IRC Section 1031 Like-Kind Exchange For Real Estate Investing

Real estate investors should be somewhat familiar with the IRC Section 1031 like-kind exchange rules.  It is important to talk to your tax professional if you are considering selling investment property and getting (replacing it) with another property. The IRC Section 1031 rules allow favorable tax treatment when a like-kind exchange of certain assets occurs.  You are allowed to defer gains on the sale of an asset if it is replaced with like-kind property.  It is a tax deferral, not a tax free exchange.

This exchange must be done within prescribed time periods.  Basically, there are two time periods you must follow.  The first requires you to identify a replacement property within 45 days of disposing of the first property.  Identifying means a written agreement that should be delivered to the seller.  The second time element is the requirement that you must acquire the replacement property within 180 days of disposing of the initial investment property.  There is a bit of a catch to the 180 days.  It must be acquired within the 180 days or before you tax return for that year is due, whichever is less.

Depending on the way the exchange is done, your transaction may require a third party intermediary or facilitator. Per an IRS release,  “It cannot be someone that you have used within the past 2 years.  You cannot act as your own facilitator. In addition, your agent (including your real estate agent or broker, investment banker or broker, accountant, attorney, employee or anyone who has worked for you in those capacities within the previous two years) cannot act as your facilitator. ”

When you do qualify for the IRC Section 1031 like-kind exchange you must report that on your tax return using IRS Form 8824.

I am attaching a link to an IRS document which provides clarification and publications references pertaining to this issue.


Rehabbing a Bathroom

Rehabbing a bathroom is an important step in a fix and flip situation.  Generally, if you want to get the best results you will find yourself replacing toilets, sinks, bathtubs, tile, flooring, tubs and showers.  You have to be careful about how much you spend in a bathroom makeover.

Prices for tubs, showers, sinks, tile and toilets vary tremendously.  When flipping you want the bathroom to look great.  You also do not want to use products that look cheap.  You need to find decent materials that will look great and will last for a reasonable amount of time.

Kitchens and bathrooms are probably the two rooms that need the most attention when flipping.  Sometimes you will find a bathroom with porcelain tubs and tile that may look worn but really doesn’t have anything wrong with it.    These items may even be a better quality,  when originally installed ,then the products that you intend to use for the flip.  Instead of ripping it out the old items consider refurbishing the tub and tile through a glazing process.  Redoing the coloring and glazing in a tub and on tile will make the bathroom look as new as replacing those items.  You can also change the colors.  There are a number of people who do this, and a good job could save you some cash, which means more money in your pocket.

Have a System for Success

Have a System for  Success

 If you have a system for when flipping you are more likely to be successful.  Have a system for success. There are never any guarantees for success, but you can mitigate the potential for failure by having a system.  I have been thinking about some people I know who have not had a very pleasant experience flipping a house.  As I looked at their situations one thing became evident to me.  The people who had the most trouble and who were not successful did not have a system. 

Think about it.  The most successful businesses are system based.  McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, other fast food restaurants that are franchises are successful in large part because they have systems.  Franchisees are required to follow the system of success.  Procedures and business practices are consistent within each business.  These systems have been developed over time to breed success.

The same idea is a requirement for a successful flipping business.  A system for flipping success gives you a leg up on others who do not have a system and reduces the chances of having a bad experience.  To put it bluntly, you are reducing your likelihood of failure.  Having a system increases your chances for success and improves the likelihood of having a pleasant experience. 

The system for flipping must include everything from the business startup to searching for a house that will be profitable, to hiring contractors, having the required legal documents, knowing what materials to choose and selling the house when it is finished.  This list is not all encompassing, but is food for thought if you are considering flipping houses. 

So, before you begin to flip a house, be sure all of your ducks are in a row.  Know what you are going to do before you do it.  Have a system and be successful.

I am known as The Property Coach and I teach my coaching students a system that gives them a good chance of being successful.  I can be reached by email at

Rehab Spreadsheet

This is a rehab spreadsheet that does it all.  You can analyze with it, budget, track expenses, do some accounting and use forms from it.  You can get into great detail with it or alter it for your particular needs.


Curb Appeal

Curb Appeal is important in any real estate sales transaction.  That continues to be true when flipping a house.  It is important to have the exterior of the house as neat and clean looking when selling a house.  If you went on a job interview you would be sure to dress appropriately and look your best.  This is the same thing you have to  do for a house that you are flipping.

Be sure that the lawn is cut and the yard is well groomed.  If there is a particular problem growing grass in one spot consider an island of shrubs, flowers and a small tree or two.

