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Timeline for 1031 Exchange

October 16, 2023

The 1031 exchange is a popular strategy for real estate investors to postpone capital gains tax. It is termed “like-kind exchange” because it involves the sale of an investment property for a replacement property of similar nature and character. Aside from its tax deferment strategy, it also allows investors to grow and diversify their portfolios. 

For a successful exchange, the IRS requires that you adhere to certain strict timelines: the 45-day identification period and the 180-day exchange period. Failure to comply with these time requirements can jeopardize your exchange and thus make your gains taxable. In this article, you’ll learn everything about the 1031 exchange timeline and its recent changes to avoid potential pitfalls due to violations.

Background of the 1031 Exchange

Background of the 1031 Exchange

The IRS originally established the 1031 exchange as a segment of the Revenue Act of 1921, which permitted both like-kind and non-like-kind exchanges. Its original intent was to encourage real estate investors to keep their money in real estate while it appreciates over time without incurring taxes on gains.

In 1924, the IRS deemed only like-kind exchanges eligible for tax deferral. With time, it evolved to eliminate simultaneous exchange and approved delayed exchange in 1979, which is a non-simultaneous exchange.

Also, the need for additional regulations on timelines led to the adoption of the 45-day and 180-day deadlines in 1984. Afterward, in 1991, due to the enacted safe harbor rule, exchangers could no longer take constructive receipt of 1031 exchange funds. Instead, IRC authorized qualified intermediaries to temporarily hold exchange funds in a trust or escrow account.

The Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997 disqualified the consideration of domestic properties as like-kind to foreign properties. Subsequently, in 2005 and 2008, the IRS issued guidelines for the conversion of primary residences to rental property and the restriction on vacation or second homes for 1031 exchange. 

Importance of Timing in a 1031 Exchange

Importance of Timing in a 1031 Exchange

The IRS requires 1031 exchangers to complete their transactions within a specified strict timeline. Within 45 days from the date of sale of the relinquished property, the investor must identify a suitable and qualified replacement property, and must secure the replacement property within 180 days.

These deadlines are strict and failure to adhere to them may disqualify the exchange and the transactions become liable to capital gains taxes. Also, non-compliance can disrupt your investment strategy and financial goals.

Hence, investors must adhere to these 1031 exchange timeline requirements to have a successful tax-deferred investment property exchange. So, you need proper planning and professional assistance to ensure compliance and maximize the tax benefits of a 1031 exchange.

Key Deadlines and Dates in the 1031 Exchange Process

The following are key deadlines and dates that determine the success of your 1031 exchange process.

Key Deadlines and Dates in the 1031 Exchange Process

Day 0: Close of the Sale of the Relinquished Property

This is the day the timeline starts counting. On or before Day 0, the seller and the buyer of the relinquished property sign an agreement on a sale price, closing date, and other terms of the transaction.

The parties often consult an escrow or title company, like a qualified intermediary, to manage the transaction and ensure compliance with all legal and financial requirements. Afterward, the buyer transfers the sale funds to an escrow account, while the seller transfers ownership of the property to the buyer.

45-Day Identification Period

The identification period counts from Day 0 to Day 45. Within this time, you identify up to three properties and decide on the one you’re purchasing. Note that properties you identify after the 45 day period are not eligible.

You must identify and describe the property in writing, sign, and deliver it to the qualified intermediary or the seller of the replacement property. For real estate, you must include a street address, legal description, or distinguishable name of the investment property.

The IRS provides certain guidelines for identifying multiple properties. They include:

  • 3-Property Rule: You can identify three potential replacement properties but are not obligated to purchase all of them. This rule provides variety of options and flexibility of choice to protect against the risk of unavailability and other such challenges due to the strict timeline in the exchange.
  • 200% Rule: You can identify multiple properties, but make sure their combined fair market value doesn’t go beyond 200% of the relinquished property.

180 Day Exchange Period

This is the entire period when you purchase and receive one or more identified replacement properties. It starts from the close of the sale, through the 45-day identification period, and ends on the 180th day you finalize the exchange. In essence, the replacement property must be finalized within 135 days from the 45-day identification period.

Failure to close on a replacement property within these 180 calendar days or your tax due date, which is before the 180th day, can jeopardize the 1031 exchange and subject the transaction to capital gains tax.

Qualified Intermediaries and Their Role in the Timeline

Qualified Intermediaries and Their Role in the Timeline

Qualified intermediaries (QI) play an important role in a 1031 exchange. They are third-party facilitators that ensure you comply with IRS regulations. Aside from that, they also play essential roles in the timeline, such as:

  • Structuring the exchange properly before it commences by ensuring all contracts and documents are ready on time and comply with IRS regulations.
  • Receiving, holding, and safeguarding the sale proceeds.
  • Identifying suitable replacement properties that align with IRS guidelines.
  • Facilitating the buying of the replacement property using the funds in escrow.
  • Reporting the exchange to the IRS so they can confirm that the exchange followed all regulations.

