There is a lot of excitement about opportunity zones, but one potential game changer could be the possibility of timing a 1031 exchange transaction with an opportunity zone deal. If an investor could time the transaction correctly—a deal that would promise to be highly complex—it could create an option, albeit a long-term option, to transition out of real estate and avoid hefty capital gains taxes. However, the possibility is more fantasy than reality at the moment.

“It is still a new investment opportunity, and some of the legislation isn’t fully finalized,” Davin Carey, managing financial advisor at Carey & Hanna, tells “We are still wrapping our heads around what some of the opportunities might be. I think that opportunity zones could be a significant boon for real estate investment, and if there is a way to successfully marry a 1031 exchange into an opportunity zone or an opportunity zone fund, there is an opportunity for that to be a significant boon to real estate transactions.”

The opportunity zone map targets markets across the US in need of revitalization, however, the map includes many markets that are already seeing organic investor interest. This includes markets like Phoenix and Portland. “The interesting thing is that if you look at the opportunity zone maps, there are a lot of places that people already want to invest,” adds Carey. “I think that savvy sponsors are going to look at this as an advantageous place for clients and investors put their proceeds. If someone can successfully marry it with an exchange eligible product, it is huge. That gives you the ability to take a deferral and turn it into tax free for at least a portion of it. If you have a 10-year exit to be out of real estate entirely, that may be attractive to most people.”

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Kelsi Maree Borland

Kelsi Maree Borland is a freelance journalist and magazine writer based in Los Angeles, California. For more than 5 years, she has extensively reported on the commercial real estate industry, covering major deals across all commercial asset classes, investment strategy and capital markets trends, market commentary, economic trends and new technologies disrupting and revolutionizing the industry. Her work appears daily on and regularly in Real Estate Forum Magazine. As a magazine writer, she covers lifestyle and travel trends. Her work has appeared in Angeleno, Los Angeles Magazine, Travel and Leisure and more.

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