A 1031 exchange is all about intent. In order for real estate to qualify for a 1031 exchange, the property must clearly be for investment purposes. A multifamily home that is being rented out is a clear example of a piece of real estate that is being used for investment purposes. A vacation home that is rented out for people to stay in is another example of an investment property.
But one of the reasons to own a vacation rental is to use it yourself. And family members will certainly be asking you to let them stay for free. Free stays from family members and personal trips to the lake house count as “personal use.” So how do you know when you’ve crossed a line and turned your investment property into a second home. Luckily, the IRS has a clarifying “Safe Harbor” rules. A vacation home qualifies for a 1031 if;
(a) The dwelling unit is owned by the taxpayer for at least 24 months immediately before the exchange (the “qualifying use period”)
(b) Within the qualifying use period, in each of the two 12-month periods immediately preceding the exchange,
(c) The taxpayer rents the dwelling unit to another person or persons at a fair rental for 14 days or more, and
(d) The period of the taxpayer’s personal use of the dwelling unit does not exceed the greater of 14 days or 10 percent of the number of days during the 12-month period that the dwelling unit is rented at a fair rental. For this purpose, the first 12-month period immediately preceding the exchange ends on the day before the exchange takes place (and begins 12 months prior to that day) and the second 12-month period ends on the day before the first 12-month period begins (and begins 12 months prior to that day).
It is always a good idea to check with your local tax expert to ensure that your property meets all the requirements listed above