Potential Pitfalls and Delays in the 1031 Exchange Timeline

Property Qualification Challenges

Sometimes, real estate investors might find it challenging to identify and secure a business or investment property that both qualifies for like-kind and aligns to the investors’ goals. Market conditions and property availability can also make it difficult to find a suitable replacement property within the 45-day identification period.

Financing Delays

Financing for the replacement property can take time as lenders may have their own underwriting requirements and timelines, which can slow down the 1031 exchange process. It might be especially challenging to obtain financing if you have a complex financial situation such as bad debt history or low creditworthiness.

Title or Property Inspection Issues

Title issues such as title defects, disputes, environmental concerns, or unresolved liens on the replacement property can cause significant delays in the 1031 exchange process. You can uncover some of these issues through property inspections and due diligence.

Qualified Intermediary and Closing Agent’s Issues

Delays or issues related to the QI’s services, such as mishandling of funds or documentation, can disrupt the exchange process. Similarly, problems with the closing agent or escrow company responsible for facilitating the sale and purchase of the properties can lead to delays in closing.

How to Mitigate Risks and Navigate 1031 Exchange Timeline Challenges

How to Mitigate Risks and Navigate 1031 Exchange Timeline Challenges

It takes careful and strategic planning and execution to ensure your exchange complies with the strict IRS timelines. Here are some ways you can manage your tax deferred exchange to minimize time-related challenges.

  • Work with a qualified tax advisor and other experienced professionals such as legal experts, qualified intermediary, etc., to ensure compliance.
  • Understand the IRS timeline requirements and monitor deadlines closely.
  • Conduct proper research such as property inspections, title searches, etc., to assess the property.
  • Identify backup replacement properties in case your primary choice falls through.
  • If you’re looking to finance the potential replacement property, secure financing before the 180-day deadline to avoid delays.
  • Maintain an accurate record of all transactions and communications related to the 1031 exchange. This will help with tax reporting and ensure you meet IRS requirements.

Recent Changes and Current Trends in 1031 Exchange Timelines

IRS regulations regarding 1031 exchange timelines have evolved in recent times. For instance, the Biden administration recently proposed an aggregate maximum tax deferral of $500,000 ($1,000,000 for married couples filing a joint return) per year. This means that if you make any gain in excess of the set limit, the gain would be recognized in the year you executed the exchange.

Many investors and financial experts argue that the proposed limit will affect the amount investors can engage in like-kind exchanges. Hence, investors may prefer to hold on to properties until there’s a favorable improvement in the Internal Revenue Code. And this may affect the economy in the long run.

Real-Life Case Studies

Successful 1031 Exchange

Michael, a real estate investor decided to sell his apartment. On Day 0, he successfully sold the apartment, and the qualified intermediary took constructive receipt of the funds. During the 45-day identification period, he diligently identified three like-kind real estate properties. 

Carefully considering his options, Michael acquired one of the identified properties before the 180-day deadline. Due to his compliance with the 1031 exchange timeline, he was able to successfully defer capital gains tax.

Unsuccessful 1031 Exchange Due to Timing Issues

In an opposite case, an investor, George, consulted an inexperienced tax advisor who did not provide comprehensive guidance regarding the IRS timelines. As a result, George failed to identify a suitable replacement property before the 45th day. So, even though he eventually purchased a new property after selling off the relinquished property, the transaction was subject to capital gains taxes.


Timeline compliance is an important factor for investors who want to engage in a successful 1031 exchange. Diligently complying with the time requirements helps you enjoy the benefits of tax deferral and acquire a new property that has high growth and income potential. 

The need for QIs, legal advisors, and tax professionals cannot be overstated. As experts in this field, they offer guidance and ensure that you don’t violate any rules. As an expert and experienced QI, Universal Pacific 1031 Exchange is here to help you run a smooth and seamless 1031 exchange process, ensuring that you don’t exceed the timeline. Call us now to get a free consultation to discuss your financial goals.

About The Author

Michael Bergman, CPA
Michael Bergman is a California licensed CPA and Real Estate Broker with over 32 years of experience in commercial real estate. Specializing in 1031 tax-deferred exchanges and financial oversight, his expertise is invaluable for complex real estate transactions. Michael’s unique blend of financial acumen and real estate knowledge positions him as a trusted advisor in the industry, offering sound advice and strategic insights for successful property management and investment.

Don’t let taxes hinder your property investment decisions. Connect with us today for a free, no-obligation 1031 exchange consultation. Let us help you navigate the process with ease.