Real Estate Investors Can Defer Taxes with a 1031 Exchange

Beverly Hills real estate

Paying taxes on capital gains for property transactions has always been a hindrance to those involved in real estate investment. Why should investors pay taxes on profit from real estate transactions if they’re putting the profit right back into some other real estate transaction?

The answer: They shouldn’t.

That’s exactly why the IRS created 1031 exchanges: to allow for tax deferment on profit that is reinvested immediately. Notice it’s a deferment, not a credit or a reduction. It does have to be paid eventually, just not at the time of sale and not until the money is taken out of the property, at which point it is taxable. Eager to learn more, I found some info on 1031 exchanges at 1031.org.

What Is a 1031 Exchange?

Simply put, a 1031 exchange is a method of deferring the tax on capital gains until some point in the future, according to 1031.org. They’re called Section 1031 exchanges because Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code states that “no gain or loss shall be recognized on the exchange of property held for productive use in a trade or business, or for investment.”

Section 1031 was created to encourage reinvestment of sale proceeds of property into similar property. Obviously this stimulates business and growth. As long as the investor continues to put profit back into more property, taxes are not owed.

This all makes pretty good sense. Let’s say I invest in a house in Beverly Hills that costs me $100,000 (I WISH!). I put $50,000 into the house and put it on the market. It sells for $250,000. My $100,000 profit, or capital gain, is then put into another property that I buy to fix up and sell. This continues, and all of my capital gains are deferred with a 1031 exchange UNTIL I sell my last property and enjoy my profit. At that point, I pay all taxes owed.

Frequently Asked Questions About 1031 Exchanges

What is the benefit of a 1031 exchange versus just selling property?

A Section 1031 exchange is one of the few ways investors can defer taxes due on the sale of property (assuming it qualifies for a 1031 exchange). Deferring taxes allows investors access to the money that would otherwise be paid in taxes, allowing them to invest in another property.

What are the general guidelines to follow in order to defer all the taxable gain?

The IRS is very clear on this. The value, equity in and debt on the new property must be equal to or greater than the value of the property being sold for an exchange to be valid. This is even more important – ALL of the profit from the property sale MUST be used to buy the new property. If even a tiny percentage of the profit is used for something else, the 1031 exchange is not valid.

If there is already a contract to sell the property, is it too late to start a tax-deferred exchange?
No, as long as there has not been a transfer of title or a closing on the sale of the property, a tax-deferred exchange can still be arranged. Once the closing occurs, it is too late.

Can the replacement property eventually become the investor’s primary residence or vacation home?
Yes, but Section 1031 has holding requirements (minimum length of time the new property must be owned) that must be met prior to changing the primary use of the property. According to 1031.org, the IRS has no specific regulations on holding periods (though a minimum of a year is recommended), and “if the owner later on wants to take advantage of the home owner’s exemption (up to $250,000 or $500,000 for a couple), there is now a five year holding period requirement.”

Finally, remember that if you’re a real estate investor or considering becoming one, now is still a great time to do so. Mortgage rates are still very low and property values, though trending up, are also still very low in many parts of the country. As always, please let me know if you have any questions.Happy investing!

If you’re looking to buy, sell, or lease residential or commercial real estate in Los Angeles, please contact me direct at jkryukova@gmail.com or 310.402.8181.

JUST LISTED: Elegant Penthouse in Prime Beverly Hills Location $1,045,000

441 N. Oakhurst Dr #702

441 N. Oakhurst Drive  Penthouse 702  Beverly Hills, CA 90210

3bedrooms, 2.5bath, 2126 sq. ft

Asking Price: $1,045,000

441 N. Oakhurst Dr #702 Beverly Hills CA 90210 002 005 006 008 010 011 012 013 014 014A 015 016 017 018 019 020 021 022 023 024 025 026 027 028 029 030 031 032

This elegant three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom Beverly Hills penthouse offers stunning above-it-all views and an unbeatable location. Lounge on the large outdoor patio and soak up the mountain to city views, or walk to all the area has to offer. A Regency-style set of double doors opens into an entry way to the 2,196 sq.ft. unit. The step-down living area is over-sized and has a travertine fireplace. A balcony with sweeping views is at the end of the living area. A dining area is bracketed by corner walls of window that allow for ample light in the day and a carpet of city lights at night.

