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May 23, 2024 | read

Understanding the 721 Exchange: Real Estate Tax Strategy

Thomas Castelli

Nature of the 721 Exchange

At its core, the 721 exchange allows property owners to contribute real estate assets to a partnership, receiving, in return, a partnership interest. This strategy enables property owners to delay capital gains tax, adding layers of flexibility in tax planning, similar to the “1031 Exchange”.

The crucial difference? The 1031 Exchange involves exchanging real property for real property, while the former facilitates an exchange of real property for a partnership interest.

An added advantage of the 721 Exchange is the ability to incrementally withdraw one’s investment over time, spreading capital gains taxes over multiple years.

The Nuances

For properties with existing debt, the value of the contribution is impacted. When a property’s loan surpasses its value or basis, the transaction might warrant the recognition of a gain.

The 721 exchange isn’t just about deferring taxes. It’s about revamping one’s portfolio. An investor could transition from singularly owning multiple properties in one locale to possessing a partnership stake in a fund, diversified across regions.

Selective Property Acceptance

Some funds set their sights on core and core-plus assets, laying a robust cash flow foundation before venturing into riskier terrains. Each asset undergoes meticulous evaluation.

There are funds that are open to various properties, from single-family homes to commercial assets, with single-family homes often being taken in to ensure liquidity for potential investor exits.

Tax Nuances

The 721 exchange focuses on tax deferral, not elimination. The tax is still due upon eventual sale. If an asset’s value grows over time and is then bequeathed, the basis is adjusted to the present market value, offering a “stepped-up” basis.

The Ideal Investor

Those seeking long-term investment, desiring diversification, and wanting freedom from management hassles are prime candidates. Before onboarding an asset, its potential as a long-term hold or for a 1031 exchange is assessed.

The Catch

Not every property can make the cut. Sometimes, a property might need to undergo a 1031 exchange first, converting it into a type that a fund would accept. After a holding period, one could then transition into a 721 exchange. Naturally, the process isn’t free. With associated costs, it’s crucial to conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis.


In conclusion, as the benefits of the 721 exchange become more evident, its adoption is set to rise. 

While the 721 exchange shines with promise, its complexities require assistance from tax and legal experts to navigate properly. It’s an approach demanding intricate knowledge and expertise.

Reach out to us today for more information.

Listen to this podcast episode here.