For all 1031 trades, a qualified intermediary (QI) is necessary. Real estate investors must choose a QI they can rely on and trust given the significance of the QI in an exchange. However, doing so can be challenging because how can an investor tell whether a specific QI is credible? This quick guide will show you how to choose a trustworthy QI for a 1031 exchange.
A QI is what?
An individual or organization that facilitates a 1031, or like-kind, exchange in accordance with Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 1031 is referred to as a QI, sometimes known as an accommodator. According to the Federal Code, a QI's responsibilities are as follows:
A qualified intermediary is a person who: (A) Is not the taxpayer or a disqualified person; and (B) Enters into a written agreement with the taxpayer (the "exchange agreement") and, in accordance with the exchange agreement, obtains the property being exchanged from the taxpayer, transfers the property being exchanged, acquires the replacement property, and transfers the replacement property to the taxpayer. (26 CFR § 1.1031(k)-1)
A person can become a QI without having to fulfill any eligibility requirements or obtain a license or certificate. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does, however, specify that anyone who is related to the exchanger or who has had a financial relationship with the exchanger - such as an employee, an attorney, an accountant, an investment banker or broker, or a real estate agent or broker - within the two years prior to the sale of the relinquished property is disqualified from serving as the exchanger's QI.
Why is a QI crucial to a 1031 Exchange?
Every 1031 exchanger is required to choose a QI and sign a formal agreement before closing on the property being given up. After being chosen, the QI's three main duties are to create the exchange documentation, swap the properties, and keep and disburse the exchange monies.
The Creation of Exchange Documents
The QI creates and maintains all pertinent paperwork throughout the exchange, including escrow instructions for all parties involved.
Trade of Properties
In a 1031 exchange, the QI is required to buy the exchanger's property that is being given up, give it to the buyer, buy the seller's property that is being replaced, and give it to the exchanger. Despite the fact that the QI also transfers the title, the QI is not technically required to be a link in the chain.
Exchange funds holding and releasingFor an exchanger to defer capital gains, all proceeds from the sale of the relinquished property must be held with the QI; any proceeds held by the exchanger are taxable. As a result, the QI must handle the sale funds of the property that was given up and put them in a different account where they will be kept until the replacement property is bought.
For the exchange to be valid, the exchangers must adhere to two crucial timeframes. At the conclusion of the identification phase, the first occurs. The exchanger is required to choose the new property to buy within 45 days after the transfer of the property being given up. At the conclusion of the exchange period, the second occurs. Within 180 calendar days of the transfer of the relinquished property, the exchanger must receive the replacement property. Even if the 45th or 180th day falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, these severe deadlines cannot be extended.
What factors should investors think about while selecting a QI?
Since a QI is not needed to hold a license, investors should do their research to make sure they choose someone who can manage the 1031 exchange effectively. Investors may be compelled to pay taxes on the exchange as a result of errors made by a QI because the IRS regrettably does not pardon any mistakes made by a QI. Here are some factors that investors should take into account while choosing a QI.
Statutes of the State
Although QIs are not governed by federal law, certain states have passed legislation that does. For instance, rules governing the sector have been passed in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington. These states frequently have license and registration requirements as well as requirements for separate escrow accounts, fidelity or surety bond amounts, and error-and-omission insurance policy amounts.
Federated Exchange Facilitators
A national trade organization called the Federation of Exchange Accommodators (FEA) represents experts who carry out like-kind exchanges in accordance with IRC Section 1031. Support, preservation, and advancement of 1031 exchanges and the QI sector are the goals of the FEA. Members of the association must follow by the FEA's Code of Ethics and Conduct.
Additionally, the FEA has a program that awards the title of Certified Exchange Specialist® (CES) to those who meet certain requirements for work experience and who successfully complete an exam on 1031 exchange rules and processes. This certificate's holders are required to pass the CES exam and complete ongoing education requirements. To taxpayers thinking about a 1031 exchange, the designation "demonstrates that the professional they have selected possesses a certain level of experience and competence."
Information and expertise
As previously stated, a QI error in a 1031 exchange could lead to a taxable transaction. Before making a selection, investors who are choosing an accommodator should carefully consider each person's credentials, including their knowledge and experience in the sector. Investors should find out if the person is employed full-time or part-time, and how many transactions and how much value the person has enabled. Furthermore, it's critical to understand whether the person has ever had a failed transaction and, if so, why.
Understanding 1031 exchanges is essential. Potential QIs should be familiar with the fundamentals as well as the specifics of the 1031 exchange procedure. For instance, QIs should be aware of what constitutes a like-kind attribute. They should also be aware of Delaware Statutory Trusts (DSTs), one of the most frequently disregarded alternatives to 1031 exchanges. Sadly, a lot of QIs are unfamiliar with DSTs. Investors who wish to successfully delay capital gains while still achieving their overall financial goals must find a qualified and professional QI.
How exactly should an investor choose a QI?
Investors should ask for recommendations to identify a QI in good standing. Finding a trustworthy QI might be a lot easier by word of mouth. Investors can request a recommendation from a real estate lawyer, a trustworthy title business, a certified public accountant (CPA) with experience in 1031 exchanges, or even the other party to the exchange.
Investors must probe potential QIs with inquiries that go beyond the bare minimum to learn more about their breadth of expertise and experience. For instance, the FAE mandates that prospective QIs work full-time for a minimum of three years before being allowed to take the CES exam. When evaluating a QI's experience, three years is a decent place to start; five to ten years is a good number.
One of the most important steps in a 1031 exchange is locating a qualified intermediary (QI), as the exchange cannot take place without one. Investors must confirm that their QI is knowledgeable about the numerous tax rules involved and has extensive experience. Additionally, investors must confirm that the QI is not a relative, an employee, or an agency and has had no recent financial ties to them. The IRS does not take these issues lightly; if the requirements outlined below are not met, there may be severe penalties assessed, or the IRS may even forbid the transaction from taking place at all.
Not an offer to buy, nor a solicitation to sell securities. Information herein is provided for information purposes only, and should not be relied upon to make an investment decision. All investing involves risk of loss of some or all principal invested. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Speak to your finance and/or tax professional prior to investing.
Securities offered through Emerson Equity LLC Member: FINRA/SIPC. Only available in states where Emerson Equity LLC is registered. Emerson Equity LLC is not affiliated with any other entities identified in this communication.
1031 Risk Disclosure:
- There is no guarantee that any strategy will be successful or achieve investment objectives;
- Potential for property value loss – All real estate investments have the potential to lose value during the life of the investments;
- Change of tax status – The income stream and depreciation schedule for any investment property may affect the property owner’s income bracket and/or tax status. An unfavorable tax ruling may cancel deferral of capital gains and result in immediate tax liabilities;
- Potential for foreclosure – All financed real estate investments have potential for foreclosure;
- Illiquidity – Because 1031 exchanges are commonly offered through private placement offerings and are illiquid securities. There is no secondary market for these investments.
- Reduction or Elimination of Monthly Cash Flow Distributions – Like any investment in real estate, if a property unexpectedly loses tenants or sustains substantial damage, there is potential for suspension of cash flow distributions;
- Impact of fees/expenses – Costs associated with the transaction may impact investors’ returns and may outweigh the tax benefits