The large galley-style kitchen (with built-in appliances) is “open-ended” and provides access to the dining and living areas. Under-the-counter laundry machines takes the functionality of the kitchen to new heights. Richly-toned granite counter tops, and plenty of storage augment the kitchen’s offerings.

Bonus alert! It is a rarity in condominium floor plans that a unit have a family room/den area. But this unit has a perfect one. Its den area (with a wet bar) provides space for watching screeners or having an evening cocktail. Rounding out the public rooms is a convenient powder room off of the main entry.

The large master suite has a walk-in closet and double sinks. The two other bedrooms share access to a bathroom.

Pool, residents-only meeting rooms, two parking spaces (tandem) and controlled access make this unit a great value.

Please visit www.441oakhurstdr.com for more details.   OPEN HOUSE SUNDAY 1-4PM

Luxury home sales jump 21% in California

California homes priced at $1 million or more experienced a sales boom in 2010, the first increase in five years, even as overall home sales in the state declined, a real estate information service reported. The reason: High-end home shoppers went bargain hunting as certain parts of the economy improved but luxury home prices remained depressed.

Last year, 22,529 homes sold statewide for $1 million-plus, a 21% increase from 2009, according to DataQuick Information Systems in San Diego. In contrast, the total number of California homes sold last year dropped 9%.

“Prestige home buyers respond to a different set of motivations than the rest of us. Their decisions are less dependent on jobs, prices and interest rates, and more on how their portfolio is doing,” DataQuick President John Walsh said.

“When the financial world was full of uncertainty a couple of years back, and the jumbo-loan market dried up, luxury sales plummeted. As the economy started its top-down recovery, some wealthy buyers went looking for a bargain,” he said.

Savvy shoppers trying to time the market swooped in before discounted prices could turn the corner.

“Certainly, we’re pretty sure we’re at the bottom” for home prices, said economist Christopher Thornberg, principal with Beacon Economics in Los Angeles.

Even if prices fall further, he said, “if you are borrowing, buying today makes a lot of sense because interest rates are just incredibly low.”

Two other reasons for the $1-million-and-up market increase are the return of the jumbo mortgage market in 2010 and a comeback in the stock market, which saw huge losses in 2009, Thornberg said. “A lot of folks who were reeling from equity losses bounced back.”

Cash purchases also inched upward among $1-million buyers last year to 29.4% of sales, up from 28.9% in 2009 and the highest for any year since 1994. But even cash purchases can be motivated by low interest rates.

“A lot of cash offers are done on the basis of the person trying to get a leg up and then they turn around and refi,” Thornburg said.

Million-dollar-plus sales hit a high of 54,773 in 2005 and then dropped through 2009. Last year’s sales increase came despite a winnowing in the category; 3,380 of the homes that sold statewide for less than $1 million had previously sold for $1 million or more, DataQuick analysis shows.

“There are not as many million-dollar homes kicking around as there were during the boom years,” Thornberg said.

L.A.-area real estate offices also noticed the uptick in $1-million-plus sales.

“I think last year there were a lot of buyers who said now is the best time to buy,” said Jeffrey Hyland, president of Hilton & Hyland, whose Beverly Hills office doubled its dollar volume from 2009. “We noticed it on the high end.”

His office, for example, sold seven houses for more than $20 million last year.

“That’s a good sign to the market of where we are” that high net-worth buyers are making purchases, Hyland said.

“It’s like those people don’t read the doom and gloom” news reports, he said.

Plus, the rich do often get richer. “Some people are more wealthy now than they were before,” Hyland said.

Most of the high-end sales, 79%, fell between $1 million and $2 million. The median-size home in the million-dollar-plus category was 2,840 square feet, with 4 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms, and the median price paid per square foot was $601, down 0.6% from $605 in 2009. For the overall California housing market, the median price per square foot was $164 in 2010, up 10.1% from $149 in 2009, DataQuick said.

The most expensive confirmed purchase statewide last year, based on public records, was a 35,000-square-foot-plus mansion on 2.2 acres in Bel-Air that sold for $50 million.

But not all mega-deals are subject to the bright light of public curiosity, if buyer and seller employ legal sleight of hand.

“A lot of the sales … may not appear on public records,” Hyland said of the most expensive transactions.

So the number of $1-million-plus sales, he said, could be even greater than reported.

Source: LA Times 2011