the entire initial amount – including the downpayment on the property being sold – back into the new investment, so there is no liquidity event with a 1031 exchange.
When you sell the investment properties you will need to pay the capital gains realized on those investments, which could accumulate to large amount.
There are strict timelines: you have 45 days to identify a new property (or properties).
The process can be complicated and confusing, so some people may not want to deal with the rules and structure. It becomes even more complicated if there are multiple investors.
How it Relates to Prospect Research
A property owner could turn a vacation home that they don’t use into a rental property, then either exchange it for another rental or keep it and gift it to their children or a nonprofit.
If a prospect has investment properties, it could be advantageous for them to gift the properties, so they don’t have to pay the realized capital gains while also accomplishing their philanthropic goals. It can be akin to donating stock or crypto.
There are many factors that would affect if donating a property would make sense for your organization:
- does your organization accept gifts of real estate?;
- how much equity is in the property;
- is the property marketable;
- are there any additional associated costs with the property?
These are all things to consider.
To find the estimated value of the investment property, there are a couple of simple ways:
- If it’s a commercial property, LoopNet is a good resource to find comparative values (“comps”).
- If the prospect has single-family home that is used as a rental, you can see what the normal resale value of the home is by checking Zillow. In addition, Zillow will often list what the last asking rent price was on its listing for that property. If the rental price isn’t listed, I recommend doing a search on the property address to see if anything comes up for that property.
If a prospect has either a vacation home or what appears to be investment properties, let that be known in the profile you create and/or let the gift officer or planned giving officer know so they can talk about options with the prospect.
Here is a link to the IRS Fact Sheet about 1031’s. As always, if you have questions about the legalities of 1031’s seek out a tax attorney for information.