According to Cirios Real Estate in San Francisco, given the historic home price declines seen in the past four years, few investors have been focused on deferring taxes on real estate gains because, let’s face it, there just haven’t been many gains. However, as investors begin to wade back into the real estate market (cash investors accounted for more than 25% of existing home sales in January), they should be well-versed in State and Federal laws and tax codes that allow investors to minimize the pain of taxes. One useful tool is the like-kind exchange created by 26 U.S.C. Section 1031 of the United States Internal Revenue Code. Or, as is more commonly known, the 1031 Exchange. A 1031 Exchange allows an investor to sell an income, investment or business property and soon thereafter purchase, or “replace” it with a like-kind property, ie, another income, investment or business property of equal or greater value. All gains from the resale of the first property are deferred, so long as the IRS rules governing 1031 Exchanges are closely adhered to. Several types of real estate properties can qualify for a 1031 Exchange. Real estate held for income, business purposes or investment can qualify, whereas personal residences and, for the most part, fix-and-flip properties do not qualify. Vacation homes and second homes that are not held as rentals also do not qualify, unless specific tests for “usage” set out in the IRS Code are met (consult a CPA or other expert before attempting a 1031 Exchange with a vacation home).