Paint the house if necessary.  Redo or add siding if it increases the value and improves the look of the house.  If the house already has vinyl siding it can be painted with a good acrylic based paint.  Match the color if you only need to spot paint.  This can easily be done by taking a sample of the siding to a paint store.  I have used Sherwin-Williams with great success.  Sherwin-Williams and others have products now designed for painting vinyl siding.   If neither painting or adding siding to the house is practical, then at a minimum power wash the house.  Be sure the driveway looks good too.  If it is asphalt and you don’t redo the paving then you should seal the driveway to create a new and clean look.  If the driveway is gravel be sure it looks good and get new gravel dropped in if it is too thin.

Having curb appeal will allow you to sell the house quicker.  It can also add money to your profit by enabling you to get a better offer.

Calculating the Maximum Allowable Offer


 Calculating the maximum allowable offer (MAO) on a rehab project can be the beginning of a great return or the beginning of the end.  Knowing what your maximum allowable offer is will probably be the most important thing you do prior to your purchase.  That being said, you have to know that all of the components  going into the maximum allowable offer calculation are independently as important.  If you don’t get all of the parts right then you obviously don’t get the big picture right.

There is a quick and dirty calculation that many flippers use to calculate their maximum allowable offer.  That calculation starts by determining the after repair value (ARV) and multiply that by 70 percent.  It is often advisable to use a 65 percent calculation rather than 70 percent.  How you do it depends on how conservative you want to be and what is happening to the real estate prices in your area.  After doing the multiplication you then take that answer and subtract the rehab expenses.  The resulting amount becomes your maximum allowable offer.  This figure basically becomes your top-end offer, not your starting offer.

I have always used a spreadsheet instead of  this type of calculation.  If your spreadsheet is set up correctly you can do a fairly quick calculation without losing much time before you make your offer.  With a spreadsheet, you are able to see both the raw dollar amount of your projected profit as well as the amount as a percentage.  The spreadsheet allows you to put in specific amounts for buying expenses, rehab cost, holding cost and selling expenses.  You get a more precise picture of where the money is and you are able to make a more educated and confident offer.  Without a doubt, a spreadsheet is the best way to go.

Final Walk-Through


As you go through your real estate investing you may feel that a final walk-through of your new purchase may not be necessary.  If you are buying a flip house that you have been in a couple of times and you know it is empty, there is a temptation to skip the final walk-through.

Do not skip the walk-through.  Be sure you or someone who works with you does a walk-through.  You may think that there is no sense to this because you are buying the place as is, you know it needs lots of work and you know it was trashed.  After all, that is why you got such a good deal on it, right?  That is true, but I will explain to you why this is important and what happened to me once when I decided to forego the chance to see the place a couple of hours before I closed on the deal.

I went to my closing, knowing the owner had moved out weeks before.  The house needed quite a bit of work.  The person living there had not cleaned the place for months, if not longer.  The owner was also a hoarder.  I really didn’t feel up to going through that place again.  At the end of the closing I was told that the key had been left on a kitchen counter.  So, I guess that meant that the house had been unlocked for weeks.

I decided to go to the house immediately after the transaction had taken place to revisit what I needed to do to get started and to lock up.  When I got there all the doors and windows were locked.  I figured the guy had locked the key inside, so I was trying to decide how to get into the house without causing unnecessary damage.  I had already tried the front and back door, and as I stood there thinking about my dilemma, a woman came to the front door!  What?!!

In a matter of weeks, having an unlocked vacant house, I had inherited a squatter!  I wasn’t sure she knew how hard or how easy it would be for me to get her to leave.  I have a real problem being mean, but after all, this was my business.  I advised her that she could not stay, and somehow I convinced her to leave, at least for a while.  I immediately changed all of the locks.  When I had another conversation with her I told her that she had until the next afternoon to come and pick up her belongings.  If she wasn’t there by the drop-dead time I gave her, I would put everything on the curb.  I had a tough time with this, but it was a result of my own doing.

I was fortunate that she did not press the issue of leaving, and she did show up to get her belongings.  If she had given me a hard time, it may have been weeks or more to get her out of that house.  If you do what I did, you may not be quite so lucky.  Do your final walk-through.  This will give you a chance to hold up the closing if you find an issue that had not been noticeable earlier, or if you find what I did, a squatter.   

Tax Liens and Tax Deeds


 Tax liens and tax deeds should be a serious consideration if you are thinking of investing in real estate.  Each state has its own set of laws and rules when it comes to tax liens and deeds.  You should make yourself familiar with those laws and rules in any state where you are considering investing in a lien certificate or deed.

