Six Top Tips For Identifying 1031 Exchange Replacement Property

There is no argument that the IRS is quite strict when it comes to applying the rules governing 1031 exchanges. Every year, hundreds of proposed exchanges fail because the investor fails to meet one of the requirements set forth in the code.

One of the biggest areas where mistakes are made? Identifying the replacement property.

To make sure you don’t make a misstep here and jeopardize your next exchange, we offer our top tips for identification. When you understand all the requirements of identifying replacement property, you are far less likely to jeopardize your planned exchange.

3 Property Rule – There are different rules that set forth how many possible replacement properties may be identified by an investor, but most follow this rule. It allows an investor to identify up to three replacement properties and eventually acquire, one, two or all three of them.

200% Rule – An investor can identify more than three possible replacement properties so long as the total fair market value of all those properties identified does not exceed 200% of the fair market value of the relinquished property.

95% Rule – Not commonly used, this allows investors to identify more than three replacement properties with a total value greater than 200% of the FMV of the relinquished property, so long as the investor acquires at least 95% of the value of the identified properties.

Manner Of Identification – This must be in writing and signed by the investor, and the property must be unambiguously described. This generally means identified by address or legal description. If the property is one where the investor is acquiring less than 100% interest, the percentage share of the acquisition must be identified, too.

Provide Information To The Right Person – The investor must provide the requisite identification information to either (a) the person obligated to transfer the replacement property to the investor, or (b) any other person “involved” in the exchange, such as the qualified intermediary, escrow agent or title company. However, the person receiving the information cannot be a disqualified person like the investor’s real estate agent or a family member. Generally, the qualified intermediary is the recipient of choice in an exchange.

Replacement Property Must Be The Same As What Was Identified – The investor must receive “substantially the same” property as he or she identified. While what the IRS considers “substantially the same” is a bit ambiguous, generally they draw the line at property that differs in basic nature or character.

Smooth Real Estate Transactions: 4 Tips to Consider When Selling or Buying a Commercial Property

No one would invest in a piece of commercial real estate without investigating it’s resale value, income generating potential, building structure, etc. However, there are a couple of things that seem to get overlooked, even by the savviest investors. Following are the four most overlooked items that you should consider when you are selling or buying a commercial property:

Has the building been unoccupied for more than 180 days?

Collier County has an established Land Development Code (LDC) that governs things like a building’s architectural standards, setbacks, landscape and parking requirements. These requirements vary based on the district where the property is located. The LDC is reviewed and updated twice a year and new projects are required to comply with the codes. Existing buildings are usually “grandfathered” in, however, there are certain times that a building is subject to review for compliance with the current land development code.

One reason a building is subject to review is if it is unoccupied for a period of more than 180 consecutive days. To bring newer buildings into compliance with the LDC may be as simple as revamping the landscaping with extra trees or buffer shrubs. However, with older buildings it can be very costly. A local businessman purchased an older building with the intention of using it as a warehouse-showroom. When he tried to get a permit for a renovation, he was informed that he would have to change the front facade of the building to include among other things, a 75% glass storefront. To bring this building into compliance, it would have meant serious structural changes that increased the renovation costs by tens of thousands of dollars. The project proved infeasible and the building was subsequently resold and developed.

Will the occupational license require a change of use for the building?

Another reason that would make the building subject to review for compliance with the land development code would be if there was a “change of use.” Change of use doesn’t necessarily mean a zoning change. It can mean going from a jewelry store to an office supply store, or a retail store to a restaurant. The reason for this review is to make certain that the new use is in compliance with the permitted uses of the specific zoning area. This review also ensures that there is adequate infrastructure (ie parking) to support the new use.

Will the building need alterations to the fire alarm or sprinkler system?

Another overlooked item is the fire safety system, which includes the fire alarm and fire sprinklers. By adding sprinklers or changing out a fire panel, you open the whole fire safety system up for review and it will have to be brought up to current code. Depending on the age of the building, this can include relocating the fire alarms on the wall; adding fire sprinkler heads; or replacing an entire control panel, which can add thousands of dollars to a project. If you are in doubt, get a consultation with a qualified general contractor or architect during your due diligence period.

Have you allotted enough TIME for planning and permitting?

