The 1031 Exchange 5 Year Rule: A Detailed Explanation

The 1031 exchange is a powerful investment strategy that allows real estate investors to defer taxes on the sale of their properties. This tax-deferred exchange permits an investor to sell one or more investment properties and purchase a like-kind property without paying taxes on the capital gains. However, for this strategy to work, there are certain rules and regulations that must be followed, such as the 1031 exchange 5 year rule.

The 1031 Exchange 5 Year Rule: A Detailed Explanation

In this article, we will discuss what the 1031 exchange is and how it works, as well as specifically delve into the details surrounding the five-year rule.

What is a 1031 Exchange?

A 1031 exchange, also known as a like-kind exchange, is a transaction in which an investor can sell their investment property and reinvest those proceeds into another “like-kind” property. The term “like-kind” refers to properties that are of similar nature or character but do not necessarily have to be identical. These exchanges are allowed under Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code.

The primary advantage of a 1031 exchange is that it allows investors to defer capital gains taxes that would normally be due upon selling an investment property. Instead of paying these taxes immediately, those funds can be used towards purchasing another income-generating property.

However, in order for this tax deferral strategy to work successfully, certain rules must be followed.

The Five-Year Rule Explained

One important rule associated with the 1031 exchange strategy is known as the five-year rule. This rule requires that any property acquired through a like-kind exchange must be held for at least five years before selling or exchanging again.

This means that if you acquire a replacement property through a like-kind exchange today (in June 2022), you must hold onto it until at least June of 2027 before you can sell or exchange it again without having to pay capital gains taxes.

It’s essential to note that the five-year rule only applies if you want to sell or exchange that property without paying capital gains tax. If you hold onto the property for more than five years, there is no limit on how many times you can complete another 1031 exchange, so long as you follow all of the other rules associated with the transaction.

Other Important Rules Associated with 1031 Exchanges

Aside from the five-year holding period, there are a few other rules and regulations associated with 1031 exchanges. Some of these include:

Like-Kind Property Requirement

The properties being exchanged must be like-kind, meaning they have similar nature or character. This means that an investor could exchange a rental property for another rental property, but not for a primary residence.

Furthermore, both properties must be held for investment or business purposes only. It’s important to note that some non-real estate assets such as artwork or collectibles do not qualify for like-kind exchanges.

Identification Period

An investor has 45 calendar days after selling their relinquished property to find one or multiple replacement properties they wish to acquire. The identification must be in writing and delivered to a third party known as a qualified intermediary (QI).

Replacement Property Acquisition Period

Once identified, an investor has 180 calendar days from the date of selling their relinquished property to close on one or more of the identified replacement properties.

Qualified Intermediary Requirement

In order to qualify for a 1031 exchange, an investor must use a qualified intermediary (QI). A QI is a neutral third-party facilitator who holds funds between transactions and helps ensure that all requirements are met.

Possible Penalties For Not Following The Rules Properly

The IRS is strict when it comes to following guidelines related to 1031 exchanges. If any of these guidelines are not followed, an investor could be subjected to penalties, including taxes and interest payments. Some possible penalties that an investor may incur include:

  • Taxation of capital gains on the sale of the relinquished property
  • Loss of eligibility for tax deferral treatment
  • Late filing fees and penalties


The 1031 exchange is a popular investment strategy that can offer investors significant tax savings. However, it’s essential to understand all the rules associated with this strategy to ensure maximum benefit.

One such rule is the five-year holding period requirement. This means that any property acquired through a like-kind exchange must be held for at least five years before selling or exchanging it again without paying capital gains taxes.

In addition, other rules such as the like-kind property requirement, identification period, replacement property acquisition period, and qualified intermediary requirement must also be followed precisely. Failure to follow these guidelines can lead to repercussions from the IRS in terms of taxation and penalty fees.

Overall, a 1031 exchange can be a great tool for real estate investors looking to defer taxes on their properties. It’s important to work with experienced professionals who specialize in these transactions and can guide you through every step of the process to ensure full compliance with all IRS regulations.


What is the 1031 exchange 5 year rule?

The 1031 exchange 5 year rule refers to the requirement that you must hold your replacement property for at least five years if you want to avoid paying taxes on any gains from your original property sale.

Can I sell my replacement property before the five years are up?

Yes, but if you do, you will have to pay taxes on any gains from both the original property sale and the replacement property sale.

Is there any way to get around the 5 year holding period?

No, this rule is set in stone and cannot be changed or avoided.

Is the 5 year period calculated from when I acquired the replacement property?

No, it is calculated from the date of closing on your original property sale.

What happens if I violate the 5 year rule?

You will not be able to defer any taxes from your original property sale and will have to pay them in full.

Are there any exceptions to the 5 year holding period?

Yes, if you die while still owning your replacement property, your heirs will receive a step-up in basis and will not be subject to the five-year rule.

Does it matter what type of property I use for my exchange?

No, as long as it’s considered “like-kind” according to IRS rules, you can use any type of real estate or investment property.

How does the 1031 exchange work with regard to depreciation recapture?

Any depreciation that was taken on your original property will be “recaptured” and taxed at a higher rate when you sell your replacement property, regardless of whether or not you’ve held it for five years. However, using a 1031 exchange can still help you defer some taxes.

Can I do multiple 1031 exchanges on the same property?

Yes, but each time you will have to abide by the 5 year rule in order to avoid paying taxes on your gains.

What are some common mistakes people make when doing a 1031 exchange?

Some common mistakes include not properly identifying replacement properties within the allotted time frame, not using a qualified intermediary, and not understanding the rules around the 5 year holding period.

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