Tax liens occur when a property owner fails to pay the property taxes that are due on a piece of property that he or she owns.  Once a certain amount of time passes after a tax payment becomes delinquent, the taxing authority can place a lien on the property.  The taxing authority, of course, must collect taxes in order to provide the services needed in that community.  If they do not collect the tax they will not have the funds to provide those necessary services.  To be sure that the taxing authority can collect funds they will sell tax lien certificates to investors.  The certificate will include past due tax, any penalties and interest.  The interest rate will depend on the state and the format of the auction that is conducted when selling the certificates.  If the property owner pays the amount due to the taxing authority in the prescribed amount of time (the redemption period), the taxing authority will then pay the tax lien certificate holder (the investor) the principal, penalties and interest.

A tax deed purchase is when you actually acquire title to property at the tax deed sale.  Generally, in most tax deed states, you will own the property free and clear of any other encumbrances that may have existed on the property.  In a pure tax deed state once you, the investor, own the property the prior owner has no right of redemption.    

As mentioned, some states are tax lien states.  To be clear, in a tax lien state you do not acquire ownership or title to the property.  Some states are tax deed states.  In a tax deed state you acquire ownership and title to the property. 

There are a number of states that are considered hybrid states.  Their process is a mix of tax liens and deeds.  For example, Connecticut is a hybrid state.  You can actually acquire title to the property but it is subject to the prior owner having the right to redeem (by paying the back taxes, interest and any penalties in full) within a six-month period, and getting the property back.

Tax liens and deeds can be a lucrative investment.  You can earn as much as 18 percent or more, or even come away with property that is worth much more than what your capital investment is.  When you know what states you have an interest in you should research the process and properties before you bid.  If you are investing in a lien or hybrid state you must know how long your money may be inaccessible to you.  Don’t give up.  You may find that there is heavy competition in some areas, but if you can get in the game it can be lucrative.

Cash on Cash Return – Maximize Your Investment Earnings


Maximizing the cash on cash return on a real estate investment is what all investors should want.  People often wonder how others have done so well with real estate investing.  There is often an assumption that people who have accumulated wealth through real estate investing must have started with a good deal of money, got in at the right time, inherited property or had lots of cash.

Many people who have created wealth in real estate have done so by being creative or understanding how to maximize the return on their real estate investment.  Maximizing the return on real estate investments can be accomplished in a number of ways.

Many investors know that using leverage is a way of getting into real estate in a bigger way then just using available cash.  Leverage is basically using borrowed money to buy the real estate.   Buying rental property with the help of a conventional mortgage or negotiating owner financing are ways of using leverage.  Leveraging your investment increases your cash on cash return.

You determine your cash on cash return by taking your net cash revenue (cash in minus cash out) and dividing it by the cash you had to use to acquire the rental property.  For example, let’s assume you buy a 3-family house for $200,000.  You have $40,000 as a cash down payment and you finance the remainder.  Assume too, that the property generates a net cash flow of $1,000 a month, or $12,000 per year.  Your cash on cash return is the $12,000 divided by the $40,000 cash used to buy the property.  This gives you a cash on cash return of 30%.

Now let’s you had paid all cash for the building.  Also, let’s assume your mortgage payment in the prior example was $1,000 per month.  Now you wouldn’t have to pay a $1,000 per month mortgage payment.  In this example, your cash increases by $1,000 per month.  Therefore, your cash on cash would be $24,000 net cash flow annually divided by the $200,000 used to buy the property, or a cash on cash return of 12%.  Still a good return, but not the rate that you get when you use leverage, as the 30% cash on cash rate of return in the first example indicates.  The fact that you have used leverage (borrowed capital) in the first example shows that you have maximized the return on your cash investment.

As time passes refinancing rental property can allow the owner to take money out of the property and purchase more rental units.  The ability to refinance a building and remove cash is a result of appreciated value on the property as well as paying down some of the original debt.  Also, refinancing a larger percentage of the value of the building then what was originally financed increases the amount that can be taken out of the deal.  In other words, if you originally financed 80% of the appraised value and you can now refinance 90% of the appraised value, you are financing an additional 10%.  Even in a situation where there is no change in the value of the building you conceivably can to take out money through refinancing.

An investor can also obtain property that is turn-key and has positive cash flow.  Turn-key is obtaining property that needs no work and little effort on the part of the owner.

The actual after tax return on any real estate investment can be increased if the funds used to acquire the property are within a Real Estate IRA, which can accumulate earnings tax free.  In this approach financing can also be obtained to free up funds for another investment. Howerver, if you are using an IRA to buy the property and also have the property mortgaged you must be aware that there is a distinct tax treatment you must follow.