Permitting is frequently the place where owners don’t allot enough time. According to the City of Naples Building Division, it typically takes three-four weeks for a permit application to be reviewed and a permit issued. However, if your permit application is rejected it can take another two-four weeks after your plans have been revised by the architect. According to the Collier County Building Department, it typically takes six weeks for a permit application to be reviewed and permitted. Depending on the complexity of the project and allowing for a couple of rejections, it is more realistic to plan on three to twelve months for a permit to be issued. A renovation might be three months and a building under 10,000sft might take six-nine months. Unfortunately, there are NO short cuts in getting through the permitting process.

With proper planning, your commercial real estate transaction can go smoothly and provide you with a profitable investment. If you have any questions about the process, it would be wise to consult with a reputable commercial general contractor and an architect.

Tips On Picking "Sleeper" Real Estate Property

Real estate investing is all about perception. Your perception of where the market is going, in conjunction with where it’s actually going. The aim, as always is to buy low and sell high.

You want to buy a cheap tract of dirt and sell it as a high priced piece of developed real estate, after it’s appreciated enough to turn a tidy profit. Selling the property is an art in and of itself.

Buying an initial tract of dirt lends itself to some solid, rational guidelines:

First, look at trend lines for housing prices in your area. While most housing markets are in decline (and the housing markets in Florida and California are adjusting from more than a decade of over-valuation), there are markets where the housing prices are going up. This is a decent leading indicator that there’s a market for expansion.

Second, look for job related news. Home purchases require a steady source of income. New employers moving into a city, or a government branch office opening up are a strong indicator that good, well paying jobs are likely to come up. Where well paying jobs roost, home purchases follow.

Related to this, talk to your local city planning office. Are there recent purchases of “right of ways” to lay down sewer lines? Is the local telephone cable making plans to run out fiber optic lines – a “must have” trend in new home construction. These things point to areas where home growth is immanent. Other big tip offs are school bond issues (found in your local news paper) and new parks being opened up.

Before you look at the land, check out the adjacent commercial real estate usage. Look for “family friendly” or “residential friendly” commercial properties: Houses that are close to grocery and clothes shopping tend to fetch a higher price than ones that are farther away. If there’s a movie theater nearby, or plans for an elementary or middle school, factor that into the size of the homes you build, and what their amenities will be; buyers looking for those features are looking for “mover upper” homes – with a bit more floor space, and two (or three) bedrooms for the kids. Other spots to look for are anchor stores, like Wal-Mart and Best Buy. These companies spend millions on surveys of purchasing patterns before buying a store location; if they’re buying a plot of land, you’ve got about a year to a year and a half window to look into nearby real estate for single family residential and rental residential properties.

You can even flip this on its side – if you can talk to a group of commercial real estate investors, building a shopping center as the nucleus for home development is also a viable combined strategy. This also applies to highly urban areas. Many downtown areas that have been abandoned by businesses can be converted to apartment buildings, and some of the older housing projects are being torn down for mixed-use spaces with combined commercial and residential areas. In particular, you can often get block grants to help with the financing on projects like this, and there are programs from HUD that can help out a great deal with “urban renovations”.

Another source to investigate is the demographics in your area. Look at the US Census figures (and local county figures) for median age, and median birth rate per capita. You want to invest in areas where the population is growing already. High skews in the ’40s and ’50s indicate that you’ve got a bunch of people who are going to retire soon, and retirees are highly prone to selling properties off. Places to watch carefully are most of the urban parts of California, and great swaths of the rural Midwest, where demographic trends have been changing entire towns since the 1950s as the country’s population has shifted to urban areas.

If there’s a local planning council, or urban development council, make it a point to get the minutes of all the meetings from the past year. The city council offices will have them on file as a matter of public record. Also try to get into the next range of meetings as an observer. Discuss with the city and county managers where they see housing and construction trends moving. What you’re looking for is real estate that will be desirable in two to three years; look at road planning atlases, and look for all the data you can find. Also look for real estate that will be scenic – lake front property is as close to a guaranteed bet as you can get in real estate investing, particularly if there’s a lake that’s at the “far end” of a development axis. Likewise, if there’s land that the city council is looking to acquire for parks, buying the adjacent lots now means you’ll be able to sell them later.

Lastly, talk to the professionals in your communities. Talk to architects who can tell you if they’re busy or not. Maintain professional contacts with engineers, bankers and attorneys. They will usually know about projects well before the general public. Also make a habit of reading the local newspaper’s business section. Often times, the first clue that a business may move in to your area is buried at the bottom of a column on page 8.

Using the guidelines suggested above will help you to find “sleeper” raw land properties. These “sleeper” properties are perfect for the buy low, sell high strategy used by successful commercial real estate investors.